Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that reigning American League Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up Mike Trout will not accept an invitation from the United States officials to play in the World Baseball Classic. Even more telling, the source was his agent:
[Trout's Agent Craig] Landis said that Trout “just wanted a regular spring-training preparation,” so he opted to inform WBC officials before a formal invitation to play for the team was even extended to him.
While in, and of, itself this is not necessarily a surprise, it is a symptom of a greater problem that World Baseball has, and indicative that baseball has a long way to go with the likes of soccer and hockey in terms of realizing a true International Championship.
I see both sides of the coin, on one hand, you should be committed to the team that is paying your salary, and in Trout’s case, position yourself to secure that first free agent contract as a mechanism for lifetime financial security.
And this isn’t meant to single out Trout, he’s following suit of other stars like Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, and Yu Darvish are all passing as well (some for injury reasons).
But soccer and hockey have figured it out. The World Cup of soccer features every major star from every professional league representing their country in what ends up being an unpredictable free-for-all for fans and athletes alike, in which legends are made. Likewise, the Winter Olympic hockey pools are some of the most watched events of the Games, with all the major stars on display for memorable finals (like Crosby’s OT winner vs. Ryan Miller in 2010, on Vancouver home ice, no less, did more for the sport than any recent Stanley Cup final). Basketball has made more strides, with only a handful of athlete turning down invites, usually due to injury recovery or personal reasons (sometimes to the chagrin of Mark Cuban).
Until baseball figures out a frequency, timing, and format for such an event, it’s unfortunate that it will lag behind other world sports (to include cricket and rugby) and remain just an American (North and South) niche.
- Dave (@lhd_on_sports)
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