Syndergaard was asked on Friday whether he had any regrets about not playing for the United States in the tournament. He said no and explained, “Because I’m a Met.” He added, “Ain’t nobody make it to the Hall of Fame and win the World Series playing in the W.B.C.”
And when fans from the United States talk about baseball with one another, does anyone speak passionately about this tournament? With so many of the best American players deciding they would rather stay with their teams, it sends a powerful message to fans: We don’t care, so why should you?
“A key to the W.B.C.’s success is to have the best possible rosters we can have,” Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged in Phoenix last month, just after spring training began. “I think we’ve made real progress this time around in terms of the quality of the rosters.”
Trout has no health concerns; he simply declined for personal reasons. In weighing his options last year,
Harper bluntly said he did not sense much excitement from other stars.“I really just think if we have the support of all the players in the big leagues on the American side, then I’ll definitely play,” he told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I’d love to. Hopefully, we get some guys like Thor in New York and guys like that.”
Thor, of course, is Syndergaard, who is ensconced in Port St. Lucie as the rare Mets starter not coming off surgery. No rational Mets fan would want to see Syndergaard overdo it in March because, as the official marketing slogan goes, “This year, we play #FORGLORY.” Harper, predictably, declined to play, too.
And let’s face it: This event is not about the United States, anyway. Among many Latin American players, there is an endearing, authentic verve for the tournament. In winning the 2013 W.B.C., the Dominicans rallied around a lucky banana. They are stacked again, with Jose Bautista, Dellin Betances, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jeurys Familia, Manny Machado, Starling Marte, Carlos Martinez, Gregory Polanco, Carlos Santana and Edinson Volquez. When Hanley Ramirez went down with a sore shoulder, the team replaced him with Jean Segura, who led the National League in hits last season. My goodness.
“It’s incredible,” Betances said. “I feel like all the top players want to play in it, which is pretty cool. I feel like you could make two teams with some of the guys who aren’t even participating. It’s unbelievable, that roster.”
The 2013 runner-up, Puerto Rico, has Javier Baez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Correa, Edwin Diaz, Francisco Lindor and Yadier Molina. Venezuela looks strong, too, with Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, Felix Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, Ender Inciarte, Victor Martinez, Salvador Perez and Francisco Rodriguez.
It can't be any clearer than that
SMH, can't believe we let them tie it up. Hell of a play at home though. That throw and tag, perfection.