Monthly archives: March 2006
ESPN's Bonds series raises eyebrows
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reports on the internal strife at ESPN over the Barry Bonds reality series.
"This has conflicts that need to be resolved," said Jeff Brantley, an ESPN analyst who played with Bonds on the Giants in 1993. "Take this one: Pedro Gomez is covering Bonds on a daily basis, and if he asks tough questions, will Barry be allowed to go back at Pedro on his show?"
I never pictured Jeff Brantley as the big ethics guy at ESPN.
My question is: what sort of audience would want to watch such a show about Barry Bonds?
Ortiz and Red Sox near new deal
ESPN.com is reporting that David Ortiz is close to signing a 4-year, $50 million contract extension with the Red Sox that would keep him in Boston through 2010.
The Toaster's Very Fearful Predictions for 2006
With a healthy amount of trepidation, the staff of the Toaster presents its predictions for the 2006 season. Teams are listed in predicted order of finish with the wild card being in bold. (Not that I think the wild card is more important, it just shows up better.)
Note: Will Carroll's predictions are at Baseball Prospectus and can be found here.
AL East, aka Center of Known Universe Division
Derek Smart: Yankees, Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore
AL Central, aka Hey, Didn't One of These Teams Win the World Series Last Year Division?
Smart: White Sox, Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, Kansas City
AL West, aka The Great Debate Division
Smart: Oakland, Angels, Texas, Seattle
NL East, aka The Bobby Cox Invitational Division
Smart: Atlanta, Mets, Philadelphia, Washington, Florida
NL Central, aka The Tony La Russa Invitational Division
Smart: St. Louis, Houston, Milwaukee, Cubs, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
NL West, aka Hey, Somebody Has To Win Division
Smart: Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado
AL champion, the Varsity
NL champion, the JV squad
Smart: St. Louis
World Series Champion, the best craps shooting team
One thing is clear from these picks: we don't expect good things from the Royals and Mariners.
AL East: Yankees (7), Boston (3)
They said it would never last
Conventional wisdom said that the marriage between Kris and Anna Benson would never last. Too much stress. Too much publicity.
The Pearlman code
Jeff Pearlman writes in Slate.com about the code among players where you don't name names, especially when it comes to steroids.
Note to self: never invite both Pearlman and Jay Canizaro to a dinner party at my place.
Selig officially announces investigation into past use of PEDs
Commissioner Bud Selig at a joint press conference with former senator George Mitchell announced that there will be an investigation into past use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball.
Key point from the Associated Press account:
If Mark McGwire wouldn't answer a Congressional committee about possible past use of steroids, is George Mitchell going to have any luck? Who is going to ask the questions?
Perhaps Jack Bauer? "McGwire! You better tell me now if you used steroids or MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL DIE!!!". Then Bauer would shoot McGwire in the thigh.
Victor Conte was released from prison today and denied the assertions made in Game of Shadows.
Marlins release Lenny Harris
The Florida Marlins came close to finalizing their 25-man roster, including releasing Lenny Harris.
It was often said that Lenny Harris could wake up in the morning on Christmas Day and ground out to third.
Wax on, wax off
David Schoenfield of ESPN.com doesn't think that baseball needs to learn balance.
"Thanks to owners with the financial acumen of Mike Tyson, baseball has no salary cap, which means only about 10 teams out of 30 have a chance to win a championship. They know it. We know it. Tibetan monks know it."
I had no idea that Mike Tyson was bad off.
Angels encounter local TV contract troubles
The Angels and Fox Sports Net have broken off talks for a contract that would have seen FSN televise nearly every Angels game for 10 years.
Presently, FSN and the Angels have a contract to show just 62 games.
"At the 25th hour, we have elected to end our discussions with FSN West regarding a long-term television contract," Angels president Dennis Kuhl said in a statement. "Both parties worked diligently over the last several weeks of negotiations. In looking to the future, we feel there are a wide variety of opportunities that will be available to us. Our goal remains providing maximum television coverage of Angels baseball in both 2006 and the years to come."
KDOC? But they show all of my favorite reruns! "Rockford Files", "Mission: Impossible", "Becker"...
Bostonians deign to visit Kansas
Kelsie Smith of the Boston Globe profiles Red Sox special assistant Bill James.
''I was always battling the fact that people didn't really understand what I was talking about," James says. ''Theo and John Henry understand what I'm saying usually before I finish the sentence. When I tried working for other teams . . . I was talking gibberish."
MLB to start investigations into past use of PEDs
ESPN is reporting that former senator George Mitchell will be asked to head a committee to investigate past use of performance enhancing drugs by players.
Former senator George Mitchell will be part of the committee, but not its head.
I'm sure this will solve any doubts about this issue and I will take a nap until it's over.
Indians sign Sizemore to new and very long deal
Cleveland has locked up Grady Sizemore for six years and $23.45 million.
The Associated Press says its the largest contract for a player with less than two years of major league service.
Everybody gets a night in San Francisco!
It's not that unusual that the Giants are having a Japanese Herigate Night or a Chinese Heritage Night. In fact they will be on consecutive nights, May 22 and May 23.
If you buy tickets through the right place for each one you can get a Giants with Japanese characters on it, like this. The Chinese cap has Giants written in Chinese characters like this. So who wants to tell the Giants that the Japanese language uses Chinese characters? I hear the Dodgers will also be giving out caps spelling out LA in Spanish characters.
The Giants are also going to have two Irish Heritage Nights, three Singles nights, and two LBGT Singles Nights. Italians, African-Americans, and Jews also get their own nights.
San Francisco's vibrant Gagauz community apparently doesn't get its own night.
Boswell losing his swagger
Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post used to be big, he used to be a respected baseball writer. I think he still is. I guess the baseballs have just gotten smaller.
Boswell has a paean to the joys of "smallball".
You can find a better critique of the column here, but Boswell has this one passage, I feel I have to say something about.
In the first inning of the WBC title game, Japan paved the way to its championship with four runs without a single hard-hit ball.
Here was Japan's first inning against Cuba (which hardly anyone got to see because we had to watch the NIT!)
Kawasaki grounds out 1-3
Satozaki strikes out
Imae singles to center, Matsunaka and Tamura score 4-0 Japan
Gonzalez replaces Odelin
To me this proves that you can score four runs if the other team's pitching and defense are bad. Or you get lucky in one win.
What was the biggest hit for Japan in its semifinal win over Korea? Probably Fukudome's 2-run homer.
If you want your favorite team to rely on putting up four runs like Japan did in the WBC final, I wish you well.
Wow, three straight posts all having something to do with the Washington D.C. area. I need some new material.
The Church-Watson affair
Washington's demotion of Ryan Church and promotion of Brandon Watson has set the Nationals blogosphere aflame.
Here are some links, thanks to reader Sam DC.
George Mason at the bat
George Mason basketball coach likes to have his teams play Unityball, a pickup baseball game during practices.
Reminds me of the T-square ball we played in the journalism room in high school with rolled up tape for a ball. Did you know that when a T-square breaks, the head can fly off at a rapid rate and do some serious damage? And also make it very difficult to come up with a plausible explanation for why the T-square was broken?
Trot Nixon's solution to baseball brawls
In light of Monday's dustup between Julian Tavarez and Joey Gathright of Boston and Tampa Bay respectively, Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon says he has a solution to diffuse tensions: Go back to a balanced schedule.
Nixon thinks the 18-19 intradivision games that teams play are too much and led themselves to bad blood.
So we could have peace in our time, but at the same time we will have to watch more games between the Brewers and Marlins. Is that the price of peace?
That will teach him not to make an error
Tony Graffanino, who made a crucial error in the Division Series against the White Sox while playing for Boston, was put on waivers today and picked up by his former team, the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals 2006 season can best be summed by this sentence in the linked article by Dick Kaegel of MLB.com.
Graffanino's arrival will impact the battle for a backup infield role between Esteban German and Joe McEwing.
Jeremy Reed healed!
It turns out that Jeremy Reed has not broken his wrist after all and should be ready for Opening Day.
Apparently Reed had injured his wrist when he was young and it appeared to be a new break when he hurt his wrist banging into a wall last week.
Game of Shadows reviews
Presented without comment:
AP review by Ron Harris.
New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani.
Los Angeles Times review by David L. Ulin.
Those were just the first free ones I could find online.
Manager firing odds
A sports book in Curacao has set up odds on which MLB managers will be the first ones to be fired this season.
Buck Showalter of Texas and Bob Melvin are the morning line favorites at 5-1.
Ozzie Guillen is at 10-1, but Willie Randolph is 20-1 and I find those odds puzzling. Joe Torre has the longest odds in the AL at 19-1 and Tony LaRussa has the longest odds overall at 40-1.
Remember, such odds are for entertainment purposes only.
Unless you are gambling.
Astros have to pay the tab for Bagwell
A $15.6 million insurance claim filed by the Houston Astros on Jeff Bagwell was denied by the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (or as Will Carroll points out, it's better known by its holding company name, CIGNA).
"The Astros took the position that Bagwell was totally disabled in January 2006 even though he played in September and October 2005," he [Ty Buthod, the attorney handling the matter] said. "Connecticut General determined that there had been no adverse change in Mr. Bagwell's condition between the end of last season and the date the policy terminated on Jan. 31, 2006."
Bagwell is having surgery on his shoulder and will begin the season on the Disabled List and quite likely may not play again.
Final Fours then and now
Although Jon wrote about UCLA basketball quite eloquently Thursday, I still felt that with UCLA making it to the Final Four that I should inflict upon readers another reminiscence about UCLA basketball. After all, I'm the one with the actual UCLA diploma (1987, History) safely stashed in a drawer with some sweat pants and shorts, sitting next to a UC Berkeley cousin (1988, Library and Information Studies). Someone who has seen UCLA play both an NCAA tournament game at Pauley Pavilion as well as TWO NIT games. I've got a lifetime membership card in the Alumni Association, although I didn't join until I had been out of school for 18 years. Do those years get added back to my life.
First things first. You should not feel sorry for anyone who roots for UCLA basketball. Since I crawled out on to this planet in 1965, UCLA has been to the Final Four 13 times. If you ask the NCAA, it's only 12. UCLA has had success in basketball that is remarkable. And if you want LSU to send UCLA back to California after a brief stay in Indianapolis, I can't say I blame you. Even though many of those Final Four appearances came when I was quite young, they are still there. The banners for the championships ring Pauley Pavilion (which only appears to be a nice place) as a tacit reminder as to just how remarkable the era of John Wooden was.
There must have been a real nice trophy
Mark Guerra, a former pitcher in the Astros system, was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and was forced to repay the $1,400 he received for a phantom job in a Florida prison so he would be eligible to pitch in a softball tournament among the guards.
Just how do you get in to see the Red Sox at Fenway?
Rob Bradford of the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass., seems to think that it's impossible to buy a ticket for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
The man's sign stood as a lone voice in the Yawkey Way wilderness.
Of course, if you're reading this, you do have a computer. Maybe you can try to buy Red Sox tickets.
The Admiral goes to Oakland
Oakland acquired left-handed pitcher Brad Halsey from Arizona in exchange for right-handed pitcher Juan Cruz.
Minor league umpires strike draws closer
The search for replacement umpires, principally from the college ranks, is underway. The AMLU has said that it will not provide umpires to MLB to fill-in for vacations. Salaries for minor league umpires range from $5,000 for rookie ball umpires to $15,000 for AAA ball.
Wow, where do I sign up? Maybe there's a really good pension plan. Or maybe you qualify for a lot of discounts at local stores.
Bagwell headed for shoulder surgery again
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is reporting that Jeff Bagwell will have what his agent describes as "last resort" surgery on his shoulder.
Bagwell and the Astros have been in a dispute this spring about whether or not he is healthy enough to play and how that will affect an insurance claim.
Bonds plans lawsuit against authors - UPDATED AGAIN!
The attorney for Barry Bonds, Michael Rains, announced that he is filing suit on behalf of his client against authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams as well as their publisher Gotham books and also Sports Illustrated and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Rains is attempting to have all the profits from the book forfeited to Bonds under California's unfair competition law.
Just what the heck this means is unclear and the Griddle's crack team of legal experts is trying to figure it out. We think it has something to do with intellectual property.
Tim Marchman of the New York Sun weighs in on the seeming absurdity of this suit.
The San Francisco Chronicle goes into more detail about the legal "strategy" being used.
They [Bonds's attorneys] said they would ask a Superior Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order freezing all profits from the book. The judge would then appoint a receiver who would have custody of the funds during the suit and would distribute them to charity if Bonds won the case.
It took 50 minutes for a judge to rule against Bonds citing "serious First Amendment issues."
Mariners lose Reed to broken wrist
Seattle center fielder Jeremy Reed broke his wrist and will be out six weeks.
His backup was supposed to be Matt Lawton, but he has to serve a 10-day steroid-related suspension, to start the season, so either Willie Bloomquist or Joe Borchard will get the spot. Or shift Ichiro Suzuki around for a spell.
Cardinals finalize roster additions
Fifteen new members of the Cardinals! (I'm going to milk that joke for what it's worth.)
In other news, since Pope Benedict XVI isn't going to use the title anymore, Tony La Russa has said he wants to be called "Patriarch of the NL Central".
Just as I suspected, only Communists bunt
So I was browsing the sports opinions of the People's Weekly World and found this editorial.
As expected, Communists like the sacrifice!
Someone also tell the people who wrote this editorial that Puerto Rico isn't a country.
However I do agree with this statement:
On a related note, Fidel Castro claims that Cuba's slice of the WBC profits has been turned over to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, however, the U.S. government denies that as does MLB.
Japan-Mexico relations improve
The people of Japan have been sending congratulatory messages to the Mexican embassy in Tokyo thanking Mexico for sending Japan to the WBC semifinals.
The North American nation's tourist industry looks like it will get a boost too, with one writer saying "We'll go to Mexico on our honeymoon."
That pair of visitors should tip the balance of economic power in North America.
In theory, you can buy Mexican food in Japan. In theory.
2006 Japanese baseball season preview
Jim Allen and the staff of the Daily Yomiuri preview the 2006 Japanese baseball season. The season starts on Saturday for the Pacific League.
They pull no punches in their preview of the second-year team the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles:
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
If you're in Japan and want an idea of how to get to a stadium, the Japan Times has a guide.
Breaking news about snails
A British study says that left-handed snails are better than right-handed ones at defending themselves against predators.
First of all, I didn't know snails had hands. If they have true hands with opposable digits, this is going to really upset the balance of power in the animal kingdom and I'm going out and buying the biggest container of Snarol I can find.
Second, snails' principal predators seem to be crabs. Which led to this bizarre passage:
Alternatively, researchers said crabs might simply not be used to attacking lefties, just as baseball pitchers face fewer left-handed batters.
So then what about switch snails?
Rats, I got another Barney Pelty!
They issued 142 before the 2004 and 54 more will be added. Adam Greenberg, he of "the one pitch to the head and on to the DL" fame for the Cubs last year, gets one.
There is also a puckish card, "Half a Minyan: 1946 New York Giants," which pictures the five Jews who played for the team that season: outfielders Morrie Arnovich, Sid Gordon and Goody Rosen; pitcher Harry Feldman, and infielder Mike Schemer. Incidentally, Schemer an example of one of the few times a rabbi's son made the big leagues.
Perhaps the 1946 Giants need a whole minyan as they finished in last place at 61-93.
Juan Gone is not where he is supposed to be
Buried at the bottom of this story is a report that Juan Gonzalez has likely decided not to try to catch on with Boston. The acquisition of Wily Mo Peña has pretty much precluded that.
Just a few days after signing two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez to a Minor League contract, the Red Sox weren't sure when or if he will join the team.
Giants plan day to honor quake victims
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake that is.
The day honoring the survivors will be April 6, although the 100th anniversary of the earthquake isn't until April 18.
Taren Sapienza, who organizes an annual reunion of Great Quake survivors, said those who plan to attend the game range in age from 100 to 105 and include several die-hard Giants fans.
If you're over 100, I think "die-hard" applies to a lot of facets of one's life.
If the Cubs are playing on October 8, all people named O'Leary who own a cow get in free.
The Red Sox are still working on a molasses-themed promotion.
Sheffield named in Bonds book
ESPN.com is reporting, using information from the book Game of Shadows that Gary Sheffield injected himself with testosterone and HGH in January 2002.
The All-Star Game is headed to Kansas City
Commissioner Bud Selig has promised Kansas City that it can host the All-Star Game between 2010 and 2014.
That is, if local voters approve a sales tax hike on April 4.
Kansas City last hosted the All-Star Game in 1973. Bobby Bonds was the MVP. And in the next year's set of Topps cards, there were special cards with pictures of the starters and if you turned them over, you could put them all together to make a picture of Bonds. NL voters, lacking good candidates for shortstop, picked Chris Speier that year.
I also remember Claude Osteen batting, but wearing a Braves helmet as I suppose the other Dodgers who were there, Bill Russell (told you, bad year for shortstops), Manny Mota, Willie Davis, Jim Brewer, and Don Sutton, didn't have helmets that fit his head.
Extra! Extra! OUCH!
The online English version of the Daily Mainichi has this less than harrowing account of people getting hurt in Japan rushing to buy extra editions of newspapers with stories about Japan's win in the WBC.
A fortune-teller who had set up a booth near the scene saw what happened. He said about 50 to 60 people rushed at newspaper company employees handing out the Extras and people fought to get a copy.
Oh! The humanity! (No one was seriously hurt.)
Meanwhile, Fidel Castro threw a parade for the Cuban team. The story is in Spanish, but it's interesting that they use Jeeps to show off the team.
And the WBC will most likely return in 2009, according to this report in the Wall Street Journal because it turned a profit of $10-15 million.
Gooden admits to cocaine use, likely faces prison time
In a Tampa court today, Dwight Gooden admitted to violating his probation by using cocaine. This means Gooden has violated his probation and prosecutors will be asking for jail time at an April 5 sentencing hearing.
Soriano the scrivener -- UPDATED
Frank Robinson: Soriano, you're playing left field tonight.
FR: Do you want to play right field?
Washington Times article
The Washington Post examines the legal ramifications of the Soriano affair.
So does ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack.
"I think it is a landmark case," said William B. Gould IV, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board who is now a law professor at Stanford University. "I can't recall anything in a major sport where a player has refused outright to perform his assigned job in this manner. . . . It has implications not just in baseball. It has implications for all professional sports."
The Braves meet Dawson's Creek
Braves prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia is married to a former teacher at his high school.
Ashley Saltalamacchia, who for purposes of my typing should have kept her maiden name, says she didn't start dating Jarrod until he graduated and she was never his teacher. Which I assume is true or else Ms. Saltalamacchia would be out of a job.
And to wrap things up for the WBC
Japan takes home the title with a 10-6 win over Cuba, whose pitching staff melted down, giving up 10 hits, 6 walks, a hit batter, and was hurt by one big error. Japan survived three errors of its own. And the WBC is in the books. Time to go back to teams grouped together by methods we are accustomed to.
But to wrap up here are some of the statistical leaders. For rate stats, I'm using the MLB standard of 3.1 plate appearances per game scheduled for hitters and one inning pitched per scheduled game for pitchers.
At bats - Eduardo Paret (CUB) 35
Wins - Daisuke Matsuzaka (JPN) 3
Errors - Orlando Miller (PAN) 4
WBC Game Chat: Japan vs. Cuba, 6 pm PT
Live from PETCO Park! This game is also being shown on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. And some network in Japan too. And I think Cuba is hijacking the ESPN signal. Joe Morgan could be America's newest weapon in the propaganda war!
The starting pitchers for tonight's game weren't announced ahead of time, but most likely Sadaharu Oh will send hard-throwing Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound. Cuba will likely start Ormari Romero or Vicyohandry Odelin.
Whoever is the starting pitcher may not matter much as both managers (Oh and Cuban manger Higinio Velez) will not hestitate to go to the bullpen if either starter appears to be having a bad day. Velez had his bullpen up pretty much all the time during the semifinal with the Dominican Republic. Oh has Shunsuke Watanabe available to pitch in the final and he's thrown two tough good games against Korea in the tournament.
Matsuzaka pitched against Cuba in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and picked up a win with 8 1/3 strong innings. Odelin picked up the loss in that game. Japan hit three home runs in that game.
The only major leaguer who will be starting in the game is Ichiro Suzuki, but don't think that the level of play will be AAA or AA. This should be a well-played, close game.
Cuba survived a battle of errors against the Dominican Republic in a 3-1 win Saturday. Cuba had 12 hits (all singles) and took advantage of an Adrian Beltre error for the win. As Velez said before the game, it was a battle between the hombres against the nombres. Perhaps this will be a matchup between the namae and otoko, which unfortunately doesn't rhyme.
Japan avenged two earlier losses to Korea with a 6-0 win highlighted by a 2-run pinch homer by Kosuke Fukudome and another solo homer by Hitoshi Tamura. Koji Uehara completely shut down the Korean attack.
In the USA, the final was supposed to be a chance to see Roger Clemens staring down Albert Pujols. Instead, it will be a chance for Americans to see just how hard Daisuke Matsuzaka can throw. And how well the mostly unknown Cuban hitters will fare.
It's just one game and predicting what can happen in one baseball game is a fool's errand.
That said, I think Japan will win. Please feel free to call me a fool after the game is over. Or before it starts if it makes you happy.
Game time temps should be in the high 50s in San Diego. A 10% chance of rain is forecast.
Prensa Latina preview in English, Cuban paper.
FINAL SCORE Japan 10, Cuba 6
WP -- Daisuke Matsuzaka
Japan scores four in the first without hitting the ball out of the infield. They stretch the lead to 6-1, but Cuba rallies to make it 6-5 as Cuba takes advantage of some Japanese errors. But Japan scores four in the ninth to break open the game.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is named tournament MVP.
Congratulations to Japan!
Sometimes an aficionado is just an aficionado
When I want true, hard-hitting coverage of the WBC, I turn to the best source: Cigar Aficionado.
Actually, the article by Alejandro Benes is pretty good. And now I know where to go to get Dominican cigars in San Diego.
Were the Cuban players allowed to bring Cuban cigars into the US?
Is anyone on the DL? (Defection list)
According to spokespeople for the WBC and Cuba as reported in the Miami Herald, no Cuban player has defected.
Keep in mind that any player who defects and seeks asylum in the U.S. has to go through the amateur draft. A Cuban player wanting to defect would do better to cross over to Mexico, which according to my map, is not far from San Diego.
Forgotten in all this is that it is quite possible that all the players on the Cuban team really want to win tonight.
Then left Bronson
The Red Sox today traded Bronson Arroyo to Cincinnati in exchange for outfielder Wily Mo Peña.
Peña should become Trot Nixon's platoon pal in right field for Boston. Arroyo was the odd man out in the Boston rotation and should be able to start for Cincinnati if he can crack the Reds' imposing rotation of Aaron Harang, Eric Milton and assorted volunteers.
Juan Gone is not gone
The Red Sox have added yet another piece to the puzzle. A puzzle that has too many pieces and none of them are corner or edges.
Juan Gonzalez has signed a minor-league deal with Boston.
I, for one, would never do this
A teacher in Japan had to apologize for watching part of the Japan-South Korea WBC game Thursday afternoon (Wednesday night in the USA).
I'm appalled. Trully appalled.
Thank God I live in a country where websites that stream live video of the NCAA tournament have a "Boss Button" available.
For the record, I watched none of the NCAA tournament live on the internet while at work. I will not comment further. I'm not here to talk about the past.
WBC final preview and postmortems
After 32 games being played from San Juan to Tokyo, the inaugural World Baseball Classic is headed to its final Monday night at 6 pm PT in San Diego. The last two teams standing are Cuba and Japan. Both teams have sort of staggered and stumbled along the way to the championship game, but they have survived. What both teams have shown is that the most important factor in the WBC has not been hitting or pitching or defense. The most important factor has been preparation.
Cuba, like the NHL during the Winter Olympics, has paused its domestic season to allow its national team to form and practice for the WBC. The Cubans may not be the most talented team, but they have stayed alive mainly because its hitters don't look like they are still trying to get their timing down.
Japan's season runs concurrently with the MLB season, but Japanese players have always started training camps in the middle of winter. While they might have been lacking in game action, they definitely were in shape and the Japanese pitchers have had pinpoint control, walking just 11 batters in seven games.
