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Pastime or Waste of Time: Narratives in the Media Surrounding the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Among most baseball fans in the United States, conversation about the World Baseball Classic (WBC) garners minimal interest, at best, and at worst sheer disgust. US fans are notorious for their love of discussing rather than playing the game, with an insatiable appetite for minutiae, esoteric statistics, and romantic lore.(1) As an avid baseball fan and follower of Major League Baseball (MLB), I excitedly anticipated the WBC'S arrival in the spring of 2006. Surprisingly, few friends, family members, baseball pundits, or media personalities shared my enthusiasm. In fact, most explicitly dismissed the topic or expressed indifference toward an international competition that, for the first time, would include active major leaguers competing alongside other professionals and amateurs for a world title. The baseball World Cup and Olympic baseball, since 1938 and from 1992-2008 respectively, featured amateurs, minor leaguers, or retired professionals; but in 2006--via the WBC--a team and nation could truly claim its best had played against the world's finest.' I argue that the reluctance of US fans, MLB players, owners, executives, and the media to embrace the WBC suggests a resistance to acknowledging that the game of baseball is not exclusively or exceptionally American.

The concept of American exceptionalism in relation to baseball requires further explanation. American historian Frederick Jackson Turner articulated his controversial "frontier thesis" in 1893, suggesting that continuous westward expansion defined a unique, democratic, and individualistic American character.3 In clear tones of (class, gender, racial, and religious) exceptionalism, Turner's thesis fueled notions of America as a nation burdened with spreading democracy and freedom to the world. Sport offered a suitable means for the Americanization of immigrants and was an effective tool for the exportation of dominant American ideologies and values.' Baseball was initially the most appropriate cultural sport to serve these imperialistic and commercial aims.

In 1908, Albert G. Spalding and the Spalding Commission promoted the powerfully symbolic (and long-lasting) myth that baseball emerged in Cooperstown, New York, created by Abner Doubleday in 1839.5 In reality, historiographers of the early development of the "national pastime" provide evidence that the provenance of bat-and-ball games is a much more complex and nuanced evolutionary process that took place in multiple continents over the course of centuries.[degrees] Despite the fable of baseball's US origins, historian Steven Riess contextualizes the game's popularity in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries within the significant social changes produced by the country's rise as an international power through industrialization and urbanization. Baseball fit within a larger nationalistic and ideological framework, supplying certain myths and legends to reflect and sustain a belief in American individualism and self-reliance, or as David Block suggests, "rampant nationalist fervor invigorated the effort to wrap baseball's origins in patriotic colors.(7)

Riess claims that a baseball credo contributed to the progressive reform impulse of white Anglo-Saxon Americans who sought to allay concerns of a chaotic and disordered society.' Baseball supposedly typified the best agrarian, democratic, educational, and socially integrative features of American culture. Although Riess demonstrates that the creed did not accurately reflect American culture, fans and the public believed in the myths to assuage feelings of loss for an idyllic past and anxieties about the future. Supposedly, every white American male, at least, had the opportunity to excel and demonstrate his skill and talent on the field. These historical patterns, linking baseball and American exceptionalism, survived and resonate in the early twenty-first-century US media narrative concerning international baseball.

Returning to the WBC, I recall nothing more than a curious awareness of the paradoxically named tournament in its first iteration. How could an incipient tournament be a "World Classic?" Baseball is neither widely popular nor played throughout most of the world, notably unsupported in Africa, Europe, and to some extent China (although quite popular in Taiwan). An analysis of five major newspapers and two national magazines in the United States from the May 10, 2005, announcement of the Classic until the first games in early March 2006, reveals mixed attitudes toward the WBC among fans, major-league players, team owners, general managers, and MLB officials.' I intentionally chose this date range as a lens for analysis so that wins or losses would not skew the interpretation and perception of the event. This time-frame allowed me to interpret the attitudes of journalists, fans, players, coaches, general managers, owners, and the commissioner's office toward the event without the knowledge of television ratings, overall ticket sales, or results on the field to affirm, deny, or nuance their preconceived notions.'0 Amid optimistic and boastful rhetoric from Bud Selig and the commissioner's office, a confused, pessimistic view of the event as meaningless highlighted the dominant sentiment leading up to the initial WBC.

For the naysayers, the lone alleged benefit of the event was as a marketing tactic to enable MLB to expand into global markets.(11) Most baseball journalists predicted the US team would win the tournament, or, at least, reach the semifinals with minimal effort. They did neither.(12) More pervasive complaints from fans, players, owners, and writers--rejecting the logistics, rather than the idea of the WBC--centered on three chief concerns: poor timing during spring training (for mu players' preparation), heightened risk of injury, and rule changes. The restrictions allowed for ties, shortened games, and most significantly, limited the use of pitchers. Secondary issues--including a perceived lack of interest among star players, loose eligibility guidelines for participation, poor structure of the tournament, and conflicts with Japan and Cuba--intensified arguments that the inchoate WBC was a spectacle and exhibition, not a legitimate world competition.(13) While MLB and baseball writers generally do not react well to change--for some examples, consider initial responses to interleague play, the expanded playoff system, and instant replay--the potential meanings behind resistance to the WBC deserve study because of the Classic's blatant appeal to nationalism and patriotism both in and outside of the United States.


The history of international baseball tournaments similar to the Classic contextualizes the WBC and simultaneously illuminates the foundational motivations that led to its creation. An examination of these competitions and failed efforts of MLB pioneers to instill international baseball inform an understanding of the national rhetoric framed by the media surrounding the 2006 event. Efforts to globalize America's national pastime began as early as the late nineteenth century when a Spalding-led tour in 1888-89 traveled the globe endorsing the game and his sporting goods.(14) Historian Thomas Zeiler argues that the tour helped to forge an American imperial identity, laying the groundwork for the empire building of the United States to come near the turn of the century. He considers the tour a venture in the context of the early era of globalization, as part and parcel with its self-promotional enterprising function.(15) As such, Zeiler contends Spalding tapped into global flows of capitalism and free enterprise, the integration of national and global transportation and communication networks, and cultural hierarchies of races and societies, undergirded by jingoistic notions of American nationalism and exceptionalism.(16) As economists Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist noted, however, "with soccer and cricket already rooted, developing baseball in foreign lands would not be a simple matter. Spalding turned his attention to promoting baseball as the authentic American game."(17) Another attempt to spread baseball via world tour occurred in 1913-14, when Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and New York Giants manager John McGraw arranged for their clubs to visit Australia, China, Egypt, England, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Ten years later, the same leaders' venture in Europe was cancelled midtour as international soccer flourished, tempering hopes of establishing baseball as the premier world sport. Szymanski and Zimbalist concluded, "Never again before the 1990s did Americans put any serious effort into spreading their sport, and for the most part, foreigners showed little or no interest in learning about it."(18) Attempts to encourage baseball's development outside of America remained limited and uncoordinated until the last decade of the twentieth century.(19)

Following the lead of soccer and basketball, MLB sought to globalize baseball as part of a search for new markets. Every other year from 1986 to 2006, a collection of major-league All-Stars traveled to Japan to face a group of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) elites in a series which sociologist Alan M. Klein referred to as, "Part goodwill tour, part nationalist contest, and part marketing ploy."(20) Recent initiatives aimed at globalizing baseball include season openers in Puerto Rico (1999, 2001), Japan (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012), and Australia (2014), but more prominently through the establishment of the WBC in 2006 and the succeeding tournament three years later.(21) Beginning in 2013, the Classic will be held every four years, a strategy devised by WBC officials to avoid competing with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup or Summer Olympic Games.

