A short time later at the postgame presser, as game heroes Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton sat on the dais with manager Jim Leyland, a reporter with a Spanish accent asked all four to comment on the passion displayed by the teams from the DR, Puerto Rico and Venezuela among others. What did Team USA think about it?
There was what seemed to be an awkward silence before Jones jumped in and stamped it out, saying he feels it shows how much the game has grown globally. Another reporter asked Leyland specifically about his little fist pump just before he shook hands with his players on the field. Leyland made a point of saying that, though Team USA doesn't show much emotion, they are just as passionate about this tournament as teams from other countries are. Watch the entire exchange here, starting at 1:14:
While I watched this presser, I couldn't help thinking about an on-the-field interview I'd seen featuring Nelson Cruz, after the DR's win over Venezuela on Friday night. Cruz was asked about that same passion, and was quick to point out that he and his teammates aren't just players. They're fans. They're fans of baseball.
How depressed that made me! Not over the fact that the Dominican players are baseball fans. That's wonderful. It was over the real possibility and, in some cases, probability that American MLB players, my own countrymen, are not baseball fans. It nearly breaks my heart to think of it, to actually recall things that American players have said over the years: how, while growing up, they were too busy playing the game to become fans of the game. How, even today, they can't sit still long enough to watch a game they're not playing in. (Derek Jeter, I'm talking to you.)
Perhaps if they did, perhaps if they had become fans, they'd have passion to show now, too. Of course, I know it's more complicated that that (Those unwritten rules and everything else), but everyone talks about needing to find ways to get more young people interested. It wouldn't solve the problem completely, but a few celebrations, a few bat flips, couldn't hurt, in my opinion. That and some long red tresses. (Of course, no players were in the cross hairs for that shot.)
Keep showing your passion, DR and PR, and don't be afraid to let your hair down, Team USA.