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 Post subject: More WBC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:24 pm 
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Here's hoping JJ doesn't mind a continuing WBC thread.

Hiram Bithorn is packed and raucous tonight, and Puerto Rico has the bases loaded while leading Cuba 4-1 in the top of the 4th. How, I wonder, is Puerto Rico the AWAY team while playing in Puerto Rico?

It's nice to see Bernie Williams en fuego, 4-for-11 in the WBC with a two-run HR tonight in front of his countrymen and another HR in the series. It's almost a shame, given the way he has played so far, that he will be a Yankee backup instead of a starter.

I must say, too, that the Cubans have some snazzy looking unis--though how ironic is it that their colors are red, white and blue?

Nice to see the somewhat expected U.S. wipeout of South Africa Friday. But how many of my fellow TCErs knew before Thursday night's WBC games that the U.S. could have been eliminated on tiebreaker rules involving fewest runs scored in Thursday night's Canada-Mexico game? I certainly didn't.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:59 pm 
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For the first round, teams were sometimes the "home" team and sometimes the "away" team based on seeding. It only makes sense in a round-robin tournament that host-country status should have no effect on who bats in which half of an inning. I believe that in the upcoming rounds, "home" and "away" status will be determined based on Round 1 records.

I knew there were complicated tiebreaker rules before Thursday, but didn't fully understand them until they were explained on the air during the game.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:40 am 
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Funny how closely Selig's comments Friday parallel mine.

The AP wrote:
Selig thrilled with success, popularity of WBC

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bud Selig is convinced the World Baseball Classic eventually will be a big hit, even if it takes another tournament or two to get more fans, general managers and players on board.

The commissioner, attending the South Africa-U.S. game Friday, raved about the television ratings for the inaugural 16-team event.

"I'm serious, maybe not even the next cycle, four years from now, but two cycles from now, this will be huge," Selig said. "There's no doubt in my mind, the more I watch it. There are so many good subplots here, so much going on. So far it's maybe been better than I thought. I admit I went in believing it would be good, but this has really, really been good."

Selig plans to attend both the second round next week in Anaheim, Calif., as well as the semifinals and championship in San Diego on March 18 and 20. In a recent trip through the U.S. clubhouse, Selig said he individually thanked the players for taking part -- and many thanked him right back.

"They're thrilled to be here," said Selig, who believes as the word spreads more major leaguers will hurry to sign up. "Any time you try to do something different, there is just an inbred resistance."


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:51 am 
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And if I can beg JJ's indulgence for having Barry Bonds and the WBC in the same thread, this is just too funny:

The AP wrote:
PHOENIX -- Barry Bonds is thinking about joining the United States team in the World Baseball Classic, assuming it advances to the second round of play.

But U.S. manager Buck Martinez says it's news to him. Martinez said he has no plans to alter his 30-man roster to make room for Bonds. WBC rules allow teams to substitute a player for the next round if there is an injury.

"We have absolutely no injuries," Martinez said.

ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe said Thursday night that he'd spoken with Bonds, who had expressed interest in the WBC. Martinez was interviewed during the game and said it would only happen if his team suffered an injury.

Bonds shagged a few fly balls on a back field at Scottsdale Stadium and took some cuts in the cage Friday before spending the rest of the morning socializing with members of the U.S. team before the Americans' World Baseball Classic game against South Africa.

He denied, however, to the San Francisco Chronicle that he wanted to join the team.

"What's that?" Bonds told the Chronicle. "That's not me. You know that. It's not my thing. Those guys (Team USA players) have been there all along. I would never do that. I haven't talked to them.

"If they ask me, that's something different. But that's not my style."


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 8:43 pm 
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Bonds' statement translated: "I won't lower myself to beg Buck Martinez for a spot on the team. But if he begs me to take a spot, I'm there."

Buck Martinez's statement translated: "Buzz off, steroid boy."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 5:26 pm 
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I guess Wabber's not surprised to see Ichiro take Jake Peavy downtown to lead off the game in Anaheim this afternoon.

King Felix isn't participating, huh, Wabber? Too bad. Who knows what would have happened if he had followed Santana to the mound today (when it was still 1-0 Cuba)?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:51 pm 
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Bad call by the umps this afternoon to end the top of the 8th. With the bases loaded and the score tied, a Japanese hitter lofted a fly ball to left. The runner tagged and scored for a 4-3 Japan lead.

The U.S. appealed to the second-base umpire, who made the original call, and lost.

Buck Martinez, the U.S. manager, appealed that to the home-plate umpire, the crew chief whose job it should have been to make a call like that down the third-base line. The crew chief overruled the second-base umpire, removing the Japanese run. Sadaharu Oh's protests went for naught.

