Sports
5:11 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Dominican Republic Wins World Baseball Classic

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 6:16 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Dominican Republic has always been a goldmine of baseball talent. Today, the D.R. can call itself the game's world champion. Last night in San Francisco, Team D.R. won the World Baseball Classic, beating Caribbean rival Puerto Rico three-to-nothing. The Dominicans also made history in the process. They became the first team to win the Olympic-style tournament without losing a single game.

From San Francisco, NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: It was a night of constants at AT&T Park; constant, cold, drenching rain that drove many fans undercover.

(SOUNDBITE OF HORNS, DRUMMING AND A CROWD)

GOLDMAN: Constant celebrating by a group of Dominican fans who stayed put behind their team's dugout, and threw a three-hour party in that rain.

(SOUNDBITE OF HORNS, DRUMMING AND A CROWD)

GOLDMAN: Another night of winning baseball made it easy to celebrate. Team D.R. jumped on top quickly with two first inning runs. Dominican starting pitcher Samuel Deduno was cruising until a patch of trouble in the fifth inning. That's when hard-hitting Angel Pagan came to the plate with two men on. Dominican manager Tony Pena walked to the mound to tell Deduno he was done.

TONY PENA: And he say, please, do not take me out of the game. I want this guy. I said you want it, you got it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Here's the two-two. Swing and a miss, he struck him out. Pagan is gone and Deduno gets out of the jam...

GOLDMAN: After that out, as heard on ESPN Radio, Pena then turned the pitching chores over to the dominant Dominican relievers. They held Puerto Rico without a run, extending their streak of scoreless innings pitched to 26, with closer Fernando Rodney doing the honors with a game ending strikeout.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Let the celebration begin in Santo Domingo.

GOLDMAN: And it did, with a reported 50,000 fans who came together to watch the game on televisions at a baseball stadium in the capital city. That kind of celebration, so many miles away, is music to the ears of Major League Baseball officials. Really, it is. There's the belief that since it began in 2006, the World Baseball Classic has been hamstrung by the lack of interest in this country.

But Paul Archy says that's never been the point.

PAUL ARCHY: This tournament wasn't created to stimulate baseball in the United States. It was created to give baseball a bigger platform globally.

GOLDMAN: Archy is president of World Baseball Classic, Inc., and a longtime Major League Baseball exec. He truly lights up when he gives examples of how the three tournaments, since 2006, have broadened the game.

ARCHY: We had the top two highest rated television programs in the history of Taiwan cable television. They're building a new stadium, a baseball complex in Amsterdam, that is a direct result of their, really, success in this tournament, in '09 to here.

GOLDMAN: According to Forbes, consumers increasingly are associating global brands with quality and MLB is well aware of that. Paul Archy admits it would be nice to see more U.S. fans engaged; and more U.S. Major League stars playing in the WBC. Now that this tournament is over, officials will discuss possible changes. Although, don't expect the classic to move from its March time slot, as some have suggested. It's considered a better time than during the Major League season or after.

It does mean interrupting spring training for some players. But Dominican star Robinson Cano, the tourney's MVP, says it's well worth the interruption for an experience he says he'll remember forever.

ROBINSON CANO: Tonight we're going to celebrate. Tomorrow we're going to celebrate. And Thursday, we worry about spring training.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDMAN: Tom Goldman, NPR News, San Francisco.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.