Baseball: Early US exit could deliver hit to Classic

The World Baseball Classic was thrown a curve ball earlier this week when Puerto Rico shocked the star-studded United States team 4-3, dashing the Americans' hope of reaching the semi-finals.

The Americans stunning loss meant that for the second time in three events, the US squad didn't make it out of the second round of the global showcase featuring elite Major League Baseball talent.

Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said not having a US team in the final four at San Francisco will have a big impact on tournament revenues.

"It might hurt ticket sales for these next two games," Meulens said on Saturday.

Many of the top US players chose not to take part in the Classic, preferring to attend their respective team's training camps to get ready for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins wrote Saturday that the finals are better off with teams that field their best players from their countries.

"So we'll have a Final Four in San Francisco without the US and I say good riddance. Leave it to the teams who really care, who field most of their finest players, who speak of joyous celebrations and unbridled passion back home," Jenkins wrote.

Meulens, a batting coach for the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants, said the best teams on paper don't always get the best results in games.

Players think and react differently when they are playing for their country, he said.

"Countries overseas have shown that they can compete as well in a high stage like this and that they have good players that are playing in the major leagues," he said.