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MLB Network's unfortunate graphical error leaves Puerto Rico's fans upset

Fans of Team Puerto Rico were in a celebratory mood on Friday night after their team defeated Team USA to advance to the World Baseball Classic’s championship round.

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However, there was a brief moment of shock and in some instances anger after MLB Network mistakenly aired a graphic featuring Puerto Rico star Javier Baez with the Dominican Republic flag behind him.

The mishap caught the attention of former major leaguer Jose Cruz Jr., who took a picture and sent it out to his Twitter followers.

As Latino Sports explained before Puerto Rico played the Dominican Republic this week at the World Baseball Classic, there are hard feelings between these two countries that go well beyond baseball:

Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba were supposed to be one united country called La Confederación Antillana. That was the dream of the top leaders of each island fighting for their independence against the Spanish empire that had colonized the Caribbean for five centuries. The three islands had organized everything to finally defeat the weakening empire and become the country that they were dreaming to build. Unfortunately, the USA also interested in expanding itself into the Caribbean declared war against Spain when their USS Maine “mysteriously blew up” off the port of Havana killing over 300 sailors.

The rest is history, the US easily defeated Spain and that was the end of the Confederación Antillana. US took possession of all of Spain’s colonies.

That is the history of the Greater Antilles and that is also the reason why Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic are more than baseball rivals, they are like close cousins that always want to show each other up.

Given that history and the feelings that exist between the two countries, the incorrect graphic obviously made for an awkward and uncomfortable image. Fans responded to Cruz’s tweet letting their feelings be heard.

An MLB spokesperson sent the following statement to Yahoo Sports apologizing for the error.

“We sincerely regret the error and apologize to Javier Baez, Team Puerto Rico and their fans.”

Mistakes are bound to happen when producing live television. That’s just the reality of the situation when human beings are juggling several responsibilities in a short time frame. It’s just unfortunate an error such as this, which has struck a chord with so many people, wasn’t caught before making on-air.

Javier Baez celebrates Puerto Rico's win that clinched a spot in the World Baseball Classic championship round. (Getty Images)
Javier Baez celebrates Puerto Rico’s win that clinched a spot in the World Baseball Classic championship round. (Getty Images)

With that in mind, MLB Network has largely done a wonderful job covering the World Baseball Classic from multiple locations spread out all over the world. A mistake like this shouldn’t mar the work that’s been done, even though it’s an impossible one to overlook.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!