A National Disgrace
That the U.S. isn’t going to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic is a disgrace.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The Puerto Rican team won that game. Outright won, they played better than their opposition and beat the guys in front of them, and absolutely earned their ticket to San Francisco. I do not mean, in any way, that they are not deserving.
What I’m saying is that it’s a disgrace that a lot of the guys who were there in the U.S. uniforms were there, and there were many others who weren’t, by their own choice.
If, inside of our own country, we worry about young Americans getting into the game compared to football or basketball, how can we even start discussing that if the professionals we raise don’t show the passion to wear their country’s uniform?
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, this competition is tough to take seriously if the best U.S. players are not. I’ve got no problems with David Wright on the team. Nor Brandon Phillips. But Eric Hosmer? Willie Bloomquist? Shane Victorino as a designated hitter? Why not Andrew McCutchen? Bryce Harper? And perhaps most insultingly, Mike Trout SAT IN THE STANDS for the U.S. games in Arizona.
Yeah, a little bit of my love for one of baseball’s young superstars got lost there.
And that doesn’t even address a pitching staff that, perhaps being even more important in a tournament with strict pitch limits, didn’t have much depth when it came to starters or relievers. There were a couple of promising youngsters, but short of Affeldt, you didn’t see guys with a lot of big game experience, something very clear with a (deserving) Craig Kimbrel getting shelled.
Look, I get the questions, particularly with pitchers, on fatigue. I have no disrespect for Bumgarner passing after a postseason and a year where he finished looking tired. The same goes for Scherzer. And players new to their teams can be understood, such as Zack Greinke. But where’s David Price? Or C.J. Wilson or Jordan Zimmerman? Where’s Prince Fielder, a man who could use any more exercise? How about Ian Desmond or Troy Tulowitzki? Evan Longoria?
And don’t give me that injury crap. It’s bull, plain and simple. This has been addressed already, and well debunked by Jayson Stark. You might point at David Wright, but I point at every single Yankee injured in Spring Training. Injuries happen no matter where players play. It doesn’t make it better when they happen at a team’s spring training game or the WBC. If anything, players are more likely to watch out for, and guard against, injuries in the WBC than they do with their home teams.
No one on the other country’s teams pass things up. These guys were excited to play for their countries. Even the teams who lost were fired up. Italy was playing insane. China was fired up just for not being in last place.
And forget the players…I have no qualms with Joe Torre being a Hall of Fame manager, but frankly, he managed this series like (and yes, I’m about to say this) a man that the game has passed by. And then lapped him. A couple of times.
Bunting is a controversial topic, even aside from having a team made for slugging, so I won’t touch on that. Let’s talk about some management decisions in that last game. In the bullpen, Edwin Rodriguez of Puerto Rico threw out five pitchers in the seventh and eighth innings, quick to hook pitchers who clearly didn’t have it. He managed this game like it was the final game of any playoff series. Torre let Vinnie Pestano hang himself, managing this game like an All-Star Game.
Meanwhile, you leave Eric Hosmer in to face a lefty in the game’s key spot for the U.S. offense, leaving Jonathan Lucroy on the bench. The U.S. team had a short bench, sure, but you still had Arrencibia as the final catcher. How can you leave anyone on the bench?
Anyway, enough bitching. I just had to get this out before enjoying the rest of this tournament, and yes, even as an American, I’m going to celebrate this game.
But until the U.S. takes it seriously, I can’t see anyone else taking it seriously enough either, whether inside or outside our borders.
Alright, that’s enough to that. Time to get ready for the games that will be played, and I’ll just have to get a Netherlands hat. Go Black and Oranje!