MIAMI – After the very unfortunate Edwin Diaz injury after Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday in Pool D of the World Baseball Classicthere was criticism—especially from the grounds of Queens, New York among fans and close friends of the Mets—around this tournament.
Of course, the frustration on the part of the Mets and their fans is understandable. But at the end of the day, the World Classic is one of the most exciting events baseball has ever seen—and considering what international tournaments are like in other sports, it must have been born long before 2006.
This is understood not only in Latin America, but also in other countries, including the United States.
“It’s hard to tell guys not to play the game they love, for the country they love,” said White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn, who will start the United States’ quarterfinal game against Venezuela on Saturday. “You can get injured walking down the street, to be honest. But you have to see the bigger picture of this, of the people playing for their countries and having a wonderful time”.
Díaz, who renewed this past winter with the Mets for five years and $102 million after saving 32 saves with a 1.31 ERA, 297 ERA+ and a 50.2 strikeout percentage in 2022, will not be able to pitch this year with New York due to to the injury he suffered in his right knee, which will be operated on.
“The injuries are going to happen,” commented the manager of the Puerto Rico team, Yadier Molina. “You could be at home doing whatever. This tournament means a lot. It’s a great tournament for us.”
Since the birth of the Classic 17 years ago, there have been fears for this type of event. Unlike other sports, there is no “ideal” time to hold a “World Cup” of baseball. This time of year makes sense, pitching limitations and all, due to the nature of that role on the diamond. Claims against the participation of renowned major leaguers, whether by general managers, managers or the fans themselves, will not be lacking. That’s because of the obvious, injuries, but also a lack of world tournament tradition.
However, that thinking will remain more and more in the past, something evidenced by the records announced by MLB in terms of attendance, television ratings and merchandise sales for the Clásico in the first round of 2023.
“I don’t think this is a reason to prevent players from participating in the Classic,” said Venezuelan team manager Omar López, coach of the Houston Astros. “It is sad to see what happened to Díaz. He could happen to any of us on the field. He could be in the middle of the game, at the end of the game… you are going to do your best when you represent your country.
“The risk will always be there, but I don’t think that is a reason for the WBC and MLB to be able to place restrictions. You must continue the WBC. It’s good financially for the sport, for all the countries involved.”
And Lopez has a message similar to Lynn’s for those who criticize this event.
“They don’t know how proud we feel when we see so many Venezuelans enjoying themselves and smiling in the public. The same goes for the other teams. I saw Team USA playing hard, things I haven’t seen often before with Team USA.
“That’s why El Clásico is so well organized. That’s why it must continue.”