Two Guys Talking Mets: Don't blame WBC for Edwin Diaz injury
Our dueling experts agree: Edwin Diaz' injury shouldn't be used to cancel the tournament or look for major changes
John Coppinger: The easy thing to do if you’re a Mets fan is to blame the WBC for Edwin Diaz’s injury, but I’m not ready to do that. He wasn’t overextending to throw a 103 mph fastball, nor was he doing cartwheels and backflips after the win. He was barely hopping up and down and someone jumped on his back. It’s unfortunate, but I’m not ready to cancel an entire tournament because of it.
A.J. Carter: Weird injuries happen. Look no further than former Mets pitchers. Should players be banned from gardening because Bob Ojeda couldn’t handle hedge trimmers, or from taxicabs because of what happened to Duaner Sanchez and Tom Glavine? People always look for the convenient excuse to satisfy their need to affix blame. I’ll tell you this, I went to see Israel play Venezuela on Wednesday. I was one of three people in our section rooting for Israel. The rest of the spectators had Venezuelan flags, painted their faces in Venezuelan colors and banged a bongo drum. They were worked up and highly entertaining. Sometimes we forget that sports are entertainment and the WBC has succeeded greatly in this vein.
John Coppinger: You can’t complain about the need to grow the game and then turn around and say the WBC is meaningless. The WBC grows the game. It brings in a whole group of fans that don’t necessarily care about Mets vs. Pirates in the middle of June. But Diaz’s injury does bring about a question about whether March is the best time to have the tournament. Can you see a perfect solution?
A.J. Carter: I don’t think there ever will be a perfect solution, especially since seasons globally do not span the same months. Hold the WBC in the winter and you interrupt the Caribbean leagues. What months do they play in Japan and Korea? March is a get-in-shape month for MLB. You certainly don’t want to ban major leaguers from competing – that’s like the old days, when all the U.S. Olympians were amateurs competing against Soviet bloc teams who were essentially professional. That’s not the way to showcase the game. I think you just have to hold your breath and pray that an injury doesn’t happen to someone from your team. And remember, this wasn’t an injury during game action. It happened while a team celebrated a big win.
John Coppinger: I do think Max Scherzer was on to something when he proposed making the tournament after the MLB season, when pitchers are more in line to normal work loads. Then at least you can see star pitchers like Scherzer and Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw go 5 or 6 innings instead of being limited to 65 pitches. Perhaps there’s a way to have group play in October when the MLB playoffs are happening. I know it seems like counter programming against the playoffs, but there are plenty of fans who root for teams no longer in the playoffs and don’t want to watch teams they hate. So this at least gives baseball fans an option. Then have the knockout rounds the next season during the All-Star break and just replace the All-Star Game that year. Then at least you wouldn’t have injuries during a truly meaningless game.
A.J. Carter: That wouldn’t work. First of all, breaking up the tournament over two calendar years loses continuity and could cause roster havoc. What if someone gets hurt in the meantime? I also think that players are at even greater risk of injury in October, when they are tired. Do you want a starting pitcher to blow out his arm because he is well past his usual number of seasonal innings? Or a hitter or fielder to blow out a hamstring because they are tired but still pushing himself? We’d be back to having the same conversation. And besides, it was nice to see Eduardo Escobar hit a home run, even though I was rooting against his team. I’d be curious to see what the players think since they have the most at stake as anybody.
John Coppinger: Well, if you saw what Francisco Lindor said, most if not all players consider playing in the WBC the ultimate honor. So, it’s not going away anytime soon, and that’s a good thing. When you watch players on teams like Great Britain and the Czech Republic have life-changing experiences and help grow the game in their countries, it’s not hard to believe. Losing Diaz for the season is awful, but the WBC is merely the scene of the crime rather than the actual criminal.