World Baseball Classic Wraps Up in Miami
Mike Trout
Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; USA center fielder Mike Trout (27) bats against Japan in the seventh inning at LoanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

When the World Baseball Classic wrapped up in Miami, players returned to their home countries or headed back to spring training to gear up for the MLB regular season. Endings can be bittersweet and nostalgic, but this year’s tournament was significant for many athletes, including some of our own Los Angeles Angels.

Ultimately, the tournament title would fall to Japan, the +280 underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook heading into the tournament, third behind the USA at +260 and the Dominican Republic at +210, and +140 underdogs against the USA in the final, with a storybook ending pitting Angel superstars Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout against each other in the bottom of the ninth in a storybook ending to a one-run game.

“It was probably the most fun ten days I’ve ever had,” said Angels superstar and Team USA captain Trout. “It reminded me of travel ball as a kid, just the friendships. You grind every day and play against these guys, and now they’re your teammates. The whole WBC was special for me.”

With a 12-year big-league career and three MVP awards, Trout has seen limited success in postseason play with the Angels. The WBC offered him a chance to perform on a global stage with passionate fans and an electric atmosphere. He enjoyed it so much that he’s already committed to playing in the next iteration in 2026.

Throughout the week, several American players described their WBC highlights — from Trea Turner’s grand slam against Venezuela to Paul Goldschmidt’s two-run homer against Cuba — as career highs. Playing for Team USA, alongside elite stars and under pressure to prove America’s dominance in baseball creates an unparalleled experience.

Turner, who has played in 43 career playoff games and hit home runs in three, called his grand slam his most outstanding individual achievement in baseball. Even Kyle Schwarber, who won a World Series with the 2016 Cubs and nearly clinched another with the Phillies last year, said the WBC was unique due to the international competition.

“Yeah, this is our Olympics,” Schwarber said. To represent our country and see how the fans have been reacting in our games… this is playoffs before the season starts. It’s a great atmosphere for everyone, and it’s the atmosphere that we all love to thrive in and be in.”

This year’s Team USA players enjoyed the WBC so much that they were visibly sad before Tuesday’s championship game, knowing it was their last day together. After bonding with their fellow all-star peers, it’s surreal for them to part ways and return to their MLB teams.

That feeling isn’t exclusive to Americans. Just moments after Ohtani’s thrilling strikeout of Trout secured the title for Japan, players from eliminated teams were already looking forward to the next WBC installment. As an Angels sports reporter, I can attest that the impact of this year’s World Baseball Classic will be felt for years to come.

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