THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
I know the World Baseball Classic is a distant memory from earlier this year, so I swear this will hopefully be the final post about it until it comes back around in four years.
Although Team USA won the tournament, it really felt like there were no winners based on the amount of poor sportsmanship that flowed through the entire event. We've already discussed how the Netherlands complained a lot as well as Adrian Gonzalez and Team Mexico being poor sports about the tie breaking rules. We may have also considered the fact that the number of ejections in the tournament was incredibly way too high, featuring three members of Team Columbia, Tony Pena (manager of the Dominican Republic), and even Andrew McCutchen from Team USA. Ultimately, for every moment of good sportsmanship (such as the pregame sportsmanship exchange), there was an equal moment of poor sportsmanship (such as anything just listed).
Poor sportsmanship found its way into the championship round as well. As tensions between the Netherlands and Puerto Rico heated during their semi-final match, one specific shot of Javier Baez giving demeaning hand gestures to the Netherlands proved just how mature some players are. Even Team USA called out Puerto Rico for their hasty plans to celebrate a championship before it was won, although Puerto Rico has gone on record stating that the message was misinterpreted. Who knows if bad blood will always run between Yadier Molina and Adam Jones?
Even Ian Kinsler was getting in on the great divide without even intending to do so! Kinsler first made comments about how the Latin players show passion in an unsportsmanlike way, only to backtrack and clarify saying those methods weren't necessarily bad. I don't know what's worse: the racial divide between the cultures or the fact that Kinsler might have a point!
You may recall a post a few months ago discussing the various customs at sporting events throughout the world. Well, one thing we didn't really discuss in that piece was the attitudes taken by the athletes throughout the world. Without shifting gears completely, let's just note that Latin baseball players hold up the stereotype of the traditional "Latin temper."
It all just comes down to this: no matter your race, your heritage, your allegiance, or your customs, you should treat others the way that you would want to be treated. Maybe Yadier Molina should put himself in the shoes of Team USA before he demands an apology from Adam Jones; is it possible that Molina could empathize with Jones and understand why things may have gotten out of hand? Could Latin players possibly start to think about what is going on in the minds of others when tempers start to flare?
The debate of culture/custom vs. respect will rage on for a long time. It might seem easy to just cast a broad brush and wish that all Latin players would calm down and stop acting like egomaniacs and poor sports, but like many things in life, it is never that simple.