I know some will think I am an old fuddy duddy to say so. But it doesn't make me happy at all to hear the folks who operate the World Baseball Classic are trying to lure certain Cardinals ballplayers to participate in their little springtime tournament.
I guess I am supposed to feel honored that the Redbirds players have been asked to compete in something of an all-star game situation with the best players from each of the represented countries hashing it out to see from which locale the best ballplayers in the world come.
But all I can muster is anxiety that Cardinals players, who have bigger fish to fry in trying to get back to the playoffs, might be injured in relatively meaningless exhibition games.
Fortunately, third baseman David Freese agrees. He has reportedly turned down an invitation to play for Team USA to concentrate on being in the best shape possible for his real job. Unfortunately, several other St. Louis players -- including fragile lefty starting pitcher Jaime Garcia -- seem to be on board with playing.
I'm sure that Major League Baseball endorses the play of its athletes in the World Baseball Classic, otherwise it wouldn't excuse it players in the middle of the spring training Grapefruit and Cactus league seasons. But I wonder if so many players would be eager to go show off for their country if they were informed that if they injured themselves taking an un-necessary risk playing exhibition games that their multi-million-dollar contracts would be voided that they would think twice about putting their careers on the line.
Major League Baseball allows the players to play because it cares only about marketing its product, however, not the health of the players. To them, the names and the faces change and the world moves on. The individual athletes are a lot more important to the individual fans than they are to the folks that run the league. They're also a lot more important to the individual team owners who seem to discourage their players from participating in the World Baseball Classic without the power to actually stop them.
The bottom line is that if Yadier Molina breaks his leg or Garcia ruins his shoulder helping their team to the World Baseball Classic championship, it's not going to be worth it to anybody.