Al Leiter finally retires!
Huzzahs come up from the Tri-State Area as Yankee fans know that Joe Torre will now longer be able to put Al Leiter into a game anymore.
Leiter did have a good career prior to last year, but stubbornly held on and forced people to watch him throw 100 pitches in 5 inning starts. Leiter was on the USA team for the WBC and pitched 2/3 of an inning in the loss to Canada and gave up two runs. After that, even Buck Martine wouldn't think of putting him in a game.
Perhaps Leiter can start his rumored political career in New Jersey now. Or become one of baseball's new talking heads. He can be the yin to Tim McCarver's tempestuous yang.
WBC Game Chat: Japan vs Korea, 7 pm PT
Live from PETCO Park! This game is also on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The last semifinal will be round three of Japan versus Korea.
These teams first met on March 5 at the Tokyo Dome. Japan took a 2-1 lead into the eighth when Seung-Yeop Lee belted a 2-run homer off of Hirotoshi Ishii to give Korea a 3-2 win.
The teams met again Wednesday and the stakes were higher as the winner would get a spot in the semifinals and the loser would need help to advance. And this time it has Jong-Beom Lee who delivered the big hit in the eighth, with a 2-run double to give Korea a 2-1 win. But Japan got the help they needed when México beat the USA 2-1 Thursday.
So, the top two teams in Asia battle it out to see who will face Cuba in Monday night's finale.
Korea will start Jae Weong Seo, who raised some eyebrows when he planted a Korean flag on the pitching mound at Angel Stadium after Korea's win Wednesday. Seo has given up just one run in nine innings of work and is 2-0 in the WBC. Korea's pitchers have an ERA of 1.33 and the team has committed no errors.
Japan will start Koji Uehara, who has given up three runs in 10 innings with no walks. Japanese pitchers have walked just 10 batters in their first six games. Korean pitchers have walked 17 batters. However Japan has surrendered seven home runs and Korea has given up only five.
The rational part of me tells me that the winner of this game will be decided by whoever has the most talent. But the extremely talented teams of the USA, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are all gone. Right now, rationality has little to do with predicting who will win. Just pick a team to root for and sit back and hope for the best.
FINAL SCORE Japan 6, Korea 0
WP -- Koji Uehara
Uehara throws seven innings of shutout ball as Japan finally beats Korea in the touranment. And at the most opportune time. Japan will face Cuba in the championship game Monday night at 6 pm PT.
A 2-run pinch homer by Kosuke Fukudome in the seventh off of Byung-Hyun Kim highlighted a five-run inning.
Korea finishes the tournament with a 6-1 record and made no errors. Japan is 4-3 and will take on 5-2 Cuba.
WBC Game Chat: Cuba vs. Dominican Republic, noon PT
Live from PETCO Park This game should be shown live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes as well.
The first semifinal matches up two neighboring Caribbean nations. Well sort of, if you skip past Haiti, but Cuba and the island of Hispaniola are adjacent to each other in the Caribbean, separated by the Windward Passage.
Bartolo Colón gets the start for the Dominican Republic and Yadel Martí will most likely be starting for Cuba. Colón will probably be on a much longer leash than Martí, who will likely be pulled whenever the situation warrants it.
In the international sporting scene, the Dominican Republic has not won much of anything. There has only been one Dominican to get a medal in the Olympics: Pedres Nolasco, who won a bronze medal in bantamweight boxing at the 1984 Olympics. The Dominicans won the World Cup of Baseball once, and that was back in 1948 and all the participants were from Latin America.
Cuban manager Higino Velez has described this game as being a matchup between the hombres of Cuba and the nombres of the Dominican Republic. (Men versus names).
Francisco Cordero was expected to join the D.R. roster, but insurance concerns vetoed that. But that might not make a huge difference as the Dominican relievers, with the exception of Miguel Batista, have been much better than expected.
Cuba is used to the pressure of playing in tournaments like the WBC, but this game will likely have far more exposure than the Cubans are used to. The World Cup of Baseball is not a big spectator sport and Olympic baseball rarely even showed up on NBC's multichannel coverage. But this game will be shown to a much wider audience and will be shown live in the US to those people who don't want to watch the NCAA basketball tournament or people like me, who have developed the ability to watch two different sporting events on TV at the same time. I think that if the Dominicans can handle the Cuban pressure and are able to reverse the ball in order to open up some lanes for penetration, they should be able to win this one. But Cuba lives and dies with the three-point shot, so the Dominican should avoid playing a zone defense and make the Cubans beat them down low.
FINAL SCORE Cuba 3, Dominican Republic 1
WP -- Pedro Luis Lazo
Cuba wins the battle of errors and bloop hits (20 hits, all singles in the game) to advance to Monday's final against either Japan or Korea at 6 pm PT.
The second coming of Darren Dreifort?
A.J. Burnett of Toronto left his spring training start today in Dunedin, Florida after one pitch with an elbow injury.
But it's not like Burnett has a history of injuries does he?
Man down for Mexico and Washington!
Luis Ayala will miss the 2006 season after suffering an acute ligament sprain in his right elbow during Mexico's win over the USA Thursday night.
Nationals president Tony Tavares wasn't not happy when interviewed:
"We thought it was a bad decision to let him pitch," Tavares said by phone Friday from Washington. "It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. You know what surgery is like on elbows. It takes time to rebound from them. It's usually a process that has a certain cadence to it. This was accelerating that cadence. We were concerned, very concerned -- and as it shows right now, for good reason."
And of course Jim Bowden is irate and smugly self-confident:
"Our medical staff has advised me that they don't believe that this injury would have happened if he had been in the care of our medical staff and on our plan," Bowden said. "This is a devastating injury. It's a devastating loss to the club."
WBC Final Four preview and predictions
Ahh, the tradition, the pageantry, the spectacle that is the Final Four. 16 nations fighting for the right to go play in a stadium with funky outfield walls that's named for a pet supply store chain to determine who is the best baseball playing nation in the world.
Well, no one says that the World Baseball Classic is the truest test of who is the best baseball playing nation in the world. But, at least for me, it's been fun to watch. It's had its ups (watching Korea play for one) and its downs (cough, BobDavidson, cough). But now it's down to four teams. It's single elimination. No mercy rules. No ties. OK, there's still a pitch limit, but it's up to 95 pitches now.
The noon PT game is one of the few international sporting events where the participants from the Dominican Republic would ever be considered to be a big favorite. And their opponents would envy growing up in some of the places where the Dominican players grew up. It's all in the perspective.
The Dominican Republic comes into the game winning five of its six games in the WBC, losing only to Puerto Rico. Cuba has won four of six, losing badly to Puerto Rico (12-2 in a mercy rule shortened game) and not as badly to the D.R. (7-3). The D.R. squad advanced when its pitchers combined on a one-hitter to get past Venezuela 2-1 in the final game of the second round. Cuba survived a near meltdown in the seventh when its manager, Higinio Velez was ejected, to beat Puerto Rico, 4-3 in its final game of the second round.
Meet your WBC semifinalist countries
Dae Han Min-Gook!
Dae Han Min-Gook! Dae Han Min-Gook! Dae Han Min-Gook!
This was the cheer that reverberated throughout Angel Stadium of Anaheim Wednesday night as Korea established it itself as the current king of Asian baseball after a 2-1 win over Japan that sent Korea to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic. Dae Han Min-Gook is the formal way of saying the name of Korea in the Korean language. And it lends itself well to rhythmic chanting. (Sort of like this: long, long, short, short, clap, clap)
The chant stayed with me on the drive home as well as the pounding of the pale blue ThunderStix. I had visions of the Korean flag with its Yin and Yang symbol and I Ching symbolism and people waving white placards with a simple black letter "K" on them are etched in my brain
When I arrived at Angel Stadium, it was readily apparent that the crowd was heavily in favor of Korea. Blue was the predominant color. Sweatshirts with "S Y LEE 25" on the back were a common sight as fans celebrated their favorite player, Seung-Yeop Lee, aka "The People's Slugger" or "The Lion King". Personally, I prefer the former nickname as it has sort of a Dixie Walker (The People's Cherce) feel to it. The Korean-American community in Southern California is about 288,000 people according to the last U.S. Census estimate for the Southern California metropolitan area. The Japanese-American community is around 165,000. The Japanese-Americans have also lived in Southern California for a much longer time and have much less of a connection to their ancestral country than the Korean-Americans living here. The Korean-American community is a bit more cohesive with numerous Korean churches and business associations throughout the area. There was a lot of Korean heard in the stands, but not much Japanese.
