Carlos Correa stood at the center of everything Puerto Rico did in the World Baseball Classic.
Carlos Correa ended the World Baseball Classic comforting a crying Yadier Molina. The 22-year-old Houston Astros shortstop patted the veteran catcher on the back as the tears flowed. Once again, Correa looked impossibly composed for such a young player.
You’d think that the 34-year-old uber veteran Molina would be the one who’d have to console the kid.
But that’s not how Correa operates. He defies convention and possesses an almost supernatural seeming ability to process big moments. So of course Correa is also the Puerto Rican player who most effectively shoots down the U.S. players’ misguided missile shots about his team (and country’s) supposed premature celebration plans.
“It’s funny because they have been talking about that, but it’s all about the country,” Correa told ESPN in Los Angeles. “It’s not about our team. Our country has been behind us since we have started (in the WBC). When we were in Mexico, we told the governor in Puerto Rico that if we made it to the finals, we need a plane to get back and celebrate with our people.”
The U.S. players can tell themselves that their 8-0 wipeout of Puerto Rico was about avenging a sense of disrespect — rather than just Marcus Stroman pitching the game of his life in the always baseball unfair single-shot championship game format of the WBC. But that doesn’t make it ring true.
This is a future American League MVP in wait. There are no limits on what Carlos Correa can do.
Yes, the Puerto Rican team planned a flight back to the island — they wanted to celebrate the run no matter what happened in the finale. Yes, Puerto Rico championship T-shirts were printed in advance, but so were U.S. championship T-shirts. Do you think those shirts the U.S. players wore in the postgame were manufactured and delivered after the final out?
In the end, the U.S. players came off looking like they were still mostly annoyed by the way teams such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game — and ignore those old “unwritten rules of baseball.” Heaven forbid baseball actually becomes fun.
Adam Jones — a 31-year-old American Major League veteran — sounded like a teenager when he moaned about the great Puerto Rican disrespect on national TV. Contrast that with Correa who showed an innate grasp of the real-life, much larger picture when he told ESPN about how the World Baseball Classic brought his country together.
“There were no crimes, there were no assassinations back home while we were playing in this classic,” Correa said.
Correa is already emerging as the rare mega star who gets it. And make no mistake, that’s what the Houston Astros have in the former surprise No. 1 pick in the entire 2012 MLB draft. A true mega star. Correa did not have a great sophomore season in Houston — 20 home runs, 96 RBIs,13 steals and a .274 average. Not by the supreme standards he set for himself when he burst onto the season as a rookie the summer before and hit more home runs in more than 200 less at bats.
But this World Baseball Classic absolutely squashed any doubts about the heights of Correa’s talents. Correa came into the championship game hitting .400 with three home runs and nine RBIs in the WBC, while playing out of position (and making crazy highlight plays) at third base. Even an 0 for 4 in the title game could not hide the truth.
This is a future American League MVP in wait. There are no limits on what Carlos Correa can do. That’s your true World Baseball Classic revelation. Not some manufactured disrespect tale.