With the attendance reaching more than a million and the USA winning it for the first time, the World Baseball Classic has made a serious point to stay alive. Last year there were some strong rumors about the event. It should make some serious money, otherwise, the 2017 edition would be the last.
A few weeks ago, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said there will be another edition in 2021. During a press conference prior to the final at Dodger Stadium, both Manfred as MLBPA executive director Tony Clark stated that they were very happy with 2017 edition of the tournament.
In the first two rounds, the attendance rose by 34% compared to the previous edition. Manfred said. “We’ve had crowds that not only were record number crowds but crowds which had passion that it’s hard to think where you saw something that good the last time. I mean, just really amazing.”
Tony Clark added: “Very rarely do you have an opportunity in the middle of March to appreciate the quality of play that we’ve seen during the course of this tournament. So even as a fan, myself, as I’m sure a number of you are as well, being able to see what we’ve seen, not just in the U.S. venues but in all the international venues as well, the quality of play has been off the charts.”
Of course, there always will be opponents. First of all the MLB owners. They are afraid that their players will get hurt, and with Didi Gregorius injuring himself during a practice game before the semi-final, the owners may use this to prove their point. The Dodgers, for example, didn’t want to let Kenley Jansen pitch more than one inning, even though he had thrown only 9 pitches. Even when he called the brass between the innings and begged them to let him pitch another inning, they said no. It shows how afraid the MLB clubs are.
But there are also fans opposed to it as they think, like the owners, players will have a bigger chance to get injured.
This edition of the WBC had it all. Wild, high scoring games but also low scoring pitching duels. Especially the wild and high scoring games may attract a public that has never seen baseball before.
And now the United States have finally won the tournament, it may wake up the American fan that the event is fun. It is an ideal opportunity for fans to see the best players together so it will be a lot easier to collect autographs (for those interested).
According to Tony Clark, this is one of the first tournaments he had people yelling positively at him as he walked through the streets. Also, fans started to chant the name of their country, and other fans reacted by starting to chant the name of theirs. “It is something that has never happened before”, Clark said.
As far as I am concerned, I am really looking forward to the next edition.