World Baseball Classic Recap

Jaime Halstuch
Staff Writer

For two weeks the world put its eyes on baseball. America’s pastime was played at its highest level, with top players representing their countries and fighting for their flag. There were great moments in terms of bloopers, tragedies, cultural expression, and sport. Edwin Diaz getting injured, Puerto Rico’s perfect game against Israel, Venezuela’s fans adapting Argentina’s World Cup song, and Cubans protesting against the regime were just some of the moments that made this World Baseball Classic a great tournament. However, the greatest moment was in the last inning of the World Baseball Classic: two players considered by many the two best baseball players in the world faced each other for the title. It was Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout face to face, the two Los Angeles Angels facing each other for the world title, but Trout was not a rival for Ohtani’s pitching and Japan was crowned World Baseball Champions.

Team Japan superstar Shohei Ohtani (Photo courtesy of KYODO)

In a very tight pool A, every team had two wins and two losses. Cuba’s defense took the first seed followed by a surprising Italian team. The Netherlands, Panama, and Chinese Taipei did not do enough and got eliminated in the first round. Pool B had Japan better known as Shohei Ohtani and Co., it was widely assumed they would advance out of that pool and they did. Japan won all four of their games in Tokyo in what was a relaxing first round for them. Australia finished with three wins and one loss, as they exceeded expectations to advance out of the pool. Korea went 2-2, but not much was talked about them. Czech Republic was a surprising team full of day-to-day professionals. A teacher, a manager, and a firefighter were some of the players playing for the Czech national team. China finished 0-4, one of 2 teams who did not take home a win.

Pool C had amazing teams and great surprises for world baseball. Mexico started losing against Colombia in a game in which pride and ego mattered the most since neither of them have been good at soccer. However, Mexico’s new generation of baseball players won against the United States, Canada, and Great Britain to win the first seed. The US had an All-Star team, but it was no competition for Mexico, however Great Britain, Canada, and Colombia were not enough competition for a team full of stars. Canada took home two wins and two losses. Great Britain took only one win but a huge opportunity to grow the sport in their country. Colombia was a solid team, with Gio Urshela, Jorge Alfaro, and Oscar Mercado led a team that had much higher hopes and ended up going home with 1 win and 3 losses. However, Colombian baseball is growing evrey day and do not be surprised if in a couple of years with Edgar Renteria watching Colombia become World Champions. Pool D looked like the best pool, a pool that perfectly represented the town in which it was played, Miami. Latinos were well represented with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Israel well represented the big Jewish community in Miami. A pool that could look like a contest for the best Salsa and Reggaeton if you only watch the first three teams, but with great talent. Venezuela won the first seed going 4-0. Puerto Rico pitched a perfect game beating Israel by mercy rule, and that was not the best part of the tournament. In a game between Reggeaton vs Dembow, better known as Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic, with Daddy Yankee and Big Papi (David Ortiz) watching Puerto Rico took the win. Puerto Rico went 3-1 and got the second seed in the pool. The only problem was Edwin Diaz taking the celebration in the wrong direction and getting injured for the rest of the season. Yes, poor Mets. Talking about the Mets, the Dominican Republic looked like a team that could make it far in the tournament, but they did not. They went 2-2 and went home. Israel had a interesting team and won only one game against Nicaragua. Nicaragua lost all four of their games making a swift exit out of the tournament.

Puerto Rico closer Edwin Diaz getting carried off with an injury (Photo courtesy of David Santiago/Associated Press)

Playoffs came with Italy losing 9-3 to Japan. Cuba sent Australia back home in a game that was much closer than what most people expected it to be. However, this was great news for world baseball, since it is clear that the sport has grown in Australia. The US led by Mike Trout took out Venezuela in an amazing game that ended 9-7. Mexico came back against Puerto Rico and sent them home. The new generation of Mexican “peloteros” were only one run behind Japan. Team USA demolished Cuba wining 14-2. The final had the best two overall teams in the tournament, Shohei Ohtani, the best player in the world, threw the final pitch against his teammate Mike Trout to bring the trophy to Japan once again.

This tournament was amazing for baseball, millions were watching it, and interest in the sport went up once again. Lets just hope that this Major League Baseball season does not disappoint us and baseball can keep growing not only in the US but all around the world. Finally, congratulations to the new World Champions, Japan.


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