On Wednesday night, Puerto Rico’s undefeated charge through the 2017 World Baseball Classic came to a crashing halt in the final, as Team USA handed down an 8-0 beating to claim America’s first tournament trophy. The blonde heads of Team Rubio could not offset the Red, White, and Blue’s superior firepower in the lineup (Giancarlo Stanton, one of the best hitters in baseball, was hitting 8th for the US), nor could they overcome American-via-Puerto Rico and WBC MVP Marcus Stroman’s strong start on the mound.
After the game, Team USA players mentioned that Puerto Rico’s pre-planned celebrations were definitely fuel for their competitive fire, as the boricuas had planned to fly to the island post-final to celebrate. According to the Puerto Rican players, however, that planning was misinterpreted, and it was the team’s next move, win or lose, after the final game of the best WBC yet.
Houston Astros and Puerto Rico star Carlos Correa mentioned that the team had planned the trip back days before, even speaking to Puerto Rico’s governor about their plans: “When we were in Mexico, we told the governor in Puerto Rico that if we made it to the finals, we need to plane to get back and celebrate with our people.”
The governor, Ricky Roselló, was so supportive of the team that he even dyed his own hair blond ahead of the final, joining in on the island-wide trend that had spread over the past week.
Correa went on to say that he believes, for the players of Puerto Rico, a WBC win would have been bigger than a World Series, while for the Americans, maybe not so much. “[T]hat just tells you the way we play when we represent our country is a lot different than when they play,” he said. “A lot of their guys say no to the baseball classic. None of our main guys say no to the baseball classic.”
And so, despite the 8-0 whomping on Wednesday, Puerto Rican players are heading home with their heads held high after their second straight runner-up finish in the WBC. Here’s hoping that, come 2021, they still have the same sense of unity and passion that they displayed in this year’s edition.
The final’s biggest social media moment, given the lack of excitement in the game proper, was regarding ESPN’s decision to put its Deportes feed over on ESPN2. Some American fans were not pleased to find the Spanish-language feed on their normally-English channels:
MLB Network had the rights to the English feed, however, so if those gringos wanted to watch in their native tongue, they could have ponied up for the baseball package. Capitalism, hard at work! Otherwise, being able to watch Team USA’s historic victory at all feels like a pretty good middle ground for ESPN.