Baseball’s been deemed America’s pastime since…well, forever. Today, Major League Baseball actually takes a back seat to the National Football League for America’s most popular sport.
The World Baseball Classic is the perfect platform to prove baseball’s importance to the United States, except this tournament takes precedence over everything else for most of the other countries in this event.
Last night, team USA played Dominican Republic in a game that advanced the winner into the championship round of the tournament. It was matchup featuring many MLB All-Stars and two powerhouse teams in this tournament. Dominican Republic won the game 3-1 with a highly emotional ninth inning rally. The ninth inning was all you needed to see to know how important this event is to the Dominican Republic.
After every pitch, hit, and run scored Dominican players couldn’t hold back their emotions any longer. They were feeding off the crowd of 34,366 at Marlins Park, which had much more of a home game feel for the Dominicans. The strong passion from the large Dominican crowd was spilling over on to the diamond. Eric Aybar’s pinch-hit go-ahead RBI single in the top of ninth started the whirlwind of emotions in the Dominican dugout.
Players leaped out of the dugout fist-pumping, chest-pounding, and flaunting the Dominicana across the front of their jersey. Some would say that the Dominicans acted out of line, but I’d say they acted perfectly. It was a full display of how much passion and pride the Dominicans have for this game.
At the end of the game, the Dominicans continued to celebrate as if nothing else mattered. I couldn’t help but notice their 55-year-old manager Tony Pena, who was jumping up and down with his players like he was a kid again. No one can tell me that there was something wrong with this celebration.
The Dominican Republic doesn’t have the NFL or NBA, just baseball, baseball, and more baseball. Honestly, if Dominican Republic wins the 2013 World Baseball Classic their country will have a parade. If team USA wins the 2013 World Baseball Classic our country will put it on the back page of the New York Times, most likely behind a front page of “BLANK ATHLETE GETS CAUGHT USING PEDs.” (Unfortunately, BLANK ATHLETE could literally be anyone these days.)
The Dominicans are seriously playing for the name on the front of their jersey. Last night’s celebration proved that this team clearly wants this for their country and no one else. Winning the World Baseball Classic is a priority for the Dominican Republic, while it’s far that in the United States.
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