At live speed, I didn't think the runner had left too early. On seeing the first replay, though, I thought he had. But on the second replay, I saw he hadn't. The third replay showed he hadn't as well.

Umpires, of course, don't have the benefit of replays. It's too bad that the correct call in this case was turned into the incorrect call, and it's too bad that Japan has to suffer because of it.

It's as announcer Dave O'Brien said: If you're going to overturn an umpire's call, you have to be positive the umpire was wrong. And that probably is even more true in a round-robin tournament like this in which every run means so much. In this case, I don't see how any umpire could have been positive. The safer thing to do would have been to trust the third-base umpire's judgment unless it was blatant that the runner had left early.

It would be fitting if Japan won this game somehow.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:11 pm 
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Here's why the WBC is crap, in a nutshell:

It does nothing to answer the question: "Could the best players from one country beat the best players from another country?"

Without the ability the answer that question, bragging rights and expressions of national pride are hollow at best.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:33 pm 
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Here's why the WBC is great, in a nutshell.

It answers the question: "Can the best players proud to represent their country represent the best players proud to represent another country?"

Do I need prima donnas like Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield around to make the WBC meaningful? No. Their absence makes me very happy, in fact. Team USA consists of great players who love the game. Isn't it nice to watch Derrek Lee dive all-out for a tough foul ball even though he's not getting paid for it and doesn't have to do it?

And just look -- once Barry Bonds noticed that people cared about the WBC, he suddenly let it be known he wanted to play. When this comes around again in 2009, expect to see much greater competition for every nation's roster. Unless you're the sort of person who expects Rome to be built in a day, there's no reason to be anything but pleased with the first WBC.

To anyone who missed today's classic between the USA and Japan: your loss (And you're right, wordygurdy -- Japan wuz robbed).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 8:08 pm 
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But what's "their country"?

Mike Piazza is an Italian like I am a Canadian (only I was actually born in that country).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:32 pm 
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Yeah, the nationality rules are a little silly. But other than Piazza, there aren't any absurdities that I know of (though according to ESPN, Italy also tried to recruit Mike Mussina until it found out his surname is actually Slavic, not Italian).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:29 pm 
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Tell that to Alex Rodriguez, who spent several weeks trying to figure out what country he came from.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:45 pm 
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I don't understand the fuss about A-Rod's situation. He was born in New York City, but his parents are Dominican and he still has substantial ties to the Dominican Republic. It's perfectly legitimate of Rodriguez to consider himself both American and Dominican. There is such a thing as dual citizenship in the legal world, and I see no reason it shouldn't exist in the baseball world. He could reasonably have played for either team, and I don't fault him for finding it a difficult choice. It's not comparable to Piazza's situation by any measure (though in defense of Piazza, all he did was take advantage of a liberal rule in the interest of growing baseball in Italy, which I can't fault either).

I think we'll see the nationality rules tighten up in future WBCs because overall player interest will be greater and they won't have to dig. I think the permissive rules (Piazza's participation for Italy is attributable to his Italian grandfather, I think) were a useful mechanism for getting full rosters for an inaugural event.

But lest anyone think I'm an apologist for the WBC in all things, this column points to a genuine international diversity issue: umpires. The more I sniff around the tag-up play in the Japan-USA game, the more I smell home-cooking. Even if it wasn't that, it was an egregiously bad call that puts the merit of the USA victory in more than mild doubt.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:09 am 
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I hadn't considered the bias angle until I heard it mentioned in news reports Monday. It's a legitimate complaint. I felt the U.S.'s victory Sunday was hollow anyway, given the mistaken call, even though Japan left the bases loaded the following inning and made poor plays at first base on a couple of ground balls that resulted in U.S. baserunners. Sadaharu Oh deserved better. I mean, I cannot recall a similar umpire reversal in 30-plus years of baseball watching. To have it happen in an international tournament is especially embarrassing.

Having umpires of different nationalities for every game will go a long way toward at least removing the appearance of favoritism. I'm sure the World Umpires Association isn't going to like having its jobs taken away one bit, but if it objects, those objections will have to be surmounted somehow.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:32 am 
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Yeah, it's the first time I've ever seen that appeal work.

I was watching the game with my girlfriend, who doesn't know baseball very well. An inning earlier, when a catcher had appealed a swing, I had explained that there were two common kinds of visible appeals in baseball, one of a swing and one of a tag-up play, and that the former is the only kind you're ever going to see succeed no matter how much you watch the game.