MLB'S desire not to challenge the World Cup or Olympics for a television audience is not surprising as MLB trails both soccer and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in globalization.(22) George Gmelch contends that MLB'S form of "globalization" is not the export of baseball from the United States to other countries, but "the migration of baseball labor to the United States," notably from Latin America and parts of Asia.(23) Political and legal scholar Robert Elias supports this notion by claiming that mt.B's globalization takes the form of "Americanization" through baseball's ties to US imperial quests; colonization of lands in the Caribbean, Asia, and the Pacific; and the establishment of "internal colonies" of immigrants within US borders."(24) Indeed baseball, while played around the world, can hardly be considered a global sport when compared to soccer's ubiquity and viewership. Well over one billion people watched the 2006 World Cup final, while the National Football League's (NFL) Super Bowl drew ninety-five million and MLB's World Series averaged less than twenty million per game. Beyond a robust spectatorship, soccer is played professionally in 204 countries and boasts roughly a quarter billion active players worldwide.(25) MLB has not been as successful at reaching international markets as the NBA has in Asia and Europe.(26) Klein explains:

The NBA has succeeded in Europe, where MLB is struggling. The NBA has rooted there, has managed to develop numbers of impact NBA players, and has generated long-range plans of opening franchises in Europe. These efforts included tried and true methods: getting young players involved and setting up leagues for them to play in, and building strong national teams and club structures.(27)

Nevertheless, the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) consists of 118 members. Szymanski and Zimbalist state that for the nine-inning game, "the level of competition in most countries outside of the United States is low. A baseball World Cup has been played on and off since 1938, when only two teams entered . . . to this day, the US team has consisted of amateur players only.(28) Many US baseball fans are unaware that such a tournament exists, perhaps foreshadowing their contempt for international baseball in the WBC, or reflecting their unwillingness to follow any games lacking MLB talent.

The inaugural IBAF Cup, dubbed the "John Moores Trophy," was a two-team contest between the United States and Great Britain.(29) Szymanski and Zimbalist contend that Britain's victory showed how little the Americans cared about the incident.(30) The IBAF Cup quickly grew to nine teams by 1941, before returning to only four squads in 1943. Following World War II, the number of clubs participating fluctuated between eight and twelve before peaking at a then all-time high of sixteen in 1972. That record was broken most recently in 2009, when the United States emerged victorious out of a field of twenty-two during a tournament that was played in seven European countries. The status of the IBAF Cup is in flux, however, as currently the IBAF is working to create a new international tournament called the "Premiere 12" to open in 2015.

Baseball was a marginal sport in the Olympics between the 1912 Stockholm and 1988 Seoul Summer Games. Examining baseball's lack of popularity outside the Americas (curiously omitting Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea), Pete Cava identifies weak international organization and the feeble presence of a governing body as major factors inhibiting baseball's Olympic status. He is incorrect, however, in predicting that baseball had a future on the preeminent global sport stage.(31) Adopted formally as a medal sport in 1992, its run was short lived. By 2005, the International Olympic Committee (10c) voted to remove baseball and softball from the Olympics beginning in 2012, at least in part because of MLB's refusal to interrupt its season in order to allow active players to compete for their countries.(32) In 1991, Cava's statement that "Baseball's international popularity is at an all-time high and the game is played in more nations than ever before" may have been accurate, but missed the point.(33) The quality of the competition is lower without major leaguers on Olympic rosters. Secondly, baseball was still in its formative stages in most nations. Void of major league talent, IOC interest in Olympic baseball waned. Deprived of IOC support and Olympic funding, the majority of the baseball world suffered.


MLB officials pondered creating a World Cup-style tournament--unaffiliated with the IBAF Cup--at least a decade prior to the toc's decision to eliminate baseball and softball.(34) To generate fervor for international baseball, the best major leaguers would need to participate in the event. In 2001, Commissioner Selig announced his vision to bring MLB global prominence through an event resembling FIFA'S World Cup.(35) Years passed and the movement gained little momentum. This lackadaisical approach may be attributed to MLB'S surge in popularity in the late 1990s and early to mid 20005 following the damaging strike of 1994-95. Higher attendance, competitive balance, and a revitalized fan base led Selig to declare this period the "golden era of the sport."(36) Yet, trying to decide when to hold the event and which countries to invite also stalled the tournament's formation. Unlike the National Hockey League (NHL)--which suspends play for several weeks every four years so its players may compete in the Olympics--MLB officials and clubs were (and remain) steadfastly opposed to an interruption of the regular season.(37) The reluctance to suspend play for the benefit of the Olympics illustrates MLB'S positioning of American baseball as exceptional to world competition. The selection process bred further difficulties. Unlike the soccer World Cup, no qualifying rounds determined which teams earned their way into the 2006 tournament.

Despite these hurdles, Major League Baseball International (MLBI), MLB'S division for international efforts, moved forward with organizing the event. This particular branch of the commissioner's office is charged with producing revenue for the owners and developing the game outside the United States, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim. In 2005, MLB created the WBC as a joint effort of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and the Office of the Commissioner.(38)

Curiously, the league hesitated for nearly a decade from the early 19905 before finally acting on its vision. Klein studied MLBI from 2000 to 2006 and argues that several factors led to the WBC'S urgent establishment. Steady growth of revenue from international campaigns assured owners of the potential in markets outside the United States and Latin America. At home, a substantial increase in the number of foreign players began to alter fans' and owners' views regarding the talent and appeal of non-Americans in the game. In addition to the Olympics' dismissal of baseball following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, perhaps MLB'S decreasing ability to produce fans and players domestically expedited Selig and the owners' decision to finalize arrangements for the WBC.(39) With statistics of MLB'S fan base indicating an affluent, aging demographic and potential saturation point, financial motivations influenced the shape and design of the WBC more so than a desire to cultivate baseball worldwide. The political and economic strategy behind the Classic's construction, which fulfilled mun's mission as a business opportunity and initiative toward global expansion, frustrated baseball executives of professional leagues outside the United States.(40) MLB'S exclusivity and invite-only selection process particularly troubled executives of Japan's professional baseball league.

Klein summarizes Japanese baseball officials' outlook on working with MLB on an international stage: "Japan's preoccupation with maintaining its sovereignty is increasingly at odds with its need to take its place among the international baseball powers. Hence working with Major League Baseball is predictably conflict-laden."(41) Klein simultaneously implicates MLB'S historical arrogance in naming its championship the World Series. Unfortunately, MLB's unilateral control in organizing the WBC only reinforced Japan's reservations.(42) Japanese baseball officials were under the impression that all nations represented in the WBC would have a voice in determining logistics, so they felt slighted that their considerations were disregarded.(43) For example, the tournament would take place during the first three weeks of March, coinciding with the beginning of NPB'S regular season. Furthermore, no medal round games were scheduled outside of the United States. The nations were additionally frustrated by a perceived unequal distribution of revenue from the WBC.(44) Japan and South Korea, two countries with a rich and proud baseball history, preferred a cooperative and consensus-building approach that was not reciprocated. MLB officials maintained the WBC was theirs to organize as they were funding and operating the event. They were correct in their assertion; however, it is clear that the WBC is politically and economically designed solely for MLB'S interests, signifying baseball as exceptionally American. As Klein recognizes, "the WBC--for whatever reasons--is global in form, but national in essence.(45) While MLB'S decision to shape the tournament specifically for these purposes may be questionable, conflicts with Cuba presented hurdles of a different nature.

