Gil LeBreton

Rangers’ Mazara gets the WBC, so why can’t we?

So one day, let’s say, your doorbell rings and it’s the guy from down the street, the one who wins “Yard of the Month” all the time.

The guy is all excited and says he has some friends coming to town for a few weeks, and he wants to borrow some of your stuff – your best stuff.

Your Mercedes. Your Bugatti grain leather sofa. Your 99-inch LG OLED TV.

Oh, you can have them all back when we’re done with them, the neighbor tells us. He’ll try not to spill Cheetos, he says, in between the cushions of the sofa.

Yet, this is the World Baseball Classic in the mind of an MLB general manager.

This is baseball on spring break. Bat flipping and sliding head first at all hours of the night.

Attention, general managers, it’s midnight. Do you know where your left fielder is?

Yikes! He’s at Marlins Park, running into the wall in the 11th inning!

In the clubhouse of the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, young outfielder Nomar Mazara tried to explain the cultural anomaly of the WBC to me.

Mazara, 21, wants to play in the Classic some day for his native Dominican Republic. He said he hasn’t missed watching a WBC game yet this month.

“Everybody wants to be there, especially playing for DR – that’s something you’ve got to feel proud about,” he said.

“You watch all those games, and they’re intense. They’re like World Series games.”

Well, they are and they aren’t. There is a global component to the WBC, no question. It may be baseball’s only true world series.

But for baseball fans in the United States, it is exhibition season and the WBC is still something to be held at arm’s length – an exhibit.

“I just know that this is the first sport back in DR,” Mazara said. “Everybody there loves baseball, whether it’s winter ball, the WBC, whatever.

“You see the games. Dominican people like baseball.”

Chanting. Dancing. Shouting for the umpire’s head. Waving their flags, whether it’s Japan or the Dominican Republic.

The MLB Network cameras have done a great job of capturing the carnival atmospheres at the early round games. An added treat has been the play by play work of Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne.

But how many WBC-watching parties have you seen, other than the one at Nomar’s house?

The U.S. squad at the Classic is a solid one, as any team with Giancarlo Stanton, Buster Posey, Adam Jones, Paul Goldschmidt and Eric Hosmer would be.

But all nationalism aside, there’s still an ample amount of pushback from the American side. And the MLB general managers have every right to.

You think Kansas City Royals fans were thrilled to see their catcher, Salvador Perez of Venezuela, go down in a collision at home plate the other day and be carried off?

For every Adrian Beltre, recovering from injury but still wanting to play for his native Dominican Republic, there seem to be 10 U.S. major leaguers who gave the WBC a timely note from their doctors.

Notable absentees from Team USA: Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

Remember, the U.S. interest in Olympic men’s basketball had backslid as well, until a joint partnership with the NBA led to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, et al, competing in 1992.

Maybe that’s what it’s going to take – an MLB Dream Team – for America’s fans to embrace the World Baseball Classic.

Until then, party at Nomar’s.

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