Even though it’s technically spring training around the league, 34 Major Leagues took their talents to Miami and LA to compete in this year’s World Baseball Classic.
In this fourth installment of the Olympic-style tournament, the USA would field a team that would finally prevail and win gold for the first time.
After failing to even make it past the semifinals in each of the first three classics, 2017 was finally the year where it all came together for a dynamic group of all-stars, champions, and young players that donned the US uniform.
After defeating the Dominican Republic in dramatic fashion to get to the final, the US handled the Puerto Rican national team 8-0 to secure their first gold medal.
Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who was on a 95 pitch limit, pitched a stellar game.
Stroman only need 73 pitches to get through six-plus innings of scoreless baseball versus a stacked Puerto Rico lineup featuring Carlos Correa and Yadier Molina.
On the offensive side, the US dispersed their runs throughout the game starting in the third inning with a two-run home run by second basemen Ian Kinsler. It continued in the fifth inning as they added two more runs on the strength of two RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.
In the seventh, the US broke the game open as they batted around, adding three more runs to their total on a two-out, two run RBI single by Brandon Crawford followed by a run-scoring single by Giancarlo Stanton.
Their final run came in the eighth inning to make the game 8-0 and David Robertson entered the game in the last inning to close out the gold medal.
This WBC title signifies a new era for US baseball.
In years past, the international teams like the Dominican Republic would dominate this tournament with their bevy of sluggers and power arms while US teams would barely be able to compete.
This year, it was the US who boasted the power bats, the speed and the arms that carried them through the two-week tournament. Many players who would otherwise be dusting their rust off in spring training games, were playing in highly contested, highly pressurized and very meaningful WBC games that clearly meant something to all teams and countries that took part. Just look at the over 51,000 people in attendance in LA for the final game.
What this WBC did was show that the game’s best players put importance on this tournament and competing at a high level for their country.
What this gold medal did was show that US baseball is at the top of its game.
How tuned in were you to this year’s World Baseball Classic? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.