Cuba's international success and stranglehold on amateur baseball is pertinent for an understanding of the weeks leading up to the initial WBC. Then US President George W. Bush's administration, which sought to dismantle Fidel Castro's regime, aggravated political tensions between Cuba and the United States.(46) Within this climate, Cuba vacillated in officially joining the WBC, knowing how critical its participation was to the overall success of the tournament. Cuba's presence was vital for two reasons: first, Cuba had dominated international competition--without Cuba, the WBC had no credibility--and secondly, the IBAF would remove its sanction if Cuba were barred. Several Latin American countries, such as Venezuela and Puerto Rico (one of the nations hosting the opening round), were prepared to forego the Classic without IBAF approval.(47) In July 2005, Humberto Rodriguez, the president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports, criticized the commercialization of baseball and informed the Associated Press (AP) that he doubted Cuba would participate because the "reasons and interests behind the event have yet to be stated clearly.(48) Despite this prediction, on December 3, 2005, just six weeks prior to the deadline for clubs to submit their provisional rosters, Castro proclaimed, "We will participate and demonstrate that we know what to do in baseball.(49) Less than two weeks later, the United States Treasury Department (USTD) announced Cuba would not be allowed to play because, as directed by MLB, the country would receive a share of the overall proceeds as a participating team. This payment would violate the nearly fifty-year-old trade embargo with the Communist nation.(50) The press was now more dubious of the event than ever. Many questioned if it would take place, furthering the negativity, pessimism, and trivialization surrounding the WBC.(51)

In a reversal of its parochial tradition, MLB interestingly acknowledged Cuba's role as the world champion of amateur baseball by recognizing the need to include the country, a necessary step if it hoped to legitimize the WBC. For the next month, MLB officials such as Paul Archey, senior vice president for international baseball matters, lobbied the USTD with a revised application for Cuba.(52) He was joined by former baseball commissioner and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chairman Peter Ueberroth, who urged Bush to reverse the decision as it held major implications for the United States' ambition to host future Olympic Games.(53) With the opening round forty-one days away and the submission deadline for rosters already passed, the USTD had yet to respond to MLB'S second submission for Cuba's entry. Bush intervened on January 21, 2006, and ordered his staff to settle the issue. Cuba would not profit from the WBC, but the president claimed, "Sports should be free."(54) Castro, however, had preemptively offered to give Cuba's earnings to victims of Hurricane Katrina, but the USTD responded that any payment to Cuba would violate the embargo. The United States would donate the money to the victims without the intermediate step. Those in the international baseball community were relieved, certainly none more so than MLBI.

The precarious nature of Cuba's situation was the linchpin on which the stability of the tournament rested. That connection, tenuous at best, had noticeably been shaken within the media's portrayal of the forthcoming competition. As Ron Rapoport of the Chicago Sun-Times asked, "This WBC isn't exactly catching on the way Bud Selig hoped, is it? (55) Regardless, a major crisis was averted, and the first WBC would commence in the coming weeks.

I now turn to an analysis of the themes articulated in the media narrative (see Appendix) and how various parties framed the wsc as an over-hyped exhibition and spectacle--something less than the serious and meaningful work of North American Major League Baseball--in which the enthusiasm for the national pastime did not transfer from one stage to another.


Bud Selig and the Commissioner's Office

The most dominant theme in the early reporting of the WBC was the boastful, non sequitur rhetoric of Commissioner Selig, the mastermind of the event. He seemed to have no shortage of comments about the pending tournament, perhaps none more grandiose than calling the Classic, "the most important baseball event ever staged."(56) Other examples of Selig's hubris include his prediction that the WSC "will change the sport,' and that one "can't understand how big the World Classic is going to be."(57) The commissioner was prepared for doubters, claiming the detractors were simply opposed to something new.(58) While Selig mentioned the importance of developing the game internationally, he framed the WSC's significance as a platform for bringing the best players in the world together to compete for their home countries.(59) Other high-ranking MLB officials were not so reluctant to acknowledge the WBC as a business opportunity. MLB Executive Vice-President for Business Tim Brosnan said, "The genesis of [the WBC] was, how we exploit the international marketplace to its fullest" (emphasis added).(60) MLB officials would have sent their players to the Olympics in years past, had they intended to support the expansion of the game internationally. The WBC implemented a critical business strategy for MLB as a product, not baseball within a broader scope.

While a sense of confusion and resentment grew among those outside the commissioner's office, Selig continued to trump-up the WSC's historical implications. He asserted, "[the WBC] is a watershed moment in baseball history. I have no trouble saying that it will eventually be viewed that way."(61) While Selig positioned the event as a mirror of the Olympic Games or World Cup, he refused to call the WBC a competition or championship. Instead, he referred to the Classic as an "event" or "moment: betraying his confidence in the WBC as a legitimate global sporting competition. In a statement filled with both hype and sincerity, Selig reinforced his colleagues' goals by publicly recognizing the need to reach fans in China rather than New Jersey--conflating business objectives with the sport ideology of determining a world champion.(62) Selig's optimistic yet presumptuous rhetoric revealed a multiplicity of contradictions surrounding the event: if this were designed for other nations, why did Cuba, Japan, and South Korea take issue with it? If MLB wanted to expand its reach, why was it spending money in areas (Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela) where the game was already established? (63) If it was supposedly the most important baseball event ever staged, why did Selig paradoxically reassure, "the World Series forever will be known as the World Series. (64) Selig seemed to embrace these incompatible notions. Yet, as noted by Michael Oriard, the recent turn in contemporary sport media discourse is disagreement rather than consensus building. (65) Sports radio talk-show hosts entertain audiences by humiliating their callers with strongly-worded, if not caustic, rebukes. Within this context, journalists opportunistically seized the chance to deride the WBC, mocking the commissioner's optimism by framing the event as "Bud's Baby: and like a "toupee, good at first, but not really." (66)

One strategy to minimize the importance of the WBC was to contextualize it as simply an outreach of Selig's vision. Doing so reinforced American exceptionalism by locating a pluralistic, cosmopolitan attitude in baseball exclusively within Selig's prophecies. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle referred to the WBC as "a dream of Commissioner Bud Selig," while White Sox general manager Kenny Williams stated the Classic was contrived. (67) Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times anticipated the WBC "will adversely affect spring-training schedules and players' conditioning, but commissioner [sic] Bud Selig will deem the tournament a huge success." (68) Ron Rapoport speculated the event was only of interest to Selig, saying, "It is hard to understand just what Selig hopes to accomplish with this tournament." (69) This perception reached beyond sport journalists, as Dave Hoekstra, writing in the travel section for the Chicago Sun-Times, referred to the WBC as "the Bud Bowl." (70)

The preceding examples illustrate the ways in which the tournament was perceived as significant to Selig alone. Anyone--player, coach, fan, or otherwise--who embraced the WBC would need to articulate a sense of ownership, pride, and representation in the event. Sport journalists largely failed to elucidate any profound connection linking the WBC and a US audience--indeed, it seems as if they mostly tried to accomplish the opposite.

