’09 DR Baseball Team = ’02 US Basketball Team

Double Dutch; Dutch Oven; Holland Crap!

How about, Dominican Disaster?

Put that in your Dutch oven!

Put that in your Dutch oven!

Nothing against what the Netherlands team accomplished as, much like my observation on the Chinese team, they played fundamental baseball with strong pitching and sound defense (with the exception of Kingsale’s error…but he redeemed himself).  It is not entirely flukey as the Dutch baffled Puerto Rico as well.  But this was just as much about the Dominican Republic team not clicking and playing up to their individual abilities as it was the Dutch doing (almost) everything right.

The DR team was loaded with Major League talent, as documented numerous times by sports media.  Superstars such as David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada and Jose Reyes.  Good position players like Jose Guillen, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Olivio and speedster Willy Taveras.  And quality pitchers such as Ubaldo Jimenez (who was dominant last night), Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and even Pedro Martinez.  But while the lineup was loaded with talented and proven MLB’ers, that did not make the team the best in the Invitational.  Chemistry is important and despite their victory over Panama, the DR just did not seem to mesh (outside of the pitching).

It is reminicent to the way the United States used to construct its men’s basketball teams.  While in 1992 the U.S. could just throw together basketball legends (and even Christian Laettner) and beat anyone, the same formula did not work as well once the rest of the basketball playing world caught up with the U.S.  This was evident in the 2002 “disaster” at the World Basketball Championships (in Indianapolis), when the U.S. team lost three times (Argentina, Yugoslavia and Spain) on their way to an embarrassing sixth-place finish.  It was not the U.S. team was loaded with the top talent, but that the U.S. believed that could slap together a team and everyone would bow down to the glory of the NBA and the U.S.  Problem was that other teams had very good talent and the Spanish and Argentinian sides were much better than in previous years, producing NBA-quality players (Yugoslavia/Croatia/Serbia/Bosnia & Herzegovina have had players in the NBA for some time).  And, the chemistry that other countries had developed through years of playing together was lacking on the U.S. side.  It showed and after the 2004 Summer Olympics, the U.S. restructured its basketball program and it paid off with the gold medal in the 2008 Summer Games.

The Dominican Republic has a proud baseball tradition and has produced a ton of talent, many making it to the Major Leagues.  It often wins the Caribbean Series and is the major producer of baseball talent in the region (primarily due to the political conditions with regards to Cuba).  So this loss is certainly an embarrassment.  And the twin losses to the Netherlands is less like the U.S. three basketball losses in 2002 (as those three countries clearly had top-tier talent) and more like Chaminade’s men’s basketball team upsetting Virginia in 1982.  So it is a low point in DR baseball history.  But they will likely rebound next time around (whenever the next WBI takes place…likely in four years) and hopefully for their squad they learned the lesson — chemistry over superstars.

Well, at least I have my million dollar contract.

Well, at least I have my million dollar contract.

Pics from ESPN.com and Getty Images.  big ups!

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