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Wednesday night, USA captured their first World Baseball Classic championship, and they do so thanks in part to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Kinsler crushed a two-run home run to open the scoring in the blowout win.

Before the game Kinsler made some comments that seemed to be criticizing players from Latin American countries for playing with too much emotion. He singled out Puerto Rico, USA’s opponent in the title game, and the Dominican Republic. Here’s what he said:

“I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays,” Kinsler said. “That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”  

One of the best things about the WBC is getting to see all the different baseball cultures. Latin American players play with a ton of emotion and flair. Fans in Japan sing a song for each and every player as he comes to plate. It’s a lot of fun.

American baseball has a tendency to be uptight, with an “act like you’ve been there before” mentality. That’s fine. If that’s the way the players want to behave, so be it. Kinsler’s comments sure made it sound like he was criticizing those Latin American countries for not playing the game the right way, so to speak, and more than a few fans were upset about that.

Ian Kinsler clarified his comments about Puerto Rican and Dominican players. USATSI

Following Wednesday’s title game, Kinsler clarified his comments and said he never intended to disparage Latin American players. He believes all styles of play should be celebrated. Here’s what Kinsler told ESPN’s Marly Rivera:

“What I said was that American kids can watch American players play, Puerto Rican kids can watch Puerto Rican players play, Venezuelan kids can watch Venezuelan guys play, and that’s who they emulate,” Kinsler said. “That’s who they watch. That’s who they want to be like. There’s nothing wrong with an American kid watching a Puerto Rican player and wanting to be like them, or a Puerto Rican kid watching an American player and wanting to play that way.  

“You should play the way you want, and the way you feel will put you in the best position to win -- the way you feel the best and perform the best,” Kinsler continued. “Everybody is different. I play differently than a lot of my teammates on this team; I play with a little more emotion than most players during the season. Everybody has their own style! That’s all I was saying.”  


“This is what this tournament is for, to demonstrate the game in all walks of life, all over the globe. You saw the way Japanese players play; they play different than us. The Latin teams play different than us. Everyone should be celebrated. That is what this tournament is about, and that’s why everyone loves it, ‘cause you get to see people play [in front of] people from their own country and the different styles of baseball. One is not better than the other; they are just different.”  

Good on Kinsler for clarifying his comments rather than leaving them out there to be misconstrued. There’s nothing wrong with the more low-key playing style American players seems to prefer, but they also shouldn’t be disparaging other countries for playing with a different style. There’s no right way to play baseball. It’s just baseball.