Last night, the U.S. team didn’t have any problems winning.

Well, it’s about time.

The U.S. team hasn’t looked good at all until facing a good Puerto Rican team.  They were soundly thumped by Mexico.  They struggled at times with Italy.  And they couldn’t truly put Canada away until it was far too late.

It’s always been a little sad that the U.S. hasn’t put up better showings in the World Baseball Classic.  There’s no real shame in Japan winning the thing twice.  Japan has a legitimate league with a legitimate baseball culture and a lot of legitimate players.  They play a different style of game there, and it doesn’t always translate when a single player comes over.  But an entire team can win.  And they have.

However, that’s aside from the troubles the U.S. has had.In 2006, they didn’t even make the semi-finals after beating Japan but losing to South Korea and Mexico.  Japan advanced despite the loss and won the whole thing.

In 2006, the 2nd round was a pool-play system.  So in 2009, things changed to a double elimination format.  The U.S. made it out of the second round that time, surprise surprise.  But they lost to eventual champs Japan in the semi-finals.

Yet, these failures haven’t been met with the same despair and frustration as when the U.S. loses a major tournament in basketball.  Why?  Does America not care about the World Baseball Classic?  The U.S. team roster would seem to suggest that.  It has some big stars that aren’t on there.  Sure, I get why Buster Posey isn’t there, still not far away from his major leg injury.  But it seems that not risking injury or extra innings is one of those unwritten, unspoken rules.

The sad truth of the matter is that the U.S. team was not far from getting eliminated in the first round.  And it was bad…if the U.S. had lost to Canada, it would have been last place in the group.

And that would have meant the U.S. would have had to go through qualifying rounds to even make it to the ‘first’ round.  That would mean having to get through powerhouses like Israel, South Africa, France, the Czech Republic, Nicaragua, or Thailand.

Imagine if the U.S. had failed at that!

Would anyone have cared then?

The U.S. team needs one more win to get to San Francisco.  I want them to win the whole WBC, though it won’t be the end of the world if they don’t take it all.  Japan’s here again, after all.  But if they get eliminated before reaching the semis this time around, maybe someone will really care enough to go hard after winning the whole thing in 2017.