Sports Journalists

Voice of the Fans and Players? The articles examined in this paper featured elements of selectivity, silence, and cynicism to belittle the importance, status, or meaning of the WBC. The selective incorporation of a few of MLB'S biggest names in stories about the WBC seemed to follow the lead of MLB'S marketing of the tournament, and direct interest away from larger narratives about nations, leagues, or teams. (71) Writers consistently cited the WBC in connection with the biggest stars (Figure 1). Silence was also a crucial tool to marginalize the event. The dearth of reporting during the several months following the WBC's announcement illustrates the extent to which the tournament was largely ignored (Table 1). Cynical feature articles brazenly riddled with complaints about the WBC'S irrelevance symbolized an anger and backlash which (re)affirmed the primacy of MLB.

TABLE I. Number of Newspaper Stories on the 2006 World Baseball
Classic, May 10, 2005, to March 7, 2006

11% of coverage in nearly 70% time-frame examined

Month/Paper    NYT  WP   SFC  CS-T  ST  total

May 2005         2    2    0     0   0     4

June 2005        0    1    0     2   0     3

July 2005        8    3    2     5   1    19

Aug. 200s        2    0    0     0   1     3

Sept. 2005       2    0    1     0         4

Oct. 2005        4    0    0     0   0     4

Nov. 2005        6    3    1     0   0    10

Nearly 90% of coverage in just over 30% of time-frame examined

Dec. 2005       16   10   10    19   1    56

Jan. 2006       23   10    8    10   5    56

Feb. 2006       31   38   19    45  19    56

Mar. 1-7 2006   26   43   13    21  14   117

Total          120  110   54   102  43   428

Raul Lopez, president of a multicultural marketing research company, stated there was an impression that the wsc "was more important ... for the international teams than it was for the U.S. team and the general-market audiences."(72) The rhetoric surrounding the wEic advocated an American- and mu-centric view of baseball, and taken as a whole, the patterns of media coverage rejected the possibility of expanding an understanding of America's national pastime to include an international and global audience. Instead, as Elias argues, MLB did not create the WBC to foster international peace, friendship, or nationalism, but to sell individual stars from a diverse range of countries in a manner that allows MLB to retain control of this "migrant workforce" and maintain its profits.(73) In other words, baseball as an example of the excep-tionalist American dream remains unchallenged, and indeed strengthened, as evidenced by the influx of notable individuals in MLB from around the world who could not achieve the "dream" in their home nations or leagues.

Perhaps the most strongly articulated sentiment toward the WBC was skepticism, in contrast to Selig's exaggerated optimism. While the commissioner touted the WBC as a groundbreaking event that would usher in a new era of international baseball, journalists retorted with yawns and chortles, tagging the event as a "glorified spring training exhibition."(74) One writer claimed that "fans don't care," and to people in the United States, "this feels about as necessary as new Coke," invoking strong national symbolism of the iconic US beverage.(75) Speaking for themselves--but also at times for the players, general managers, coaches, as well as fans--the newspapers objected to the event's poor timing, rule changes, and high risk of injury for MLB players.

A common refrain in the press proposed that the tournament was a tremendous but impractical concept.(76) Baseball purists cringed that a mysterious and strange new competition would infringe upon their beloved month-long ritual of spring training. Journalists and fans alike claimed that players would not be ready to compete at the highest level when they were used to getting back in shape, building team chemistry, and concentrating on the goal of making it to the World Series." This view does not consider implications the event may have had for professional or amateur leagues outside of the United States. For example, Cuba interrupted its national series for six weeks to prepare for the WBC, and as mentioned previously, Japan's NPB league acquiesced despite games taking place during the first month of its regular season.(78)

While other players, officials, and leagues adapted their schedules in order to play in the WBC, MLB stakeholders construed the timing issue as a disruption distinctive to their organization. Patrick Reusse, who has covered /ALB for several decades, highlighted the importance of preparing players for the emotional and physical grind of a 162-game regular season.(79) He neglected to consider how much the tournament fractured the pace of those playing baseball in Australia, Cuba, Japan, South Africa, or South Korea, among others. A Minneapolis Star Tribune article referred to the event as the "WBC distraction" and argued that most major-league clubs fretted over how the event would disrupt the "rhythms of spring training."(80) From a fan's perspective, one writer bemoaned that in March "Aims players [are] at their most unwatchable," completely ignoring the forty percent of players in the event not representing the league, while another opined that players were not "battling for global supremacy" at this time of the year.(81) Indeed, despite a few notable exceptions, most seemed unwilling to take a broader worldview.(82) Interestingly, one article titled "Their Work Is Never Done" rejected the notion that spring training was even necessary, since elite athletes work to stay in shape year-round.(83)

Another powerful argument against the WBC was that it presented an enormous financial risk for MLB players to jeopardize their health by participating in the event. Yet, athletes are surrounded by the threat of injury regardless of the context. Every year, players are lost to injury sustained during spring training. Citing the risk of injury in the WBC and not spring training served to authenticate Ans as a worthy venture while disrespecting the WBC. One writer in particular claimed that a regular-season game would elicit more emotion from players than the WBC.(84) Others stated that the passion and lifelong quest athletes brought to the Olympics was not present in the Classic, at least among the US players.(85) Again, a small minority accentuated the hypocrisy in the negative rhetoric. Murray Chass of the New York Times questioned the sudden concern with injuries, claiming "critics are using the threat of injury as a way of expressing their dislike of the Classic."(86)

While several journalists predicted fans would overlook the WBC, some periodicals snubbed the event. Perhaps none dismissed the event more strikingly than the Sporting News, which omitted the Classic from its list of the top ten sporting events to watch for in 2006; interestingly, the Winter Olympic Games and FIFA Men's World Cup made the cut.(87) Overt dismissal of the event was commonplace following the announcement of the Classic as the MLB season was in full-swing. Reporting on the WBC increased markedly during the late winter months, well after the completion of the World Series. Even in the wealth of coverage leading up to the tournament, the Classic was still subtly discounted by burying or citing references deep within articles generally unrelated to the event. Figure i illustrates that forty-two percent of WBC references were side notes.

When the Classic was not dismissed, it was frequently condemned by sports journalists. These writers offered scathing columns, positing the "idiotic" event as unappealing to an American audience saturated with a lengthy MLB season that already produced a "world champion.(88) In short, they argued that no one was paying attention. They claimed that those who were not playing were as big of a story as who was, and openly asked, "The WBC--who really cares?"(89) Furthermore, writers argued the WBC'S lack of history weakened its significance, but this is a tautological argument. More precisely, the WBC lacked meaning for these pundits because they could not infuse it with the nostalgia or jingoism usually associated with baseball or MLR'S World Series. Unapologetic claims that the contest meant more to people outside the United States offered apparently sound logic to justify US fans' disinterest in the event. Skeptics' constant references to the rich meanings of nationalism and pride infused in the tournament for non-Americans revealed an ethnocentric point-of-view and confronted a firm, but destabilized, sense that baseball is an example of American exceptionalism. Ron Rapoport, of the Chicago Sun-Times, claimed the Classic captivated fans in a land "far, far, away."(90) Apparently Mexico and the Caribbean were too distant geographically and psychologically for this midwesterner.

