It’s only taken four tries in the last 12 years, but the United States of America has finally won the World Baseball Classic, the tournament that they invented in the sport that they invented, when they shut down Puerto Rico in the championship game.
And it’s about god damn time, is all I can really say about the long overdue international accolade. Seriously, when the WBC was debuted back in 2006, it seemed like that on paper, the United States should cruise to a victory in a tournament that they debuted, with maybe some resistance against an also stacked Dominican Republic team. Instead, teams like Japan, South Korea and Cuba showed up to play and have fared well in the tournament’s short history, with Japan winning the first two WBCs before the Dominican Republic finally played to their potential and won the third; all while the USA repeatedly failed and fell flat on their faces, fielding squads of primarily B-talent, because the A-listers refused participation, fearing risk of injury and subsequently to their earning potential.
Honestly, going into this year’s WBC, I thought that the United States were sending yet another mish-mashed rag-tag slop pile of a roster to the wolves, with a pitching staff full of 2-3 starters, and a bunch of set-up men with no truly dominant closer. The players that were committed to the cause weren’t bad players necessarily, but there’s a notably long list of superstars that could’ve played for the United States, that opted to not.