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USA Baseball: Americans Must Prove They Care About World Baseball Classic

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 30: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers steps up to the plate to bat against the Houston Astros at Miller Park  on September 30, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Astros defeated the Brewers 7 - 0. (Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)
Mark Hirsch/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMarch 1, 2013

USA Baseball had the most talent in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.

But that didn't stop the Americans from disappointing as Japan claimed the championship both years.

This year, Japan has less talent. Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka are no longer on the roster. Matsuzaka actually won the WBC MVP in 2006 and 2009.

Sure, the Dominican Republic has a loaded lineup this year, complete with Robinson Cano, Edwin Encarnacion, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Nelson Cruz. But the pitching doesn't compare overall to the USA.

There is no reason the USA should lose the 2013 WBC.

This year, the USA boasts 16 All-Stars, three MVPs and one Cy Young Award winner.

At catcher, it has 2009 American League MVP Joe Mauer. In the infield, it has David Wright, Mark Teixeira, Brandon Phillips, 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins and the underrated Ben Zobrist. In the outfield, it has 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones and veteran Shane Victorino.

Of course, that's just on offense.

USA also sports 2012 Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Vogelsong and the underrated Ross Detwiler, and relievers Craig Kimbrel, Chris Perez and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.

As always, it's about heart for the American squad. After all, the Americans have a brutal 162-game Major League Baseball schedule ahead of them. That's where they make their money and that will always take precedence over the WBC.

In 2006, the USA didn't make it past the second round, falling to Canada, South Korea and Mexico along the way. 

In 2009, the Americans made it to the semifinals, but they suffered an embarrassing 9-4 defeat to Japan once they got there. That included going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position while starter Roy Oswalt got dinged for six runs (four earned) in 3.2 innings.

The USA also lost to Venezuela twice and got destroyed by Puerto Rico, 11-1, en route to the semifinals that year.

There should be no more excuses. As the World Baseball Classic garners more publicity since its first year in 2006, more attention will be paid to the USA. In that sense, Americans are hoping the team simply doesn't embarrass them on a world stage like they have the past two outings in the tournament.

It's time for USA Baseball to start caring (even a little bit) about the WBC. Japan isn't as strong with some key former contributors no longer on the roster, and the Dominican Republic can't stack up on the pitching mound.

This is the time for USA Baseball to make a statement to the world. No more nonchalant play. The team should take some pride in its country and show the world why the United States hosts the greatest baseball league across the globe.

Anything less than a WBC championship is a letdown.

 

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