America lost a game they should have won to the Dominican Republic Thursday night. With a World Baseball Classic Semifinal appearance on the line, the Yanks choked late, losing 3-1. Pinch-hitting Erik Aybar played the hero for the DR, singling home Nelson Cruz for the go-ahead run.
With a lineup of Ryan Braun, Geoncarlo Stanton and Brandon Phillips and pitching from R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez, the US is fielding a damn good squad, one capable of battling through Puerto Rico (who is not the better team). The Domincan Republic, on the other hand, has seen better days. With no name brand starting pitchers and a need for a 38-year-old Miguel Tejada to play third base, the so-called “Cradle of Batters” has seen better years. But an unraveling ninth inning doomed the Yanks, and now they’re in a win-or-go-home situation against Puerto Rico.
Make no mistake: America is better than Puerto Rico, and a finals trip should still be expected. But the fact that they’re even in this situation means that we could be treated to another early exit for America in the World Baseball Classic. America’s loss of influence on the sport isn’t exactly breaking news – count how many basketball/football-only sports fans you know and it’s obvious.
Still, patriotism is a funny thing; winning the World Baseball Classic could be the perfect shot in the arm for an American baseball community trying desperately to reconnect with an uninterested youth demographic. So, for the love of home runs, on-base percentages and hot dogs, please, Yankees: win so I can have more people to talk baseball with.