U.S. stars fail to impress at World Baseball ClassicSAN FRANCISCO - The World Baseball Classic shifts to San Francisco for the climax of the sport’s top international tournament but missing from the party is the star-studded U.S. team, which struck out again.
The U.S. team flopped once again at the 16-team Classic, failing to get out of the second round, yet from the players to the manager, they said they treasured the experience.
“Is it a disappointment? Yes it is,” said two-time All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds after Friday’s 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico eliminated the United States. “Everybody dreamed of being the winner. We want to be on top. And for us not to get there, it sucks a little bit.”
It was the second time the U.S. was ousted in the double-elimination phase in three tries at the Classic. In 2009, they reached the final round but were beaten in the semifinals.
With the tournament held during spring training prior to the regular season, players were not all at peak form.
“I feel like we did good, even though we lost,” Phillips said. “It’s still a disappointment, but it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.”
This year’s semifinals start with Japan, gunning for their third Classic title in a row, playing Puerto Rico on Sunday. The undefeated Dominican Republic (6-0) plays the Netherlands in Monday’s semifinal with the title game on Tuesday.
On Saturday, the Dominican Republic edged Caribbean neighbors Puerto Rico 2-0 in Miami to complete an unbeaten run to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic as top seeds.
Wins and losses aside, what stirred the Americans was the energy, excitement and passion exhibited on the diamond by proud players wearing their country’s name across their chests and the life in the stands full of horns, whistles and drums.
Manager Joe Torre, who steered the New York Yankees to four World Series crowns and took off his Major League Baseball executive’s suit to put on a uniform and get back in the dugout, said there were no regrets.
“The only thing I can say is this has been one of the most memorable experiences of my career,” Torre said. “I’m a little emotional, but this has been much more than I expected.
“I mean, I knew it was going to be fun, but I never realized how the feeling of commitment from every one of these guys made this a great experience for me.” Reuters