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United States loses, baseball wins at World Baseball Classic

Mar 15, 2013, 11:07 PM EDT

World Baseball Classic - Second Round - Miami - USA v Puerto Rico Getty Images

Let’s face it: the World Baseball Classic’s uphill climb as an event worth watching wouldn’t gain any momentum if Team USA ran away with it.

That’s why it has to be pretty exciting for MLB to see Puerto Rico advance past the U.S. and join the Dominican Republic, Japan and The Netherlands in the WBC semifinals. While baseball hardly needs a boost in the Dominican and Japan, it’s standing in Puerto Rico and Europe figures to get at least a modest boost thanks to this month’s tournament.

In the short term especially, it’s money more than talent than MLB is hoping to gain from Europe. But getting Puerto Rican kids more interested in baseball would be a nice boon for the league. It’s no coincidence that all of Puerto Rico’s stars on the field Thursday were over 30 years old. The only actual position prospect on the team is the Twins’ Eddie Rosario. And while I like Houston’s Xavier Cedeno as a lefty specialist, none of the pitchers would seem to have grand futures in MLB, either.

Puerto Rico just hasn’t produced much major league talent since MLB put its prospects into the draft. MLB teams can no longer set up there and develop the players themselves, as they’ve long done in the Dominican Republic. A nice run in the WBC isn’t going to undo all of the damage, but it’s a little something to try and build on.

The Dutch island of Curacao is already producing talent and even more kids there could be inspired to pick up a baseball as Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar and Xander Bogaerts hopefully develop into major league stars. Throw in Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop and The Netherlands’ infield could well rival the Dominican group come 2017.

As for the U.S. team, well, this was probably the best way for it to go down; it was competitive yet far from dominant. One imagines that the U.S. players will hear it from the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in the clubhouse over these next several months. Whether that inspires a few more stars to suit up in 2017 remains to be seen; odds are the 2013 results will be largely forgotten a year from now. But I believe the next WBC will be viewed more favorably by the players. It’s not that we’ve gotten particularly high quality baseball from the teams, but we’ve seen a bunch of very competitive games and boisterous crowds. I think it’s the case that some of the guys who opted out — the Mike Trouts, Bryce Harpers and Prince Fielders — have watched these games and felt like they’re missing out.

  1. onbucky96 - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    Kill the WBC already, IT IS USELESS.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 16, 2013 at 3:39 AM

      Trolling ability: what’s lower than rookie? T-ball?

      • historiophiliac - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        Nerf ball

    • hcolon555 - Mar 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      It’s amazing how myopic most baseball fans are in the U.S. It’s great to root for club (I grew up a die hard Yankee fan) but rooting for country helps grow the game around the world. I am now a big soccer fan and part of the appeal of soccer is not only watching Real Madrid and Barcelona, but rooting for U.S. national team.

      It should be a great concern to baseball fans here in America that countries like Puerto Rico and Cuba are not only seeing a decline in interest in baseball, but a corresponding rise in the popularity of soccer. Even Venezuela has a competitive national soccer team! The WBC is baseball’s world cup, and should be embraced by all true baseball fans. Just as I look forward to the Euro Cup, World Cup, and CONCACAF Gold cup, baseball fans should look forward to the WBC.

  2. sabatimus - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Given Torre’s “managing”, I’m not surprised they’re out.

    • schlom - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      Joe Torre is an employee of MLB and if he treated it like an exhibition I’m assuming that MLB sees it the same way. I’m not exactly sure why they don’t care though.

      • sabatimus - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:37 PM

        Because it still makes money for Selig et al. Even though the performance was so half-assed that it ought to be a disgrace. But actually, the bigger disgrace is what Mexico did to Canada. Mexico should be barred from play in 2017.

      • guatdajel - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        So you’re a bit of a conspiracy theorist then, eh?

  3. gabeguterres - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    I think this WBC will make MLB players (not just the USA team) more hesitant to play in 2017. Next month people will have to look up who won, but everyone is going to remember that David Wright is going to miss opening day, and who knows how long after that.

    I understand that Wright hasn’t exactly been injury-free in his career, but I think his injury will be the lasting takeaway from the 2013 WBC. And it won’t just be players who remember that, but Managers and GMs as well.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 16, 2013 at 3:42 AM

      I think I’ll remember the Canadians punching a bunch of people in the face more than anything else.

      Really, what kind of argument is that? If Wright wasn’t playing in the WBC he would have been playing exhibition games wherever he Mets do that (Citi Field? the Seventh Layer of Hell? Somewhere in between?) and still getting injured.

    • welovemarines - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:10 AM

      Players never get injured outside the WBC, do they? Everyone was perfectly healthy last year and 2010, 2011 when there was no WBC, right?

