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Photo Credit: Kevin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Tournament M.V.P. Marcus Stroman Deals As the U.S.A. Wins the World Baseball Classic

The United States wasn’t an easy team to cheer for, heading into Wednesday night’s championship game of the World Baseball Classic. Let’s be honest, unless you’re an American, they’re not ever an easy team to cheer for, no matter what the sport. But in this tournament in particular there’s an aloofness about the whole American endeavor — not from the players on the field, but on the whole — that makes such an ugly contrast with the passion of the Latin American teams that you just can’t let yourself get behind them. You’d rather see a team win for whom it would genuinely mean something, not just for the players or fans in the ballpark or watching on TV, but for the country itself.

Add in Ian Kinsler’s moronic fun police routine on Wednesday afternoon — he criticized the way the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans display their passion, and said that he hoped “kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays” — and I found myself hoping for a tidy Marcus Stroman start, and then whoever followed him for the States to get his head bashed in.

Turns out, it didn’t matter who followed Stroman. By the time he exited in the seventh inning, immediately after allowing his first hit of the ballgame, Puerto Rico seemed demoralized, and the Americans already led 6-0. It was over.

Stroman was spectacular. He managed just three strikeouts, but kept the ball down in the zone and used a varying windup to keep hitters off balance, walking just one, and inducing eleven groundball outs. His exit to a standing ovation at Dodger Stadium was fully deserved, and awesome:

Last year on Opening Day, Stroman had what felt like a similar coming out party, outduelling Chris Archer and brilliantly working the lower edge of the zone. It seemed to portend big things for a pitcher many then expected to be the Blue Jays’ ace, but, of course… it didn’t.

This too doesn’t automatically mean that Stroman suddenly has it all figured out, but holy shit, it’s a much better sign than it is a bad one. And it was a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  • A Guy

    So why can’t we cheer for the US? Our closest neighbour. A country, notwithstanding it’s idiot President, is culturally like us, despite what our own flag waving hosers might suggest. Where many of our family either currently live, or moved from, like mine. Sure, there are a lot of idiots there, particularly in sports fandom, but who among us?

    • Steve-O

      In geopolitical and cultural terms, the USA is Canada’s largest trading partner, friend, neighbour and closest ally – but they are also probably our biggest rival when it comes to sports. So to me, cheering for them in an event would be like switching to the Red Sox or Yankees if the Jays were eliminated, which… oh hell no.

      And that’s not even taking into consideration the Ian Kinsler fun police crap that drives me crazy – but you mileage may vary on that. (I just find other teams like the Dominican Republic, especially, more fun to root for.)

      But obviously no one can tell you who to cheer for, so you do you.

      • A Guy

        Personally I’m not very jingoistic. Doesn’t really matter to me where someone is from. Getting all nationalistic during the Olympics because a person can perform some unusual athletic task that happens to be from the same country as me isn’t important. Whatever makes you happy. But I understand if the US were playing Canada in the WBC it might be hard to cheer, but rooting for them against a team from PR isn’t like cheering for the Bosox IMO.

    • Barry

      I don’t think anyone said you “can’t” cheer for the US. But the article says the US is “not easy” to cheer for, and I think the first two paragraphs do a good job explaining why it was hard to cheer for the US last night.

      It’s pretty easy to cheer for Stro, though.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      Read “Fire and Ice: the United States Canada and the Myth of Converging Values” by Michael Adams. There are many countries in the world that are “culturally like us” – the UK, France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium etc. The US is not one of them. More people in the US believe in angels than believe in evolution. The US is becoming more like Indonesia or Pakistan, other religious states, than it is becoming like any of the western democracies.