And underlying everything was the not so distant past when Japan occupied Korea (1910-45). The wounds caused by that time (which were considerable) have not completely healed in Korea, while the Japanese have oddly gone crazy for Korean soap operas and pop culture. And to this day, Japan and Korea still dispute the possession of some rocky islands which I will neutrally refer to as the Liancourt Rocks. The Koreans call them Tokdo and the Japanese call them Takeshima. The body of water dividing the islands of Japan and the Korean peninsula is called by most people "The Sea of Japan" although in Korea it is called "The East Sea". While the two countries aren't going to go to war, their relationship could not be described as "warm". Fortunately, at Angel Stadium, the Korean and Japanese fans mixed together with no problems.
Today in doping disagreements
Dick Pound, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has assailed the doping plan used during the WBC.
"It's very simple. We are asking baseball to come clean and set the record straight," Pound said in a statement on the WADA website.
Rob Manfred responded to Pound's criticism in the Globe and Mail.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Bud Selig has said that he might or might not investigate Barry Bonds. The ESPN story indicates that MLB would be more interested in investigating Bonds if he were implicated in perjury or tax evasion charges.
The good news is that Bonds said he would like to play in the WBC after all. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.
WBC Game Chat: USA vs Mexico, 4:30 pm PT
Live from Angel Stadium! This game will be shown live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The final spot in the WBC Final Four will be decided today. If the USA wins, it moves on to play Korea Saturday night in San Diego. If Mexico wins, most likely it will be Japan that will move on. The USA can advance also if they lose a 1-0 game, in 9 innings or be drawn into a 2-1 or 3-2 game that goes into extra innnings.
Roger Clemens, in what could be his last professional baseball start (until he decides to unretire again), goes for the USA. Oliver Perez will start for Mexico.
Mexico comes into the game with a .690 team OPS in five games and has scored just two runs in its last two games, both coming on solo home runs. The United States is second in the WBC in OPS and the highest among the remaining teams at .918 (Canada was .928 in three games). But most of the American hitting was done in one 17-0 win over South Africa. Since then, the American team scored just four runs in a win over Japan and only three in a loss to Korea, with two coming in the ninth inning.
Mexico's pitching has been better than the USA. Mexico sports an ERA of 3.14 to 4.05 for the USA. Both teams have allowed four home runs.
The USA will be without the services of Derrek Lee at first base today as he is nursing a sore shoulder. Lee had hit three home runs in five games and had homered against Mexico in the team's earlier meeting, a 2-0 win for the USA. Mark Texeira will likely start at first and he's 0 for 12 in the WBC. Johnny Damon will not play in the field (or at all) and USA manager Buck Martinez may start Jeff Francouer, who has only 3 ABs in the tournament.
Mexico's offense, such as it is, is led by Jorge Cantu who has hit two home runs and has an OPS of 1.014. The Mexican team is batting just .235 for the WBC.
The fact that the USA is still alive will make this game far more interesting of course. Mexico probably should not beat the USA. But then again, Canada and Korea shouldn't have either. If Clemens gets the team off to a good start and the USA hitters can actually get a hit with runners on base, the USA should win. But if the 2004 version of Oliver Perez shows up, Mexico could keep this one close and make it uncomfortable for fans of the USA. Expect a crowd that will still likely be heavily pro-Mexico, although not to the same extent as a USA-Mexico soccer match in Southern California. Mexico may have only the longest of shots to make it to the semifinals (they need to win 3-0 or 4-0 in 13 innings), but they would certainly enjoy knocking out their neighbor to the north, just as they did in Olympic qualifying in 2003.
FINAL SCORE Mexico 2, United States 1
WP -- Edgar Gonzalez
Korea wins the Anaheim Regional with a 3-0 record. Japan, USA, and Mexico all finish 1-2. By the runs allowed tiebreaker, Japan surrendered 5 runs in 17 2/3 innings (.282). The USA gave up 5 in 17 innings (.294) and Mexico surrendered 7 runs in 18 innings (.388).
Korea will play Japan on Saturday night at 7 pm PT in San Diego in the semifinal.
A reliever worth his weight in gold
Yep, just whom you would suspect: Mike Remlinger.
Remlinger is listed on the Braves website as weighing 215 lbs.
The price of gold closed today at $554.40. That makes Remlinger worth $1,430,352. (Gold is measured in troy ounces and there are 12 of those to a pound.)
D.R. team gets a slight boost for the semifinals
With Damaso Marte dropping out of the WBC because of a tender shoulder, the Dominican Republic replaced him on the roster with Francisco Cordero of the Texas Rangers. Cordero had originally dropped off the roster due to shoulder problems of his own, but he now he feels better. The D.R. squad will be able to use Cordero along with Duaner Sanchez and Fernando Rodney to close out games.
The Dominicans play Cuba Saturday afternoon at noon PT at PETCO Park in San Diego.
Wednesday in the WBC
The Final Four in San Diego now has three spots set and only one of the teams was expected to be there.
WBC Game Chat: Korea vs. Japan, 7 pm PT
Live from Angel Stadium! This game is scheduled to be shown live on ESPN Deportes and will appear on ESPN2 at 11 pm PT.
One and possibly two spots in the semifinals will be settled tonight in this rematch of a first round game that Korea won 3-2 in the Tokyo Dome.
Korea's starting pitcher will likely be Chan Ho Park, who has three saves in the tournament. He may not pitch much to stay ready for the semis. Sidearmer/submariner Shunsuke Watanabe will start for Japan.
The Koreans have yet to lose in the tournament, winning their first five games, including a surprising 7-3 win over the USA on Monday. Japan recovered from a disappointing and controversial loss to the USA on Sunday 4-3 to beat Mexico 6-1.
Here are the scenarios:
The whole problem about relying on Japan to score a lot of runs is that Korea has given up 7 runs in five games so far. And both teams are likely to rely on one-run strategies such as sacrifices and stolen bases. Japan had three sacrifices against Mexico and leads the WBC in stolen bases with 10.
Korea's recipe for victory has been, get a guy on base for Seong-Yeop Lee, wait for a homer and then pitch well and catch every batted ball. Japan's hitting has come and gone at times and its defense appears a little shakier than Korea's. However, the game is filled with emotion, so the outcome is hard to predict.
I will be at that game, so I hope everybody enjoys the game! I hope to have a full report for you Thursday or Friday with some photos. Most likely I will just be heading to bed once I get home tonight.
WBC Game Chat: Cuba vs. Puerto Rico, 4 pm PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! This game is scheduled to be shown live on ESPN Deportes only.
For the second straight day in San Juan, there will be an elimination game to decide one of the semifinalists. Both Cuba and Puerto Rico are 1-1 and the winner moves on to play the Dominican Republic Saturday in San Diego.
When these two teams met last Friday, Puerto Rico embarrassed Cuba with a 12-2 win that was shortened to seven innings by the mercy rule. Cuba bounced back from that loss to defeat Venezuela in its first game of the second round, but then lost to the Dominican Republic.
Puerto Rico handed the Dominican Republic its only loss of the tournament Sunday, but was shut out by Venezuela Monday.
Dicky Gonzalez should get the start for Puerto Rico. Gonzalez pitches for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and is a former Mets farmhand. Cuba's starting pitcher is not known at this time, keeping with the team's practice of not giving out a lot of information about anything.
The degree to which certain players are injured will play a role. Carlos Delgado has missed the first five games for Puerto Rico with tendinitis in his left elbow. If he can come back, his bat could change the dynamics of the Puerto Rico offense. Cuban second baseman Yulieski Gourriel left his team's loss to the Dominican Republic in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch. If he can't play, Cuba would be in serious trouble.
A sellout crowd is expected for the last game in San Juan to see whether the Dominican Republic plays its island neighbors to the west (Cuba) or the east (Puerto Rico).
