Team USA second baseman Ian Kinsler told ESPN on Wednesday any assumption that he disparaged Latin-American teams for their passionate style of play is off base, saying, "Everyone should be celebrated."
Kinsler caught flak on social media for a quote he gave to The New York Times at the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Kinsler was asked about what the U.S. team reaching Wednesday's championship game -- the team beat Puerto Rico, 8-0 -- would do for the popularity of the tournament in the United States.
"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."
Kinsler elaborated on Wednesday, telling ESPN's Marly Rivera that flair for the game is a good thing.
"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."
Asked if he believed Latino players play the game "the wrong way" because they can be much more demonstrative of their passion, Kinsler said "absolutely not."
"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."