On Saturday night, I watched as Team USA jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the heavily favored Dominican Republic in pool play of the World Baseball Classic. It was fun to watch the Americans match up with the best players from the Dominican Republic. The only problem was, Team USA didn’t have their best players.
Here’s the pitchers who were available for Team USA:
Some pretty good names there. Andrew Miller was dominant last postseason, but he gave up two home runs and the lead in the 8th inning.
And some pitchers who aren’t on Team USA:
All of those pitchers who aren’t on the team were All-Stars in 2016. Meanwhile, the Dominican bullpen features Alex Colome, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, and Fernando Rodney. The United States is at a steep competitive disadvantage, especially considering hitters timing can be off since it’s so early in the year.
The Dominican lineup? My goodness.
Jose Reyes, ss
Manny Machado, 3b
Robinson Cano, 2b
Jose Bautista, LF
Carlos Santana, 1B
Nelson Crus, RF
Adrian Beltre, DH
Starling Marte, CF
Wellington Castillo, C
That team is head and shoulders above Team USA, and they shouldn’t be. Both MVP’s last season, Kris Bryant and Mike Trout, are American. Neither are playing for Team USA. Nor is the phenom Bryce Harper. The WBC may never be all that popular in the United States, but it definitely won’t if star players continue to opt-out.
Its a shame that America’s best players would rather play in meaningless Spring Training games than represent their country in an international tournament. Baseball is America’s National Pastime, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the WBC. The latin teams bring their best players and far more energy to the tournament. It shows. The Dominican Republic hasn’t lost a WBC game since 2009.
I tuned in to see the star players, but after the DR took the lead in the 8th, I was pretty frustrated. The players wearing the stars and stripes undoubtedly were, too. The problem isn’t so much whose playing for Team USA, but who isn’t.
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