Today during the World Baseball Classic Marcus Stroman will be handed the ball by the U.S. team, attempting to prevail against the dominant Dominicans with Edinson Volquez on the bump for them.
With Marcus Stroman starting how can you not be at least mildly concerned by the prospect of a full-tilt start by him? The Blue Jays tacitly are. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admitted to the Toronto Sun in his awe shucks kind of way:
"“I’ve said before, most coaches and managers would probably not have guys go, but it’s been good for baseball.”"
He also went on to speculate about players possibly getting hurt, but that could also happen during spring training.
I love Gibby but the problem with that last argument is that guys are not going full tilt during spring training. At the WBC though, how can they not, with their country emblazoned across their chest?
"“It’s something special” to play for Mexico."
So there’s no question that for some passionate, competitive baseball players (as in Osuna and Stroman) you know they’re going to be putting some serious torque on their arms just prior to the start of the MLB season.
At a time when the Jays already have some precarious question marks regarding other starting 9 and core players, projected to be major contributors this year, guys like Pearce and Travis, how can you not have some trepidation about at least 3 of the Jays pitching pillars “giving it everything” at the WBC?
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Blue Jays ownership is who cuts the cheques so you have to wonder who is taking the risk here? We’re talking about major pieces taking time off from their day gigs to go play their tails off for someone else.
Although Gibby was trotted out there for some bonhomie with the media talking about the tourney being “good for baseball” and such, the point does inevitably arise in every article or media scrum that there is a threat of injury or wearing down of arms to some degree, undoubtedly.
So although some of you might enjoy the WBC it’s hard to justify. Firstly, Major League Baseball is by far the elder, the Classic though has only been around since ‘95. So what takes precedence, a recently created tourney, or the league of all leagues? Don’t take my word for it – I think there’s a consensus on the majesty of MLB, just watch Ken Burns’ baseball if you’re unaware. What ever happened to seniority rules?
Secondly, it’s already been established that the WBC is definitely not the Grapefruit league – heck, look at the Jays record. Everyone knows winning is not even relevant in spring training. The physical exertion of the players is clearly not comparable.
That’s why it takes such an obstinate s.o.b. as Etobicoke, Canada’s own Joey Votto to say no and suffer the slings and arrows from the entire country.
Maybe, though, that’s part of what makes him so good, his singular focus and pride in being such an elite hitter. The ability to say “no” isn’t easy but there’s a ton of quotes out there espousing the positive aspects of it. Looking at Votto’s supremacy at his job (the guy has a ludicrous on-base percentage of.425) you can’t help but think he chose wisely and for good reason to skip on the tourney.
That’s the thing, though, it’s hard to deny your own country, as you will suffer the wrath. Perhaps that’s actually the impetus for some players decision to say yes when their country comes calling. I don’t know about you but I’ve always been taught that peer pressure is not a good reason to make a decision.
Hopefully, it’s a non-issue and everything will come up roses. But it would be interesting, certainly not wanted, though, if one of our players, doing their thing for their country, happened to sustain an injury during the regular season. Then the 20/20 hindsight glasses go on. Just saying.