When Derrek Lee declined Team USA's second invitation to join the team, this time as a starter in the semifinals, he not only hurt Team USA, but his career and the Cubs as well.
Lee has been struggling throughout Spring Training, hitting only .179 with 0 HR and 2 RBI in 10 games.
By opting not to fill in for the injured Kevin Youkilis, Lee is hurting himself and his own image, first and foremost.
The World Baseball Classic would provide Lee with the game-like at-bats that would likely get him in a hitting groove going into the season. The WBC is a lot more realistic than Spring Training because the games are treated like real, meaningful games rather than preparation for the season.
In addition to meaningful at-bats, Lee is also missing out on the opportunity to bolster his own resumé, which has been in decline since his career-year in 2005.
While Lee's decision hurts both himself and the Cubs, it ultimately ends up hurting his country the most.
Anyone who doubts Team USA's motivation or desire to win was silenced by the dog pile that ensued following USA's ninth-inning comeback against Puerto Rico.
Lee had the chance to be part of something special, yet he decided that sitting on the bench with a "sore right quad," rather than taking meaningful at-bats in a potentially historic series, would put him in a better position to help the Cubs.
Even Lee himself said that, had this been a regular-season game, he would certainly be playing.
Wake up, D-Lee.
Team USA has a chance to do something special, make history, and will most likely be remembered far more than the 2009 Cubs team—barring a World Series win for the North Siders.
While on the surface Lee's decision seemed minor, it speaks volumes about his passion for the game. Lee's sore quad, which seems more like a Spring Training excuse to sit a couple games rather than a legitimate injury, is what is preventing him from helping his country in addition to his own career.
If Lee can't play through a sore leg for his country, what are we supposed to expect from a declining star in the '09 season?