March Madness just welcomed in a brother.
Baseball isn’t the first sport that comes to mind when you hear those glorious words, but much like hockey inserted itself in the New Year’s Day conversation alongside college football, baseball is working its way in there with the World Baseball Classic, especially with the American heroics in last night’s tilt in San Diego.
Despite its status as the “American Pastime”, the United States has not had much success in the WBC, its best finish being a fourth place posting in the tournament’s second edition in 2009. However, hope for a medal increased dramatically with last night’s dramatic showing at PetCo Park, particularly with a bottom of the 8th inning rally that would be the key in topping Venezuela.
First up was Adam Jones, who knotted things up with a solo blast that was gone from the minute it left the pitcher’s hand.
Not to be outdone, World Series hero Eric Hosmer perhaps became the latest athlete to earn the rather silly title of “Captain America” when hit this two run blast that put the USA in the lead for good.
After running into a small bit of trouble in the the 9th, Astros closer Luke Gregerson slammed the door on the Venezuelans, earning a double play that gave the Americans a 4-2 win headed into a highly anticipated showdown with undefeated Puerto Rico on Friday night.
While some have criticized the World Baseball Classic, it really doesn’t deserve the flack it has gotten over the years. For example, it showcases both a perfect blend of past, present, and future talent, and certainly means more in the long run than Grapefruit or Cactus League games (which, to be fair, are entertaining in their own right).
Plus, while there are some rules changes, some things in baseball never change. The Venezuelans enjoyed several inning of shutout ball from their starting pitcher, but failed to supply him with run support. That pitcher’s name? Felix Hernandez!