Maybe Team USA wasn’t meant to make it to the WBC semis regardless; the two teams that beat them in pool play made the finals themselves. Lets take a look at the semis and finals, and talk about the tournament in general:
Semis: Puerto Rico outsted 2-time defending champion Japan relatively easily behind the batting prowness of Alex Rios (who is earning himself fantasty baseball street cred by the bucket-full this spring). Perhaps Japan is regretting having some of its best players bow out of the tournament just as team USA has. Hey, that’s why they play the games, right? Japan’s ace Kenta Maeda couldn’t find his rhythm and pitched just badly enough to lose.
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic wore down the Netherland’s pitching staff and got some revenge over the Netherlands in the other semi, to setup a Finals rematch from pool play. The star of the game was not one of the D.R.’s stars, it was little known Moises Sierra, who made a fantastic catch in the first and then doubled in the eventual winning run in their big 5th inning rally.
Finals: Though it seems anti-climactic, the D.R. jumped out to a first inning lead and were never really threatened, winning the final 3-0 over Puerto Rico. The D.R. finishes the tournament undefeated and rightfully so, having easily the strongest roster of any of the teams. And they finally win the WBC title that many thought that they were the most deserving to win (outside of the US team of course, which has yet to field a full-strength team in any of the 3 iterations of the tournament).
Tournament Thoughts: I feel like the tournament is catching on a little bit, that the patriotism factors that the smaller nations are showing is starting to wear off on the Americans who aren’t playing. The TV ratings remain low in the US … but they’re sky high elsewhere. I do believe MLB needs to look into moving the tournament to occur either around the All-Star break or (more likely) after the World Series ends each year so that players are at full strength, have no excuse not to play and we could have a better tournament.