From the Associated Press.
Bobby Valentine calls the plan for the World Baseball Classic misguided and insulting.
Major League Baseball and its players’ association have approved the 16-nation tournament, a World Cup-style event that would be played in March 2006. But the former New York Mets manager, who is currently managing in Japan, is not sold on the idea and thinks Japan should not take part.
“I’m all in favor of doing anything to help promote baseball internationally,” Valentine said Monday. “But this idea is misguided. As a manager, there is no way I’d want one of my players to take part in a tournament like this before the start of the season.”
Officials of MLB and its union traveled to Japan this month and set an end-of-the-month deadline for an agreement with the Japanese owners and players. MLB has been planning an announcement of the World Baseball Classic for July 11, the day before the All-Star Game in Detroit.
“We told the Japanese we needed their decision by June 30, that was the absolutely outermost limit of time we had,” Gene Orza, the union’s chief operating officer, said a week ago.
Japanese baseball officials have objected to both the timing of the event and the distribution of revenue, which they say overwhelmingly favors the major leagues. Valentine, who manages the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League, agrees.
“It’s just insulting for Orza to come over here and give the Japanese an ultimatum like that,” Valentine said. “The revenue distribution is something like 60 or 70 percent in favor of the major leagues.”
Much as I loathe the prospect of Carlos Beltran tearing up a knee during the WBC, this is the same squeeze that soccer players around the globe find themselves in. Would the World Cup be the planet’s most watched sporting event if top players weren’t allowed to compete? Of course, soccer’s governing body FIFA, for all it’s faults and ethical lapses, represents the interests of more than one national association.