What some critics saw as over-the-top celebration from the champions of the World Baseball Classic, Dominicans saw as expressing unadulterated joy in the sport they cherish.
The Dominican Republic leveraged huge partisan support during the second round in Miami to move on to San Francisco, the home of the World Series champion Giants, and defeat the Netherlands in the semi-final then Puerto Rico in the final on Tuesday night.
"In the tournament, with the celebration, they allow you to do a little bit more than you're used to seeing in the big leagues," said Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes, who returned to camp on Thursday with teammate Edwin Encarnacion. He added: "For the Dominican people, it was huge, they were waiting a long time for that moment to happen."
Dominican Republic president Danilo Medina telephoned immediately afterward to congratulate manager Tony Pena, WBC most valuable player Robinson Cano, and Reyes personally.
"The biggest experience I've had in baseball," said Encarnacion, the Blue Jays first baseman/DH. "It was very very good for me, my teammates, and for Dominican teammates to have all the support in the stadiums."
By comparison on Thursday, Reyes and Encarnacion returned to a nearly empty clubhouse, with the Jays playing Tampa Bay at Port Charlotte. Will there be a letdown?
"The chemistry the way it developed there on that team, hopefully we can develop here," Reyes said.
In their batting order, the Blue Jays will line up five consecutive Dominican players during many games -- Emilio Bonifacio at No. 9, Reyes in the leadoff slot, Melky Cabrera batting second, Jose Bautista third and Encarnacio fourth.
"We have the Dominican energy in the clubhouse in Toronto," Encarnacion said. "We are going to try to bring the same energy to Canada, to Toronto."
"I think anybody would want to have our top four hitters," Reyes said. "I think we are very excited to be together on the same team. Everybody in the Dominican is very excited about the Toronto Blue Jays. A lot of people are going to be following us."
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