The MLB is in a tough spot. Unlike the other major sports leagues, baseball’s season was just about to get started when the Coronavirus shut down operations. With their ballpark and television revenues dried up and stadiums sitting empty, Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball have a problem.
How can they salvage their 2020 season?
The NHL and NBA have halted in the home stretch of their seasons, and have navigated a shared playoffs schedule for years, so a pushed conclusion isn’t too far off for either league. The NFL is waiting to see how far into the fall the social distancing measures will go, but all signs seem to be pointing to a positive outcome. Which leaves MLB as the only major sports league to truly be in trouble.
In an offseason that brought some dark moments for the league directly into the spotlight, Major League Baseball needs a solution to their problem and they need it fast. The longer they toil with Cactus and Grapefruit league splits, and games without fans, the longer their real issue becomes apparent: they are running out to time to put something into place.
However, it’s possible that a solution has been under their nose the entire time. A solution so simple, and so easy to implement that all they would need are the uniforms. It is also a solution that perfectly encapsulates coming together in celebration of sports and the best of what this world has to offer. And above all of that, it provides a replacement for an already displaced world event.
I’m talking about the World Baseball Classic.
With the 2020 Olympics being postponed until 2021, the World Baseball Classic’s future is already in jeopardy. With Tokyo hoping to include the sport, the only countries that were scheduled to participate were Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and Israel. That’s also because they were the only teams to qualify, or even participate in qualifying events.
But the World Baseball Classic can fill that void on a global and domestic scale. Not to mention, it can employ a large number of players. With the WBC’s eligibility rules being already relaxed, more players have the chance to play. I mean, Tim Tebow is playing for the Philippines, you guys. The sky is the limit.
According to the WBC rulebook, a player is eligible to play for a country if:
- The player previously appeared on a Federation team’s final roster at the start of either a WBC Qualifier or Tournament Round; or
- The player is a citizen of the Federation Team’s country or territory, as evidenced by a valid passport the player holds as of three months prior to the start of the Qualifying Round; or
- The player is currently a permanent legal resident of the Federation Team’s country or territory, as evidenced by documentation satisfactory to WBCI and the WBSC, or
- The player was born in the Federation Team’s country or territory, as evidenced by a birth certificate or its equivalent; or
- The player has at least one parent who is, or if deceased was, a citizen of the Federation Team’s country or territory, as evidenced by a passport or other documentation satisfactory to WBCI and the WBSC; or
- The player has at least one parent who was born in the Federation Team’s country or territory, as evidenced by a birth certificate or its equivalent; or
- The player presents documentary evidence satisfactory to WBCI that he would be granted citizenship or a passport in due course under the laws of the Federation Team’s country or territory (excluding any requirement of the Federation Team’s country that the player would need to renounce his current citizenship) if he were to apply for such citizenship or passport.
This is the way to salvage this season. Why shoehorn a few games into two leagues, played in two states that might not be open by then? When it comes to restarting the MLB season, they need to stop thinking about the future of the league and think about the future of the game.
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