Rule changes supposedly inhibited fans' ability to take the Classic seriously. Restrictions were in place primarily to protect MLB's pitchers, severely limiting the number of pitches they could throw or innings they could work, altering "the atomic structure of the tournament's every plate appearance."(91) Furthermore, to stack the rosters of countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, or South Africa, fuzzy eligibility guidelines allowed players to represent nations they were not from or had even lived in. For example, popular all-star Mike Piazza, from Pennsylvania, played for Italy, and the Netherlands placed pitcher Dan Haren on their roster, even though he had no idea why they would do so. The reports regularly referred to the WBC as an exhibition due to the structure of the event, but some were more creative with the way in which they minimized the pending competition. Humorous jabs such as referring to it as the "(kind of) Classic" were numerous.(92) Some writers posited that a player could join any team, as long as he could point to it on a globe.(93) A possible slight to not only the exuberance (read: supposed lesser significance of victory), but also the racial and ethnic makeup of the tournament's players, one held that the WBC looked more like Little League than the major leagues.(94) Others joked that to generate real excitement for the event organizers should schedule a match between the Cuban national team and Cuban defectors in the United States, or that a player who defected during the tournament would be more noteworthy than the games.(95) When the comedians ran out of copy, they turned to the successful strategy of capitalizing on celebrity culture, honing in on baseball's biggest stars to reassert American exceptionalism.

Born in New York City in 1975 to Dominican parents, Alex Rodriguez's publicized torment of whether to play for the Dominican Republic, the United States, or at all received attention in the national press. In March, when the tournament was nearing, Rodriguez betrayed his enthusiasm for the Classic by stating how odd it felt to be away from spring training and discussing how important it was for him to get his "work" in.(96) Similarly, Barry Bonds's decision not to play for the United States drew considerable interest. He initially cited health, family, and his commitment to the San Francisco Giants as reasons for dropping out, only to later publically state, "I just don't want to do it. Come on, the World Cup [sic] isn't the Olympics. Who cares? Does it mean anything?"(97) That he failed to identify the tournament by its correct name speaks to the general apathy for the Classic. On a more patriotic note, the media paid close attention to Roger Clemens's preparation for the event and his unwavering expression of gratitude, honor, and pride in the opportunity to represent his country.(98)

A number of sports journalists tempered the provincial critiques of the Classic with a multinational perspective. Most of these columns, however, came from the New York Times shortly following the announcement, or nearing the opening games, when they had grown tired of the overhyped protests.(99) Rather than oppose Selig's starry-eyed projections, they seemed to embrace the long overdue opportunity to discuss baseball on a global scale. They were inspired by the start of something special and admired the enthusiasm coming out of reports in several Latin American countries. MLB'S offseason, often referred to as the "Hot Stove," would finally expand beyond US borders to include daydreams of matchups between star-studded national clubs, pitting teammates (or rivals) on MLB squads against (or with) one another in an international forum. Furthermore, these columns critically examined the logistical issues and concerns surrounding the event without negating it entirely. They proffered a "both/and" approach rather than "either/or." As the WBC'S inaugural run, organizers obviously needed time to work out the problems. Equally as important, they demonstrated the myopic nature of the critics who objected that the Classic was disrupting spring training and potentially compromising the regular season.

These proponents of the event keenly stated how, at most, players would see action in seven games during the tournament and return to their camps following the first or second rounds, missing only one or two weeks of spring training.(100) In addition, the event is only held every four years. Some of these articles did not qualify or apologize for covering the event and urged readers to adopt an unconventional point-of-view in order to enjoy the upcoming series. Only a few articles provided a roster-by-roster preview and exhaustive outlook of the tournament.(101)


Interestingly, a player's nation of origin and ethnicity did not determine his passion for the event as much as the mainstream press would have readers believe. The players brought a much more complex set of attitudes and ideas toward the event, ranging from the highly patriotic to incredibly pessimistic, to those somewhere in the middle, nonplussed by the Classic. Audiences were inundated with anecdotal evidence that this meant a whole lot more to people in the Dominican Republic, Japan, or Venezuela than in the United States. It appears a player's perception of his status in MLB, however, had more to do with shaping his attitude toward the WBC than ethnicity. For example, high-profile players such as Manny Ramirez, Robinson Cana, Hideki Matsui, Mariano Rivera, and Barry Bonds, representing the Dominican Republic, Japan, Panama, and United States, respectively, all opted out of the tournament, giving primacy to their jobs in MLB and their goal of winning a World Series.(102) Several players followed suit, from rookies trying to earn a spot on their clubs to veterans hoping to stay healthy for one more season. Yet superstars such as Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Johan Santana, and Johnny Damon cited pride in representing their country over spring training obligations to the Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and Minnesota Twins. Many players fell somewhere in the middle, such as Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones of the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, who were uncomfortable with the new tournament causing them to miss spring training, yet still somewhat excited to participate. Either way, the idea that the majority of players had no interest in the event was overstated. Instead, a player made his decision based on a multitude of factors, including his status on the team, his club's philosophy toward the event, and his personal desire to represent his country.

The media portrayed a narrow view of the WBC. The idea that baseball could mean more to those outside of the United States was an unfamiliar concept which sport journalists and fans negated. In their eyes, the game had always been inimitably American, and fans and writers alike saw the Classic as an unnecessary experiment. In other words, they reasserted MLB'S legitimacy and denied the Classic's authenticity. Having lost status as the national pastime within the United States to football, the idea that baseball was no longer exclusively "America's game" was met with further resistance. Questions such as "what's in it for us?" and "why fix something that is not broken?" foregrounded the anger and backlash prevalent in journalists' musings on the event. How the press answered these rhetorical questions demeaned the Classic before a single pitch was thrown.


I examined the coverage of five major newspapers between May 10, 2005, and March 7, 2006, the dates of the announcement of the wric and the first game played by the US team. The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle were chosen primarily to represent different regions of the country in an effort to ascertain a diverse national narrative of the WBC by reading the local sports section of each region. In addition, nine of the thirty major-league teams are covered locally by these papers.

Several of the major storylines leading into the wsc were situated geographically among the specific teams covered by these presses. For example, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez's indecision concerning which country to play for, or whether to play at all, captivated and frustrated those who were paying attention to WBC plot lines.(103) In 2005, the Chicago White Sox had won the World Series to capture their first title since 1917. How would the club react to sending some of their stars to a "World Series" of a different nature? Their vocal and provocative manager, Ozzie Guillen, gladly offered controversial statements about Alex Rodriguez and the event itself. An egocentric and fiery Barry Bonds (of the San Francisco Giants)--mired in a steroid scandal, injuries, and the pursuit of MLB's all-time home run record--led the way in pledging and ultimately rescinding commitment to his country and the WBC. Finally, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News were selected to supplement the regional reporting with a national outlook, and were reviewed in the same date range. Coverage in the newspapers greatly outnumbered that in the magazines.(104)

As the quantity of magazine entries were considerably less, they were evaluated purely for content rather than as sites of larger patterns and narratives. A total of forty-seven articles were penned in the five newspapers from the beginning of May 2005, to the end of November 2005; in short, 11% of the coverage appeared in nearly 70% of the time leading up to the WBC.(105) Conversely, 63% of the articles were published from February 1, 2006, to March 7, 2006, just 11% of the total time-frame examined in this study. Substantial coverage also appeared in December and January (roughly twenty-six percent combined), though this was mostly attributed to treatment of Cuba's uncertain status in the Classic. In sum, nearly go% of the stories appeared in the three months prior to the event (Table 1). The lack of hype and audience-building for a first-time international sporting event is telling in consideration of my initial question concerning lack of interest. There was a paucity of information regarding the WBC until the final month before the first game.(106)

The WBC appeared in newspaper stories along five major themes or patterns: as a side note and/or buried reference; in conjunction with MLB stars; as feature (full-length) articles; in reference to political and/or international issues or teams; and as quoting player, coach, manager, general manager, and/ or owner sentiments (Figure 1). These categories are not mutually exclusive; for example, the most common type of article briefly mentioned a (star) player's excitement, ambivalence, or health issues in relation to the WBC at the end of a piece entirely unrelated to the event.(107) This article was thus categorized as a "side note/buried reference," "player sentiment," and potentially "MLB stars" if the player held such stature. Others such as Henry Schulman's "Gold Glove in liand, Vizquel Is Ready to Take on the World; wsc Event Is a Big Deal in 1-lis Native Venezuela," met all but one of these themes, as this article was clearly not a "Side Note."(108)


(1.) Tim Wiles, foreword to Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game, by David Block (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005), xvi.

