Edwin Díaz’s injury is a major blow to the Mets, but the WBC’s rewards still outweigh the risks

PHOENIX — The World Baseball Classic pool game ended Wednesday night as Team USA advanced after a 3-2 win over Colombia. The big news of the day came a little early, however, as Puerto Rico knocked out tournament favorites Dominican Republic and Mets/Puerto Rico closer Edwin Diaz injured his knee during the quick party afterwards. It’s possible that Díaz will miss most or all of the 2023 MLB season due to the injury.

The social media outcry afterward was predictable, understandable and, I would say, at least slightly misguided.

First, though, I apologize to the Mets fans as baseball fans. This clearly sucks for a team and fanbase hoping to win the World Series this season. Díaz is one of the best closers in baseball and the bullpen was looking a little thin. I don’t blame any Mets fan for reacting emotionally and doing things like announcing that the WBC must be stopped and never played again.

I sympathize I disagree too. Strong.

Yes, I’m aware that any time a player gets injured and someone doesn’t consider it absolutely necessary, that person will freak out and explain that the player should never have done that activity. Car wreck? Don’t drive. Always. Slipped while getting into a hot tub (it’s happened before!)? Never dare step into a hot tub. Injuring himself playing with his children (it happened again!)? NEVER PLAY WITH YOUR OWN CHILDREN.

Are these false equivalences? Perhaps. I’m sure all WBC naysayers will say that.

The fact is that players sometimes get injured. In the case of Díaz, he didn’t even play in the WBC anymore. The game was over! He hopped in circles with his teammates. Sure, there wouldn’t be such celebrations in spring training games, but players are doing exercises, working out with weights, and doing all sorts of things where one crazy move could end their season. Sometimes strange things just happen. Again, it sucks in a big way, but it’s a simple reality.

Wanting to cancel an entire event because a high-profile player was injured when that wasn’t even the case during a game seems like a huge overreaction. I’m not even going to go through the whole “players care” argument or “Puerto Rico fans loved it” or anything like that. These are not really relevant in this discourse. For me it’s just a matter of putting the whole “risk” argument in line.

So the main argument against players participating in the WBC seems to be that it is an “unnecessary risk of injury”.

Unnecessary is not really debatable. No player has to play in the WBC even if they really, really want to. Players don’t get paid to play in it, while they get paid to play Major League Baseball. I understand people who argue that it’s unnecessary. I will not dispute this point.

I will argue the “risk” thing though. There is no riskier playing at the WBC than at spring training or simple daily activities. None at all. Again, Díaz wasn’t once injured during the game – and if he was, it wouldn’t be any different than someone serving in a spring training game. As for the argument that he wouldn’t have celebrated in a spring game, I agree that hopping around carries about as much risk of injury as jogging off the bullpen. It was just a freak accident and these unfortunately happen.

It’s a natural human reaction whenever a disaster happens in life to try to find a way to prevent it from ever happening again. I would argue that as a society we do it far too often, but again, it’s understandable. That’s why it was so predictable that a lot of people said the WBC shouldn’t exist and/or no valuable players should ever participate. However, sometimes in life bad things just happen and we all have to deal with them instead of trying to fix them. The WBC hasn’t caused the Díaz injury any more than spring training has caused every single injury we’ve already seen in the past month.

If you want to argue that the World Baseball Classic should go away, feel free, but a freak accidental injury that happened after the end of a game doesn’t make a great closing argument for me.

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