2017 WBC Roundup
As the 2017 World Baseball Classic ends, a lot has gone on, so here's a recap of everything, and my thoughts. Games started about 2 weeks ago in South Korea, with pool A, and the big story to come out of there was team Israel. Playing in their first ever WBC, team Israel stunned almost everyone going 3-0 in pool A play, even defeating the Netherlands, who eventually made it to the semi-finals. Their mensch on the bench, and "Jew crew" slogan helped push the Israel's to round 2 play, and even to beating the powerhouse Cuban team. Pool B began a few days after pool A, and Japan showed their dominance early on, going 3-0 in their pool. Behind them going 2-1 was Cuba, letting them move onto the second round as well. Pools C and D began at the same time, and these 2 pools were arguably the 2 most exciting of the tournament. In pool C, the defending champion Dominican Republic team moved on, going 3-0 in pool C, and behind them was team USA. Down in Mexico, in pool D, it was Puerto Rico taking the top spot, playing to a perfect record in their games. Second place in pool D wasn't that easy however. After a 3 way tie for second, and a misinterpretation of the rules, team Italy squared off with Venezuela for second place, and a spot in pool F, with Venezuela coming out on top. Now to round 2, pool E in Japan was more of the same story for Japan, but the Cinderella story Israeli team wasn't as lucky, being eliminated, allowing the Kingdom of the Netherlands to move on. Pool F in San Diego started with a bang, with Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic playing, both with perfect records. After that big win, Puerto Rico secured a spot in the semi-finals in LA, and for the remaining teams, it all came down to the final pool F game. Team USA played the Dominican Republic, for who would get to play in the semi-finals vs Japan, and this game was nothing short of amazing. From mammoth home runs by Robinson Cano, and Giancarlo Stanton, to the dazzling play Adam Jones made robbing Manny Machado of a home run, this game was amazing all throughout, eventually leading to a US win. The semi-finals in LA encompassed the atmosphere and gravity from the US, Dominican game, and it started with the perfect Puerto Rico, playing the Kingdom of the Netherlands. After big first innings from both teams, a pitchers duel began, eventually leading the game to the 11th inning, with the international extra innings rules in place. After an electric performance from Puerto Rican closer Edwin Diaz, the Puerto Rican's shut the door on the Netherlands, winning the game, and securing a place in the finals with a walk-off sacrifice fly off the bat of Eddie Rosario. In the second semi-final game, team USA squared off with Japan, and this was a pitchers duel in every sense of the word, with both teams combining for only 10 hits. Despite the lack of hits, team USA managed to put 2 runs on the board with the aid of some defensive mistakes, and this gave them the win over Japan, and a rematch with Puerto Rico in the finals. Finally in that finals game, team USA brought their A game, and shut down the flaming hot Puerto Rico lineup. Starter Marcus Stroman pitched 6 no-hit innings, leading to a 8-0 win for the title. Team USA had to put early runs up, and pitch extremely well, and do that they did, putting 2 up in the 3rd thanks to an Ian Kinsler home run, and the Americans never looked back. After the games an MVP for the entire tournament is picked, and I decided to pick my MVP from the winning US team. There were many good options, Hosmer, Crawford, and even Marcus Stroman, but I decided to go with center fielder Adam Jones. Jones didn't get a lot of hits or hit a lot of home runs, but the hits he did get, were in some of the biggest moments for USA. From getting the winning hit vs Columbia in the first game, to hitting home runs on back to back nights in San Diego, Jones made a big impact with the bat, and he was excellent in the field too. Jones has always been known as an amazing center fielder with great range, and a good arm, and it was shown a lot thought the tournament. The signature moment for Jones, and maybe even the signature moment in the entire tournament is when Jones robbed Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a home run, that proved to keep team USA's lead against the Dominican Republic, allowing them to move on. Jones didn't get a ton of hits, but he got some of the biggest of the tournament. Also when it comes to leadership, Jones excelled in this category, along with Eric Hosmer. Congrats to every team in the tournament, especially the US, and I can't wait till we do this all again in 4 years. Spring Training is coming to an end, so opening day is right around the corner. I hope everyone enjoyed the WBC, and I'm getting ready to celebrate opening day.