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Thank You Team USA

Well, it surprisingly took until the fourth World Baseball Classic for the Americans to finally win won.  It was well worth the wait, and it was great watching a group of likeable players win this thing.  For the most part, I developed a deeper appreciation for a lot of these players.

For starters, Adam Jones may now be my favorite non-Met.  He had some truly clutch hits, and his robbery of Manny Machado is a play that will live on forever.  More important than that, he was a player who had a lot of pride representing his country.

Marcus Stroman was absolutely dominant in the World Baseball Classic.  For a pitcher who has pitched in big games for most of his young career, Stroman took his game to a higher level last night carrying a no-hitter into the seventh.  It was great to see a fellow Long Islander there is one of the biggest moments in USA baseball history.

It was a delight to see Brandon Crawford play shortstop.  With him playing on the West Coast, and my being a Mets fan, I really only get to see him a handful of games a year.  You really appreciate how good he is watching him play on a prolonged basis.  I also wasn’t aware of just how much he’s improved as a hitter.

Ian Kinsler went out there, and even he had to show a little enthusiasm on the field.  He’s really about as good a second baseman as there is in baseball.

Tanner Roark, Drew Smyly, and Danny Duffy really stepped up and pitched better than really anyone could have reasonably expected them to pitch.

While they didn’t play as large a role as they did in 2015, it was nice seeing Tyler Clippard and Daniel Murphy win something.  They certainly deserved it . . . even if Murphy didn’t deserve being frozen out.

Certainly, Paul Goldschmidt showed he was a bigger man than anyone could have expected.  We did not hear one word from either him or Murphy about being benched in favor of lesser players.  Speaks a lot about their character and their dedication to winning.  Same goes for Jake McGee, who certainly could have been tabbed by his manager to get some of the bigger left-handed hitters out in the WBC.

In one game, Alex Bregman showed us why he’s going to be the next young star in this league.  That Astros infield is going to be terrific next year and for the next decade.

Nate Jones, Sam Dyson, and Mychal Givens are much better relievers than anyone might’ve known prior to the tournament.  They certainly showed that during the WBC.  For that matter, Luke Gregerson showed everyone he’s a closer in this game.

I certainly was able to appreciate the skill Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton bring to the table on a game-in and game-out basis.  They play the game hard, and they play it the right way.  It was easy rooting for them in the WBC.  Still, that won’t prevent me from rooting against them during the regular season.

Andrew McCutchen is really just a great player no matter what position you play him in the outfield.  The Pirates are going to be happy they held onto him.

No, still not going to say anything nice about Eric Hosmer.

I still can’t believe Pat Neshek got out of that jam against Japan.

We all know Andrew Miller was better than he was in the WBC, but it is a testament to him that he was still willing to go out there and give whatever he could give the team despite him not being ready to be Andrew Miller yet.  Same goes for David Robertson.

Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy showed everyone that despite the fawning over Yadier Molina, they are the two best catchers in the game.  USA was able to share time between them and not miss and beat.  Also, Lucroy had the best chest protector I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.

Nolan Arenado just went out there and played hard.  Again, you have to admire someone who goes out there and just fights through it.

I appreciate what Chris Archer and Mark Melancon did.  I wish their teams would’ve permitted them to participate more, but you have to admire anyone who is willing to go out there and contribute whatever they can.  Certainly, Archer’s impact was lasting because he went out there the first game and dominated.  He set the tone for this entire starting staff.

Finally, it was great seeing Willie Randolph out there coaching.  He is a great baseball person that has not gotten the second chance to manage he so rightfully earned.  He is class personified.  There is no greater example of this than his wearing Jackie Robinson‘s 42 with permission from Robinson’s family.    Throughout his entire career, he has deserved better from baseball, and I am hoping he finally gets that chance he so richly deserves.

Overall, it was great watching a group of Americans who were easy to root for.  Top to bottom these were classy players that played hard, and they were players who had pride in representing their countries.  I can thing of no finer collection of players to go out there and not only capture the title, but to also raise the interest in the WBC.

Well done.

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