We interrupt the dog days of spring training to bring an installment of “What’s New in the World Baseball Classic?”
The World Baseball Classic is great fun when you’re not watching your own team’s players get injured. While no one has come close to the level of Luis Ayala circa 2006, this year’s World Baseball Classic has seen its fair share of injuries. The Yanks who were once playing in the tournament are no exception.
As we know, sometime on Monday — or Tuesday or Wednesday if the Yanks keep pushing this back by a day — Damaso Marte (throwing shoulder) and Robinson Cano (throwing shoulder) will head into the MRI tube for some post-WBC scans of sore muscles. While the Yanks wouldn’t really miss Marte if he were to go down, losing Cano after losing his fellow Dominican teammate Alex Rodriguez would be a huge blow. Cano, however, played on Sunday and probably isn’t hurt that badly.
Meanwhile, across baseball, other players are feeling it from the Classic. The Marlins’ Alfredo Amezaga, the Braves’ Chipper Jones and the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia are among the players who are out of the Classic after hurting themselves during the early rounds. For those wary of the pre-season tournament, these aches and pains are simply fuel for the anti-Classic fire.
In a way, of course, that’s a patently silly side to take. After all, Dustin Pedroia could hurt his ab during a game in Fort Myers just as easily as he could strain it playing for Team USA. While the USA team shows a little less than complete enthusiasm for the tournament, though, I see players on most of these other teams giving their all for their countries. The Dominicans, victims of an upstart and now-eliminated Netherlands team, particularly left it all on the field. At this point early in spring training, the players’ bodies just aren’t prepared for the proverbial 110 percent effort.
But that’s baseball life under Bud the Internationalist. As long as we don’t worry too much about it, the Classic makes for good baseball. The other 162 games, though, are the ones that count.
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Meanwhile, in other Classic news, international tournaments make strange bedfellows. Last week, the Boston Herald reported that Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are all new best friends following their time on the same team. Jason at IIATMS noted the nausea-inducing backslaps Jeter doled out to his two arch-rivals.
It is, of course, no secret that the fans of the Red Sox and Yankees take this rivalry far more serious than anyone on both teams not named Jason Varitek. It’s still jarring to hear Jeter speak about two key players on the team most likely to battle the Yanks for the top spots in the American League East this summer. Other bloggers aren’t so sure about the purity of these words.
Digging a little deeper into Derek’s recent statements, Jay at Fack Youk wonders if they are implied digs at Alex Rodriguez and other Yankee teammates. Jay notes a recent quote by Jeter about Team USA third baseman David Wright:
The thing with him, I respect the way he handles himself in New York. I think he shows all the right leadership skills – he leads by example and he’s not phony. What you see is what you get from him. It’s not an image he’s trying to portray; I think that’s how he is as a person.
While none of the A-Rod Outrage Clan known as the New York sports media has picked up on it, Jay sees the not-so-subtle digs in A-Rod in this quote. When A-Rod complimented Jose Reyes, it was a national emergency. When Jeter compliments A-Rod’s Mets counterpart in a way far more critical of A-Rod than Alex was of Derek, Jeter is greeted with dead silence.
And that’s life in New York with the World Baseball Classic.