As big a fan as I am of the World Baseball Classic, I'm getting really tired of writing these stories. According to a New York Times report, the latest high-profile player to remove himself from the World Baseball Classic is none other than Alex Rodriguez.
If the reports are true, there are three groups of people who are hurt by Rodriguez's choice to remain stateside while the Dominican Republic team heads to Puerto Rico.
The first group is the fans. I wrote earlier that with all the high-profile dropouts, this classic was becoming more and more about who isn't there as opposed to who is despite the exceptional talent pool that remains committed to playing. A-Rod just makes that problem seem even worse.
Irrespective of the fact that David Wright, Chipper Jones, and many other front-line third basemen are still playing, losing A-Rod makes it seem as though third base is another weak position in the tournament, increasing the perception problem that has plagued the tournament ever since Bud Selig refused to let them play the games after the World Series.
The second group of sufferers is the Dominican team. Rodriguez is the second third baseman to pull out of the classic in a week. The first was Adrian Beltre, who was told explicitly by the Seattle Mariners that he was not to leave the team's facility in Arizona.
For most teams, this would be a catastrophic reality. However, the Dominican team has the second-best stable of third basemen of any team participating. (The United States boasts Wright, Jones, Evan Longoria, and Troy Glaus among others.)
Because this report hasn't been confirmed, the Dominicans haven't named A-Rod's replacement yet, though it won't be hard to guess who will be their first choice.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez originally withdrew after finding out he would be backing up Rodriguez. Now that he's the last man standing, it should come as little surprise to anyone if Aramis revises his previous withdrawal and starts at third for the Dominican Republic.
The final person who will be disappointed if A-Rod can't play for the Dominicans is, well, A-Rod. While I'm sure he was very excited to play for his country, getting away from the New York spotlight and his steroid admission was more than a small bonus.
Now, while his comrades are bashing The Netherlands and Panama in San Juan, Rodriguez will have to face the media, whether he's answering questions or brushing past reporters to decidedly not answer questions.
The fans really do get the worst end of this. The Dominicans have their replacement, and A-Rod has earned every boo, every dirty look, and every reporter's question.
The fans lose the privilege of seeing one of the best players in the world play for the country of his parents' birth, and that's something that they do not deserve.
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