(2.) "IBAF Tournaments." IBAF website, last modified June 12, 2010, The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) website provides a brief history and review of international baseball tournaments, including the Olympics, WBC, World Cup, Intercontinental Cup, and Women's Baseball World Cup. Baseball was dropped as an Olympic sport following 2008. For specifics on the history of baseball in the Olympics leading up to the first medal tournament in 1992, see Pete Cava, "Baseball in the Olympics," Citius, Altius, Fortius 1, no. i (1992): 7-15.

(3.) As cited in George Rogers Taylor, ed., The Turner Thesis: Concerning the Role of the Frontier in American History (Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1972),

(4.) 22. 4. Gerald R. Gems, The Athletic Crusade: Sport and American Cultural Imperialism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006), 140-41.

(5.) Block, Baseball before We Knew It, 16.

(6.) For examples of excellent research excavating and expounding on baseball's historical roots and myths, see Block, Baseball before We Knew It and John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011). Block uncovered a set of detailed rules for a game called "English base-ball" in a German book published in 1796, effectively debunking the resilient claim proposed by Henry Chadwick in 1860 and again by Robert W. Henderson in 1939 that baseball descended from the English game of rounders (see pp. 30, 67-75). Dating back hundreds of years, Block provides an overview of research on baseball's ancient and global pedigree of bat and ball games descending from many cultures (see pp. 95-104), as well as his own interpretation of baseball's birth and maturation based on documented and verifiable evidence (see pp. 152-62), with the earliest reference to "base-ball" appearing in a 1748 letter from Lady Hervey (154). Likewise, Thorn argues no one invented baseball. He suggests the beginnings stretch as far back as 4,500 years ago in the game seker-hemat in Egypt, and that we cannot expect to "identify with certainty" how, when, and where baseball originated (57). Instead, Thorn analyzes the staying power of the many creation myths, their perpetrators, and their influence on the development of the game (xi), concluding that Albert Spalding was the most significant individual, intentionally or not, responsible for inventing baseball's "religion and its shrine" (296).

(7.) Block, Baseball before We Knew It, 13.

(8.) Steven A. Riess, Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 7.

(9.) Alan Schwarz, "World Cup Announcement Made," ESPN.COM, May 10, 2005, accessed February 11, 2011, This article, although appearing on ESPN'S website, is credited to Baseball America Online and is the earliest media press release I could find announcing the World Cup-style baseball tournament. Most of the media did not start covering the WBC until it was more formally introduced in July 2005, during MLB'S All-Star Game festivities, and even then the coverage was minimal until MLB'S offseason.

(10.) Contemporary knowledge of how the 2006 World Baseball Classic was marketed by Major League Baseball and received in terms of television ratings, ticket and merchandise sales, corporate sponsorships, and the press response is beyond the scope of this paper. I analyze this information in the unpublished paper '"We Need to Get the Good Old USA On Board': A Comparison of the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics" (presented at the North American Society for Sport History Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 25-27, 2013). Similarly, analysis of media reaction to the WBC in presses outside of the United States will be researched in future projects.

(11.) One example is Tom Verducci, "Global Warming," Sports Illustrated, March 6, 2006, accessed April (13. 2011, Verducci captured the notion that the WBC is more about MLB selling its merchandise and vision to an international audience than determining a true world champion. Star MLB players, such as Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki, questioned the legitimacy of the tournament in light of rule changes. See also Stan McNeal, "A Classic Case of Bad Timing," Sporting News, January 13, 2.006, 58, who cited the revenue for MLB from these "glorified exhibitions" as the "good" side of the WBC; John Shea, "Versatility, Bullpen May Be U.S. Keys," San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2006, C3 calls the tournament an "honorable and profitable gesture."

(12.) Robert Powell and Alan Schwarz, "Baseball's New World Order," New York Times, February 5, 2006, F28 dismisses Canada and Mexico as formidable opponents, however, Team USA lost to Canada in the opening round. While not analyzed in this paper, the media portrayed this loss as an embarrassment for the team, fans, and in nationalist rhetoric, the country. Needing a tiebreaker to advance to the second round, the US squad defeated Japan, the eventual champions, but next lost to South Korea, and lastly, were eliminated 2-0 by a Mexican team widely considered inferior to the US all-stars. Thought to have an easy route to the semifinals, Team USA failed to escape Round play.

(13.) For examples of Bud Selig and MLB's ambivalent promotion the 2006 WBC as a world competition, see Tom Verducci, "Arm Guards," Sports Illustrated, November 21, 2005, in which Selig claimed the tournament will "change the sport." Further, in Alan Schwarz, "World Cup Announcement Made," ESPN.COM, accessed February 11, 2011,, MLB and the MLBPA stated that the wsc would feature the "world's best players competing for their home countries," Selig softened the competitive tone somewhat by highlighting the Classic as a "platform to grow the game internationally" and to "bring a unique blend of enthusiasm to old and new fans alike."

(14.) See Thomas W. Zeiler, Ambassadors in Pinstripes: The Spalding World Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006).

(15.) Zeiler, Ambassadors in Pinstripes, 190.

(16.) Zeiler, Ambassadors in Pinstripes, ix.

(17.) Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist, National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2005), 207.

(18.) Szymanski and Zimbalist, National Pastime, 62.

(19.) Szymanski and Zimbalist, National Pastime, 62-64. Szymanski and Zimbalist succinctly describe why baseball thrived in Central America, the Caribbean, and Japan, while failing to do so in the rest of the world. See also George Gmelch, ed., Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006) for an explanation of how baseball developed organically in countries outside of the United States once introduced by American influences.

(20.) Alan M. Klein, Growing the Game: The Globalization of Major League Baseball (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 241. The series did not take place in 1994 due to the MLB strike, and was cancelled in 2008 due to the WBC in 2009. It is not clear that this series will take place again, although MLB and NPB officials are considering a "World Series" between the MLB and NPB champions to take place following each season.

(21.) The Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) played twenty-two regular season games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. However, this was less an attempt at globalizing baseball as it was a desperate measure to help a single franchise generate revenue. Several stars on the Expos hailed from Puerto Rico or other Latin countries and in 2003 attendance averaged around two thousand fans higher per game in San Juan than Montreal.

(22.) Alan M. Klein, "Globalizing Sport: Assessing the World Baseball Classic," Soccer & Society 9, 110. 2 (2008): 158.

(23.) Gmelch, Baseball without Borders, 310.

(24.) Robert Elias, The Empire Strikes Out: How Baseball Sold American Foreign Policy and Promoted the American Way Abroad (New York: New Press, zoto), 1.

