The 2023 World Baseball Classic delivered so many great moments that will forever continue to grow the game of baseball. Yes, please still be upset that Major League Baseball remains a sellout giving exclusive rights to various platforms that also include blackouts — these money grabs only make it more difficult for baseball to reach its audience and potential audience. However, the 2023 WBC did not disappoint.
In fact, Tuesday’s Japan-United States championship game averaged 4.48 million viewers on FS1 alone. This is the highest amount of viewers of the WBC to date — the previous high was 3.05 million for the 2017 U.S.-Puerto Rico final on MLB Network, ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The abovementioned amount of viewers are only the amount of viewers located in the United States; the rest of the world was watching too and the numbers are insane.
On March 10th, Team Japan and Team South Korea faced off in a pool play game. This showdown was watched by over 70 million people — these are approaching Super Bowl viewership numbers. Now that is how you grow the game of baseball ladies and gentlemen. By the way, Team Japan won 13-4 and Mr. Ohtani did his thing as he always does. More to come on that later (*foreshadowing*).
Not only was television viewership up all around the world, but also in-person attendance of these games exceeded previous numbers recorded for the WBC. Check out these hilarious numbers. To note, the A’s played exactly 80 games at home last year averaging 9,973 in attendance, while there were only 40 pool play games in the 2023 WBC.
Moving along – the naysayers have said, and will continue to say, that the WBC is worthless and only brings opportunity for injuries. If these men were not playing in the WBC, they would be competing in their respective spring training games. I understand the argument that the main starters are typically taken out of spring training games after a handful of innings and that these guys are not as competitive in spring training games. However, I think any of these unfortunate injuries can occur at any time, regardless if it’s in the WBC, a spring training game, or getting up off of the bleachers at their kid’s little league game. Injuries happen.
Yes, these injuries suck. I hate it. We all hate it. They happen in spring training games too though. Exhibit A – Rhys Hoskins goes down with a terrible knee injury today in the Phillies spring training game against the Tigers:
However, I think overall, the WBC was not worthless as some of the critics still claim it was. Major League Baseball, with its new rule changes (y’all know how I feel about the pitch clock), are making various attempts to grow its game and keep people engaged. Side note, if you think the standard baseball game is too long — you don’t deserve baseball; sorry not sorry. The WBC, as shown above, and without the pitch clock in play, attracted so many to the game of baseball. I will leave some of my favorite moments below that will forever be imbedded in WBC history and the game of baseball in general. Opening Day, my second Christmas, is almost here! But for now, lets appreciate all the 2023 WBC offered us and use its worth to continue to grow the game. Which of the below is your favorite???