When big leaguers act like little leaguers, it's a good thing.
-Written by Alec Baicher
Last night, the World Baseball Classic came to an end. Team USA defeated a phenomenal Puerto Rico team 8-0 and captured their first WBC title in the tournament's fourth go around. For a country that created this beautiful game of ours, it was an incredible sight to see. Many baseball fans came together to watch the WBC this year, a tad different than year's past. However, you know how the old saying goes, don't judge a book by its cover. Well, many fans judged the WBC on previous years, but when the white lines were drawn and the countries took the field, it was a totally different story.
Even to some players, the WBC didn't seem to matter, especially Team USA. Noah Syndergaard backed out of the tournament stating he wanted to focus on the Mets in spring training. Some of the other games brightest stars who could have played for the US also backed out, like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, and Max Scherzer. Other teams, such as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, had their full array of all stars, and they cared, A LOT.
When push came to shove this year, games were competitive and teams were all-in on the tournament. Every game teams and fans of the nation's went nuts. The pure passion and enthusiasm for the game was an incredible sight to see. As the tournament went on, more fans started taking notice, and more fans started getting on board.
Take a look at Team Italy and Team Israel. Now, I'm a tad bit biased being Italian and Israeli (pizza bagel!!!) but these were considered underdog teams in the tournament and look how much fun they are having.
These were incredible comebacks!!!! Look at the passion, the enthusiasm, the love for the game all in once. This makes me shed a tear as a baseball fan. It's hard not to be romantic about baseball, you know?
Next I'll show the passion of players on the field. Javy Baez, super utility man for the Cubs, makes the greatest tag I've ever seen. But it wasn't the tag that caught my eye, it was the joyous celebration DURING it.
Folks, THIS IS HOW BASEBALL SHOULD BE PLAYED!!! Look at the faces and reactions from Yadier Molina (who I still HATEEEE by the way) and Baez. Its hard not to smile after watching these highlights.
Finally, baseball is a game about respect. Showing up players is something players should limit, but even during the Major League Baseball season, too many players and managers are hardo's about "playing the game the right way". You want to see the game played the right way? See below.
WHAT A CATCH! WHAT A MOMENT! In a game that the winner was going on to the final four, we may have seen the catch of the year by Adam Jones. Take a look at the video again, because I'm going to point out everything thats right with this video (and it's everything).
1. The catch: the catch itself was incredible, one of the best catches I've ever seen. In a tight ball game with pressure mounting, Jones, the local San Diego guy, took matters into his own hands to save the day. Between the moment and the catch, it was SUPERB.
2. The fans reaction's:
The still photo is incredible, I may hang this in my house. Between Jones' extreme focus, the American flags, the fans' smiles, the ones trying to catch the ball as well, it's all amazing. Fans went NUTS after this, and rightfully so.
3. The reaction by Jones after: Jones made the catch, lifted his glove in the air. Ran and low-fived Andrew McCutchen. It's really sad we don't get these reactions as such during the regular season, but it is 162 games, but everyone should be playing with this passion and fun!
4. The Hat Tips: Manny Machado and Adam Jones are both teammates with the Baltimore Orioles. Both are perennial all stars and both have vast respect for each other. When Jones made that catch, Machado saluted his Baltimore teammate with a hat tip, the ultimate sign of respect for a baseball player. Jones returned the favor back to his friend. This was really great to see. You know deep down both wanted to win their games for their country. Machado saw Jones' reaction after the catch right in front of him. He didn't pout, he didn't get angry he gave Jones a hat tip and signified that he had made an incredible play.
All in all, I am so glad I watched the WBC this year. Seeing major league ball players play like little leaguers is a beautiful thing. I think players and managers need to get off their high horses' during the season and let these guys have fun! As fans, I want more bat flips, I want more fist pumps, I want more big time high fives after great plays, I want more hat tips, and I want more FUN.
I hope all of baseball took notice to the WBC this year. This is exactly how baseball should be players. And hey, its nice to see these guys smile!
P.S. Opening Day is 11 days away and I am GIDDY!!!!!