PHOENIX — World Baseball Classic pool play wrapped up Wednesday night with Team USA advancing after a 3-2 win over Colombia. The big news of the day, however, came a bit earlier when Puerto Rico knocked out tournament favorite Dominican Republic and Mets/Puerto Rico closer Edwin Diaz hurt his knee in the quick celebration afterward. It’s possible Díaz misses the majority or even all of the 2023 MLB season with the injury.
The outcry on social media afterward was predictable, understandable, and, I would argue, at least slightly misguided.
First off, though, my apologies to Mets fans as a fellow fan of baseball. This unequivocally sucks for a team and fan base hoping to win the World Series this season. Díaz is one of baseball’s best closers and the bullpen was already looking a bit thin. I do not blame any Mets fans for reacting emotionally and doing things like proclaiming the WBC must be stopped and never played again.
I empathize. I also disagree. Strongly.
Yes, I’m aware that any time a player gets hurt and it’s not deemed absolutely essential by a person, that person is going to freak out and proclaim the player should have never been doing said activity in the first place. Car wreck? Don’t drive. Ever. Slipped while getting into a hot tub (that has happened!)? Don’t you dare ever get in a hot tub. Injuring himself while playing with his kids (again, it has happened!)? DO NOT EVER PLAY WITH YOUR OWN CHILDREN.
Are those false equivalencies? Maybe. I’m sure all the WBC naysayers will say so.
The fact of the matter is that players get hurt at times. In the case of Díaz, he wasn’t even playing in the WBC anymore. The game was over! He was hopping in a circle with teammates. Sure, there would be zero celebrations like that in spring training games, but players run through drills, weight train, and do all kinds of things where one funky movement could end their season. Sometimes weird stuff just happens. Again, it sucks in a major way, but it’s a simple reality.
Wanting to cancel an entire event because a high-profile player got hurt when it wasn’t even during a game seems like a major overreaction. I’m not even going to make the whole “the players care” or “fans of Puerto Rico were ecstatic” arguments or anything like that. Those aren’t really relevant in this discourse. For me, it’s just a simple matter of lining up the whole “risk” argument.
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