      No?

      Then your premise is completely off.

    • Old Gator - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      If the Mexicans had weenter, they would have been tough enough to stand up to the Canadians. Seven months of chopping wood and hauling cords to your porch every year will toughen you up faster than a bath in natron.

    • statslady - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Why? Players are people and anyone, ANYONE, can be injured at any time doing anything. Injury is not only a part of sports, it’s a part of life.

      And while we’re at it, this has nothing to do with conditioning. These players have known for 4 years that this event was coming up, and those who participated have known for months that they would be or might be doing so. These day, too, players stay in shape year round. So, your argument about injuries being related to a lack of conditioning simply doesn’t hold water.

      What’s your real problem here? Is it that the US has never mad it so far as the semi-final round? That’s because they don’t play as a team, but as a group of individuals. Every other team had been playing together in exhibition games (or, for those from the Caribbean, winter ball) while the US team bothered to get together for one day before the tournament began. That’s NOT about the players not being ready, but about American baseball arrogance, the sense that all that the US needs to do is to show up in order to win it all. Once that attitude is gone (and at the point, you have tow onder why it hasn’t already sunk in that this isn’t the way to do things), the US will have a real shot at wining this tournaments.

      AKA, you’re not even whining over spilt milk.

      • gabeguterres - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        I wasn’t clear in my assessment. I am fully aware that injuries happen in spring training (or getting sandwiches, or throwing away gum). My assertion is that Wright’s injury will be perceived, by some key people, as being the WBC’s “fault.”

        Front offices and managers will be reminding their star players of Wright’s injury while the players are considering whether or not to play for the USA team. That’s all I was saying.

  4. halohonk - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    I wasnt a big fan of the WBC. I thought it was a joke, someone would get hurt etc. But watching the Latin teams get into it and take down the USA I kind of wish our guys played and kicked some butt. Oh well guess I gotta wait.

  5. Kevin Gillman - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    If they play in January, and post rosters in say October, then the players can better prepare themselves for the WBC. Part of the issue here is lack of conditioning, these players don’t know if they are on the roster until after Spring Training starts, when the players aren’t playing full tilt.

    • welovemarines - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Same problem for everyone, Kevin, except everyone else seems to be much better prepared.

      Probably because other teams are trying to actually win rather than “get some reps” and trying to prevent injury only.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        How about posting the rosters in October though so the players can train accordingly for the event? So many bowed out of the tourney because they weren’t ready to truly compete.

      • welovemarines - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        I think the US should have a provisional roster much earlier. Japan had its ready in November and has been training since then.

  6. hockeyfan28 - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    U.S. Baseball seems to be regressing the way U.S. Basketball did till they came
    up with an early commitment plan for team members might be time to try it so guys know
    to get ready and maybe structure the team a year in advance

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:26 AM

      If memory serves, the quadrennial hoops tournament the US Dream Team plays in is called the Olympics, and they usually do that when the NBA is on holiday and all the best players are available. Holding this WBC during MLB spring training just does not seem to me to be the ideal way to get all the best players, or nearly as much US fan interest as would be likely if MLB made the WBC a true world event with all the best talent involved.

      • hockeyfan28 - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:14 AM

        Just move it back to start right after the Super Bowl feb is a dull month for sports anyway

  7. mscott4 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    I think this WBC has been a success. I really enjoy coming home from work every night and having a meaningful, playoff game on. The games have been close and competitive especially in the US bracket. Italy was a lot of fun to support throughout their awesome run. A break or two at the end of ball games and they are on to the semis.

    I get the feeling more US players will want to play after this years tournament. Harper has already said he wants to play in ’17 and I got the feeling that when Trout was sitting there watching a close game he wanted to be there. I think that feeling will grow, at least among position players.

    I also feel as the tournament grows in exposure it will become an even bigger deal. For us adults it’s some weird tournament that MLB concocted recently but for younger kids it will become something to look forward to every 4 years for the rest of their lives. Part of what makes the World Cup in soccer amazing is the passion because of the history. It also unites a country. I saw that passion amongst a lot of players and fans this year, especially D.R. and P.R.. All that flag waving is a good thing for the game. We also saw a lot of emotion on the field that you just wouldn’t see on an MLB field without getting a ball in the ribs your next at bat. I loved it.

    • indaburg - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      It’s as if you read my mind verbatim. I also would add that I was mildly curious before the WBC began (I didn’t pay attention at all in ’09) but as it progressed, I find myself more and more involved. The Italian team was a particularly pleasant surprise, and I hope the sport in Italy can grow based on the team’s success.

