Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.
Story of the Day: A Real Classic?
On second thought, Barry Bonds is taking a pass on the World Baseball Classic. Will SportsNation do the same?
Introduced last year as a way to bring together the best baseball players in the world for a chance to compete for national pride, the actual tournament is now mere weeks away. And that timing is a big issue. Held at a time when pitchers are just starting to work into their routines and hitters are shaking off winter rust, the World Baseball Classic appears to have a credibility problem.
Right after last year's initial announcement, 64 percent of voters thought players would take the event seriously, even taking place during spring training. But after watching players like St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter pass on invitations and seeing the rules in place for pitch counts on pitchers, only 39 percent of voters still expect players to take it seriously. As a result, SportsNation's interest in the first edition of the tournament appears to be somewhat limited, although it's worth noting interest is about on par with established international competitions like the World Cup and Winter Olympics.
Do you think players will take the World Baseball Classic seriously?
(Now): 39.0% Yes
(May, 2005): 64.0% Yes
Which country do you think is the favorite for the World Baseball Classic? (53,530 votes)
45.9% Dominican Republic
42.3% United States
Suggesting he didn't want to risk injury, Barry Bonds reversed course and withdrew from the WBC. And while Bonds' bat would help, 77% of voters say the U.S. isn't doomed against the Dominican without him. Then again, 67% say they just don't care about Bonds' decision.
"Barry Bonds whines out of the WBC. At least he knows there won't be any PR ramifications, because nobody cares."
Scott (Watertown, Mass.) in the Quickie chat.
For which group of players do you think winning the World Baseball Classic means more? (13,515 votes)
72.6% Dominican Republic
17.3% Means equally much to both
10.1% United States
Which would you rather have? (13,515 votes)
51.1% Dominican Republic's loaded batting order
48.9% United States' pitching depth
How interested are you in the World Baseball Classic? (47,068 votes)
37.9% Not interested at all
27.2% Somewhat interested
22.3% Not very interested
12.4% Very interested
Which international event in 2006 most interests you? (95,458 votes)
34.6% World Cup
31.5% Winter Olympics
28.4% World Baseball Classic
5.3% FIBA World Championships
Do you have a problem with players like Chris Carpenter declining invitations to play in the World Baseball Classic? (82,868 votes)
Voice of the Fan
I'm looking forward to the NEXT time they do the tournament, because it appears that the first time is going to be a disaster. But once they work the kinks out, it should be fun.
Cara (New York)
With Bonds out and A-Rod in, here's the starting lineup SportsNation would like to see on the field for Team USA.
C- Jason Varitek
1B- Derrek Lee
2B- Michael Young
SS- Derek Jeter
3B- Alex Rodriguez
LF- Lance Berkman
CF- Johnny Damon
RF- Carl Crawford
CL- Billy Wagner
It doesn't matter what the United States is doing to its roster. The Dominican Republic looks like the clear-cut winner.
Angel (Waukegan, Ill.)
I may be in the minority, but I'm looking forward to it. Who wouldn't want to watch the best baseball players in the world (for the most part) representing their countries, even if it is only a glorified exhibition.
Is anyone going to watch this World Baseball Classic? I think I would rather watch an XFL game.
R.Keane (Old Southington, Conn.)
Great article in Sports Illustrated. It doesn't matter how the U.S. feels about this; it's all about spreading baseball in South America and Asia.
Rob (New York)
I think it'll be fun, but All-Star Game type fun, not competitive like the World Cup (not sure I'd fit Olympic hockey in the same vein anymore).
Jim (West Lafayette, Ind.)
It's a marketing game. Why should people really care? They're trying to create drama when it's not there, like Shaq-Kobe. And it lands on deaf ears.
Jason (Scarsdale, N.Y.)
I wanted to get tickets, but upper tank at Petco for these games were 90 bucks, for a game that means nothing. I'll watch from the bar, thank you.
There is only so much hype we in "sportsfandom" can take. Personally, I'm less interested in the World Baseball Classic than I am in NFL Europe.
Tom (Parkville, Md.)
SportsNation's Show: World Baseball Classic
Randy (Buena Park, Calif.): I've been a season-ticket holder for five years now, and I was reluctant to shell out the money for tickets to the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Do you think it is wise for an average baseball fan, like myself, to be skeptical of an event that excludes Cuba and has yet to draw the interest of any major broadcast network?
David Ortiz says he's not sure he wants to play, but here are SportsNation's picks for the United States' top rival.
C- Miguel Olivo
1B- Albert Pujols
2B- Alfonso Soriano
SS- Miguel Tejada
3B- Aramis Ramirez
LF- Manny Ramirez
CF- Willy Taveras
RF- Vladimir Guerrero
DH- David Ortiz
CL- Francisco Cordero
Jim Callis: I think your skepticism also could be called "realism." It's an intriguing premise, but I think logistics will be a pain for the inaugural event. And with pitch counts and some players not in top shape, it may not be more than a glorified exhibition.
Matt (Illinois): What can we expect from the World Baseball Classic: hard-fought games or glorified spring training?
Rob Neyer: The later games will greatly resemble the All-Star Game, with pitchers shuttling in and out, and most of the hitters on the roster getting at least one plate appearance. It'll be fun. But not quite real baseball.
Deege (Champaign): Who is your favorite in the World Baseball Classic with the addition of Alex Rodriguez to the U.S. squad?
Rob Neyer: Considering the limits that will be imposed on the pitchers, it seems to me the pitching depth of the U.S. team makes them the obvious favorites.