America. 69 comments

USA catcher Jonathan Lucroy celebrates the final out of the USA 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico.


How do you say “mercy rule” in Spanish?

That’s how dominate USA was over its step child Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic.

It starts and ends with pitching, as it always does. And Marcus Stroman was at his facing-the-Texas-Rangers-in-the-playoffs best. Puerto Rico got one hit off him, a double in the seventh.

More than the details of the game, I was taken by the crowd. This is L.A., where they are too cool to be cool, where they show up to Dodgers games in the third inning and leave in the seventh.

This crowd was different. It was louder than anything I have ever heard. Intense. Passionate. And from the reaction of both teams after the game, the players felt it.

Three months ago, the rumor was the World Baseball Classic was on its way out. While it drew interest in baseball hotbeds like Japan, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, in the US, it was met with all the joy of the Silver Boot.

But something changed. It’s amazing what winning will do.

I did a complete 180 on this thing as well. Mainly because there is nothing in life more dull than spring training baseball. It’s a battle of laundry. Guys you don’t care much about wearing jerseys of your favorite team competing against guys you don’t care a thing about in jerseys from another team.

Where are all the good players? Where is the excitement? Where is the baseball? In the WBC. The games were intense, the competition was All-Star calibre, this was playoff baseball at the beginning of the season.

The WBC had its coming out party this year. Last night’s USA win over its sovereign territory Puerto Rico was one of the more lopsided games of the tournament. But fans were into it every step of the way, from the first pitch to the last out.

See you again in four years, WBC. We now resume our regularly scheduled yawnfest.