Team USA made it to the semifinal round of the WBC taking place this weekend in Los Angeles, in large part due to David Wright's walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th inning on Tuesday night.
Even before the come-from-behind heroics during the Puerto Rico game, this team had struggled mightily with a barrage of injuries; losing high-caliber players like Dustin Pedroia, Chipper Jones, and Matt Lindstrom. Now they’ve also lost Kevin Youkilis.
David Wright and Ryan Braun were also injured, but they have both said today they are fine and healthy, and ready to go for Sunday's game. Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays has been called to the team just in case Wright isn’t able to either start or finish the game.
He knows he may not play, but just having the USA uniform on his back is good enough for him. However, if Wright comes up lame after injuring his toe, Longoria will make the most of the opportunity.
This team has showed incredible resiliency and determination, and they have come together as a family. They’ve even put aside such intense rivalries as Mets/Phillies or Yankees/Red Sox, if just for a few weeks.
During Wright's walk-off celebration, the whole team jumped on and hugged Wright as if he were their best friend. This camaraderie seemed as if it was so heartfelt you’d expect they would be close friends even after the tournament is over. However, this is likely just due to their national pride. These guys understand they are playing for their country and will return to being rivals the first week of April.
Shane Victorino of the Phillies was one of the first players to run to Wright for congratulations, following Derek Jeter and Kevin Youkilis, who were the first. They were all so pumped up for the win that it didn't matter what team anyone else played for during the season
I find it interesting that regular season rivalries are being shelved and that teammates who are, or were, playing for the team representing their native country are in a position of being beaten by their adopted nation's team.
For instance, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran were left to helplessly watch as David Wright's hit dropped down the right field line, their Team Puerto Rico was eliminated due to the heroics of their New York Mets’ teammate.
They both congratulated him and told him to "Finish This". As several Mets' players are from Puerto Rico, they were disappointed that their team was eliminated, but at the same time, extremely proud that their Mets' teammate and good friend was the hero.
It went unsaid, but if either Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino had the winning hit, it may have been harder for them to accept the loss.
Roy Oswalt will make the start for Team USA on Sunday against Japan, a team that is highly favored to win the WBC. They have their work cut out for them, no question, but you have to believe this USA team will stick together and make it an interesting semifinal game.
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