World Baseball Classic ignites potential rivalry


photo or infographic by Reid Henderson

On Tuesday the World Baseball Classic came to a long-awaited final matchup between the defending champs, the USA team and a very strong undefeated Japan team. Fans speculated that this matchup would determine the level of success of the Japan team due to the fact the USA has only recently taken the games seriously, and was able to pull through with a victory in 2017, the last time the games were played. With the 3-2 Japanese victory over the USA team, this game  has begun a rivalry between the two countries that will be watched for decades to come. 

If there is anything the United States loves more than baseball, it’s winning. Baseball has been America’s sport since the early 20th century. The WBC allowed the United States to participate in a world championship for a sport the country actually cared about, rather than the underwatched FIFA World Cup. Despite this, it took the US until 2017 to send its best players from the MLB to play, and that was the year it won it all. Japan has now won three titles, beating the US in the last world victory. This has solidified the power of the Japan team to have the ability to win against the country no one should beat. 

Shohei Ohtoni was able to strike out his Angels teammate Mike Trout with three swinging strikes. This has only happened 24 times in Mike Trout’s entire career in the MLB. That includes all 6,174 times the shortstop has made an appearance at the plate. Ohtoni’s ability to be a dual threat both at bat and on the mound was the majority of the reason for Japan’s success; however, its pitching team was highly regarded as the best going into the tournament. 

The crushing defeat the USA team had, even with its best players sent, was a message sent by Japan that read the USA is beatable at their own game. If they want to win again in six years, they will have to do more than they ever thought possible. Many MLB players opted to not join in on the games due to potential injury, but with a rise in popularity in world sports might lead to more MLB players playing in future games.