You can talk about the depth of their bullpen or the balance of their lineup. You can talk about manager Tony Pena pulling the strings masterfully, bunting until it worked and subbing good players in for bad ones at opportune times. You can talk about the “effectively wild” stylings of Edinson Volquez, pitching five innings before turning the game over to the aforementioned dominant bullpen.
You can talk about the flip side, the relative lack of talent in the Dutch team. Talk about the insistence of manager Hensley Meulens to leave a pitcher who makes Jamie Moyer look like Randy Johnson in for too many batters. You could bring up all these things but, in all honesty, the Dominican Republic was able to best the Honkbalers 4-1 and move on to the World Baseball Classic for one reason and one reason only: the plantain in Fernando Rodney‘s pants.
Yeah, Moises Sierra made a crazy catch and drove in the tying run but, really, banana on the bench.
As Tony Pena said in the first clip, that Fernando Rodney brought a plantain onto the field for pre-game introductions, sent to the team by some family in the DR, helping keep the club relaxed so they might go about their business in an orderly fashion. Then Rodney kept it holstered in his belt all game long. A plantain. In his pants. All game long. Fernando Rodney. For real.
The semi final between the Dominican Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands wasn’t the most exciting of ballgames. Well pitched, if you focus on the final box score. Volquez battled and fought his control, throwing nearly as many balls as strikes and falling behind nearly every hitter. Diegomar Markwell was not much better, walking one over 94 laborious, sloooowwww pitches.
The Dominicans erupted for four runs in the fifth inning and it proved to be all they needed. Volquez bent but didn’t break, eventually giving way to a dominant bullpen which slammed the door shut. They move on to face Puerto Rico in the final tonight, sending Samuel Deduno against Giancarlo Alvarado in a matchup of ??????
The Dutch Dream is over, having come a long way and attracted many new fans. With Jurickson Profar, Xander Bogaerts and Andrelton Simmons in the fold, we haven’t heard the last of this Netherlands team on the international stage. Andrleton Simmons left a love note for baseball fans to remember him by.
The DR goes in as the heavy favorite, powered by their excellent lineup and stacked bullpen. The Puerto Ricans are not to be taken lightly, either. Their lineup might not be as laden with MLB talent but any team featuring Carlos Beltran cannot be underestimated. Ever. He’s Carlos Beltran!
And the rest
Tickets for the World Baseball Classic games in San Francisco are not tough to come by so a touristy columnist knows how to fix the event. [SF Chronicle]
Somebody should show Ms. Killion the ratings for the WBC in Puerto Rico and ask if she still wants to fix it. [Eye on Baseball]
Getting worked up over prospects is probably not a healthy use of your time. All the more reason to do it anyway. [Getting Blanked]
Still more prospect pr0n: when to they break out? [Beyond the Boxscore]