Team USA beat Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the WBC Championship on Wednesday, and Jonah Keri was in attendance – not as a reporter, but as a fan.
“It was bananas,” the CBS Sports MLB writer said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “For me personally, I was not in the press box. I kind of decided to go last minute, so I bought tickets, so I sat in the stands with all the rest of the crazies and it was so fun.”
Keri said there were fans of both nations sitting amongst each other, waving flags and singing.
“It was all very cordial and friendly and cool,” Keri said. “It was not the hate-fest that Cubs/Cardinals could be or Dodgers/Giants. It was just this amazing thing where there was all kinds of patriotism for multiple nations, but it came out great. Even at the end, the U.S. wins, they carry the flag around the field, and afterwards the Puerto Rico players are tipping their caps, the U.S. players tip their caps back, everybody goes and hugs – it felt like a hockey game almost. It just really had this incredible atmosphere that you just won’t get in a regular-season game.”
Keri wouldn’t mind seeing that atmosphere more in MLB.
“I do think there is a difference in baseball cultures,” he said. “I’ve been to a game in Tokyo. It’s a very different experience. If you go to a game in the D.R., or Korea or anything like that, Puerto Rico, it changes. The players feel it, and the fans feel it. . . . There’s a little bit of stick-in-the-mud attitude in general, maybe not from players domestically, but just kind of from media and the establishment. I just want to see that loosened up a little bit. I’m okay with a certain amount of decorum, but I really like it when players just kind of get to flex their emotions. I would like to see that more. I’m not saying it’s categorically the case with U.S. players, but just let loose.”
NFL players dance after scoring a touchdown. NBA players go crazy after dunking on someone. But baseball?
“Baseball, if you watch a home run for a millisecond too long, you get a fastball in your ear,” Keri said. “Why? Who decided these nonsense rules, (as if) baseball is this sport that’s stuck in the 18th century? Listen, baseball is a lovely sport. I love the traditions and stuff like that, but we can modernize it when it comes to emotion? Emotion is great. It’s a competitive sport. Let it all hang out.”