Another World Baseball Classic, another disappointment for Team USA and its fans. Don't we all expect more success from the guys representing the country that invented the sport?
When Jimmy Rollins popped out for the final, dying breath of the Americans' run through the tournament this year, it became even more apparent that teams like Puerto Rico and the eventual champion Dominican Republic have surpassed the United States in terms of putting a competitive, motivated group out on the diamond.
Yes, many non-MLB players have the benefit of playing year-round and not stumbling into the WBC fresh off their first spring training slump. But the overall talent of a given MLB player should, in theory, make up for the difference.
So what is missing? Surely, a Puerto Rican middle infield of Mike Aviles and Irving Falu is trumped by Rollins and Brandon Phillips. And a starting rotation led by Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey of Team USA well over-matches Edinson Volquez and Wandy Rodriguez for the Dominicans.
For some reason, the Americans seem to start slow in this tournament and sneak into the second round, before succumbing to less talented, but more practiced and prideful teams. Needless to say, if the United States won this tournament, interest would spike and the dream of it being more akin to the World Cup might finally be realized.
In order to get there, Team USA needs to field a squad of young, prideful, talented players who will dedicate themselves to working out earlier in the winter and be on par with the other countries, come tournament time.
Here is my desired 28-man roster for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, based on age, future stardom, and hopeful availability and willingness to play.