Dunlap: World Baseball Classic Too Risky

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Still waiting …

Yep, I’m still waiting for someone to let me know exactly what the benefits are for the entire Pirates outfield — Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco — to play in the World Baseball Classic.

Same thing with Francisco Cervelli. What’s the positive? How is this good? What’s the upshot here?

How about Ivan Nova? He’s in the Dominican Republic’s pitcher pool and might play, but what’s the positive? How is this at all a good thing?

McCutchen will play for the United States, Marte and Polanco for the Dominican and Cervelli will catch for the Italian squad and I’m begging to know what good could come out of all this. To me, there really isn’t any. Zero. Only bad can happen, really.

So let’s paint a scenario.

Let’s say the American team is in the final. It is the bottom of the ninth in the absolute final game and McCutchen steps to bat with the game tied. He laces one down the line high and deep. Walkoff.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

All 29 Americans interested in this thing will be chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but will anyone remember that a week later? And more to the point, will it serve to propel McCutchen in the regular season and beyond, serve as a springboard to some kind of success for the team that pays him; the Pirates? I can’t see how.

Or paint the scenario with one of the Dominicans being the walkoff hero in this World Baseball Classic that begins March 6 and ends March 22. Would it at all be beneficial to the Pirates or serve to help their development as Major League Baseball players? I don’t think so.

Paul Archey, the former MLB senior vice president of international baseball operations, recently told Baseball America: “The WBC from the first time was a tremendous success … (That’s) how it was pitched to owners. We didn’t create this event for the United States. It wasn’t for baseball to be more popular here. It was to give baseball a global platform. The No. 1 objective was to raise the profile of baseball around the world.”

Great.

The Pirates, however, shouldn’t be in the business of growing the global game. The Pirates — and we all know their financial situation — should be in the business of protecting their most important assets at all costs.

As the organization looks at the landscape, there is zero benefit and all risk to the endeavor of permitting their players to play in the WBC.

That’s why, when I think about this unnecessary and futile exercise in baseball exhibitions, I keep thinking most about the already-dinged-up Cervelli. He is a vital piece for the Pirates this season, a player who has a monumental duty of controlling that pitching staff and providing a bit of an offensive punch here and there. He is also someone who recently signed a three-year extension with the club and is already on shaky footing with injuries as he incessantly seems to have something nagging that he fights through.

When I think of the World Baseball Classic as it pertains to the Pirates, I think most of Cervelli. I think of him — and by extension the Pirates — taking this ludicrous risk. And you know what I keep thinking?

One word: Why?

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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