SAN FRANCISCO — When (and if) history recalls the 2013 World Baseball Classic, this looping clip of Fernando Rodney waving around a rapidly spoiling plantain on the field of AT&T Park might serve as the single most representative memory. The fiber-rich antics of the Dominican Republic closer brought a certain sense of fun to the WBC's championship round as the Dominicans bowled their way to their first-ever undefeated tournament title.
Here's the thing, though: While Rodney brandished a banana, shot the moon with his teammates after saves and cheered on the on-field celebrations of guys like Jose Reyes, he was always able to back it up on the mound. Rodney appeared in all eight games for the Dominican Republic and saved seven games with 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up only one hit and more than doubled the record for saves in a single WBC, sprinting past the three that Chan Ho Park and Francisco Rodriguez collected in 2006 and '09, respectively.
"This is the greatest gift we could give to our country, this trophy" Rodney said after the Dominican's 3-0 win over Puerto Rico in Tuesday night's title game. "If in four years, God gives us the chance, we'll do it again."
The 36-year-old Rodney will turn 40 in 2017 so he'll be an over-the-hill title defender if he's asked back. But given the way he led a Dominican bullpen that featured a total of 19 2/3 scoreless innings from four other relievers — take a bow, Octavio Dotel, Kelvin Herrera, Pedro Strop and Santiago Casilla — it wouldn't be surprising if we saw him return as a coach or inspirational figure of some sort in 2017.
And if he brings along a magic plantain to wave around? Well, then all the better.
Here's a Vine of Rodney striking out Luis Figueroa to secure the title:
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