Well, I meant it at the time. But now I'm sure she thinks I don't know what I'm talking about.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:19 am 
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The AP wrote:
The U.S. advances if:

• It defeats Mexico

• It loses to Mexico, allowing 1 run in a regulation game (8 innings in the field)

• It loses to Mexico, but does not allow a 2nd run until after it has played 8 2/3 innings in the field

• It loses to Mexico, but does not allow a 3rd run until after it has played 12 1/3 innings in the field

• It ties with Mexico, allowing 3 runs in 14 innings

Japan advances if:

• The U.S. loses to Mexico, and allows 2 runs or more before it has played 8 2/3 innings in the field

• The U.S. loses to Mexico, and allows 3 runs or more before it has played 12 1/3 innings in the field

Mexico advances if:

• It defeats the U.S., 3-0, in 13 innings


Weird, eh? What do you do if you're Mexico? I hope the next WBC ditches the mercy rule and uses a tie-breaker that doesn't involve division.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:25 am 
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Matthew Grieco wrote:
The AP wrote:

Mexico advances if:

• It defeats the U.S., 3-0, in 13 innings


Quote:
Weird, eh? What do you do if you're Mexico? I hope the next WBC ditches the mercy rule and uses a tie-breaker that doesn't involve division.


Apparently the pep talk begins with, "Whatever you do, don't score in the first 12 innings."

I enjoy the arcana of baseball strategy, but i have my limits.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:06 pm 
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Well, at least the WBC taught us one thing: Bob Davidson needs to find another line of work. The whole umpiring thing just isn't working out for him.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:24 am 
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I wasn't able to watch Thursday's USA-Mexico game. Was there another umpiring controversy?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:49 am 
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Davidson was the first-base umpire. With no one on base and no score in the bottom of the third, Mexico's Valenzuela launched a high fly down the right-field line. The ball caromed and visibly changed direction when it hit the right-field foul pole, obviously a home run. But the umpires told Valenzuela to stop at second base.

The umpires conferred, but they ended up not changing the call. It was Davidson's call to make, and he didn't make it. Numerous replays showed the ball caroming off the pole and rebounding out at a diagonal about five feet above the fence.

Rick Sutcliffe, one of the broadcasters, faulted the other umpires as well for not indicating to Davidson that they had seen the ball hit the pole, and Sutcliffe said if they hadn't seen it, then they weren't watching.

Shortly after the next batter took a pitch, Esteban Loaiza, on the top step of Mexico's dugout, held up what was presumably the ball in question in the home plate umpire's direction, asking him to look at it, presumably to see the yellow paint on the ball from the pole. The ump instead came over to warn the bench he might start throwing people out if they continued protesting.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:02 am 
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Idiot.

Oh well. All's well that ends well. If by "well" one means the teams advancing who earned it. Any of the possible matchups of the four semifinalists will make a good final round. I think I'd like to see Korea versus the Dominican Republic. Wouldn't it be something if Korea swept through this thing undefeated?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 11:08 am 
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Indeed. Who knew Korea was such a baseball powerhouse?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2006 4:27 pm 
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Gordon Edes, the national baseball columnist for the Boston Globe, leads off his Sunday Notes column with thoughts on the WBC. I agree with what he said about the tournament. Interesting that he also mentions Bob Davidson.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2006 5:34 pm 
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I also agree with almost everything he says. I dissent only in regard to the timing -- there's no truly ideal time, but I think March is better than July or November. As I've said previously, I don't think spring training is that badly disrupted by the WBC (and remember, we're only talking once every four years). Expanding the All-Star Break would push the regular season too far into either March or November. And playing in November would be anticlimactic after the World Series -- I like the way the WBC and the World Series will bracket the season this year. And it's too much to ask players who've pushed through October to play a whole new tournament in November. With the current schedule, the WBC participants have gotten their spring workout and can now rest a week or two before Opening Day.

I concede that some people will choose to watch college basketball rather than the WBC, but I don't see anything that can be done about that. And I think most people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

So I don't understand the cry from many sportswriters to move the WBC to another month. But otherwise, I agree with Mr. Edes on both the positives and the negatives.

Most of all, with this:

Gordon Edes wrote:
But by all means, call off the pack of bloodhounds crazed by the scent of Barry Bonds long enough to acknowledge what Bud Selig has been promising all along, that the World Baseball Classic has been a heck of a show, and a great promotional tool for the sport far beyond our borders.

It is ending this weekend without the Americans, ousted by Mexico Thursday night, but if the players considered the best in the world needed some persuasion that the international bat-and-ball set is rapidly closing in on them, they got it.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 1:05 am 
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And so Sadaharu Oh gets the last laugh on Bob Davidson. Nice to see.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:22 am 
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A dear colleague writes that the WBC hardly rate a blimp on the radar. D'oh!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:33 am 
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Definitely depends on where you are and who you ask. In Asia and Latin America, it was huge -- elsewhere, it was a treat for devoted baseball fans with the promise of being bigger in future iterations.


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