SAN FRANCISCO -- Let's end the suspense right at the top. Puerto Rico defeated Japan 3-1 in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic Sunday night at AT&T Park.
OK, that's out of the way. Breathe easy now.
What the teams played was baseball, definitely baseball. And the game, to its credit, was a tense, tight affair involving players many in the crowd seemed to be familiar with. Angel Pagan played center field and hit lead-off for Puerto Rico just as he does for the San Francisco Giants who usually inhabit the real estate at Third and King Streets.
It hardly mattered that the players, except for a few exceptions like Pagan and Carlos Beltran, are pretty much at the Triple-A level. I couldn't actually speak for the Japanese team, never having heard of a single player — not one of them is in the majors. The game was a kind of Triple-A All Star Game. Puerto Rico's starting pitcher, Mario Santiago, is 28 and a career minor leaguer, although he is in the Dodgers' camp. He managed to pitch into the fifth inning without giving up a run and left with right forearm tightness. Props to Santiago, although you may never see him again.
But a feeling persisted the whole time of being lost in translation, of not knowing the ropes — hardly the worst feeling, by the way.