AMERICA’S GAME?

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(Photo Credit: MLB.com)

Baseball is an American tradition. It’s our baby. It’s our national pastime. So when the World Baseball Classic was introduced in 2006, naturally the US would come out on top, right?

Not so fast, Bueller.

For the third consecutive WBC (which occurs every four years), Team USA failed to advance passed the semi-finals. This latest defeat came at the hands of Team Puerto Rico, which subsequently fell to the Dominican Republic – the eventual champions.

So why can’t the “mighty” American’s claim their rightful crown? The WBC is all about national pride. It’s also incredibly short (less than 3 weeks), which makes the level of competition in the tournament very intense. Players take pride in representing their country, and tend to play with a level of passion and purpose rarely seen during the painstakingly long 162-game MLB season. The players on Team USA’s roster are no exception.

See what I did there? The players on the roster

For all of their pride, effort and good intentions, Team USA simply is not the best representation of America’s talent because it does not feature America’s best players. Don’t get me wrong, a lineup that boasts David Wright, Ryan Braun and Adam Jones, is nothing to sneeze at, but they’re not the best hitters in the game. Who can deny the absence of Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton and Evan Longoria in the batters box? On the mound, Justin Verlander is the game’s most dominant pitcher along with C.C. Sabathia and David Price. All elite American players. All absent from the team.

A consistent theme amongst the high-ranking world teams like Puerto Rico, Japan and the Dominican Republic was the players’ willingness to put it all on the line for their flag. This is a trend rarely seen amongst America’s superstars. Robinson Cano of Team D.R. actually phoned head coach Tony Pena and asked to be put on the roster, and the WBC is full of stories about players like Cano, who put aside their contractual obligations in favor of patriotism.

Make no mistake, America still boasts some of the top players in the world, but until they’re unselfish enough to suit up for their country, Team USA will continue to forfeit the title which they believe to be inherently theirs.

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Written by Andrew Canlon
Andrew Canlon

March 22nd, 2013 at 5:01 pm

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