Sam Fuld was a legend in Tampa Bay because of his still of play and torrid first month in a Rays uniform. If Team Israel continues to advance in the World Baseball Classic, he may have that same stature overseas.
The Legend of Sam Fuld was a great moment in Tampa Bay Rays history. For a month, the outfielder could do no wrong, stealing bases at a prodigious clip, making highlight reel catches every night, and becoming the most exciting player in the game. Eventually, he fell back to his norm, but he was a decent enough player during his Rays tenure.
Now, Fuld is on another underdog team. Just as the Rays were that scrappy team that kept winning when they were not expected to, Team Israel has been on a roll in the World Baseball Classic. After starting the tournament at 200:1 to win, they have beaten both of their opponents and are now on to the second round.
The fact that Team Israel even got into the tournament is shocking. None of the players on the squad are on anyone’s 40 man roster. They are ranked 41st in the world, the only team outside of the top 20 to qualify. And they were in the same group as the Netherlands and South Korea. Good luck gents.
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The problem is, no one told Israel that they were not supposed to advance. They snuck by South Korea, taking a 2-1 victory, before pummeling Chinese Taipei in a 15-7 victory. Welcome to the second round!
Naturally, Fuld is in the middle of the action. In his 12 plate appearances thus far in the World Baseball Classic, he has three hits and has been his usual solid self in the field. He may not be Super Sam Fuld, but he has still been a solid piece of a surprising squad.
The competition is going to get harder for Fuld’s newest underdog squad from here on out. And Team Israel is still one of the longest of the long shots to win it all. But they have already exceeded expectations by even making the Classic. Each victory is another step towards improving the stature of the game in their country.
Team Israel was not supposed to get this far. But several players, like Sam Fuld, have been underdogs before. Maybe they can continue that run and surprise the world.