As the World Baseball Classic heads into the semi-finals at Dodger Stadium, I want to look at two men with a relationship with the Baltimore organization -- one past, and one present -- the first being Brian Roberts, the other being Sidney Ponson.
Brian Roberts -- our starting second baseman -- has all been nothing short of impressive at the plate during the second round of the WBC. Obviously, we all know that he was a replacement for Boston's Dustin Pedroia due to his injury, but Roberts has served as a catalyst for Team USA. He's 4-for-7 at the plate, and finished a home run short of the cycle in the first game.
Here's the excitement Roberts proclaimed to the Sun's Jeff Zrebiec about being in the World Baseball Classic:
"I've never experienced anything like that," said Roberts, who stopped by Fort Lauderdale Stadium yesterday before heading to Dolphin Stadium to join Team USA in its game last night against Venezuela, which mattered for seeding purposes only. "We all got in the clubhouse and said, 'Dude, it's only March 18, what are we doing?' But that's the emotion when you put USA on your chests. You can't help but feel that way. We haven't even won it all yet. We know we have work to do, but the circumstances and situation just warranted that kind of energy.
"It's been one of the best experiences of my life. Last night was, if not the highlight of my baseball career, it was pretty darn close, and I was not the only one that said that in the locker room last night. ... I think all the guys who have never won a World Series or played in a playoff game, that was as good as it gets for us, so far."
Well, Roberts cannot keep this rate up at the plate; however, for us fans, we know he's ready for the season. Whether his performance has been ramped up by the fact he's got "USA" streamed across his chest, or if he's just in a "zone", we've got to a lot of look forward from him in 2009.
I'm glad to see him excited to play in the WBC, and he's proudly representing the red, white, and the blue.
Sidney Ponson had finally settled his case with the Orioles last week and from the sounds of it got what he wanted as well as was entitled to. I have seen him pitch often after he left Baltimore during his stints with the Yankees, Cardinals, Twins and Rangers, and it seems his hard life has taken a bit of the ability he had in Baltimore. Now based on his performance in the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at points in 2008, he's found work with the Kansas City Royals.
He's been a guy who could you could say his potential has been wasted -- he's been a average pitcher, or you could say a journeyman -- for the past several years, but one has to wonder if his demons may have ultimately derailed what could have been a good to great career.His troubles have been well chronicled, as well as his anti-social behavior at times, so one has to wonder if he's finally matured and if he can be an effective major league pitcher.