PHOENIX -- The World Baseball Classic still struggles to gain acceptance. There are still people in baseball who privately (and sometimes not so privately) hope it will just go away.
One problem with that scenario: Bud Selig loves this. He loves what it could be. He loves what it could lead to.
"The thought of having a real World Series, and the interest in the world, is breathtaking to me," the commissioner said Friday night, during Team USA's opening WBC game against Mexico.
A real World Series.
It's an interesting thought, a fascinating thought. It depends on having baseball leagues around the world that are seen to be on equal footing, so that it would make sense to have the champions of MLB play against the champions of Japan or, say, the champions of Europe.
"It's a long ways off, but yes, I really believe it," Selig said. "That's the final goal. I'll probably be long gone by then."
The WBC, Selig insists, will not be gone. In fact, Selig will try to talk you into believing that the tournament is already a great success.
He raves about the television ratings in Japan, where Baseball says one of every three television sets in the country was tuned to Japan's first-round WBC games. He was no doubt thrilled with Friday night's huge turnout for the USA-Mexico game.
He loves the idea that the WBC is helping baseball grow in countries like Italy and Brazil.
"The more you can globalize the sport, the bigger it is," Selig said. "Internationalization has a chance to make this sport bigger than we can imagine."
The WBC is the key to all that. And while it's hard for any of us to imagine the WBC surviving long-term without getting more support and acceptance in this country, Selig would have us believe that what happens around the world matters more than what happens at home.
"If we do it right, you won't recognize the sport in a decade," he said.
Some would say that's a bad thing, that the beauty of baseball is that you can recognize it from decade to decade. But Selig has already overseen massive change, from wild-card teams in playoff games to realignment and interleague games every day of the season.
He believes in all of that. He believes in the dream of a real World Series.
And he believes that the WBC is taking baseball in the right direction.
He doesn't believe that it will go away.