The 2023 World Baseball Classic has reached the final stage, with Team USA advancing to the championship round for a highly-anticipated matchup against Japan on Tuesday night.
The fifth installment of the international has been a smashing success, with multiple attendance, viewership and merchandise records being set. “This is so much fun. It’s so much fun,” Mookie Betts said playing in the WBC.
“And this is way better than getting four at-bats in the backfields. I encourage those who are watching, come join, come play for Team USA, because this is a lot of fun.”
Betts was one of four Los Angeles Dodgers who reached the WBC semifinals, along with United States teammate Will Smith, and Austin Barnes and Julio Urías of Mexico.
Barnes also praised the World Baseball Classic and believes it has united people around the world, per Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“I think this tournament’s a great idea. For baseball worldwide, there’s nothing better. Besides the World Series, the atmosphere is like none other. The people saying this is a stupid thing, I don’t think they understand how much it means to everybody around here.”
While the consensus among players is that the WBC has been generally positive for the sport, others believe it increases the chances of a participant sustaining a serious injury.
New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz suffered a torn patellar tendon while celebrating Team Puerto Rico’s 5-2 win over the Dominican Republic and will likely miss the entire 2023 season, and Freddie Freeman tweaked his hamstring while playing for Canada.
Freeman, however, returned to the Dodgers lineup and is remains on track to be ready for the start of the regular season.
Mookie Betts: World Baseball Classic not to blame for ‘freak injuries’
In the wake of Díaz’s season-ending injury, Betts stopped short of placing blame on the WBC. “I mean, those things, they can happen to anybody at any given time,” Betts said.
“And you can always try and place blame on the WBC, but that’s just a freak accident that could happen to anyone at any given time.”
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