Dutch baseball players die early in America’s star-studded World Cup
It was the Italians who sent the Kingdom of the Netherlands home without a doubt on Sunday in the group stages of the Baseball World Cup: 7-1. The Netherlands suffered a notable defeat against its biggest European rival, having been beaten in the final of the European Championship two years ago. But this time two completely different teams were on the field.
Like the Netherlands, the Italians have players from the American Major Leagues, as every participant in the so-called World Baseball Classic has appeared in some form at the start. The fact that stars are allowed to participate by their clubs adds to the prestige of the tournament.
About the author
Koen van der Velden writes about American sports from New York.
The Netherlands, semi-finalists in 2013 and 2017, were previously considered underdogs. The team begins Sunday in Taiwan as the leader of Group A after wins against Cuba and Panama and a loss against Taiwan. A win or a narrow loss against the Italians would have been enough, but in the end the Netherlands finished third in the team. The fourth inning was particularly disastrous, when pitcher Mike Polsenbruck was thrown into a frenzy.
Slender aggression on the hurling mound is the Netherlands’ Achilles heel. Major League stars like Xander Bogaerts, Chadwick Tromp, Juricson Profar, Didi Gregorius and others couldn’t hide it. Trump hit a lone run on a home run.
Along with the Italians, American Matt Harvey was on the mat. Harvey, allowed thanks to his Italian ancestry, was once a big man for the New York Mets. He has struggled with form in recent years as he has held reserve roles at various clubs. He is now worth gold to the Italians.
His joy after the win against the Netherlands underscored the status of the World Baseball Classic, which is played every four years. Earlier, some major league stars, especially Americans, turned their noses up at the competition, which coincided with preparation for the baseball season. Now the big names were dying to be there. This makes the field stronger than ever.
Nevertheless, the Netherlands went on to win the world title, Meulens said, in the run-up to the tournament. His team had more experience than before and it was confident, with the best players from Curacao and Aruba bringing more baggage from the United States. But other countries also draw deeply from the Major Leagues. To reach their goal, the Dutch baseball players had to go through a forest of stars.
Had the Kingdom limited the damage on Sunday, a quarter-final against unbeaten Japan awaited at the Tokyo Dome. Japan is one of the title favorites, with one of the stars of the US tournament in Shohei Ohtani. The six-foot-tall Los Angeles Angels phenom is one of the best pitchers and hitters.
The Americans could field a star-studded team. The defending champions are led by Mike Trout, considered by many to be the best baseball player in the world. After watching his compatriots celebrate the title in 2017, he decided to be there next time. That opportunity has only just arrived because, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament has been postponed for two years in 2021.
Because of Trout’s commitment, his teammates were suddenly more hungry for a World Cup. Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers), Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals), Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner (both Philadelphia Phillies) should keep the trophy in American hands.
The Dominican Republic, with strong Juan Soto and Manny Machado (both San Diego Padres), is seen as the biggest challenger, but countries like Puerto Rico and Venezuela are also showing talent.
The stars are there as American Major League Baseball takes over the system in partnership with the World Baseball Association, the WBSC. This year the number of participants has been increased from sixteen to twenty. Countries are divided into four groups, with games played in Taiwan, Japan and the United States. The final will be held in Miami.
The World Cup is gaining popularity with big names missing other tournaments due to club commitments. It’s remarkable to see the 2017 edition even more so than four years ago.
American baseball bosses want to showcase their league’s biggest attractions beyond America’s borders.
Anyone who wants to see the Dutch stars in action in the coming years will have to rely on the Major Leagues. The next edition of the World Cup is scheduled for 2025. Orange will first play in the European Championship in September. In Prague, the Netherlands will have to defend their title without help from the United States, as star players have not been released by their clubs for European competition.
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