(25.) See Klein, "Globalizing Sport," 158, for the statistics in the previous two sentences.

(26.) Szymanski and Zimbalist, National Pastime, 207.

(27.) Klein, Growing the Game, 223.

(28.) Szymanski and Zimbalist, National Pastime, 49.

(29.) "Baseball World Cup," [BAP website, accessed April 13, ma,

(30.) Szymanski and Zimbalist, National Pastime, 49.

(31.) Cava, "Baseball in the Olympics," 7-15.

(32.) Klein, Growing the Game, 240.

(33.) Cava, "Baseball in the Olympics," 15.

(34.) Klein, Growing the Game, 243.

(35.) Klein, Growing the Game, 242-43.

(36.) Klein, Growing the Game, 14.

(37.) It should be noted the NHL is considering reversing their stance on interrupting the season for the 2014 Olympics, although in June 2013, the league appears close to again allowing its players to compete. Several NHL players have threatened to compete in the Winter Games regardless of the NHL'S decision.

(38.) Klein, "Globalizing Sport," 159.

(39.) Klein, "Globalizing Sport," 159.

(40.) Klein, "Globalizing Sport," 163. Other nations were not the only ones frustrated by MLB and the WBC. Alan Klein believes MLB narrowly attempted to expand the game solely through marketing and intervention, neglecting that baseball is a foreign cultural product. He cogently argues that the game will not be adapted unless N41.13 policy incorporates the social sciences and cultural and historical interventions in its development programs.

(41.) Klein, Growing the Game, 157.

(42.) See Ron Rapoport, "Cubs a National Disgrace if Washington Wins It All," Chicago Sun-Times, June 14, 2005, 95; Elliott Harris, "OK to Divide vs. Sox; Cubs Must Conquer NL Central," Chicago Sun-Times, June 28, 2005,. too; and "Virginia Advances to ACC Baseball Final," Washington Post, May 29, 2005, E06.

(43.) "Japanese Owners Threated to Keep Country Out of World Tournament," Washington Post, June 13, 2005, E08.

(44.) Klein, Growing the Game, 245. Klein provided a breakdown of the net profits from the tournament. While it appears MLB and the MLBPA received an unfair share (35%), when divided among all thirty Nius teams, the net profit is the same when divided among the twelve NPB teams, and all other professional leagues.

(45.) Klein, Growing the Game, 247.

(46.) Klein, "Globalizing Sport," 160.

(47.) This issue was one of the most heavily covered topics regarding the WBC by the five newspapers I examined. Numerous examples detail the situation. Some include Jack Curry, "New Effort by M.L.B. to Include Cuba in World Classic," New York Times, December 23, 2005, D3, which mentions Puerto Rico threatening to boycott, while Gerald Eskenazi, "Sports Briefing," New York Times, December 29, 2005, D7 describes Venezuela's offer to host in place of the United States to allow Cuba to play.

(48.) "Schilling Is Back With Red Sox, Will Initially Pitch In Relief," Washington Post, July 14, 2005, E05.

(49.) Associated Press, "Castro Ready to Play Ball: New York Times, December 3, 2005, D5.

(50.) Murray Chass, "us Says No To Cuba's Bid to Play," New York Times, December 15, 2005, D7.

(51.) Klein, "Globalizing Sport," 160.

(52.) Curry, "New Effort by M.L.B.," D3.

(53.) Associated Press, "Policy Reversal Sought," New York Times, December 20, 2005, D5.

(54.) Jack Curry, "Cuba Makes Cut For World Classic," New York Times, January 2.1, 2006, DI.

(55.) In addition to the several New York Times articles previously referen.ced, journalists nalists from other major newspapers took note. These include: Ron Rapoport, "Vick Gets the Boot from Virginia Tech," Chicago Sun-Times, January 9, 2006, 91; Dave Sheinin, "Tournament Offers Bases for Comparison," Washington Post, December 6, 2005, E06; John Shea, "U.S. Shuts Cuba Out of Baseball Tournament; Treasury Department Cites Law Banning Commerce with Nation," San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 2005, Al states the WBC will take a hit without Cuba in the event and further suggests it is already unknown what stature the event will have with fans; and "NILE, Puerto Rico Working to Get Cuba into Classic Tourney," Chicago Sun-Times, December 23, 2005, 136.

(56.) Chen, "World Serious," January 16, 2006; and in Greg Couch, "Picture This: Rogers Perfect Party Pooper," Chicago Sun-Times, July 13, 2005, 133, Selig stated one "cannot underestimate how important the World Baseball Classic will be."

(57.) Tom Verducci, "Arm Guards," Sports Illustrated, November 21, 2005; and Dave Sheinin, "Tournament Offers Bases for Comparison," Washington Post, Eo6.

(58.) Verducci, "Global Warming," March 6, 2.006.

(59.) Schwarz, "World Cup Announcement," May 10, 2005.

(60.) Fred Bierman, "A Global Alternative to Spring Training," New York Times, February 12, 2006, D11.

(61.) Jack Curry, "17 Days in March: Time to Play Ball," New York Times, March 3, 2006, D3.

(62.) Curry, "17 Days in March," March 3, 2006.

(63.) Patrick Reusse, "Marlins Will Be a Blight on Selig's Legacy," Star Tribune, December 10, 2005, ic.

(64.) John Shea, "Baseball Winter Meetings; Top o' the World, Ma!; Bay Area Players Sign on for Classic," San Francisco Chronicle, December 6, 2005, Cl.

(65.) Michael Oriard, "A Linguistic Turn into Sport History,"' in Deconstructing Sport History: A Postmodern Analysis, ed. Murray G. Phillips (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006), 80.

(66.) Chris De Luca, "Out of U.S., Classic a Big Deal," Chicago Sun-Times, March 5, 2006, A88; and Stan McNeal, "A Classic Case of Bad Timing," Sporting News, January 13, 2006, 58. More examples include Elliott Harris; "Another Reason to Worry," Chicago Sun-Times, July 13, 2005, 126, who wrote that "March is for spring training, not championship-caliber competition"; as well as Carol Slezak, "Country Music or Classic Schlock? MLB'S WBC Tourney Doesn't Seem to be Worth the Trouble Chicago Sun-Times, December 13, 2005, 104, who claimed the wsc "bugs" her and listed several grievances including its name, timing, and artificial patriotism, while Steve Fainaru, "In the WBC, Here's to Your Health," Washington Post, March 7, 2006, 504, claimed that the rules of the WBC were constructed in a way that compromised the primary objective of the tournament.

(67.) Henry Schulman, "World Classic Calls Barry (U.S: Bonds," San Francisco Chronicle, December 1,2005, D2; and Jay Mariotti, "Williams Now Nothing Short of a GM Gem," Chicago Sun-Times, December 15, 2005, 127.

(68.) Carol Slezak, "Add These to Things You Can Count On," Chicago Sun-Times, December 30, 2005, 146.

(69.) Ron Rapoport, "After String of Hits, Selig Pressing his Luck with WBC," Chicago Sun-Times, February 22, 2006, 113.

(70.) Dave Hoekstra, "Toast Tourney with World Classic Fare Chicago Sun-Times, February 26, 2006, G04.

(71.) Robert Elias, The Empire Strikes Out: How Baseball Sold U.S. Foreign Policy and Promoted the American Way Abroad (New York: The New Press, 2010), 277-78.

