An entire island held its breath as jubilation turned to devastation as star closer Edwin Diaz crumpled to the mound, during Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Despite clinching their spot in the quarterfinals, and eliminating the pre-tournament favorites, Puerto Rico fans were devastated by the sudden turn of events.
In addition to losing their closer, Puerto Rico Baseball now has sadly become the cautionary face of MLB teams allowing their players to play at the World Baseball Classic, which is certainly not a fair outcome for Puerto Rico Baseball.
The Known Risks
Every Major League Baseball owner knows the risks of signing any player. Baseball, unlike most other American sports, offers fully guaranteed contracts for their athletes. As a result, there is always a risk that a player will end up on an injured list for an injury that came away from a Major League baseball field.
Allegedly, Glenallen Hill fell through a glass table in a spider-filled nightmare. Aaron Boone tore his ACL playing basketball and sadly, more than a handful of baseball players have had battles with cancer during their playing days. As a result, MLB teams have frequently insured their players they believe are at higher risk.
The World Baseball Classic is no different. Earlier this year, Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera were deemed “uninsurable” jeopardizing their chances of competing. For Kershaw, the Dodgers decided the risk wasn’t worth it and held their Ace back from the Team USA roster. Meanwhile, Detroit gave Miggy their blessing and he has since joined his Venezuelan teammates.
For the Mets, they knew the risks of allowing their players to compete and from a financial standpoint, Steve Cohen, the richest owner in baseball, will be more than fine.
For the fans, the Edwin Diaz injury is a terrible outcome and it’s more than fair to be frustrated by the outcome. But don’t take your anger out on the World Baseball Classic.
Representing a Country
Perhaps the biggest appeal for playing in the World Baseball Classic is the opportunity to play for one’s country. In the United States, some fans may not fully understand the desire to place ones’ country over their club or the thrill of being a World Baseball Classic hero.
Using Edwin Diaz as an example, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2012 and became an All-Star for the first time in 2018. For his efforts, he was traded to the New York Mets. In New York, he initially struggled with fans and analysts alike calling the trade one of the “worst” trades in recent MLB history.
It wasn’t until an incredible bounce back season, and the help of a trumpet, that Diaz fully captivated the majority of baseball fans. Meanwhile, for Puerto Rico Baseball, Diaz is one of the most popular players in the clubhouse. Across the island, his supporters never turned on him and were always willing to show their passionate support.
Outside of Diaz, watch any Puerto Rico Baseball game, or just about any baseball game played by Caribbean or Asian national teams, and you can’t help but notice a change in energy. From dances on top of the dugout to trumpets and other instruments in the stands, the electric atmosphere is unmatched during the MLB season.
When looking at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, don’t look at the Edwin Diaz injury as a reason to stop the International tournament. Instead, look at the passion and excitement from the fans of Puerto Rico Baseball and understand that this is so much more than just a game.
For the island, baseball is part of the DNA and American baseball fans are sure to find players on their favorite teams that call the island their home. For Puerto Rico Baseball, the story continues into the quarterfinals, and with the Dominican Republic out of the way, they find themselves with Japan and the United States as the favorites to host the trophy.
Let us know your thoughts on Puerto Rico Baseball and the World Baseball Classic in the comments below!