Puerto Rico is part of America, right? I mean, it can't be "Team USA" because Puerto Rico is not one of the fifty united states, but those guys are American citizens who hold American passports, right? It's not like the Kingdom of the Netherlands fielded Team Holland and Team Curacao. What will happen if Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state? Will they still get a team in the World Baseball Classic? Silly questions, I know, and I mean no disrespect. After all, the notion of a "nation" has little to do with political realities. But imagine a Team America that combined the two rosters--that would have been a tough squad. I enjoyed the WBC despite the fact that a short duration tournament is the antithesis of the marathon summer of ball we all know and love. And I would have preferred a final with Japan, the defending champs, who were clearly the other great team in the field. Puerto Rico had an inspiring run and it was fun watching Angel Pagan's histrionics. I love his lead vocalist-style strutting and preening and his goofy, bug-eyed complaining to the umpire. He's an impressive player and a fine addition to the San Francisco Giants. Harold Reynolds called him "an offensive force." I liked that. But the Dominicans were not to be denied and are deserving winners. That country has an amazing baseball history, as we all know, and it is fitting that they were champs. I don't know how you can run the WBC differently so that MLB players can participate fully--perhaps you can't. There will always be conflicts with contracts and countries, and I'm not sure how I'd feel about Buster Posey busting his balls for Team USA in March. I like him a lot better doing stretches and sprints in Arizona. The WBC is a good opportunity for other, non-superstar players to get a chance to shine, and there was plenty of talent on Team USA, certainly enough for them to make a run at the title. It would have been nice to see more fans in the ballparks, but the WBC is here to stay and I think that's a good thing for baseball. Should be even more fun in 2017.
Back home on the Giants front, the news about Pablo Sandoval and his "chronic bone spur" does not make me happy, but we are, sadly, used to the Panda missing large chunks of the season. Perhaps this year they will rest him more frequently and try to avoid long stints on the DL. Injuries are always the X-factor when thinking about the upcoming season. You know that guys are going to get hurt, all you can hope is that the injuries aren't too severe and that the club has the depth to tough it out when a key player goes down. I'm getting excited about those last couple of roster spots, aren't you?
p.s. Check me out at C70 At The Bat (a Cardinals blog) where I preview the 2013 Giants along with a few other Giants bloggers! The feature is called "Playing Pepper." Thanks to Daniel Shoptaw for the invite and chance to talk baseball with a different audience.