SPANISH HARLEM, NY – The World Baseball Classic has given us some great baseball recently. The intensity and joy I see from fans and players is truly something to behold. Its baseball with an international touch; fans aren’t rooting for their favorite players or teams, they are rooting for their country.
As a New Yorican (slang for a Puerto Rican born in New York), it has been amazing to watch the players on the Puerto Rican Team play in this tournament. They were the “Must Team” early on, with three potential young stars like Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Javier Baez (some may also add Yadier Molina). They were loaded with good players. Not to mention the amount of support and pride they were giving the people of Puerto Rico, who have dealt with a lot of economic adversity recently.
Last night the team of Boricuas faced the USA in the Finals. Marcus Strowman started for the Red, White & Blue team and was seemingly un-hittable. He pitched seven strong innings to quiet the bats of the Puerto Rican team. The last two games for the USA was when this team truly excelled, they got timing hitting from players like Adam Jones, Ian Kinsler and Brandon Crawford and their pitching was up to the task to give them their first ever title in the tournament.
It’s what makes baseball great… to see some of the best baseball players in the world play with effort and enthusiasm that you don’t usually get this time of year. Some may not feel the same way as I do and that’s fine because that’s why I’m here… To Make the World Baseball Classic Great Again (I swear Trump totally changed the way I here that phase. Making anything great just sounds so wrong now)
Most fans have complained that some of the best players in Major League Baseball don’t play. How can we change that? To truly get the most out of this tournament, you want to see the very best play. Baseball players are getting themselves ready at this point in spring training to play a full season. Most hitters are trying to find their stroke and most pitchers are increasing their pitch counts every time out. They are not what you would call “game ready.” A lot of those players are representing their country in this and their MLB teams fear the worst (see the Yankees and Didi Gregorius, just to name one).
There is no perfect formula for this but the one big flaw that needs fixing is the tournament starting every four years during spring training. I say let’s change that and do it after the MLB regular season and playoffs are done. Injuries will always be a factor but at least the players will have time during the off-season to rehab and get ready for the following Major League season.
All the athletes that play in this tournament know exactly what they are getting themselves into. They are representing their country and they are proud to do so. Sure, there will always be players that choose not to play but in the end, I think most players will tell you that they loved the experience.
Baseball is great… and not just in America. Let’s continue to give the fans what they want because there are people all over the world that love this sport too.
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