Sports Illustrated and MLB Network analyst Tom Verducci loves the World Baseball Classic, and he was happy to see it get so much attention this year. But he has an idea to give it even more of a spotlight.
“I think it’s fine where it is, but if you really wanted to blow it up a little more, I’d play it during the All-Star break (every four years),” Verducci said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I would bag the All-Star Game, I’d move the WBC to the middle of July when there’s no other sports – it kind of gets lost in March Madness – and I’d have international Home Run Derby. I would definitely have a tournament. It would take about eight days, so you’d have to extend the break a little bit. I’m not sure the owners would want to do that, but I’d give the stage all to the WBC and play it in the middle of July when everybody is in midseason form – literally – rather than (asking) some of these pitchers in early March to pitch.
“But I was happy to see that it really got some traction this year,” Verducci continued. “I thought the games were great. I really thought the games were very competitive, played at a very high level. I thought it gained a lot of traction having the U.S. team make their run. That was something I think everybody in MLB has been waiting for.”
The United States beat Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the championship.
Verducci was also about MLB’s potential rule changes to extra-inning games. In general, he staunchly opposes them.
“Listen, if you’re someone who wants to artificially shorten a baseball game by calling a tie a tie or putting runners on base like we saw in the WBC, you’re not a true baseball fan,” he said. “I’m sorry. And I get why they do it in the WBC. It’s a tournament atmosphere, guys are on pitch limits – I get all that. It’s fine in that environment. But for a Major League Baseball game, why are we stopping these games? Because the rest of us want to go to bed early? Because the players are too tired the next day? Come on.
Verducci doesn’t believe that there are enough 18-inning marathons to warrant a rule change.
“There’s probably five, six – I don’t know how many games go extremely long during the course of a season,” he said. “I love to see the position players when they get on the mound and see some of the wild things that happen and guys have to play different positions and guys have to think outside the box. Again, anybody who wants to put an artificial end on a Major League Baseball game, a regular-season game, you’re not a true fan.”