March Madness is usually reserved for college basketball but every four years, there's another tournament that's getting everyone's attention. The World Baseball Classic (WBC). The World Cup of baseball is on display once every four years. It truly is the World Series. Much like the NCAA's Madness, the WBC has certainly lived up to it's expectations and more.
On Saturday night, the USA and Dominican Republic squared off in a loser gets eliminated game. It had a Game 7 feel to it. Just a week prior these two teams met in Miami in the First Round with DR edging out a victory over Team USA with an 8th inning comeback for the ages. This time Team USA provided highlights for the ages.
In what is sure to be looked at over and over again two moments popped out from Saturday night's game. Giancarlo Stanton drilled a two-run Home Run to Left Field that nearly went into Western Metal Supply Co.'s building. It had an exit velocity of 117.3 MPH off his bat. It's the 4th hardest hit ball in the StatCast era ( the tool used to measure such occurrences). Stanton is no stranger to hitting HR's or hitting the ball far and with force but to do it on a global stage in a must win game, was huge. Stanton is already a huge star for Major League Baseball, this moment just propelled him into superstardom.
The next moment came from Adam Jones who ran over 100 feet (thanks StatCast) to jump and scale the wall to rob a HR away from his Baltimore Oriole teammate Manny Machado. It was truly an amazing catch and it was picture perfect. At the time of the catch it saved the game for Team USA because the very next hitter Robinson Cano hit a HR to Left Field to get the DR within one run 4-3. Jones is a native of San Diego so to make that kind of catch, in that particular moment of the game, with the tournament on the line, in his hometown, on his Baltimore teammate made it all that more special.
"I'm still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball," said Jones, who played at Morse High about 8 miles east of Petco. "I mean, off the bat I'm just like, `This ball's hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air's going to slow it down and just never quit.' That's just the style I play with. I don't mind running into a wall or two. I just kept going after the ball."I saw the replay after the game. It was a hell of catch," he added.
I've played center field most of my baseball/softball career, when I tell you what he did was amazing, believe me. He did something that is extremely hard to do and he did it almost effortlessly.
After the game both emphasized how big of a win that was for the team, the tournament and ultimately the country.
It certainly was a hell of a game. A game like this, moments like this draws in new fans and gets the attention of anyone with a pulse. This WBC has been nothing short of amazing. The games have been played with a plethora of passion. The fans in attendance for all these games have been loud, passionate and engaged. It's amazing to see the fans come out in support of their country and voice their passion. It's added to the electric atmosphere. I'm all for Spring Training, but this tournament takes baseball to another level. I love it!
Major League Baseball should take some notes on what makes this tournament must see in so many people's eyes and apply it to the regular season. Maybe I'm going too far but hey, I'm still excited about a game that ended about 24 hours ago. And that's the idea....well done!
Team USA plays Japan on Tuesday night in the Semi-Finals in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium for the right to play in the Championship Game. They await the winner of the Puerto Rico-Netherlands game on Monday night. I'll be a little bias and root for a USA-PR showdown in the Finals, their game last Friday night had lots of drama. Here's hoping for a rematch of that thriller too!
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