March 11, 2013

Ken Griffey Jr, World Baseball Classic ambassador

Ken Griffey Jr on his camouflage jersey giveaway day

Ken Griffey Jr on his camouflage jersey giveaway day

The New York Times interviewed Ken Griffey, Jr over the weekend, talking to him about his family and his role as an ambassador for the World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Here in the U.S., we need to do a better job of supporting our team. The support isn’t as much as it should be. For me, I want a team where I have to turn guys away. I want to be the guy to say, “We’re already full.” You look at the enthusiasm from the other countries and how guys want to play for their team. I think it’s a little different here. But it can change, and it should change.

The WBC is definitely more popular in other countries than in the US. And it’s the same with me. I know I don’t go out of my way to watch any WBC games. In some ways, I think US interest in the tournament is depressed by the existence of MLB. With the exception of Canada, none of the other countries see major-league talent every day during the summer. This is their chance to see and compare their country’s athletes against the best.

For me, it feels like watching an all star version of spring training, with less of the meaningfulness of the actual All Star game. Of course, I’m not the target audience. I already like baseball; I don’t need to be sold.

I understand the desire to make it more popular in the US, and support from Griffey and the inclusion of bigger stars will help. But right now, I still feel the ending of the 2012 MLB season. And only the Cincinnati Reds playing real baseball can assuage that. The WBC is a pale substitute.

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