Noah Syndergaard doesn’t think much of the World Baseball Classic

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Noah Syndergaard, like a lot of baseball’s biggest American stars, is not playing in the World Baseball Classic. Today he offered a lot of honesty about why, exactly, he’s not doing it. This transcript from an interview this afternoon comes via Marc Carig:

Reporter: You have some teammates going to the WBC pretty soon. Does any part of you wish you could be there as well?

Syndergaard: Nope. Not one bit.

Reporter: Why not?

Syndergaard: Because I’m a Met. And ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or win the World Series playing in the WBC.

He’s not going to thrill anyone at the league office with that exchange, but it is honest.

Even if you think the World Baseball Classic is great — and I know a lot of people who truly enjoy it — the only real incentive for playing in the WBC is national pride and, perhaps, the ability to experience something different than the usual stuff one experiences in baseball.

While that impulse may vary from player to player, it’s worth noting that for most American players, baseball has never been strongly associated with international competition. Certainly not to the level which it is felt by players from countries which have a greater tradition of international tournaments. And by players familiar with the concept of having to leave one’s country to play the game at its highest level. When one does that, home probably matters more and one’s pride in one’s home country’s baseball tradition may be more important. That concept is utterly foreign to most U.S. players. When you grow up and play only in the United States you’re just not thinking about baseball in international terms. You’re pretty much only thinking about the World Series and your major league team.

I figure that has always been the case and will always be the case to some degree. The only thing that could have challenged it was if there had been some feeling of humiliation at losing the first WBC. Well, we’ve had three of them so far and the U.S. hasn’t won any of them, so there will never be some Dream Team push to assemble our country’s best players like we saw in basketball once upon a time.

The game went on with the U.S. not putting forth its best effort in the WBC and thus it always will. Syndergaard’s comments may not be the most diplomatic in this regard, but I suspect he is not alone in feeling that way.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.