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The compliments for this year’s World Baseball Classic have steadily been flowing in from fans, athletes, media personalities and countries across the globe.
FS1’s David Ortiz exclaimed MLB “killed it with this tournament” because the “environment, the energy in this building is different than any other game.”
His FS1 colleague Alex Rodriguez said MLB “has hit the lottery” with this year’s event. For the “first time in a long time in talking to a lot of those players over there, they’re really enjoying representing the U.S., being in this moment.”
That’s a small sample of the accolades the series has garnered and rightfully so for the games have been exciting.
But it’s the reactions and support of the fans from participating countries that have far exceeded the fandom of normal MLB fans and games. That’s what drives baseball traditionalists crazy.
And that’s why the World Baseball Classic is so important.
These are purists like longtime journalist Keith Olbermann.
When Edwin Diaz and Jose Altuve were injured, media pundit baseball purists like Keith Olberman took to twitter to torch the Classic.
“First Freddie Freeman, now Edwin Diaz,” tweeted Olbermann. “The WBC is a meaningless exhibition series designed to: get YOU to buy another uniform, to hell with the real season, and split up teammates based on where their grandmothers got laid. Call it off. Now.”
Those injuries were unfortunate, and they will have an effect on the players and the Mets and Astros, their respective teams.
But if you watched them during the Classic and asked them if they regretted playing in the Classic, I bet you they would say “no” without hesitation or regret.
Why? Because it wasn’t just about a win. It has significance beyond sports and trails into cultural pride.
When Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic, that victory was for the entire island of Puerto Rico and every Boriqua across the world.
If you’re from New York, you understand the significance of that match-up.
You don’t think it meant even more that Japan beat the United States in Tuesday night’s championship game in Miami? Did you see the celebration at the mound after the last out? For a culture that is normally reserved in celebration, they let loose on the mound.
How about Mexico outfielder Randy Arozarena? You don’t think he was loving every minute of their run?
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