As we near the end of group play at the World Baseball Classic, this year’s tournament—the first one staged since 2017—has supplied no shortage of memorable moments, among them a perfect game, an electrician from the Czech Republic striking out Shohei Ohtani, Nicaraguan phenom Duque Hebbert pitching his way onto an MLB roster and Japanese hurler Roki Sasaki delivering bags of candy by way of apology after hitting an opposing player.
The WBC has been nothing if not wholesome, a welcome palette cleanser for a sport that has spent much of the past year grappling with its identity, reinventing itself amid growing complaints from fans over pace of play, an overreliance on strikeouts and a dwindling television presence brought on by the “RSN apocalypse.” MLB may have yielded its crown to football as America’s pastime, but it’s moments like the one we saw Tuesday in Arizona that remind us there will always be a place for baseball in our lives, carrying a poignance and emotional weight unrivaled in organized sports.
Rio Gomez experienced the thrill of a lifetime Tuesday, making his international debut for Colombia by logging 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against Canada. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Gomez is the son of former ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez, whose death in 2021 was widely lamented, an unconscionable tragedy sending shockwaves through Major League Baseball. Gomez, who suffered a fatal heart attack at 58, was one of the most respected voices in baseball, a consummate professional and ambassador for the game, universally beloved by his colleagues in sports media.
Currently in the Red Sox’s farm system (he compiled a 6.55 ERA over 33 innings for Double-A Portland last season), Gomez, in representing Colombia, fulfilled his late father’s prophecy, predicting six years ago that his son would someday participate in the WBC. A native Colombian born and raised in Bogota, Gomez’s mother Sandi was on hand for Tuesday’s game, beaming with pride as the 28-year-old took the mound at Chase Field, a short drive from where he starred as a high-school player at Desert Vista.
Colombia seems unlikely to advance to the quarterfinals, which begin in Miami later this week, though for Gomez, the chance to honor his father’s legacy trumps any individual or team accomplishment, a precious memory he and his family will forever cherish.
LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy Sports
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram