DETROIT – OK, it’s time to address all the baseball “experts” who suddenly have strong opinions about the World Baseball Classic.
Do you ever hear a comment and think, “How does this person not see the irony?” I’ve been doing that a lot the last few days, as social media gets flooded with anti-WBC rhetoric, all because of one injury.
Ever since New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz, one of the top relievers on the planet, hurt his knee while wearing a Team Puerto Rico jersey, people have started to argue that the WBC is “meaningless.”
We’re really doing this again, huh?
I can say with certainty that anyone who calls this tournament meaningless hasn’t been watching. In fact, the World Baseball Classic has provided some of the most meaningful moments the sport has seen in years.
Was it meaningless to Yu Chang, who returned to Taiwan and hit a pair of emotional home runs in front of a crowd that sang, chanted, and cheered nonstop for a full nine innings?
Was it meaningless to Ondrej Satoria, an electrician who plays baseball on the side and got a chance to strike out mega-star Shoehei Ohtani at the Tokyo Dome?
One and only @MLB @MLBONFOX @WBCBaseball @BaseballCzech pic.twitter.com/dEey6XEbNU— Ondřej Satoria (@OndrejSatoria) March 14, 2023
Was it meaningless to Cuban MLB players who, for the first time ever, got to play for their country after defecting?
Or to the Dominican players who couldn’t decide whether they’d rather win the WBC or a World Series?
I could go on and on and on. Who are we to talk about these games being “meaningless” when every single comment and action from the actual participants suggests otherwise?
Back to the irony: Everyone is using Diaz’s injury to prove a point about how the WBC isn’t worth the risk. Well, do they know exactly how Diaz got injured? He hurt his knee celebrating Team Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic -- let me repeat: celebrating, because the win meant so much to him.
Anyone using the Diaz injury to devalue the WBC is actually disproving their own point. That a player who just signed a $102 million contract cared enough to play in the WBC is a testament to this incredible event.
Nobody wanted to see Diaz get injured. It’s a bummer for him, for fans, and for the Mets, who invested so heavily in him.
But he wasn’t even pitching when he got hurt. Maybe the WBC buzzkills should spend more time moaning and groaning about the terrifying dangerous of baseball celebrations.
Fans often complain about how professional athletes are “only in it for the money.” Well, the WBC is a chance to watch those guys play for a greater cause, and suddenly we want to argue about whether it’s “meaningless”?
The World Baseball Classic has been awesome. It’s brought the best players from across the planet together on the same field, and the stories that come from it could never be replicated within the confines of an MLB season.
Watch the documentary on Team Czechia upsetting Spain in the qualifiers. Talk to the Cuban players about the super fan who goes to every single one of their games. Pay attention to Yu Chang’s expression as he rounded the bases after his game-tying homer vs. Italy.
It really stinks that Edwin Diaz won’t pitch for the Mets this year. But it’s hard to argue that one injury renders all those incredible WBC storylines “meaningless.”