As an added wrinkle, if the game is tied after 14 innings, it will end in a tie.
So who would advance to the semis? The head-to-head tiebreaker wouldn't matter. The runs allowed tiebreaker wouldn't matter. The earned runs allowed tiebreaker would matter if somebody gives up an unearned runs. After that it would be which ever team had the higher batting average during the game. If that ended up identical, it would be a coin toss.
Get your tiebreakers here -- UPDATED
After figuring out the math again, the outlook for the USA to advance to the semifinals in the event of a Japan win over Korea Wednesday night is not good.
If Japan wins, the best the USA can get is a three-way tie at 2-1.
Tiebreaker #1 is head-to-head - Everybody would be 1-1.
So if Japan beats Korea, but scores no more than 6 runs and it's a nine-inning game, you get:
If it's a 7-6 win for Japan and the game is decided in the ninth and Korea gets one or two outs before Japan scores the winning run, then the USA would also be eliminated. Or it could be 8-7, see below.
If the game goes into extra innings, there are a whole world of problems for Team USA.
So, if you're pulling for Team USA, then you need to root for Korea Wednesday night. Big time.
Update -- AP stories say that the USA will be eliminated if Japan wins by scoring SEVEN or fewer runs instead of six. However, like an angry math teacher, I would like the people to show their work. If Japan were to score seven in nine innings, then Korea would have surrendered 10 runs in 17 innings, just like the U.S. Then the next tiebreaker, which would be earned runs would come into play. The USA has surrendered 10 earned runs. So far, only Japan has given up an unearned run. So if anyone can explain to me why seven runs is the magic number to eliminate and not six, I'd be glad to find out.
Please show your work for full credit.
The first person to show me definitive proof before I leave to go to Anaheim will win a WBC souvenir of my choosing. Although you can pick the country, subject to availability at the souvenir stands in Anaheim.
Tuesday in the WBC
The first team to make it to the semifinals was settled today, while the other three spots are still up in the air.
WBC Game Chat: Japan vs. Mexico, 4 pm PT
Live from Angel Stadium! This game should be live on ESPN Deportes.
The fate of everyone in the Anaheim Region hangs in the balance with this game.
If Mexico wins, Korea is automatically in the semifinals and Mexico and USA have a winner-take-all game on Thursday.
If Japan wins, the Korea-Japan game could just be a preview of a Saturday semifinal if the score is right (or wrong depending upon your perspective). Fans of the USA would then be rooting for Korea to beat Japan.
Japan will start hard-throwing Daisuke Matsuzaka and Mexico will likely start Esteban Loiaza. Both pitchers gave up just one run in their first starts, against China and Canada respectively.
The Japanese are still smarting from their controversial 4-3 loss to the USA Sunday. The Japanese filed a formal protest over umpire Bob Davidson's call on a tagup play on a fly ball. The protest is symbolic though as the play was a judgment call and not subject to reversal by the WBC organizers.
Mexico lost on Sunday to Korea, 2-1, as they fell victim to the bat of Seong-Yeop Lee (who leads the tournament with five homers) and some excellent pitching and fielding. Mexico managed 10 runs against South Africa and nine against Canada, but were shut out by the USA and scored just one run against Korea.
Japan scored 32 runs against Taiwan and China, but have managed just five against teams with Major League pitchers in Korea and the USA.
So, here's your handy guide on who to root for:
There you have it, 3 out of 4 baseball fans will be pulling for Mexico today in an afternoon affair in Anaheim. Presumably the crowd will predominantly be pro-Mexico, so the Japanese should have their hands full.
FINAL SCORE Japan 6, Mexico 1
WP -- Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0)
Matsuzaka and company throttle Mexico on just three hits. Japan picks up 12 hits and manages six runs despite giving numerous outs on the basepaths and being shaky in the field.
Japan evens its record at 1-1 and sets up a showdown with Korea tomorrow night in Anaheim at 7 pm PT.
If Korea wins, it moves on to the semis. If Japan wins and scores fewer than six runs and Korea scores fewer than seven runs, then both Korea and Japan advance. In other words, a maximum score of 5-4 Japan sends both Asian teams to semis.
Remember also that an extra inning game would benefit both Korea and Japan and hurt the USA as the tiebreaker is runs allowed per inning played on defense. Also, if a game goes 14 innings, it is declared a tie. A tie would send Korea to the semis. The USA would have to beat Mexico to advance.
If Japan beats Korea and scores 7 or more runs, the USA would advance to the semis with a win over Mexico Thursday.
WBC Game Chat: Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, 4 pm PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! Also on ESPN2 live.
Before the WBC started, I predicted that these two teams would meet in the semifinals. They won't. The way the San Juan Region played out, all four teams split their first two games. So the winner of this game goes on to the semifinal Saturday in San Diego and the loser gets to go back to spring training.
Venezuela will start Freddy Garcia and the Dominican Republic will counter with Daniel Cabrera.
D.R. manager Manny Acta will likely go with a lineup similar to the one he used in yesterday's win over Cuba. That means Placido Polanco will get the start at second base and bat leadoff. Ronny Paulino will likely be the starting catcher after his 2-for-2 performance against Cuba. Catcher is the only weak spot in the otherwise powerful Dominican lineup. The D.R. team has hit nine home runs, tied with the U.S. for the tournament high. Adrian Beltre has hit four and David Ortiz has hit three.
Venezuela's offense has been rather spotty and the team has relied on its pitching staff, throwing three shutouts in five games. Miguel Cabrera has homered twice for Venezuela as well as Endy Chavez, who has been one of the few pleasant surprises on offense for Venezuela. Bobby Abreu, Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordoñez have combined for just 7 hits in 52 ABs, although Abreu has managed to draw six walks.
The D.R. pounded Venezuela 11-5 in the opening game of the first round, hitting Carlos Zambrano (who pitched well yesterday) and Carlos Hernandez. Venezuela will want to keep the game close and get the chance to use Francisco Rodriguez in the late innings. Rodriguez represents the one big edge the Venezuelans have as the D.R. has to rely on either Duaner Sanchez or Fernando Rodney to close out the game.
FINAL SCORE Dominican Republic 2, Venezuela 1
WP -- Miguel Batista
Five D.R. pitchers combine to hold Venezuela to just one hit (a double by Omar Vizquel in the 6th) and strike out 11. Sanchez loads the bases in the 9th on two walks and an error, but gets out of it.
The Dominican Republic moves on to the semifinals on Saturday night against the winner of tomorrow's game between Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Oh! The ignominy of it all
The English language version of the Korean paper Chosun Ilbo has an interesting write-up of Korea's 7-3 win over the USA Monday night.
Team USA served up some last-minute fireworks with a three-hit surge that brought in two points. A far cry from the needed comeback, it at least provided a bit of relief for fans who had managed to stick out the heartbreak and unseasonably chilly weather.
Italics are mine.
I'm hoping this story was translated from Korean. Either that or this writer has been reading a lot of Grantland Rice.
Stadiums come and stadiums go
One of the most storied stadiums in baseball's history, Tiger Stadium, may finally facing demolition. Its last hurrah may have been the Bud Bowl party for the Super Bowl last month. If so, what an ignominious end for a proud place.
Monday in the WBC
There were three games in the WBC Monday. And just who is going to end up in the semifinals became sligthly less blurry, but not clear either. And all we know now is that we know now about the teams in the WBC and how the games will play out is not nearly as much as we thought we knew before the tournament started and what we don't know dwarfs that. There is only one team left in the tournament is undefeated, Korea. And it hasn't clinched a spot in the semifinals despite its stellar play.
WBC Game Chat: USA vs. Korea, 7 pm PT
Live from Angel Stadium! ESPN says this game will be shown live in certain markets. Southern California doesn't appear to be one of them. There will be a delayed broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, but at different times. Check your local listings.
Monday's play concludes with a battle between the two unbeatens in the Anaheim Regional. And one of the is undefeated in four games. And much to everyone's surprise, it's not Team USA. It's Korea.
Korea has rode the hot bat of Seung-Yeop Lee, aka "The Lion King", aka "The People's Slugger" (see here). Korean pitchers have held their first four opponents: Taiwan, China, Japan, and Mexico to just a 1.00 ERA. But the hitters have the second lowest OPS of the eight remaining teams starting play today. All four home runs from Korea have been off the bat Seung-Yeop Lee and the last two have been game-winners. The Korean team has five players named Lee.
