F**K The World!

No, I really mean it.  F**K The World.  Well, at least the World Baseball Classic.

I was supportive of the return of the WBC  after a six-year hiatus, if only for the greater good of the sport and growing it in countries where not only could talent be gleaned but international revenue could improve, something that has been proven to be crucial to the mercurial growth of the NBA and NFL.

But I have a favorite team for the rest of the year.  And, as I’m sure you know by know, THIS happened last night:  Per USA Today’s Gabe Lacques:

A glorious moment for Puerto Rico turned into the darkest hour of the spring for Edwin Diaz and the New York Mets. The ripple effects will last the entirety of this upcoming season. 

Diaz, the Mets’ outstanding closer whose $105 million contract was a crucial portion of the club’s massive offseason spending in hopes of a World Series run, crumbled to the turf amid Puerto Rico’s celebration after eliminating the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night. 

Subsequent tests revealed a patellar tendon injury that will sideline Diaz an estimated eight months, Mets GM Billy Eppler told reporters Thursday. It is a blow to his Puerto Rican brothers and his Mets teammates both. 

Team USA’s stars downplayed the concept that Diaz was injured in an event that ranges somewhere between glorified exhibition and full-throated international competition, depending on one’s perspective. It could have happened anywhere, they said after advancing to join Puerto Rico in the WBC quarterfinals.

And they are right. Just look at the man who will be at least partially charged with replacing Diaz. 

David Robertson was a key member of the Phillies’ bullpen during their postseason run to the World Series last autumn. Yet he had to sit out the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. 

Why? Well, Robertson was injured when he vaulted a dugout railing to celebrate a key home run by Bryce Harper in the NL wild-card series. Robertson hurt his calf and sat out the NLCS, returning to save a game in the World Series. 

And, as Lacques reminds, there is precedent of something this freakish occurring:  In a 2010 Angels game, DH Kendrys Morales suffered a grim ankle injury landing demonstratively on home plate after hitting a walkoff grand slam.  

But that was in a game that actually counted.  Wearing the uniform of the team that paid his salary.

This, pure and simple, was devastating.  To the Mets.  To Puerto Rico, and, trust me, I do feel your pain to some extent.  And, likely, to the WBC.

Most other international competitions don’t use professional players, particularly at a crucial time of year, save for recent Olympic games.  Even the NHL stopped sending players to the Winter Games this year.  And, let’s face it, some of the teams that represented some of the more fledgling countries, such as Israel and Great Britain, bent the rules to allow players of heritage, and rounded out their rosters with a ton of minor leaguers and free agents.

A wise Facebook friend suggested that since we’re mostly rooting for laundry anyway, using some minor leaguers who may have been forced out of organizational jobs due to the major leagues’ cutting back of dozens of teams might not be a bad idea.  Taking the approach of an independent league, which features many former major leaguers looking for a comeback, could add some recognizable talent.

No, you wouldn’t have the likes of Ohtani, Trout, Alonso and Lindor passionately playing for the love of the game and their country.  But you also wouldn’t have moments like the one we saw with Diaz last night.

And, believe me, Mets fans can grouse and influence as well as any well-connected Democratic Silicon Valley Bank investor or executive.  And you saw how our government reacted to that.  Rob Manfred’s administration to dae has been as popular and as polarizing as that of Joe Biden’s.

Any support for top tier players continuing to play in future years should be strongly rebuked, and if Manfred won’t take that step himself, then ownership should.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Mets owner Steve Cohen ordered Alonso and Lindor to sit out the remainder of this competition, and I’m confident even if he doesn’t privately he will confess he should.

Because while Diaz indeed lit up March and Miami last night, he will not be on that mound on Opening Day, nor on any other mound in 2023.

No “Trumpets” for Mets fans this year.  Last night, instead, we got “Taps”.


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