Former ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann was among those upset that Major League Baseball stars were injured in the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz, who signed a lucrative deal to stay with the team this offseason, suffered a freak injury while celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic. Los Angeles Dodgers star Freddie Freeman was injured while playing for Canada earlier in the week.
Olbermann dismissed the importance of the World Baseball Classic in a tweet.
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«First Freddie Freeman, now Edwin Diaz,» he tweeted. «The WBC is a no-nonsense exhibition series designed to: make YOU buy another uniform, be damned with the actual season, and divide teammates based on where his grandmothers slept.
«Cancel it. Now.»
Olbermann’s opinion appeared to be in the minority when faced with backlash.
As FOX Sports’ Ben Verlander showed how significant the tournament is to many baseball players, Nicaraguan pitcher Duque Hebbert signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers after striking out Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez and Rafael Devers on Monday.
METS’ EDWIN DIAZ SUFFERS INJURY DURING WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC CELEBRATION, LEAVES FIELD IN WHEELCHAIR
In addition, players from the Czech Republic were able to compete and interact with the top baseball stars from Japan at the tournament. William Escala, who was hit by a pitch during their game against Japan, received candy from Roki Saskai and an autographed baseball. Sasaki is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
«He gave me some sweets and a bunch of different sweets and things like that,» Escala said afterwards. «And then I asked him if he could sign the ball as a souvenir for me. Something I’ll keep. Very cool. Something I’ll treasure and never forget.»
Minnesota Twins pitcher Pablo Lopez, who plays for Venezuela, understood the difficulty of navigating wanting to play in the tournament with the limits he has as he prepares for the season.
«The tournament is extremely important, but it is also an extension of the preparation for a long and intense season,» he said. «The decision is understandable. Obviously, in the heat of the moment, you feel like you’re in the middle of the season with 120 pitches in the tank, but that’s not the case.
«It is a decision based on the parameters of the tournament with which I agree 100%.»
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Last weekend, 47,000 fans packed Chase Field to support Mexico in Phoenix. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ most attended game was on July 23 against the Washington Nationals with 37,802 people.
Associated Press contributed to this report.