Japanese players: We may skip World Baseball Classic

World Baseball ClassicJapanese professional baseball players are threatening to boycott the 2013 World Baseball Classic over a disagreement about the split of the $18 million expected to be generated from the event.

The issue is actually pretty simple: since the Japanese players feel they’re integral to the success of the event, next scheduled for spring 2013, they want more money. The current WBC payout has MLB and the player’s union splitting two-thirds of the proceeds, with Japan players receiving 13 percent and the rest of the world squads splitting the rest.

That’s not enough, say the Japanese players, and they may have a point. In the United States, the WBC has a middling impact; quite bluntly it’s an interruption in spring training both for fans and players, and many managers dislike the idea of losing a star or two to a exhibition series that means nothing in the standings. Fans have embraced the event, but only to an extent; it’s a well-rated event in Asia, less so in the United States. The defending champs from Japan have managed to create a following, filling ballparks on the West Coast for the games.

So, ergo, the desire for more money.

“I know our fans want us to participate, and the players also want to participate, but the organizers have not responded at all to our requests. We had to make a painful decision for future generations,” said Takahiro Arai, chairman of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, during a news conference quoted in the Wall Street Journal. “We won’t be taking part until the organizers change their stance on the participating teams’ sponsoring and merchandising rights,” he said.

The unsettled nature of the Japanese entry probably is why the rest of the WBC is still unsettled. So far we’ve seen only one announcement about a venue — and that’s a September playoff at Roger Dean Stadium — and little else about the timing and venues of the 2013 event.

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About Kevin Reichard

Kevin Reichard is editor and publisher of Spring Training Online.

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