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Summer Madness

A fix for the WBC

WANT TO KNOW everything that is right and wrong with the World Baseball Classic? Last Saturday in Miami, the Dominican Republic came from 5--0 down to beat the United States 7--5 in a game as thrilling as it was loud.

Yet even though all 10 players who have won an MVP or a Cy Young Award in the past three years were born in the U.S., not a single one bothered suiting up for Team USA. Fans aren't buying in when American players, GMs and managers aren't buying in.

The WBC needs more than the USA reaching the finals for the first time—this week it will play in the second round of pool play in San Diego, one stop short of the final four—in order to get Americans interested in the tournament. It needs to be played in July, displacing the All-Star Game every four years. The idea has been kicked around by MLB and the players' association in very informal brainstorming sessions.

Here's how it would work: The top six ranked baseball nations are invited, with two more countries added by way of qualifiers. There would be two pools of four teams each that would play on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the top two teams advancing from each. Friday is the International Home Run Derby. Saturday is the Final Four. Sunday is the championship game. It works because pitchers are in midseason form and baseball has the sports landscape to itself—it doesn't compete with March Madness or, as it does now with spring training, with itself. You've just created baseball's version of Super Bowl week.