At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Thursday, January 19, 2006

WBC Rosters Runneth Over: Let the Sulking Begin?

The teams participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic have now all weighed in with their up-to-60-man rosters, and since the final squads will consist of only 30, deciding who ultimately makes the team promises to be quite difficult indeed. But even more difficult will be letting the others know they didn’t make the cut, and doing so in a way that doesn’t foster resentment and potentially ruin the start of their regular season.

The Puerto Rico team, for instance, features four headline catchers (Javy Lopez, Benjie and Yadier Molina, and Ivan Rodriguez), two of whom are brothers (the Molinas). Even if the team decides to carry three of them, someone is going to be told that he can’t play for his country, and will be left with the bitter taste of disappointment in his mouth. Now, they’re all adults, of course, and professionals, but they’re human as well, and after performing at such a high level for so long, it will be only natural for the odd man out to feel angry or mistreated as a result.

The U.S. team faces much the same situation on the left side of its infield, where it lists three high-caliber third basemen (Eric Chavez, Chipper Jones, and Alex Rodriguez) and two premier shortstops (Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins) – or, if you prefer, move A-Rod to short and simply reverse the numbers! Either way, only four of these five at most will find themselves in the tournament, and it will be interesting to see how the fifth handles the decision. I only hope the start of play isn’t accompanied by the sound of whining, and the start of the regular season by an outbreak of sulking-induced slumps. But if history is any guide, it’ll be look out, below, at least for a little while.

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