Written and Media by Jesse Getz.
Are you proud to be an American? Baseball fans all over the country were over joyed this week as the USA national team defeated the previously undefeated Puerto Rico team. Since the creation of the World Baseball Classic in 2005 this was not only the first time the United States have won the tournament but also the first time they made it to the finals. The last time the USA team made it to the semifinals was in 2009 when the defending champions, Japan, defeated them and went on to win their second title against South Korea.
The World Baseball Classic was created after the International Olympic Committee decided to remove baseball as an Olympic sport. In response to this, using the model of the FIFA World Cup the WBC was organized and founded in 2005 and the first tournament took place in 2006, which included 16 teams. Since then the WBC has grown into a large sporting event around the world. Although it has seen less success in the United States, during the 2006 and 2009 finals the series ranked among the highest-rated televised sporting events in Japanese history.
The tournament began with a double elimination pool play, the two top teams in the pool would advance to the second round of pool play. The USA defeated Colombia 3-2 in extra innings to start off the first round of pool play. Then they dropped the second game as the Dominican Republic stormed back late in the game to win 7-5, and moved on to defeat Canada 8-0 in a must win game to advance to the second round of pool play.
In the second round of play, the United States found themselves having to escape a dangerous pool, which included last years champion and runner up teams the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The USA first defeated Venezuela in a close 4-2 game then had to move on to the former runner up, Puerto Rico in which they lost 6-5 in another closely played game. It was beginning to look bad for the United States as they would have to defeat the former Champs and extremely dangerous, Dominican Republic. With a 4-2 lead in the seventh center fielder Adam Jones robbed a home run from Manny Machado that held the lead for the United States after Robinson Cano hit a solo home run in the following plate appearance that would have tied the game if not for Jones’s heroics. Andrew McCutchen then hit a 2-run double to seal the deal and defeat the DR 6-3 and send the USA to the semifinals for the second time in WBC history.
The semifinal game the USA faced the fundamentally solid Japan team. In another close game it was again Adam Jones that came up clutch for the United States scoring Brandon Crawford on a ground ball to third to give them a 2-1 lead that would hold for the rest of the game and send the United States to their first ever finals appearance against an undefeated and seemingly unstoppable Puerto Rico.
The USA had already lost to Puerto Rico earlier in the tournament in a close 6-5 game. Puerto Rico was coming off their closest game they had played all tournament in an eleven inning battle against the Netherlands in which they snuck out a 4-3 victory. However, they were still the favorites to win having not lost a game yet. If you know anything about the United States though, they don’t mind being the underdog, and they proved that once again. The USA batters were on fire as five players contributed two hits a piece out of the thirteen total for the team and Marcus Stroman threw unbelievably and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning where he left the United States with a 7-0 lead and what looked to be a for sure victory. Later the USA once again scored moving the lead to 8-0 where it would stay for the rest of the game and would give them their first ever World Baseball Classic Championship.