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Legends On Deck

WBC: America’s Pastime or Latin America’s?

The 2017 World Baseball classic has come to an end with the United States hoisting the trophy. The Americans took home their first WBC title in a dominant 8-0 victory against the undefeated Puerto Rican team. Baseball is America’s past time, but which America? The United States of America or Latin America? Although the US won the classic, they weren’t most exciting team to watch in this tournament.

Ian Kinsler—who plays for the United States—spoke about the difference in style of play and in-game emotion between the US and the latin countries, such as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. He went on to say:

“I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.” (Billy Witz/ New York Times)

Kinsler makes real and valid points when he says us Americans weren’t raised that way and it’s unfortunate we weren’t. The amount of chemistry and cohesiveness in the locker rooms of other teams far surpasses anything the United States could come near.

Platano Power (or plantain power) is real for the Dominican Republic. It also has been in Fernando Rodney’s hand, waistband or locker during the World Baseball Classic. It’s the continuation of a routine that started four years ago at the last WBC, which the Dominican Republic won.

“Everything you see on social media right now is all about the plátano power, and plátano this and plátano that,” shortstop Manny Machado said. “It’s kind of fun. It keeps us loose. That’s one of the things we have on this team is we just try to keep it fun, as loose as possible. Because that transfers out to the field when we’re out there playing.” (Jim Caple/ESPN)

And it’s true, the Dominican Republic was on an 11 game win streak until losing to Puerto Rico.

Lynne Sladky/AP Photo

While the Dominican Republic has excelled in the past two World Baseball Classics with the help of “Plantain Power,” Puerto Rico has boosted its own performance this tournament with Blond Bonding. The players have done so by dyeing their hair blonde. Although hair was tough to come by, even Carlos Beltran joined the party by dying his beard.

Alex Trautwig/WBCI/MLB Photos/Getty Images

They all dropped their Major League uniforms to dawn their country across their chest. It’s a sense of pride and unity American may never really have. Americans as a whole really underestimate the love and passion these latin players have for the game. They put their heart and soul into every pitch and at bat.

“I don’t think most people here in the United States understand what this tournament means to our country,” Pedro Martinez said. “In places like the D.R., Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico, this is our chance to show what we can do collectively, on our own. It’s why we pour every bit of emotion into these games.” (Pedro Gomez/ESPN)

And it isn’t just the players, the fans come in full support too. Drums were thumping, horns were blaring, maracas were shaking and it all leads to just a special environment. The United States versus in the Dominican Republic in the first round was living proof. Marlins Park was rocking. The game would set the attendance record, it was the first sell out at Marlins Park. Cruz’s go ahead three run home run erupted the crowd and it was the energy the kept the Dominicans fighting.

 

These Latin ballplayers are all about the flash and flair and are definitely all for celebration. Javier Baez prematurely celebrated Yadier Molina gunning down a baserunner even before he placed the tag.

Even Colombia brought excitement to the Classic. They showcased their young talent and played with as much heart as any other country did. Celebrations weren’t held back as they all cleared the dugout, hopping over the railing, jumping, screaming and applauding after a bases loaded walk.

It’s time for Americans to take note and really watch how baseball should be played. Baseball is Latin America’s pastime and there’s no debating it.


Featured Photo: MLB.com

Steven Cardona

Steven Cardona

Steven is an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida who lives in Naples, Florida. At USF, he is studying Business Management. He has an immense love and passion for the game of baseball. He worked with the Fort Myers Miracle in 2014 as a Public Relations intern. In 2016, he continued his work experiences within America's pastime with the New York Mets as an American Culture Instructor at the Mets Academy in the Dominican Republic.
Steven Cardona