Let me start by asking this question that you're all allowed to judge me for..
Has the World Baseball Classic made anyone else question their patriotism?!
Okay, now let me take a step back and explain myself. I 100% want the United States to win the WBC this year (USA! USA! USA!), but watching the fans at this competition and the players, dang these countries love their baseball! IF we don't make the championship I'm going to have no problem cheering for Puerto Rico (nor would I have for Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or a few others) because 1. holy talent! and 2. these guys LOVE playing for their country! Not to mention the fan bases for these countries are crazy, it looks like an absolute party when they show them! I have been nothing but impressed watching the WBC and I think both the MLB and America should take note for a variety of reasons. Sure the US fans are a little crazier at the WBC than at MLB games, but they are not on the DR's level! And yes, Team USA is stacked, but there are plenty of noticeable names missing from our roster unlike Puerto Rico who I would really have to think twice about if I had to choose between them or an MLB All-Star Team..
So why am I questioning MY patriotism? Because I don't know that if I attended a WBC game I could get on the level of those DR fans. I mean damn. As a country as a whole though, it is clear that while there are some crazy baseball fans here, we can't compare to what baseball means to these people in some foreign countries. Can we work on changing that? I mean we've all heard "an afternoon at Wrigley Field is a party", well let me tell you, I was there at an afternoon game last Spring and it was fun but it was no where close to the game I watched between the USA and the DR in Miami.. and I only saw that one from tv!
This is just as much a shout out to American baseball fans as it is to the MLB though. How can they encourage and promote a much more energetic and upbeat atmosphere? Hmm, I'll have to think about that one a bit!
I think possibly the more disappointing thing though is the patriotism of American baseball players. We have a great team, I'm not taking anything away from the guys competing at all! However, who are the "young, big names" we all hear all. the. time? Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Joc Pederson, and I could go on and on. Guess what? None of those guys are there. Disappointing. Same can be said for pitchers, Kershaw, MadBum, where ya at? - In recent posts I've talked about the passion and dedication that Olympic Athletes have, and why that doesn't translate to collegiate Olympic sports (read The Collegiate Athletics Challenge here!), but with baseball not being in the Olympics for several years the WBC is kind of baseball's Olympics right now. It definitely is for MLB players. And yes I know that this same issue occurs with basketball. The big names oftentimes don't play basketball for Team USA at the Olympics. It's as if when professional athletes are involved, the reverse happens. They'd rather play for the money and fame, than take pride in competing for their country. My point is why do US Athletes not have the pride for their country and desire to compete for their country in a setting such as the Olympics or the World Baseball Classic?
I have seen that Mike Trout says if they'll have him, he wants to play in the WBC in four years. Even admitting he hadn't paid much attention to it before, which I applaud him for admitting and taking an interest. I know even for myself I've paid more attention to the 2017 WBC than I have previous ones, but if I were a Major League Baseball player, or collegiate, I definitely would have been paying attention. I mean four years ago I was a college sophomore and was probably worried about a research paper and finding an internship.. Anyways, it's disappointing that even though Team USA is incredibly talented and impressive, we could have more! Excuse my emphasis on the Cardinals here, but Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina are both competing in the WBC and I know that Martinez was supposed to be going at 70-80%. Ha. Right. Dude wanted to win for his country! And if you've seen the plays Yadi has been making, he isn't taking any plays off either, that's for sure! (Some may say he's using this as an example of his skill to push the Cardinals into a big contract, but either way the performance is impressive!) Puerto Rico has guys that moved to different positions so that they could have a chance to play for their country. They. WANT. To. Be. There!
In conclusion (yep, pulling out my 3rd grade writing skills ;P) I will absolutely root for Team USA in the Championship (if we get there), but the WBC seems to mean much less to us here than it does in foreign countries, and I think that's a shame. As fans, let's pick up the crazy okay? (I'm only half joking..) And I hope that after this World Baseball Classic, with its amazing plays and pride, more of the USA guys will want to compete in four years! Not only would that make me not question American baseball players pride in their country, but I think it would help all of us fans get even more excited for the WBC than we are now.
Here's to hoping for an even better turnout of players than we have this year, the MLB taking note of how great the WBC game environments are, and that Team USA makes it to the WBC Championship!
Oh yeah, and being thankful that Spring Training was a little more interesting this year thanks to the World Baseball Classic! #BringOnOpeningDay!!
Leave your thoughts below y'all! If you've seen some cool stories from the WBC I'd love to read them! Either leave them in the comments or share a link down there!
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