After yesterday’s defeat of team Kingdom fo the Netherlands by Puerto Rico, I am still having a huge hangover. I keep thinking what if… what if… Once again we had to face an unbeaten team in the semi-final but this time we had a good chance to beat them. Four years ago, the Dominican Republic scored four runs in one inning, a deficit that we could not overcome. This time, Puerto Rico had to step on it to beat us.
Looking back to yesterday’s game, I realize that the Dutch were the first team to give Puerto Rico a hard time. The Dutch were not outplayed, outhit or outscored.
In my humble opinion, there were three key moments that cost us the game. First of all the moment when Andrelton Simmons was bowled off second base by catcher Yadier Molina. Knowing what an arm Molina has, this never should have happened. IMHO this was a matter of lacking attention.
The next moment was when Jurickson Profar was also bowled off first base after he hit a single and was celebrating a bit too long.
If these two mental mistakes would not have happened, Wladimir Balentien would have hit a grand slam homerun instead of a two-run blast. In that case, the pressure would have been on the Puerto Rican team and it would have been a whole different ballgame.
A third moment was in the fifth inning when Shawn Zarraga doubled to left field. Jonathan Schoop tried to score all the way from first base but slid into home plate while Molina was partially blocking it. I don’t blame Molina for blocking a part of the plate when he did not have the ball yet. I think there was enough room to touch home plate. Molina is a pro and he knows exactly to look for the boundaries of certain rules. But what Schoop did wrong was to lift his left leg and touch home plate with his right leg that was bent. If he would have touched home plate with his left leg, he likely would have been called safe, even though it would have been a close call.
Those moments could have brought us more runs and thus the victory.
Do I blame the players? No, not a bit. In the heat of the game you make decisions and sometimes you make the right ones, sometimes you make the wrong ones.
As a team, the Kingdom of the Netherlands played a fantastic tournament. The team has proven that it belongs in the top four. They gave Japan a hard time. The current nr. 1 of the world needed extra innings to beat the Dutch.
Most people said the pitching would be the Achilles heel of the team. I thought the same way. But especially the pitching staff kept the team in the games. They did not pitch brilliantly at times but they were good enough to stay competitive.
As a Dutch baseball addict, I am still sick of yesterday’s defeat. It will take some time for me to get over it. As a Dutch baseball addict, I am proud of what the team achieved. Sure I hoped, like many Dutch baseball fans with me, that the final of the WBC would be the next stage. Sure I hoped that they would win it all. But unfortunately, the semis were the final stage again.
This team showed some major improvement compared to four years ago. If the team can stay together in 2021, they will try again. Perhaps then the curse will be broken.
For now, I am proud of what they did. And even some players posted on Facebook they were devastated, they can be proud of what they did as well. They have made a helluva ride. They brought the baseball fans from Aruba, Curacao and the Netherlands a lot of joy and yesterday’s defeat cannot spoil it. As far as I am concerned, I have enjoyed the way the team played.
All I can say Kudos.
P.S. I will root for the USA tonight. 😉