(72.) Benjamin Goss, "Taking the Ballgame Out to the World: An Analysis of the WBC as a Global Branding Promotional Strategy for Major League Baseball' Journal of Sport Administration and Supervision 1, no. 1 (2009): 75-95.

(73.) Elias, The Empire Strikes Out, 277-78.

(74.) Chen, "World Serious," January 16, 2006.

(75.) Chen, "World Serious," January 16, 2006.

(76.) Gene Minkow, "A Scheduling Debacle New York Times, January 8, 2006, H8; and George Vecsey, "Global Games Have Gravitational New York Times, March 5, 2006, G8.

(77.) Tyler Kepner, "The World Classic: No, The World Series: Yes," New York Times, February 17, 2006, D8; and Elliott Harris, "Another Reason to Worry," Chicago Sun-Times, July 13, 2005, 126.

(78.) Ron Rapoport, "Chief Question Is, Which School Is True Leader?" Chicago Sun-Times, February 2, 2006, 97.

(79.) Patrick Reusse, "Muzzled Gardenhire No Fan of WBC; The Timing of the New World Baseball Classic Is All Wrong for the Majors," Star Tribune, March 2, 2006, 1c.

(80.) Joe Christensen, "It's Not a Good Time to Cast First Hall of Fame Vote Star Tribune, January 15, 2006, 5c.

(81.) Chris De Luca, "Global Affair Won't Become Instant Classic: Rules Render International Baseball Event More of an Exhibition Than a Competition," Chicago Sun-Times, February 9, 2006, 102; and Stan McNeal, "A Classic Case of Bad Timing," Sporting News, January 13, 2006, 58.

(82.) Michael Rand, "Give WBC a Year to Work Out Some Kinks," Star Tribune, March 6, 2006, 2c quipped that the negativity surrounding the event was offered up by those who do not like change.

(83.) Stan McNeal, "Their Work Is Never Done Sporting News, February 3, 2006, 14-15.

(84.) Chris De Luca, "Global Affair Won't Become Instant Classic," Chicago Sun-Times, February 9., 2006, 102.

(85.) Chris De Luca, "Out of U.S., Classic a Big Dear Chicago Sun-Times, March 5, 2006, A88.

(86.) Murray Chass, "To Play or Not to Play, That Is the Question," New York Times, March 1, 2006, D5.

(87.) "io Ways to Say 2006 Will Be a Great Year in Sports," Sporting News, January 13, 2006, 4-5. The WBC's omission from this list may reveal more about the magazine's target demographic than it does about the WBC.

(88.) The following are but a few examples: Ben Shpigel, "From Mets' Perspective, Classic Is a Glass Half Full," New York Times, March 6, 2006, D2; Patrick Reusse, "Muzzled Gardenhire," March 2, 2006; John Shea, "Skeptics Think Classic Shapes Up as Selig's Fo11y" San Francisco Chronicle, February 26, 2006, C2; and Chris De Luca, "Global Affair Won't Become Instant Classic," Chicago Sun-Times, February 9, 2006.

(89.) John Shea, "Skeptics Think Classic Shapes Up as Selig's Folly," San Francisco Chronicle, February 26, 2006.

(90.) Ron Rapoport, "WBC Captivating Audiences in a Land Far, Far Away," Chicago Sun-Times, March 7, 2006, 97.

(91.) Alan Schwarz, "Pitch Limits Squeeze a Classic Strategy," New York Times, March 5, 2006, G10.

(92.) Stan McNeal, "Fastballs, Flags, and Favorites: Your Guide to the '06 World Baseball Classic," Sporting News, March 3, 2006, 40-42.

(93.) Scott Ostler, "Where Being in Charge Doesn't Mean Much," San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2006, C2.

(94.) Chris De Luca, "Global Affair Won't Become Instant Classic," February 9, 2006.

(95.) Jack Curry, "Security Is an Issue for the Cuban Team," New York Times, January 25, 2006, D2.

(96.) Tyler Kepner, "Ready for Competition or Not, Yankees Squad Splits to Prepare for Classic," New York Times, March 3, 2006, D2.

(97.) Henry Schulman, "Bonds Goes Back, Forth; Stories Differ about Retiring," San Francisco Chronicle, February 20, 2006, Dl.

(98.) "Clemens Serves Up First Pitch HR to S011: Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, 2006, 83; "Clemens Brushes Back Son after HR," Washington Post, February 28, 2006, E07; and "On First Pitch, Son Gets the Better of the Father," New York Times, February 28, 2006, D2.

(99.) Murray Chass, "Finally, a Chance to Find the True World Champion Beyond October," New York Times, May 12, 2005., D4; David Leonhardt, "First World Cup Could Feature American Arms Against Dominican Bats," New York Times, July io, 2005, Cu; George Vecsey, "Global Games Have Gravitational Pull," New York Times, March 5, 2oo6, G8; and Jack Curry, "17 Days in March: Time to Play Ball," New York Times, March 3, 2006, D3.

(l00.) Joe Christensen, "Will the World Baseball Classic Ruin the Game?" Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 15, 2006, ic; Joe Christensen, "Insider," Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 26, 2006, gc; and Michael Rand, "Give W.B.C. a Year to Work Out Some Kinks," Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 6, 2006, 2C.

(101.) Bruce Jenkins, "Where Passion Lives for WBC," San Francisco Chronicle, February 28, 2006, DI; John Shea, "Versatility, Bullpen May Be U.S. Keys," San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2006, c3; and Stan McNeal, "Fastballs, Flags, and Favorites: Your Guide to the '06 World Baseball Classic," Sporting News, March 3, 2006, 40-42.

(102.) Cano, Matsui, and Rivera may have been influenced by George Steinbrenner's vocal disapproval of the WBC, although other Yankees rebuffed the powerful owner to play for their respective countries.

(103.) He was widely considered the best player in the world at this time and was in the middle of a record $252 million, ten-year contract.

(104.) I searched for articles which contained the words "World Baseball Classic" in each medium. Overall, approximately 450 to 475 newspaper columns, features, stories, and briefings were identified, of which 428 were significant and categorized. Some, such as television schedules, were negligible or were referenced in completely unrelated articles.

(105.) Nineteen of these appeared in July, when MLB officially announced the WBC during the all-star break.

(106.) A similar study of press coverage ten months prior to FIFA'S World Cup would serve as a good benchmark for comparison.

(107.) Forty-two percent (178 of 428) of the articles met this categorization. For example, Tyler Kepner, "Rivera Isn't Worried About Setup Man," New York Times, November 19, 2005, D6 is an article about a couple of bullpen pitchers for the Yankees. Buried at the end are Derek Jeter's thoughts about playing in the Classic. Another is "Bryant Sets Mark at Tour Championship," Washington Post, November 4, 2005, E02, which leads with a golf story prior to mentioning base coach Tony Pena's decision to withdraw as manager of the Dominican Republic to focus on his job with the Yankees. In Minnesota, La Velle E. Neal III, "Ryan Loses Assistant GM Krivsky to Reds' Job," Star Tribune, February 9, 2006, 3c buries Joe Mauer's decision not to play in the WBC in a story about the Twins' front office staff. Henry Schulman, "At Last, Feliz Enjoying Being the First at Third," San Francisco Chronicle, February 21, 2006, D4 is an example of a frequent story which appeared of a player being given an opportunity in spring training due to other players joining their WBC teams.

(108.) Henry Schulman, "Gold Glove in Hand," San Francisco Chronicle, February 18, 2006, D5.
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Author:Tepoel, Dain
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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