Heading into Petco Park Tuesday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the World Baseball Classic. I hadn’t attended any of the previous Classics hosted in San Diego, and hadn’t really kept up with coverage the first round. The rosters for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic promised some solid baseball, but beyond that I was going in blind.
On my way downtown, I saw fans walking down the streets toward the ballpark clad in team gear, some bearing flags and signs. When I got to my seat, just moments before first pitch, the crowd looked pretty small. The reported attendance was just over 16,000, and we all know how those numbers tend to be inflated. But when the game got started, it sounded twice as packed as most Padres games I went to last year. Noisemakers were present in abundance, people were regularly on their feet, and the cheers didn’t stop.
I wasn’t at a baseball game, I was at a party. The playoff-like tournament atmosphere might have contributed to that, alongside the patriotic fervor that accompanies international competitions. But the party was on the field, too. You almost certainly saw this clip of Javier Baez celebrating a tag while he was in the process of making it.
But you might have missed Eddie Rosario and Yadier Molina turn this incredible double play.
You can see Molina violating about a dozen unwritten rules at the end of that clip, but you’re missing the team celebrating in front of the dugout after that. And that’s why the World Baseball Classic is great. It tramples all over the Brian McCanns of the world, letting fun override any sort of stodgy, judgmental traditionalism. And if you don’t believe me, contrast these two players talking about their future participation in the WBC.
Adrian Gonzalez has returned to camp. He says he will never play in the WBC again: "It's good to be the hell out of that tournament."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) March 15, 2017
Adrian Gonzalez hates the WBC and Mike Trout is sold? Yeah, the WBC is good. Let’s have more of it.