Friday, March 15, 2013
Team USA reacts to celebration
By Jerry Crasnick ESPN.com
MIAMI -- A day after players from the Dominican Republic engaged in some no-holds-barred celebrations at Marlins Park in response to their 3-1 World Baseball Classic victory against Team USA, it became apparent that some American players weren't overly thrilled with the spectacle.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, known for his demonstrative nature on the field, said the celebrations were a topic of discussion among some of his teammates. Although Phillips considered several sequences over the top by typical baseball standards, he had no objections to the way the Dominicans reacted.
The Dominican Republic's reaction to its win against Team USA on Thursday night was a hot topic among players on the American squad one day later.
"Some players had something to say about it, but I can only speak for myself,'' Phillips told reporters before Team USA's elimination game against Puerto Rico on Friday night. "It was cool. I'm a flashy person myself, so I kind of like this stuff.
"To tell you the truth, I would fit right in with their team. Y'all have seen me during the season -- I'm always doing some kind of antics. I don't think I could have been like that, though. If I think something is over the top, then it's a problem.''
Long before the Dominican players rushed out of the dugout en masse in response to RBI singles by Erick Aybar and Jose Reyes during the ninth inning, they showed how emotionally invested they were in the result. Pitcher Samuel Deduno raised his arms and pumped his fists on several occasions in response to big outs, and reliever Pedro Strop openly emoted before the pro-Dominican crowd during his inning of work.
Scouts and other baseball insiders at Marlins Park said the public displays of emotion are typical of the atmosphere on display in Latin-American countries during winter ball. During his media session Friday, Team USA manager Joe Torre praised the Dominican players for their competitive spirit.
"I love the passion,'' Torre said. "I spent a few days in the Dominican back in January, and that's the first time I had been there in a long time. Just the love of the game and the passion with which they play it -- there's not a darned thing wrong with it.''
The Dominicans aren't the only team to defy convention in the WBC, where the usual rules of baseball etiquette don't seem to apply. Players from the Italian team blew kisses to each other during their surprise run of success in the competition. The American players, in contrast, are accustomed to playing the game with a more reserved and businesslike approach.
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"It's just how you're raised,'' Team USA infielder Willie Bloomquist said. "I don't think my dad would let me play the next day if I did that growing up. Not to say it's right or wrong. It's just a matter of your view on how you respect the game and respect the people you're playing against.
"Obviously, they're excited. This is a world stage, and everything is a little more magnified. We don't lose sleep over it. If they want to act that way, it's their team and they can do what they want.''
Phillips, who is frequently accused of being a hot dog, joked that he might circle the bases with bat in hand like Pedro Cerrano in "Major League'' if he hits a home run in the WBC. But he knows that some of his big league peers may not have the same sense of humor on the subject.
"The things they did yesterday, you would never, ever, ever, see during the (major league) season,'' Phillips said. "If that was so, baseball would be crazy. But I'm into that swag stuff, so you really can't ask me. You're talking to the wrong person.''