Of all the great young Metropolitans currently sporting the blue and orange, Noah Syndergaard is probably my favorite. I love everything about his game, and I love the way he carries himself and represents the team. When he said, “And ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or win the World Series playing in the WBC,” I agreed with him ( if not his grammar). The World Baseball Classic just doesn’t matter, I thought.
Until I started paying attention.
The Israel story sucked this American Jew in big time. My cultural Jewishness isn’t too high ranking by New York standards, but on some level I can’t help but embrace this aspect of my identity. I thought Israel would get slaughtered if they made it to the final four, but so what? Japan, Korea, and Cuba are some serious baseball countries, and Israel hung in there. That’s no small thing.
I’m an American though, and even though I am not effusively patriotic, by the time the United States dispatched the Dominicans to enter the final four, I was thoroughly invested in the WBC. To be honest, it feels like the first good thing to happen to this country in a long time.
Now, though, we’re one win from taking the whole thing, and I’m angry that the roster includes the likes of Tyler Clippard (him again!) instead of Clayton Kershaw, Jake DeGrom, and Thor himself. Toronto’s (!) Marcus Stroman takes the hill tonight against the Metropolitan’s own Seth Lugo. Stroman certainly has the better pedigree (Lugo is still a rookie after all), but with a 4.37 E.R.A. last year, he’s no ace. He wouldn’t be in the starting rotation of some of the better MLB pitching staffs.
That said, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the U.S. take on Puerto Rico tonight, and I hope that this serves as a springboard for future American interest in the WBC. It may not be Thor’s thing, but surely we can send a better pitcher to the mound than Marcus Stroman in 2021.
As for the rest of the team that isn’t, don’t even get me started on Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.