The greatest thing about the World Baseball Classic may not be who wins the tournament, rather the fact this kind of showcase proves how popular baseball is on a worldwide stage.
Another great thing about this kind of excitement is the fact it is happening in south Florida at Marlins Park. Judging by the international flavor of the fans in attendance, especially on Saturday night, I would say this was the perfect venue to hold such a gathering.
"This was a Miami moment," Marlins president David Samson told MLB.com. "Everyone in Miami should feel proud, and I mean that. Last night, baseball served its purpose exactly correctly, as a means of entertainment and escape for people around the world."
Samson and more than 37,000 fans were in attendance when the Dominican Republic came back to defeat Team USA 7-5. With MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on hand, Major League Baseball was well represented in one of the best games of the Classic to date – something that was not lost on Samson in his postgame comments.
"I was with the Commissioner last night, and that's what we were talking about," Samson said. "That anyone who was at this game understands why we do the World Baseball Classic, and why it's so important for players to participate, because the feeling that you get when you're at a game like that, in an atmosphere like that, you realize how much it matters."
While it did not directly affect them, the Marlins organization needs a shot of adrenaline like this as the ball club prepares for opening day in April. The baseball community in south Florida has been through quite a bit since September with this team. A feel-good story helps mend broken hearts and creates excitement of things to come.
The recent news of the team being sold by current owner Jeffrey Loria, coupled with a still-grieving population honoring their fallen hero, Jose Fernandez, few might be able to put into words what Saturday night’s game meant.
"To me, the atmosphere last night was the best atmosphere of any baseball game I've ever been to, and I must tell you, we've seen a World Series," Samson said. "The noise level, it felt like we were in Ann Arbor at a Michigan football game."
About eight Marlins players attended to support their teammates. Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton played for Team USA, and Edinson Volquez was the starting pitcher for the Dominican Republic.
"That game had a different kind of energy," first baseman Justin Bour said. "There were horns blowing from start to finish, by the time I got to the game until it ended. It was a really good time, a great game."