No Mike Trout, no Bryce Harper, No Kris Bryant, no problem. Even without the top eligible stars participating in the World Baseball Classic, Team USA has been quite the force in this tournament, and it’s a new hero every night.
Earlier in the WBC, Team USA walked off against Colombia thanks to a 10th inning gap shot by Adam Jones. Trailing 2-1 in the 8th inning to Venezuela last night, it was Jones once again coming through for the stars and stripes with his first home run of the WBC to tie the game at two.
I’ll say one thing — and this is surely going to piss off Orioles fans — but playing in Baltimore has definitely held Jones back from attaining superstar status. The passion and emotion that this guy has played with during the WBC has been a lot of fun to watch, and then I think back to this past September, remembering all those 75% empty turnouts at Camden Yards while the O’s were fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch. You’re talking about a Gold Glove defender who plays a premiere position, has 30-homer power, and undeniably has the clutch gene. Jones deserves way more credit for the player that he is.
But Jones’ homer wasn’t the only ball to clear the fence in the 8th inning last night. Marlins outfielder and loyal Stoolie Christian Yelich singled up the middle to put a man on for Eric Hosmer, who hammered a two-run bomb two batters later to give USA a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish.
You hear that sound? No, not the sound of Hosmer crushing the hopes and dreams of everyone in Venezuela. I’m talking about the other sound. The sound of me backpedaling. I’m gonna maintain my stance that the WBC obviously isn’t on the same level as the Olympics and the World Cup, and the MLB has quite the uphill battle to wage before they can get to that level, but this year’s WBC has been fucking tremendous.
Some blowouts, but a LOT of edge of your seat, high-drama, high-emotion, high-intensity, competitive, entertaining baseball games. I’ve watched the WBC every year that there’s been one, but this was the year that really stood out to me as the tournament that felt different, felt like it mattered. This one grabbed me. I mean, just look at Jones and Hosmer and tell me that it doesn’t matter to them. You’d be wrong.