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The World Baseball Classic has a marketing problem

The World Baseball Classic starts in two months, but it seems MLB is doing everything it can to make sure you never find out.

Did you know the World Baseball Classic starts in less than two months? It’s okay if you don’t–there isn’t much out there letting you know unless you search for that info yourself.

Thousands of fans know when it starts because they’re trying to get tickets, but only have access via complicated packages and expensive resale markets. There are more that are trying to buy merch from their favorite team, only to realize that there is no online store and official merchandise doesn’t exist yet. It’d all be enough to wonder if the World Baseball Classic is happening at all, much less beginning in March.

And you would think that after a six-year hiatus, MLB would want to market the hell out of its marquee international event, especially now that it has a legit broadcasting partner and excitement from every corner of the world. A lot of baseball fans sure want that. But instead of the well-organized party we were promised when this event debuted in 2006, we’ve been getting an absurdly fun and poorly managed blip of a preseason tournament. 2023 looks to be no different, but there is still time to turn things around.

Where are the tickets? The merch?

WBC tickets are on sale, sort of. If you want to buy tickets to the first-round pool in Phoenix, your options are to buy one of three packages: All ten games, all five evening games, or all five matinee games (why they are separated like that I do not know). As of right now, no single-game tickets exist.

The process is even more complicated for the pool in Miami. Ticket packages appear to be available specifically for supporters of Team Israel or Nicaragua, but not Venezuela, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic. No other ticket packages look available online, though Miami Marlins season ticket holders (lol) will get priority access to the quarterfinal and championship rounds. And just like Phoenix, no single-game tickets exist yet. How are people supposed to plan their trips if they don’t know which games they can go to?

Of course, some people have to watch at home, and that is perfectly fine. FOX does a good job broadcasting baseball, and with a hat, t-shirt, or jersey you can feel like you’re at the game cheering on your favorite team. That would be the case, of course, if merchandise actually existed.

So to recap: The world’s biggest baseball tournament starts in two months, and poor organizing is preventing them from reasonable access to tickets and any access to merchandise. The event is also getting no advertising outside of FOX broadcasts, meaning that only the most hardcore baseball fans even know that this tournament is approaching. Do the folks at MLB even know that they’re running this?

The World Baseball Classic is a mess

Fans aren’t the only ones frustrated at MLB’s lack of organizing. Many countries have expressed frustration at MLB’s inability to update them on simple rostering rules, needing to adjust on the fly with little time to prepare. MLB clubs were also just informed that they can’t prevent a player from participating in the tournament, which is a huge win for the players but something that would have been better implemented months ago. The rules of the tournament haven’t even been settled yet. As far as major sporting events go, the WBC is kind of a clown show.

And what makes that so frustrating is that there is so much commitment and excitement coming from these players. Both Mexico and Cuba have revamped their rosters in a way that makes them legitimate dark horses. Both Japan and Korea will be rostering American-born players for the first time in their respective histories. And now that more stars are committing to playing, both the United States and the Dominican Republic have assembled the most talented baseball teams ever. These teams are no joke.

But it feels like a joke the way we’re being treated. MLB did an awesome job with the rebranding last summer and the partnership with FOX, but every other move since then has demonstrated a lack of interest and understanding of their own event. Especially since most of the tournament will take place in MLB parks with MLB players using MLB resources, this shouldn’t be difficult. Set the rules! Sell us tickets! Sell us merch! The fans are waiting–if only MLB actually cared.