Wednesday, March 11, 2009
When I forecast my predictions for Team USA a little while ago, my main fear for them was that they would not gel as a team like they did in 2006 and would flop in 2009. Hello, Dominican Republic. The team that was expected to tear up opposing pitching with guys like Jose Reyes, Big Papi, Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Tejada ended up batting .221 in the classic and played some terrible baseball overall. The Dominican Republic will have 4 years to stew over two very bad losses to a Netherlands team that batted even worse than they did at .137 overall. One thing is for certain, they better come back in 2013 with their egos checked at the door.
The Dominican came into the WBC with high hopes. They had a very formidable lineup, 2 flame throwing starters and a couple of good relievers to close the game out. Somewhere it all went wrong though. Even with all that good hitting, it looked to me as if the Dominican team wasn't playing very disciplined baseball. I saw them swing at a lot of first pitches, often leading to outs, which is not conducive to successful hitting. This is evidenced by their .221 batting average over the 3 games. Moreover, they managed to counter the great pitching they got with lazy defensive play. In their two losses to the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic made a total of 6 errors. That is unacceptable against any team. Finally, the attitude and cockiness of this team really made their downfall please me.
It is no secret that I do not care for a number of players on this team to begin with (Reyes, Ramirez, Taveras, Jimenez, Cano) but their actions in the WBC made it obvious that they are not team players and deserved to lose. After their first embarrassing loss to the Netherlands, you would have figured that the Dominican Republic team would have wiped the smiles off of their faces and gotten down to work. Alas, they did not. In a rout of Panama in the next game, you could still see Dominican players like Jose Reyes, Big Papi and Hanley Ramirez clowning around in the dugout. They learned nothing from their first loss. The moment that really had me wishing for their downfall though, was when they all started celebrating like crazy after they went up 1-0 in the 11th inning of the second game against the Netherlands. Outfielder Nelson Cruz ran out of the dugout puffing out his chest and showing off the Dominican Republic logo on the front of his jersey like he had just sliced somebody up in a rap battle or something. They still had learned nothing; and sure enough in the very next inning the Netherlands came back to tie and eventually win the game.
I for one couldn't be happier about the Dominican Republic losing, even though I picked them to finish 3rd in the WBC. They need to get their attitudes in order if they want to come back and win this thing in 4 years, or ever. As team Netherlands showed them, you have to play as a team, and not beat yourself with stupid errors in order to move on in the WBC. Talent mixed with laziness and a bad attitude will get you nowhere fast. See you in 2013 fellas.