Were US players upset at Dominicans?

March 15, 2013

Rumblings surfaced Friday that some Team USA players were upset by the on-field celebrations of the Dominican Republic in their World Baseball Classic matchup on Thursday night.

No U.S. player openly admitted to being ticked at the Dominicans, though some noted that they would like to see those players perform as passionately for their major-league teams as they do for their country.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, perhaps the most animated of the U.S. players in regular-season play, told reporters Friday that he wanted to face the Dominicans again in the tournament, saying, “it’s time for some payback.”

Team USA, after losing to the D.R., 3-1, needed to beat Puerto Rico on Friday night to stay alive in the tournament — and set up another matchup with the D.R. on Saturday to determine seeding for the championship round in San Francisco.

Phillips seemed more bemused than anything by the exuberance of the Dominican players, but did not deny that some of his teammates were bothered by what they saw.

“That’s what I heard,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to ask those guys, let them say how they feel about it. But if you’re asking me, a win’s a win. You win a game, you have the right to do whatever it is.

“Some players, they had something to say about it. But I can only speak for myself. It was cool. I don’t really get mad about things like that. I’m a flashy person myself. I kind of like that kind of stuff.”

Phillips, in fact, said he was plotting his own celebration if Team USA qualified for a rematch with the Dominican Republic and he happened to hit a home run.

“I may do some Pedro Cerrano, run around the bases with a bat in my hand,” referring to the character in the movie, “Major League.”

“They had better hope I don’t ‘show out.’ I’m kind of rusty right now. It’s still spring training. They had better hope I don’t ‘show out.’ That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Three other Team USA players — shortstop Jimmy Rollins, left-hander Gio Gonzalez and outfielder Adam Jones — said they had no problem with the Dominican celebrations during their decisive two-run ninth inning.

“It didn’t bother me,” Rollins said. “That’s the way they play ball. If you play winter ball, you understand it. Everything is a celebration, from the fans down to the players. I’ve seen it before. It doesn’t bother me.”

Added Gonzalez, “I don’t think we were mad. We wanted to win. That’s just the way it is. It’s the Classic. They’re having fun. Everyone is going out there celebrating. We score some runs, we get excited. Our disappointment was that we wanted to win badly, that’s all.”

Phillips, though, did allow that the celebrations were unusual by major-league standards.

“The things that they did yesterday, you would never, ever see during the season,” Phillips said. “If that was so, baseball would be crazy.

“I’m into that swag stuff. You can’t really ask me. I’m probably the wrong person. But some of the things that you saw, you will not see during the baseball season. But the thing is, this is the WBC. This is not the (regular) season. This is not the playoffs. Anything goes.”

Minnesota Twins right-hander Samuel Deduno, the starting pitcher for the D.R., was particularly animated during his four-inning stint, extending his fists in joy after big outs.

“I thought what he was doing was pretty funny,” Phillips said. “I was laughing. He was throwing his hands out after every out, feeding off the fans. I really wish one of us got ‘Dude.’ We would have pimped some crap. I would have put my hands out, too, crossing home plate. If somebody is going to show out like that, trust me, I’m going to show out, too. They just (better) hope that I don’t do anything, because I will let people know.”

“He’s a character. This is very animated. The WBC is very animated. You see all the countries doing their little things, Italy blowing the kisses and stuff like that. It’s nice. It’s nice to see different cultures, different countries do their little things. I don’t know what USA does. I know we go out and try to win and do it in a professional way, try to be laid-back with it, try to be winners and do it in a professional way.”

And if Phillips was Dominican?

“To tell you the truth, if I was on their team, I would fit right in,” Phillips said. “You’ve seen me play during the season. You know I’m always doing some kind of antics. I don’t know if I could have been like that, though. If I think something is over the top, then it’s a problem.”