The WBC Should Be Here to Stay

We just have to Convince MLB

The WBC Should Be Here to Stay

Michael Barravecchio, Contibuting Writer

The first World Baseball Classic in 2006 featured international baseball at the highest level. The tournament occurs about once every three years and creates worldwide excitement among most baseball fans.

Besides the substantial income generated by the Classic, the contest has been a great showcase for the international talent and less-followed players and countries. Over the five WBC tournaments played, 23 different national teams have represented their countries, bringing more baseball popularity and income to each participating nation.

However, despite the global scale of success the World Baseball Classic has delivered to the baseball community, some Americans want it gone. Therefore, to reasonably analyze if the WBC is worth continuing, it is appropriate to construct a pros and cons list regarding the tournament.


  1. Viewership: During the 2023 WBC, over 60 million fans viewed South Korea’s battle against their rival, Japan.  To put that into perspective, the 2022 MLB World Series had only 12.5 million viewers. In addition, multiple teams witnessed an increase in viewership during the years that the WBC has been played. For example, according to Paul Rudder, Puerto Rico saw a 77% increase in spectators compared to the 2017 WBC tournament. The in-game attendance also spiked, as exhibition games before the ’23 classic shattered attendance and viewership records. Every stadium seemed to sell out with ultra-passionate fans. Check out this clip from 2:50-3:07 which displays the sheer euphoric atmosphere of the WBC:
  2. Merchandise & Sales: In addition to record-breaking attendance and viewership during the 2023 WBC, the merchandise sector also increased. New opportunities to buy  jerseys, hats, and other gear brought significant sales and promoted the WBC worldwide. Most teams’ uniforms quickly became popular and showcased great style and design. This year’s tournament broke multiple records regarding WBC sales in e-commerce, direct sales, and social media promotions. 
  3. Most MLB Players Are All-In: Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, two MLB superstars, shared their passion and love for the tournament. “It’s hard to sum up into words what these last couple of weeks have meant to me. I had the time of my life representing that USA on my chest! The energy was electric and made the WBC a moment I’ll always cherish. So thank you all so much. It was an honor to be your captain.” – Mike Trout (10x All-star, 3x MVP, 9x Silver Slugger). “I’m having the time of my life playing these games. This is very similar to the World Series… if you ask anybody on the field, we’re having some of the most fun we’ve ever had.” – Mookie Betts (two-time 6x All-Star, MVP, WS champion). Multiple MLB players, including Manny Machado, have said winning the WBC is more important to them than winning the World Series.


  1. The Majority of MLB Managers Do Not Support The WBC: Since the tournament’s first game in 2006, multiple managers and GMs have expressed their disappointment with the contest. The same year, the media asked Yankees GM George Steinbrenner how he felt about the tournament. He responded, “we don’t like it that well.” Soon after, the Yankees put a sign in the outfield apologizing to the fans, saying they disapproved of the tournament. In addition, they let fans know that they should direct their criticism to the Commissioner’s Office if they had complaints. Furthermore, MLB managers informed USA’s pitchers before the 2023 tournament to maintain precautions when pitching and to not pitch as hard or as frequently as they would in the postseason.
  2. Injuries: Although injuries have always been a factor in baseball and can occur at any given time, teams and players do everything possible to avoid them at all costs. This is why some GMs have become very frustrated with their players, as they feel the WBC is a significant risk for injury. Even worse is that MLB stars such as Edwin Díaz and José Altuve were seriously injured in the ’23 WBC, which evidenced that managers had a valid point. Díaz, the best closer of the 2022 MLB season, accidentally injured himself during the team’s celebration after he struck out the side against the Dominican Republic to advance to the quarter-finals. After the game, the New York Mets reported Díaz tore his patellar tendon and would require year-ending surgery. The injury was a freak accident and marked a turning point in the WBC and served as a reminder that perhaps playing exhibition games at 100% is not worth the risk of injury. Below is a clip of the devastating situation unfolding:
  3. The WBC Takes Away From Spring Training: While every MLB team prepares for the upcoming season, players participating in the WBC often create issues within their organizations. Playing with different teammates for a month immediately before the season can affect camaraderie, team chemistry, and friendships. For this reason, players are often fearful about the criticism they will face from their coaches for choosing to participate in the WBC. In these cases, they often decide to sit out and continue spring training. In other countries, political leaders often believe it is disrespectful for players to decide against representing their nation. For example, in the 2006 WBC, Carlos Ruiz, a star for the Philadelphia Phillies, announced he would not partake in the tournament to focus on the upcoming season. The president of Panama took great offense to this and called Ruiz, telling him to play. Subsequently, Ruiz did participate for Pamama’s team.  The Phillies coaching staff and fans criticized Ruiz’s decision due to a risk for injury and claiming he showed his disinterest in his MLB club. As previously discussed, the Yankees are firm believers that the WBC is a waste of time and effort, and so have convinced all of their star players to refrain from joining the classic.

The WBC is loved and hated by millions, respectively. The tournament’s unmatched energy and international stage intrigue fans across the globe, making it incredibly difficult to cancel the contest. In addition, the revenue produced by the five WBCs has never been seen before in baseball and benefits MLB. The question that fans are asking is: should the WBC continue considering its risk for injury and division within teams?

It is reasonable to suggest that neither answer is better than the other, as both sides bring up interesting topics that create a difficult decision. However, discussing possibilities for changes to the WBC would be a good start when considering controversial issues like this one. One idea would be to urge MLB players to join the tournament. MLB would speak to GMs and explain that they could be rewarded if any of their players are selected to a participating WBC team. If the player(s) national team from that MLB organization wins the tournament, a percentage of the revenue generated from the WBC will be shared with the MLB organization. This money can be used for their payroll without affecting their salary cap. In addition, every MLB team with player(s) in the WBC would receive a smaller percentage of the WBC revenue. This extra money can be used for free agency, payroll, or international signings. Although MLB, in theory, would lose income from paying teams money, the added publicity and fan support the WBC would gain if all of MLB’s stars participated in the classic would be exceptional.

Despite only one of the top 20 MLB pitchers in 2022 playing in the WBC, Team USA made it to the championship, where they lost to global powerhouse Japan by one run. Having household names like Jacob deGROM, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander play in the WBC would arguably make Team USA the best baseball team on Earth. The team’s unlimited ability would send the WBC into a full-on frenzy with ridiculous financial income, jersey sales, and social media representation. It would create the most watched and anticipated games in baseball history.

Overall, fans, players, and owners would appreciate agreeing to the terms of the WBC, as the tournament undoubtedly holds some of the most exciting games in baseball history. The question is, how can this debate be settled?