WBC Goliath slays David
The entertaining 2017 WBC ended last night with the United States clobbering Puerto Rico 8 – 0 ending the surprising undefeated run by the Puerto Rican team. Marcus Stroman bounced back from his previous humiliation at the hands of the Puerto Rican team to no-hit them for six innings and the bats did the rest.
I enjoyed this tournament, was surprised to see the Puerto Rican team make such a run given the pitching staff they were using but wasn’t surprised that the US eventually won the Championship. Even though many of the biggest names did not play for the US, they still had an excellent team with major league all-stars and MVP’s in the lineup.
For those who were rooting for the US, I hope you enjoyed your victory. I had a friend said he was proud of the US for winning but I guess I just don’t get that. The competition was fun but I’m not sure what there was to be proud of.
The Puerto Rican team had four position players who garnered two bWAR or more in 2016 and two of them played the same position. They had zero pitchers who garnered two or more bWAR. By contrast, the US pool had 79 position players to choose from who had two or more bWAR and 69 pitchers with two or more bWAR. This was after all a team that was starting Enrique Hernandez in CF against a right-hand pitcher. Their talent pool was limited so my hat was off to them for accomplishing what they did.
The starting pitcher for the PR team won’t even be in a major league rotation, and he was followed by pitchers who are not expected to be key contributors on any major league team. The starting pitcher for the US team is the ace of the team who won 89 games last year.
I’m sure I wasn’t being very patriotic for rooting for the Island teams but patriotism is very low on my list of things I care about.
I’m proud of my country when they do things that make me proud. That doesn’t happen often these days and winning a baseball tournament doesn’t make the cut.
Other related WBC notes.
Ian Kinsler created a hubbub by commenting that he hopes to show the world the right way to play the game. I get that, even if I don’t agree with the sentiment. If you were taught to play the game without showing emotion after every pitch and play, it might be annoying to watch those who learned how to play the game by showing emotion after every pitch and play. Cultures collide. It happens, it happened when the African-American became a part of the game, and it is happening now as more and more Latin players become MLB players. I’m sure it was no different in Japan when they started letting American players into the league. Some will resent it, some will embrace it. Doesn’t make someone a racist because they don’t like how the game is played by Latin players. I for one am blown away at the silliness exhibited by players over walks offs these days or home run celebrations in the dugout but I don’t think that makes me a racist. I also don’t think that makes me an old fart but I may be wrong there. I actually enjoy watching players play that look like they are having fun. The Puig slide into home after his game-winning grand slam is still one of my favorite Dodger memories.
Everyone time I watch Eric Hosmer play I end up enjoying watching him play. His peripheral stats don’t suggest he’s an above average ball player but he sure looks like one. He gets clutch hits, he runs the bases extremely well for a 1st baseman, he’s smooth as silk at the bag. Hopefully, he can put it all together in his age 27 season and be that player that he looks like but isn’t.
Javy Baez is the same way. What a beautiful ballplayer, but so far the stats don’t match the aesthetics. I think they will.
I still can’t put out of my mind that home run that Stanton hit in Petco. Geezus
No matter what Adam Jones does, I’ll always remember him for that catch and the hat tip by Machado.
I wish Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout had played for the US just so the world could see them. They are too good and unique to have sat this out. Besides it may have been the only way either of them will have a Championship to call their own.