Team USA has a Lee of its own in Derrek Lee and he's been no slouch in the WBC either. He's hit three home runs and driven in eight. Of players who have appeared in all four games, Ken Griffey leads the team in OPS at 2.333, with the bulk of his production coming against South Africa.
Team USA needed the help of a questionable call on a potential sacrifice fly by umpire Bob Davidson to get past Japan Sunday 4-3 on a 9th inning single by Alex Rodriguez. The Americans were supposed to be rolling through the WBC with little worries, but the team has given its fans a lot of gray hairs.
Tonight's starter for Team USA, Dontrelle Willis, was awful against Canada in his team's 8-6 loss. He got knocked out early and that forced manager Buck Martinez to turn to Al Leiter in relief, who managed to be worse in a shorter period of time.
If Willis is sharp tonight and can contain "The People's Slugger" Lee (who is a lefty), then Korea may have a hard time getting any runs. Korean manager In Sik Kim is starting Min-Han Son (a pitcher who wears #1). Son pitches for the Lotte Giants in Korea. (Not to be confused with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan.) Son won his first start, but it was against China. He may find the bats of the United States a bit formidable.
A win for Team USA would be huge for them because it would put them in a position to possibly dictate their semifinal opponent in its final game against Mexico Thursday since it would know exactly what it has to do. Korea likely is not expecting much from this game and will be saving its big guns for its rematch against Japan Wednesday. Korea is banking on a 2-1 record getting them to the semifinal.
Barring ties, the teams have to finish in one of four patterns:
FINAL SCORE Korea 7, USA 3
WP -- Min-Han Son (2-0)
Willis has second straight bad outing. Lee hits his tournament-leading 5th homer and Choi adds a 3-run pinch homer in the 4th. The USA gets 15 runners on base and score just three times.
Korea is now 5-0 in the tournament and 2-0 in the Anaheim Regional. The USA is 1-1.
So ... if Mexico beats Japan Tuesday, Korea moves on to the semifinals. If Japan wins, there could be a scenario where the US-Mexico could have nothing at stake.
WBC Game Chat: Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico, 6 pm PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! This game is supposed to be on ESPN.
Carlos Zambrano gets the call for Venezuela in an attempt to keep the struggling Venezuelan team's WBC hopes alive. Joel Piñeiro will start for Puerto Rico, which has yet to lose in four games, all of them before an ecstatic home crowd in San Juan.
Puerto Rico has scored 29 runs in four games, second best in the tournament, without the presence of Carlos Delgado in the lineup. They've hit seven home runs, one fewer than the tournament-leading D.R. squad.
On the other hand, Venezuela has managed to score just 15 runs. Ramon Hernandez leads the time with five hits and Miguel Cabrera has hit two home runs. But Bobby Abreu has just three singles and four walks in the first four games. Carlos Guillen has batted in the #2 slot in three of the games and is 1 for 12.
Zambrano was hit hard by the D.R. team in his first game, giving up four runs in 2 2/3 IP.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico seems to be enjoying the WBC experience and thriving off of its home crowd and a different player seems to be the star in each game.
With Cuba losing today to the Dominican Republic, this game, surprisingly is not a must win game for Venezuela. The Venezuelans could lose today, beat the D.R. Tuesday and hope that Puerto Rico beats Cuba Wednesday. That would make Puerto Rico 3-0 and the other three teams 1-2 and the runs allowed tiebreaker would come into play. However, since Venezuela gave up 7 runs to Cuba and the D.R. gave up just 3 to Cuba, the Venezuelans would likely have to pitch a shutout against the D.R. squad to advance in that scenario.
OK, so maybe this is a must win game for Venezuela.
FINAL SCORE Venezuela 6, Puerto Rico 0
WP -- Carlos Zambrano
Venezuela picks up its third shutout in five games and hands Puerto Rico its first loss. All the team in the San Juan Regional are now 1-1.
So ... tomorrow Venezuela plays the D.R. and the winner goes on to the semis. And on Wednesday, Cuba plays Puerto Rico and the winner goes to the semis. This means that the late semifinal on Saturday will be Dominican Republic/Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico/Cuba.
So who's everybody rooting for in the WBC?
From reading the comments that I get in the game chats for the WBC, I've noticed that one of two things must be true:
1) there must be people reading from countries outside the U.S. or people who are recent immigrants
2) American readers who don't want the USA to win
So, here's my question. Who are you rooting for and why? And more specifically, if you're from the USA and you're not rooting for the US team is it because:
I know we've had people from South Africa, Korea, and Japan visit. But I don't think there's been anyone from any of the Latin American countries visiting here. And I really think my Dutch and Italian readership was pretty low. Or nonexistent. Same thing with the Australians.
So among people who are rooting for someone in the WBC should the cheer go "USA! USA! USA!" or should it go "USA? USA? USA?"
Update I'll be periodically bumping this thread up to get more opinions.
WBC Game Chat: Dominican Republic vs. Cuba, 11 am PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! This should be on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The hard-hitting Dominican squad went down meekly Sunday night in a 7-1 loss to Puerto Rico, while Cuba, whom most people (people like me) thought to be overmatched, clobbered Venezuela 7-2.
So the D.R. squad is faced with a game it cannot afford to lose. Odalis Perez gets the call to start in this one. Cuba's starter remains a mystery. All we do know is that it won't be Yadel Marti or Pedro Lazo, both of whom have to sit for the rest of the second round because of pitch limits.
Perez is an emotional pitcher and D.R. manager Manny Acta is going to need to reign him and also advise him to not start out every Cuban hitter with a fast ball, as the Cubans jump on those with great relish.
Whomever gets the start for Cuba will have his hands full. The D.R. bats fell silent Sunday night, but the likes of Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltré won't stay quiet for long. Beltré is tied with Korea's Seong Yeop Lee for the WBC high in home runs with four.
Although second baseman Yulieski Gourriel has been impressing MLB scouts with his play, the big hitter for Cuba has been DH Yoandy (or Yoandry) Garlobo, who is 6 for 11 in the WBC.
Dominican Republic 7, Cuba 3
WP -- Odalis Perez
The Dominican Republic bounced back from a disappointing loss to win fairly easily over Cuba. The D.R. squad parlayed two crucial errors by Cuba into three unearned runs.
Michel Enriquez of Cuba had a day to forget. He went 0 for 4, grounded into two double plays, lined into a third double play and made an error.
Sunday in the WBC
The second round of the WBC got off to a somewhat surprising and controversial start Sunday.
WBC Game Chat: México vs Korea, 8 pm PT
Live from Angel Stadium! Also on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
The final game of the day might draw a sizeable crowd in Anaheim despite the cool weather as both teams are well-represented among the many ethnic groups of Southern California. México's presence no doubt delights Angels owner Arte Moreno who is trying hard to increase his team's Latino fan base.
México manager Pequin Estrada hadn't settled on a starter, but Rodrigo Lopez started México's first game against the USA and pitched well. Korean manager In Sik Kim will start either Chan Ho Park, who had two saves in the opening round, or Jae Seo.
It may not be a high-scoring affair as both teams have had good pitching and the weather is likely to be chilly in Anaheim and there should be a lot of fly balls dying on the warning track.
FINAL SCORE Korea 2, México 1
WP -- Jae Seo
WBC Game Chat: Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic, 5 pm PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! Also live on ESPN Deportes and will show up on ESPN2 at some time as they are changing the schedule on the fly.
They will be staying up late in San Juan as this game is starting at 9 pm local time. Javier Vazquez will start for Puerto Rico with Bartolo Colón starting for the Dominican Republic team.
It should be a very noisy crowd despite the late starting time as both teams have some of the most passionate fans in the world.
The big bats of the D.R. lineup, Pujols, Ortiz, Beltré, Alou, and Tejada, should enjoy batting at hitter-friendly Hiram Bithorn. Puerto Rico will counter with hitters like Carlos Beltran and Pudge Rodriguez, but are more concerned if Carlos Delgado will finally play. Delgado sat out the first round with a sore left elbow. If he starts, the lineup will be reshuffled because Bernie Williams, playing DH, was used as the leadoff man. Williams would sit if Delgado started and Javy Lopez would DH. It's possible that Puerto Rico manager Jose Oquendo might use Alex Cora in the leadoff spot as an homage to his own career.
