Under The Knife 3/13/23
Let’s get right to the injuries:
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
Pitch count regulations have been in force at the World Baseball Classic since it started. It’s to protect pitchers and even then, MLB has pushed its own medical staffs on the tournament this year, a change. One team source asked me what I thought of them and I said they were a joke. I’m not in favor of pitch counts in general, but Josh Rudd pointed out on Twitter that the WBC requires more rest from a pitcher than if it were in a 9-year-old league. Teams should be focused on workload, not pitch count, and especially not to the detriment of what should be the biggest game-promoting international tournament around.
So far, we’ve had no major injuries in the tournament, despite this definitely not being an All-Star Game level effort. (I mean all ASGs, not just baseball. The NBA and NHL games have become an embarrassment of not trying.) In early rounds, we’re seeing a lot of functional bullpenning, both to avoid pitch counts, real fatigue, and to save pitchers for key matchups in a very uneven first round.
We’ll see this begin to look more like real baseball in the next rounds, but we still won’t see deep starters. Granted, real baseball is looking more and more like that but there’s at least the chance. What’s intriguing to me is the concept that all teams can somehow just wish away injuries and kind of have it work. Is it luck, or is there something functionally different being done? Is 90 percent baseball a healthier version? We know we’re beyond the “pitchers pay the cost down the line for the WBC” (largely), but are there other learnings we should get?
The baseball is entertaining at this stage, and teams could learn a lot from how foreign fans take in the game. I’m hoping we’ll get better baseball as we seem to be headed towards either a USA-Japan final, or an epic upset in the quarters. Does Team Australia have it in them to be a Cinderella? I was at the first WBC, taking in games in Anaheim and it’s grown well. I can only hope it continues, but that one big injury the tournament has managed to avoid is always out there.
KODAI SENGA, SP NYM (inflamed finger)