Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/20/13
It's been apparent since the earliest days of the 2013 WBC that the team from the Dominican Republic was the best team in the tournament, and now they have a trophy to prove it. With a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, the Dominican Republic officially claimed their first WBC title and in fact, became just the second country to win the young tournament after Japan took home the first two crowns in 2006 and 2009.    The Dominican team swept through the entire tournament, going 3-0 in the first round (including a win over Puerto Rico), 3-0 in the second round (including a win over Puerto Rico), then wins in the semifinals and finals (including a win over Puerto Rico). Which is to say that the weird nature of the WBC can sometimes crown a champion that might not be considered the best team in the tournament, but no one would argue that that's true this time around because the Dominican team has been impressive from the outset in a way that some of the other pre-tournament favorites (like Japan, the USA, or Cuba) never really were.  There wasn't ever really any doubt in this one, either. The Dominican took a first inning lead when Jose Reyes started the game off with a double, then Edwin Encarnacion drove both Reyes and Robinson Cano (who reached on an intentional walk) with a double of his own. That 2-0 lead was plenty of a cushion for Samuel Deduno and the Dominican bullpen, who only allowed one Puerto Rican runner to reach third base all night. Deduno went five innings, striking out five, walking three, and only allowing two hits. After him, Octavio Dotel, Pedro Strop, Santiago Casilla, and Fernando Rodney (of course) all pitched one shutout inning, only giving up one hit and two walks in their four combined innings.  All of this overshadows all of the impressive things that the Puerto Rican team did to make the finals, so let's take a second to talk about their accomplishments. In group play, they had to defeat Venezuela to advance out of a group that they weren't expected to advance out of. In the second round, they had to beat a heavily favored US team to make the semifinals. In the semifinals, they upset the two-time champions from Japan. For a team that looked to be heavily out-manned when the tournament started, they had an amazing run to the finals and they bested much of the baseball playing world on their way to second place.  Unfortunately for them, they never could figure out the team from the Dominican Republic. No one could, in fact. The 2006 Japanese team that won the tournament lost three times in the first two rounds and the 2009 Japanese champions lost twice in the first two rounds before eventually triumphing in the finals. This Dominican team had no such problem, thanks mostly to a dominant pitching staff that only allowed two runs total after giving up four runs in the first inning to Italy in their second round opener. The Fernando Rodney-lead bullpen was particularly impressive: they didn't allow even one run after the second round started. For a tournament that put strict pitch limits on starting pitching, that bullpen is what set the champions apart from everyone else.  And so that's it for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. We started out with a qualifying round that no one knew happened, moved on to fake umpire spies, watched some great games that were played in front of packed crowds, some terrible games that were more poorly attended than most high school games, and finally saw a dominant Dominican team take home their first title. All things considered, this was a pretty fun way to spend a March when compared to the usual spring training doldrums. Now if only someone can convince the USA team of the same thing when the 2017 tournament rolls around ... 
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