Puerto Rico is in. The United States is out. Also, the United States are out.
That's the result of Friday night's World Baseball Classic action, a tournament I've avoided commenting upon until now. And don't hold your breath the next few days. I'm not sure what else I'll be able to say about the Dominicans trouncing the field in San Francisco, although I know some Puerto Ricans who might be happy to share some Dominican jokes. But I don't and won't condone that kind of behavior.
But back to the topic at hand. This is a good thing, this ignominious ouster. We Americans will still defend our shores vigorously against North Korean missiles; our national readiness has not been compromised. Better yet, Ryan Vogelsong and Jeremy Affeldt will be back in Giants' camp soon, doing extremely boring things in extremely boring games. This is excellent news.
The WBC is hyper-vigilant against player injury, especially with pitchers. Heck, in this scintillating second round, starting pitchers could only go 80 pitches. This is no knock against the tournament. I've been eagerly checking the scores. I'm glad it exists -- good on ya, Bud Selig -- and I'm glad they have safeguards in place.
But I have a confession. Team USA! winning the WBC with a whole lotta Ryan Vogelsong on the mound doesn't appeal to me as much as Team San Francisco Giants entering April with a healthy Ryan Vogelsong on the mound. I have no idea what's happening inside his shoulder right now; I'm sure it's fine, and it probably would have been fine with one more start in the WBC. But I'm not disappointed that the plug has been pulled.
It helps that I have not a single jingoistic bone in my body. Well, OK, except for platform diving. And that dancing-ribbon-gymnastics thing. USA! USA!
But in international baseball, I'm just as happy to see the Japanese, the Honkballers, the Dominicans, or even more, the P-Ricans win the whole damn thing. (Yes, I have a soft spot, and not just because of the mofongo, although if you're in the Haight-Ashbury you damn well better eat here.) Qué bonita bandera, y qué guapo Angel Pagan. I got chills watching the replay of him squeeze the final out against the Yanquis earlier tonight.
My feelings about Vogey and Affeldt returning to the fold don't extend to Pagan. I have no empirical evidence, but I can't imagine the same dangers lurking for a center fielder. Go get 'em, tiger. However, I have to be intellectually consistent: Here's hoping the Dominican starting pitchers throw complete games and their manager Tony Peña doesn't even use Santiago Casilla.