Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez suited up for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. His country was eliminated after a confusing and controversial tiebreaker allowed Italy and Venezuela to advance. Mexico’s appeal went nowhere and Gonzalez and his teammates were sent home.
Back in Dodgers camp today, it doesn’t sound like Gonzalez appreciated the experience.
His frustration is understandable. But critiques of the tournament ring a little hollow when one considers the active lobbying that took place pushing for Mexico to remain in the Classic. If it sucked that much, why not shut up and go home happy with the so-called nightmare in the rearview window?
Gonzalez, of course, has a long and impressive history of complaining.
After Game 2 of last year’s National League Championship Series, he took to Twitter with purported photographic evidence that he’d been improperly ruled out at home plate on a tag play.
This was the same series lost the night after Gonzalez said that Wrigley Field wasn’t capable of getting loud.
This was nothing new. From a 2013 New York Daily News piece:
Other than All-Star caliber play, Gonzalez has been known in the past few years for, 1) complaining about all the Sunday night Red Sox games; 2) complaining to Boston ownership about former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine; 3) complaining to the world about Arizona’s draconian immigration law (nicely done), before backing out of a threat to boycott the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix, while refusing to even discuss it (whiff).
Look, Gonzalez is a fantastic player and well within his rights to bitch and moan as he sees fit. And he’s right to say that the World Baseball Classic isn’t on the level of either the World Cup or Little League World Series. That isn’t the most blistering insult. One of those is the biggest sporting event in the world and the other is a long-running slice of Americana perfectly suited to capture youthful enthusiasm.
The WBC has obvious flaws and hasn’t shown much hope of developing into an international event of any real scale. But it’s not all bad. Take it for what it is: a chance for players to compete for their countries in meaningful baseball.
Seeing the passion and camaraderie between teammates and the focused play on the field suggests that it means something. Or, more specifically, means a something to many of the participants and fans. Perhaps it’s not the worst thing if those who aren’t all-in stay away next time so more eager players can participate.
Perhaps it’s too flowery to view the event as a celebration of baseball and its global reach. At its best, that’s what it’s supposed to be. Even if the mission has fallen short of moving the needle significantly, Gonzalez’s negativity flies in the face of that goal.
There’s plenty to like and plenty of players thrilled to be a part of event. It’d be a shame if that goodness became unpalatable thanks to Gonzalez’s dumping salt all over it.