Tale of the Tape: How Team USA and Team Puerto Rico stack up in the WBC '17 Final
It's here. The World Baseball Classic final. One game to decide which national team deserves the title of best in the world.
Sixteen teams began the quest for glory a few weeks ago, but there can be only one champion. Out of many, one -- so it's fitting that Team USA will be there. But they'll face a fearsome rival in Team Puerto Rico, which has won hearts at the tournament with exuberant play and unforgettable hair.
To get to the bottom of things, and to make sure we're all caught up before the teams take the field in Los Angeles tonight at 9 p.m. ET on MLB. TV and MLB Network, let's break things down -- tale of the tape style.
Puerto Rico: Yadier Molina, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, Carlos Beltran
USA: Adam Jones, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Andrew McCutchen, Marcus Stroman
Look, any way you slice it, this game is going to be ridiculous. That list right there doesn't even include guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Buster Posey or Angel Pagan and Seth Lugo.
The point is, there are a whole lot of awesome players in this game, and it's hard to see who has the edge. Team USA might appear to be a bit deeper overall, but Team Puerto Rico has yet to lose a game in the entire tournament -- including a game against Team USA last Friday in pool play.
That last fact gives Team Puerto Rico the edge, but only slightly.
Team USA and Team Puerto Rico actually have pretty home similar uniforms. Both feature a pinstripe-less white base and colored sleeves. Both have white pants. Both have blue hats with red bills.
You might think you'd have a hard time telling them apart on the diamond, even with one team wearing its road greys. However, you won't. There is one key difference:
That facial hair is certainly something special, but the lack thereof gives the edge here to Team USA.
Considering Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, it should come as no surprise that the flags for both teams share the same colors.
Puerto Rico has just one star, but adopts the blue background for it and red and white stripes off to the side. In all, it's a really sharp looking banner -- well balanced and pleasing to the eye. Furthermore, it was designed in New York City in the late 1800s by inverting the colors of the Cuban flag, which gives it an even more rich history.
On the other hand, we have Old Glory. You know all of this -- 50 stars, 13 stripes -- but don't you have a much better appreciation for it when you see it on the arm (and shoes) of Jones?
We'll call this one a draw -- they're both super cool.
Let's talk Puerto Rican food. Influenced by Spanish, Portuguese and nearby Latin American cuisine, Puerto Rican food is something of a melting pot. The famous dishes, like the plantain-centric mofongo and the tamale-style holiday pasteles, are notable for their bold flavors, but the most famous export of all isn't even a food item. It is, of course, the Pina Colada.
Food in the United States is a whole other beast. There's everything from barbeque to French-inspired New American to soul food and diner food. There's also a lot of Puerto Rican food in the United States, however. That seems unfair.
Team Puerto Rico has the advantage here because if their food is good enough for the United States to steal, it's good enough for us.
Team Puerto Rico's manager is a man by the name of Edwin Rodriguez, who also serves as the manager of the Akron RubberDucks -- the Double-A affiliate of the American League champion Indians. If you're a particular die hard, you might also remember him from his cups of coffee with the Yankees and Padres in the mid-1980s.
Team USA's manager is this man:
This one goes to Team USA.
Who do you think will win the World Baseball Classic final?