  8. southpaw77 - Mar 16, 2013 at 5:00 AM

    Things that need to be tweaked about the WBC.
    1.Start it in mid March and end it at the end of March
    2. Alter the pools, Japan playing two rounds at home is BS, let them play in a bracket with DR, Mexico and Venezuela down in South America.
    3. The USA redeem team with actual stars like Verlander, Posey, Trout, Sabathia, etc.

    • southpaw77 - Mar 16, 2013 at 5:04 AM

      4. Why isnt the final 4 a double elimination also?

    • welovemarines - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      Oh, and Team USA getting to play pool D, second round, AND the finals at home isn’t BS?

      The Asian half of the bracket had the IBAF #1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 ranked teams. That’s how tough it was. Cuba and Korea couldn’t even make it out, Korea not even out of the first round and they were a favorite to make the final. Very tough.

      How ’bout we hold the finals in Japan next year – you know, one of the countries that cares about the outcome?

      • paperlions - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        Oh, come one….IBAF rankings mean jack squat….some countries (e.g. Cuba) stop everything for international tournaments and prepare for them while other countries don’t even participate in many competitions. Those rankings are based more on how often a country plays than how well.

    • Old Gator - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      I think it would also add interest if the Puerto Rican team was named the Sharks and the Italian team was named the Jets.

  9. hoopmatch - Mar 16, 2013 at 5:33 AM

    Since Puerto Rico is part of the United States, how can it eliminate the United States?

    • Old Gator - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      Actually, the deal was that if they beat us, we’d stop bombing Culebra. It was scaring the tourists away.

    • jaguar392003 - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Ironic, isn’t it? You should ask that to your congressmen.

  10. dafern0560 - Mar 16, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    Most Americans hate WBC, just because they hate to see the USA being beat in their own game, and on their own turf, by other countries in Asia and the Caribbean. Instead of admitting the truth that those countries are producing by far better players, than the USA is, they rather come up with excuses such as, the manager Joe Torre, the players don’t care, no money, no fans, or blah, blah, blah. Com’on people, swallow your pride…..

    • louhudson23 - Mar 16, 2013 at 6:48 AM

      Simply put,the best US players aren’t playing. I find no excuse for that. However,this fact alone is the reason that they are not more competitive. Let’s hope at some point,they get off theor collective asses and decide to be genuine baseball players,prepared to take on who ever,whenever…

      • Old Gator - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Absolutely. Buddha forbid they be allowed to have lives of their own.

      • dafern0560 - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        Even if the best American MLB players were in, team USA WOULD NEVER beat Japan or Dominican Republic. Is not our game anymore, let it go !!

      • raisedeyebrows82 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        I don’t know, this seems like a weak excuse. The US lineup was pretty fucking awesome, and clearly ‘better’ on paper than puerto rico’s. we got beat, accept it – mike trout is great and all, but it’s not like adam jones is a scrub.

    • jwbiii - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      If you don’t want other people dancing on your lawn, win the damn game.

  11. blacksables - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    If the Puerto Ricans don’t like status quo with the draft system, they should give up their American citizenship and tax-free status.

    Why should they get more a deal than kids from Mississippi, by far the poorest area in the country.

    • dafern0560 - Mar 16, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      Blacksables, the income per capita of PR is lower than Mississippi. Did you know that?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 16, 2013 at 8:39 AM

        They also pay taxes, just not to the US gov’t.

      • blacksables - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        Yeah, but people from Mississippi have to pay taxes. People from Puerto Rico don’t.

        That never gets figured in to the numbers.

        Also, there is a lot more to being poor than straight income. Buying power, costs of goods and services, etc.

        I know people in Puerto Rico are poor. So are people in Mississippi. Why should one group get an advantage the other doesn’t.

        If you don’t like the draft for poor people, you should advocate it goes away for all of them, not just some of them.

      • blacksables - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Didn’t see your comment before, Church. You’re the numbers person. Figure it out. Using all the economic factors, and not just income and taxes.

        What is the real difference between Puerto Rico in Mississippi.

        YOu’re good at that kind of stuff.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM

        No taxation without representation!

      • Old Gator - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        No representation without taxation!

      • jwbiii - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Puerto Ricans pay federal taxes, just no personal federal income taxes.

        http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/09db05co.xls

      • paperlions - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        Mississippi and PR are actually pretty similar in federal tax status, over the last 20 years each has received 250%+ more in federal monies than they pay.

    • raisedeyebrows82 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Oh come on, dick. Do you think that the US has PR as a commonwealth out of the kindness of our hearts? It’s not like, ‘oh, heres some money, because we’re so nice and noble’ – all of the natural resources of PR are owned by america (minerals, oil deposits, etc). They had heavy-handed control over their political system for much of the last century. Have you ever heard of Vieques? Also, where the fuck are you seeing puerto ricans complaining about that here? kind of a non-sequitur.

