The World Baseball Classic is coming back next spring, and it's time for the U.S. to remember who invented the game.
While the chance to play against the best players in the world is a huge deal for the competitors and fans in places like Japan, Korea, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands, the event has remained a hard sell in America. We just believe our baseball superiority is understood.
Joakim Soria, Sal Perez and Victor Martinez — as in the WBC.
It's time for Americans to support Team USA the same way they support their favorite teams.
Yes, pitchers have only so many fastballs and sliders — especially sliders — in their arms. So MLB teams do need to be thoughtful, but still …
Consider how Jimmy Rollins compares the approach of Americans with that of the international teams, like Japan's.
"They play with passion,'' Rollins said. "We play with passion, (too), but they just wear theirs on their sleeves.''
In the first two WBCs, in 2006 and '09, Team USA went 7-7. The U.S. finished sixth the first time around, not advancing to the four-team championship round at Petco Park, and lost to Japan in the semifinal round in 2009. That year Team USA had a 5.99 ERA, which ranked ninth overall, behind the likes of the Netherlands and Canada.
MLB is altering the format for the 2013 WBC slightly, with a new four-team qualifier expanding the field from 16 to 28 nations. Countries will gather in Germany in September and in Panama, Taiwan and Jupiter, Fla., in November to try to earn spots into pool play next March.
Team USA watches these proceedings while plotting its 2013 roster. It should be focusing on recruiting as many of the top starting pitchers as possible.
In 2006 and '09, the American pitching staffs were built around young guys with live arms, added to the staff with an inning-at-a-time approach. That hasn't worked so well, so let's change it up — have six to eight starting pitchers on the staff, not four.
In Team USA's 14 WBC games, the starter has averaged 31/3 innings. Why not use two starters per game to get through the sixth or seventh innings before turning it over to a top reliever?
Teams never play more than three days in a row in the WBC, so with six starters on a staff you shouldn't run out of arms. Imagine Stephen Strasburg coming into a game after Justin Verlander.
Why wouldn't we stack it up that way?
Parenting pains: You have to feel terrible for Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain, who hasn't come close to touching the potential that made him a 21-year-old sensation with the 2007 Yankees. He was on his way back from Tommy John surgery, working toward becoming a solid big-league reliever, when his 2012 season was lost jumping on a trampoline with his 5-year-old son, Karter.¿
Chamberlain hopes to come back later this season but the reality is that his days with the Yankees could be over after he suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle, with the bone tearing through ligaments and breaking the skin during his fall. General manager Brian Cashman has been patient with Chamberlain, and didn't question his judgment in this incident.
"I'm sad about it,'' Cashman said. "It's just a tragic, freak accident. … He was being a father.''
Chamberlain had just begun throwing breaking balls with his surgically repaired elbow and the Yankees had hoped to have him in the bullpen in June. Now Cashman may be forced to move Phil Hughes to the bullpen and go with Freddy Garcia as his fifth starter. It's also possible they could take a look at prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos as relievers, in the second half of the season if not out of the chute.
Chance lost: Ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte almost got into a Grapefruit League game Thursday night. He was among the pitchers the Yankees had available for the 10th inning after the Red Sox tied the game with a ninth-inning squeeze bunt, but the Yankees headed for their bus as the Red Sox were taking the field.
Time for Americans to embrace World Baseball Classic
And part of that would be changing roster strategy to include more starting pitchers for Team USA
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.