The World Baseball Classic was obviously far from perfect in its debut. For everybody but Cuba, this is the pre-season. That means timing and conditioning is an issue. That’s why there were pitch-count limits. Spring-training inconvenience and concern for injuries prompted a number of players to beg off. Sometimes at the behest of their Major League clubs. That’s why we didn’t see the best at their best.
The round-robin rules precluded the team with the best overall record, South Korea, from even making the final. There were the “Abajo, Fidel” signs in San Juan.
And yet it was interesting — and kind of refreshing in a sense.
The 2006 salaries of the players representing the USA, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela totaled $471 million. Those from Cuba about 7,200 pesos. Only Cuba made the final, where it lost to Japan.
And as for the Major Leaguers, notably the Americans, who don’t bring their “A” games until early April – well, tell that to Jorge Cantu, who played for his native Mexico. The Devil Rays’ second baseman actually performed with the skill and intensity of a Big Leaguer – and the can-do Cantu personally accounted for the runs that eliminated the U.S.