Hey, we’ve got some WBC beef! Maybe this tournament is legit after all.
After Wednesday’s 8-0 USA win in the final, some American players took issue with what saw they as Puerto Rico’s assumption that the title was theirs to take. The Puerto Ricans displayed their WBC champion gear (hats and t-shirts were made up for both teams, but only the Puerto Rican players showed off their before the game), and talked about their plans for a flight back to PR and a parade to celebrate.
The Americans used it for motivation:
“It didn’t sit well,” Andrew McCutchen said. “We heard and we saw T-shirts were made and printed out for the Puerto Rican team. We even heard a flight was made for them for that parade because they said they were going to win. That ignited us, we were ready to go, and we showed that tonight.”
The most public comments came from Adam Jones, who spoke from the victory podium and said, on international TV, that the Americans didn’t take kindly to the Puerto Ricans’ confidence. “That didn’t sit well with us,” Jones said, “so we did what we had to do.”
Puerto Rico’s players heard those comments, and they were not happy. Yadier Molina, at the parade held in San Juan on Thursday, fired back at Jones and demanded an apology.
“Adam Jones...is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.
“He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people. Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”
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Carlos Correa noted that a parade was in the works even during pool play, and was going to happen if PR made the final, win or lose.
Correa then offered up a fairly sick burn when he compared how much the WBC meant to each team.
“It’s as simple as this: If you ask Angel Pagan, if you ask Yadi Molina if it feels better than a World Series, they would say yes,” Correa said. “If you ask one of the American guys, they will say, ‘No, not even close.’ So that just tells you the way we play when we represent our country is a lot different than when they play. A lot of their guys say no to the baseball classic. None of our main guys say no to the baseball classic.”
And then Molina might have scored the best dig of all, noting that he was at a party while all the American WBC players were back at work.
“I’m sending a message to [Jones], saying, ‘Look at this, right now you’re in spring training working out, and we’re with our people, with our silver medals.’ You’re in spring training and you’re working ... you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don’t know what it means.”
I think it’s fair to say, pound-for-pound, the WBC meant more in Puerto Rico than it did here. I didn’t notice any giant outdoor viewing parties, like this one for the final in San Juan:
I also don’t think there’s any real bad blood here. The Americans used the Puerto Ricans’ party planning as a motivator, because pro athletes will use whatever’s around. The photo atop this post is the Puerto Rican team saluting the Americans after the final out, so there was certainly no animosity on the field. This is good old-fashioned trash talk, and maybe it’s the start of something American baseball has never had: an international rivalry. That would be good for the game and good for the next edition of the WBC in 2021.