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.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.