First Pitch: 8:00 pm CT
TV: MLBN, MLB.tv
This is it. Tonight is the culmination of the World Baseball Classic, with 2013 runner-up Puerto Rico taking on the United States, making their first ever appearance in the finals.
But as a Twins fan, who should you be rooting for? There are reasons to root for both sides.
You may notice something unusual about Puerto Rico's hair. The team decided to all go with dyed-blonde look for the classic, and it's caught on so much that apparently stores are running out of blonde hair dye in Puerto Rico.
The biggest reason you might want to root for Puerto Rico, though, is that they sport an awful lot of current and former Twins. Seven current and former Twins are on the roster, including current Twins:
- Jose Berrios - Big pitching prospect who made his major league debut with the Twins last year. He's supposedly in the running for the fifth rotation spot.
- Dereck Rodriguez - Son of Pudge. He's been pitching in the minors.
- Eddie Rosario - He’s been playing left field for the Twins. Has made some fantastic outfield assists in the tournament.
- Hector Santiago - The sort-of pitcher acquired last year for Ricky Nolasco in a mid-season trade.
- Kennys Vargas - The big DH/1B who is probably now fighting to be the Twins opening day DH over ByungHoPark.
And former Twins:
- JC Romero - Yes, that J.C. Romero. The lefty reliever who pitched seven years out of the Twins bullpen from 1999 to 2005. He used to wear number 33, which is why Justin Morneau originally wore number 27. The Twins traded Romero to the Angels for Alexi Casilla before the 2006 season, at which point Justin Morneau changed his number to 33. Romero last pitched in the majors for Baltimore in 2012, and is currently 40 years old. Give it up for J.C. Romero for getting the band back together in the 2017 WBC!
- Rene Rivera - Long-time, journeyman, back-up catcher who played with the Twins in 2011
The obvious reason you'd probably would want to root for USA is because, uh, hello? That's where most of us live. It's also the first time the US--the birthplace of baseball--has made the WBC final round, which is sort of exciting.
The less obvious reason you want to root for the United States is because so many current Twins on team Puerto Rico. If Puerto Rico wins, that means a big celebration for the team that probably includes a parade in their home 'country'. It will keep guys like Jose Berrios and Kennys Vargas away from spring training camp even longer, and may even jeopardize their chances of starting the year in the big leagues.
No current Twins players are on the team, but one former Twins player is:
- Pat Neshek - Good ol’ Pat. Having grown up in the Twin Cities area, Pat was quite popular playing for the Twins between 2006 and 2010. He was known for throwing the ball super funky, being very friendly with fans, and tragically losing his newborn baby Gehrig pass away in 2012. Neshek made his only All-Star Game appearance in 2014, in his home town of Minneapolis (he was the losing pitcher for the NL in that... doh). He still got one of the three loudest ovations in the lineup announcements. Last November the Astros traded Neshek to the Phillies, making them his official current team.