      • paperlions - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        Link?

        First, those resources are not government property…the US isn’t Mexico.

        Second, PR uses far more oil that is produces, about twice as much.

        Yeah, he was being a dick, but you are incorrect in a lot of your assertions. You know why the US really kept PR after it’s military uses expired? As a social experiment, to determine how well “americanization” of latin americans would work.

      • jwbiii - Mar 16, 2013 at 2:09 PM

        There have been status referendums in Puerto Rico going back to 1967, with the choices being independence, statehood, or status quo. Status quo always won until last November. We shall see what happens.

      • raisedeyebrows82 - Mar 16, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        for the record, I’m totally aware that statehood is a complex issue, and the US hasn’t been a cartoon villain in regards to PR (my wife is puerto rican, and we’ve had long discussions on the topic before obviously). I was probably overly strident there – just chafed as the tone of the poster. and it is worth pointing out that they do have to pay federal income tax, no taxation without representation, yadda yadda yadda.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        Seriously, everyone is killing me on here with their bad historical understanding. Just stop.

      • raisedeyebrows82 - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:58 PM

        Yeah, I don’t really know where I got “all of the natural resources of PR are owned by america” from, since thats obviously not the case – I was just irritated and reacting without thinking about shit. I suppose I could have said something more like “Puerto Rico’s current status doesn’t just = their citizens getting free shit from america without consequences – there has been a long and fraught history of US involvement in their government/industry that has not always been benevolent, and has sometimes been arguably exploitative.” the only areas I actually know in depth are pretty much baseball, rock music and its offshoots 1960-2000 (and rock criticism), and ‘literary’ sci-fi books. (so i’m basically an idiot) – I’ll leave the history to you, man.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 17, 2013 at 12:34 AM

        Actually, you were the least obnoxious offender there.

    • jaguar392003 - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      You may not know it, but we in Puerto Rico pay more than you think, either in taxes or in a variety of forms. Let me share some data:
      EVERYTHING we buy in any store, has to be brought in by ships bearing the US flag. By the way, US marine merchant is the most expensive world wide, therefore when you pay $4 for a shirt, we might be paying $10. By doing that we are maintaining your marine merchant industry.
      We do pay 15.22% social security tax (7.61% employee, 7.61% employer), so at this moment I might be paying you social security monthly check.
      All mortgages are either Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac and we are paying for that financing, its not free.
      Many drugs are been manufactured here, shipped to US, then shipped back to PR and sold at overprice. By the way US is so good hearted that we can only buy US drugs at whatever price is set in US. By doing this we are maintaining US drug industries.
      Unemployment benefits are not a gift from US, Puerto Rico employers has to pay unemployment taxes, locally and also federal.

      I can keep going on and on, but this is only to demonstrate how ignorant you are. You should get info, get educated then and only then write a logical opinion, not based on discrimination.

  12. hojo20 - Mar 16, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Baseball fans win, because the WBC is almost over.

    • stealing3rd - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      Fixed: Baseball fans win, because whining about the WBC is almost over.

      Seriously, if you don’t like the WBC, is it really that hard to just ignore it?

  13. proudlycanadian - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    In a short series, the best team does not always win. Luck certainly plays a big role.

  14. heyzeus143 - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  15. robertpack55 - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    “none of the pitchers would seem to have grand futures in MLB, either”

    You forgot JJ Berrios.

  16. raisedeyebrows82 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I’ve gotta say that people who are upset that the US ’didn’t put their best players on the field’ have way less of a point than they think they do – as far as pitching goes, that’s true to an extent (though most WBC teams have pretty thin pitching – I mean, Nelson Figueroa isn’t exactly Felix Hernandez), but while you could quibble about what specific US players you’d have liked to see, that US lineup is pretty fucking good (even moreso if Wright was still in and Zobrist slid over to 2b), and any MLB team with those players would easily be one of the top (if not THE top) offensive team in the majors. I mean, a Stanton-Jones-Braun outfield is nasty. Of course, I have no idea why torre was batting rollins and phillips 1 and 2, but that’s on him. The US got beat, no need to go overboard making excuses. It’s kind of incredible to see the amount of whining that people have been doing about this, in between being all ‘whatever, i don’t care’ when things go badly for the american team.

  17. Francisco (FC) - Mar 16, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Of course, I have no idea why torre was batting rollins and phillips 1 and 2, but that’s on him.

    Cause Charlie Manuel told him to.

    • raisedeyebrows82 - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      2nd baseman’s gotta bat second!

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