Team USA pulled ahead 6-3 over the Dominican Republic on Saturday night to clinch their spot in next week’s World Baseball Classic semifinals. Amid the glitz of a game-winning Giancarlo Stanton moonshot and the glam of Andrew McCutchen’s two-run double in the eighth inning was a spectacular defensive play by the Orioles’ Adam Jones.
In the seventh inning, with Team USA leading 4-2, fellow Oriole and Dominican Republic third baseman Manny Machado worked a 2-1 count and sent a Tyler Clippard fastball hurtling toward the perimeter of right field. Jones engineered a perfect leap to net the ball, robbing Machado of a badly-needed home run and preserving a two-run lead for the U.S. Machado took the moment in stride, tipping his cap to his teammate as he jogged back to the dugout.
Jones was among those surprised by the play. Via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:
I’m still kind of in shock that I even got to that ball,” he said. “I mean, off the bat I’m just like, ‘This ball’s hit really far, so just keep going, keep going.’
The Dominican Republic didn’t have to wait long for their next opportunity. In the next at-bat, Robinson Cano lifted a change-up from Clippard over the left field fence, nearly getting robbed on another ambitious leap from left fielder Christian Yelich before it landed safely in the stands. Still, it wasn’t quite enough to close the gap between the teams, and a two-run rally in the ninth clinched the victory — and a place in the semifinals — for Team USA.
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.
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.