"I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays," Kinsler—who plays for the United States—said Wednesday, per Billy Witz of the New York Times.
"That's not taking anything away from them," he continued. "That just wasn't the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way."
However, Kinsler would clarify his remarks on Wednesday night.
"What I said was that American kids can watch American players play, Puerto Rican kids can watch Puerto Rican players play, Venezuelan kids can watch Venezuelan guys play, and that's who they emulate," Kinsler told ESPN.com's Marly Rivera. "That's who they watch. That's who they want to be like. There's nothing wrong with an American kid watching a Puerto Rican player and wanting to be like them, or a Puerto Rican kid watching an American player and wanting to play that way.
"You should play the way you want, and the way you feel will put you in the best position to win—the way you feel the best and perform the best. Everybody is different. I play differently than a lot of my teammates on this team; I play with a little more emotion than most players during the season. Everybody has their own style! That's all I was saying."
Kinsler and the rest of the United States team squared off with Puerto Rico in the championship game Wednesday. The World Baseball Classic tweeted out what could be seen as an appropriate response to Kinsler's comments after Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the title clash:
WBC Baseball @WBCBaseball
Talk to the hand – @Javy23Baez will see you in the #WBC2017 Final. https://t.co/NcNsfeYWq32017-3-21 05:35:47
There is no doubt the Puerto Rico team has been one of the most expressive during the tournament. The players have used blond hair dye and displayed genuine emotion and pride as they compete for their country.
Some of the most exciting, young players in baseball are on the roster, including the Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor and the Houston Astros' Carlos Correa.
Bill Baer of NBC Sports argued the energy Puerto Rico has displayed is critical to attracting more fans to the sport and noted, "Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament."
Kansas City Royals infielder Christian Colon, who is a Puerto Rico native, responded to Kinsler's comments, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star: "It's the truth. We got flair, and he don't."
Puerto Rico has enjoyed plenty of opportunities to celebrate since it is undefeated in this year's tournament and already beat the United States in pool play. The players will surely unleash a memorable and well-deserved celebration Wednesday if they beat Kinsler and his teammates again.