But whomever is starting for Puerto Rico may not be important unless the Boricuas can put points up on the board as fast as the Dominican team should.
FINAL SCORE Puerto Rico 7, Dominican Republic 1
WP -- Javier Vazquez
After Beltré's home run, the powerful D.R. offense was shut down. Meanwhile the Boricuas piled up 13 hits, three each by Javy Lopez and Jose Cruz. Carlos Delgado sat out the game.
WBC Game Chat: Japan vs USA, 1 pm PT
Live from Angel Stadium This game should be live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN2. Your TV listings might say something else, but that's what ESPN is stating on air.
Jake Peavy takes the mound for Team USA against Koji Uehara of Japan. On a 2004 tour of Japan, Peavy won two games for an MLB all-star squad. But Uehara also pitched well on the same tour against the MLB hitters.
After almost being eliminated with an 8-6 loss to Canada, Team USA bounced back with a 17-0 win over South Africa. Japan destroyed China and Taiwan in its first two games and then lost to Korea 3-2. The Japanese hitters didn't show much in exhibition games against Texas and Milwaukee.
The game might not feature a lot of scoring and won't be played in the greatest conditions. It's been cold and rainy in Southern California recently, but the weather should be OK for Sunday's games. There hasn't been much talk about the tournament in Southern California papers, so just how many people show up for this game will be interesting. There is only one Angel on Team USA and that's Scot Shields, who is not exactly the most well-known local player. There are no Dodgers on Team USA and Peavy is the only Padre.
FINAL SCORE USA 4, Japan 3
WP -- Brad Lidge
In a tense game in Anaheim, the U.S. rallies from 3 runs down thanks to homers from Jones and Lee. It was Jones's 2nd and Lee's 3rd. Ichiro led off the game with a homer.
Japan loaded the bases in the 8th and 9th and failed to score. Tyusoshi Nishioka appeared to have scored on a sacrifice fly by Akiniro Iwamura to left, but the umpires ruled Nishioka out on appeal for leaving too soon.
Japan loaded the bases again in the ninth, but Brad Lidge got Hitoshi Tamura to strike out. The USA loaded the bases again in the ninth and with two outs, Alex Rodriguez singled in the winning run.
WBC Game Chat: Cuba vs Venezuela, 10 am PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! This game should be live on ESPN Deportes and on ESPN at 11 pm PT.
Round two starts with a game in the San Juan Region between longtime international power Cuba, runnerup in Pool C versus the strong pitching of Venezuela, the runnerup in Pool D.
Cuban manager Higinio Velez, still smarting from a 12-2 pounding by Puerto Rico on Friday, has held off on naming a starting pitcher. The only player you can bank on is second baseman Yulieski Gourriel, who has been Cuba's hitting star in the tournament. He's 4 for 11, but he has two doubles and a home run. Third baseman Michel Enriquez has been hit by pitches four times.
Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo isn't as secretive. He will be sending out Johán Santana as his starting pitcher. Santana gave up two runs, one earned, in 3 1/3 innings against the Dominican Republic. Venezuela's offense has been sputtering a bit considering its level of competition. After scoring five runs against the Dominican Republic, Venezuela scored six against Italy and only two against Australia, despite receiving 12 walks. Venezuela's pitchers gave up just three hits to Italy and Australia.
Cuba won its opener, 8-6 in 11 innings against Panamá and cruised 8-3 past the Netherlands, before Puerto Rico took them to school Friday.
Cuba is going to need to find a pitcher who can hold down Venezuela and somehow find a way to score against Santana, who is a far better pitcher than anyone pitching in Cuba right now.
FINAL SCORE Cuba 7, Venezuela 2
Cuba manages to scratch one run off of Santana through five innings and then Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo opts to bring in Giovanni Carrara to relieve. Cuba pounces on him for five runs to break the game open and give Cuba a surprising win.
WBC Round 2 preview or Hey, I'm making this up as best I can!
The World Baseball Classic moves in to its second round Sunday with just eight teams left. Only one team that was eliminated had a winning record in the first round: Canada. Four teams were winless: Panama, Australia, South Africa, and China. The other three (Italy, Netherlands, and Taiwan) were able to scrape out one win for pride.
The eight teams left are now split into two groups, imaginatively called Pool 1 and Pool 2, but I prefer to call them the Anaheim Regional (Pool 1) and the San Juan Regional (Pool 2) because it's March and I'm in a college basketball sort of mood.
The biggest baseball news of the spring!
Scott Elarton has been named the opening day starter for the Royals! The fifth different one in five years: Jeff Suppan, Runelvys Hernandez, Brian Anderson, Jose Lima, and now Elarton.
Friday in the WBC
A brief wrapup as it's late as I took in a Pac-10 tournament doubleheader and game two between Cal and Oregon went into two overtimes.
The Elite Eight of the WBC is now complete:
Later today, I'll post my preview of Round Two and I think I've learned not to predict anything with any certainty although my picks for the Elite Eight were right. But the tournament certainly hasn't gone exactly to form.
WBC Game Chat: Puerto Rico vs. Cuba, 4:30 pm PT
Both teams have already advanced to the second round's San Juan Regional and will play again on March 15. All this game determines is who plays Venezuela in the afternoon of March 12 and who plays the Dominican Republic in the evening.
However, expect an interesting game. Both teams will probably be trying to conserve their pitching, but the game is something of a regional grudge match. Interest in the Cuban team is very high in Puerto Rico and this game should be sold out. Cuba has been accusing Puerto Rico of fomenting protest against the Cuban team. Cuba seems to enjoy its "us against them" attitude.
Cuba's starting pitcher hasn't been determined. Puerto Rico will start Kiko Calero, normally a reliever, on the mound, but the game is likely going to be a parade of pitchers.
WBC Game Chat: Australia vs. Dominican Republic, 4 pm PT
Pool D finishes play with a matchup between its champ and the team that has performed the worst in the tournament.
The Dominican Republic has slugged a tournament-high seven home runs (although no other extra base hits) in winning its first two games easily: 11-5 over the Dominican Republic and 8-3 over Italy.
Meanwhile Australia has yet to tally a run in 16 innings of play, losing a 7-inning game to Italy 10-0 and getting shut out by Venezuela 2-0 Thursday. The Australian hitters are just 2 for 48 in the WBC.
Vladimir Guerrero was first reported yesterday as rejoining the D.R. team today, but Guerrero has said that he won't play.
The D.R. starters should be either Daniel Cabrera or Francisco Liriano with Damian Moss starting for Australia. The Dominican Republic will be playing in the San Juan Regional starting Sunday against either Puerto Rico or Cuba.
WBC Game Chat: USA vs South Africa, noon PT
In what was supposed to be a warmup game before the second round has turned into a must win game for Team USA. Not many people would expect that the almost entirely amateur team from South Africa would have the slightest chance of beating the millionaires of Team USA, but the game is on the schedule and the USA has to win or else they're out of the tournament.
Roger Clemens will get the start for the American side. No starter for South Africa had been named, but South Africa manager Rick Magnante will be taking applications.
The U.S. defeated Mexico in its opener 2-0, but then lost to Canada 8-6. But Mexico's 9-1 pounding of Canada Friday sent Mexico on to the Anaheim Regional second round. South Africa almost pulled off an upset of Canada, but lost in the 9th, 11-8. Mexico defeated South Africa 10-4.
Most would think that the best South Africa can hope for is to avoid having the game shortened by the mercy rule. The US team isn't going to take South African lightly. But you still have to play the game.
Interestingly despite a few apparent mismatches in the tournament, only three games have ended early. Japan had two shortened wins over China and Taiwan and Italy had a surprisingly short 10-0 win over Australia. Two days later, Australia fell to Venezuela, 2-0.
MERCY! United States 17, South Africa 0 in 5 innings.
WP - Roger Clemens
South Africa did manage two hits off of the US pitchers (one off of Clemens and the second off of Mike Timlim). This put them ahead of Panama which got no hits in 7 innings today against Shairon Martis. And Australia has just two hits in two games!
The U.S. moves on to the Anaheim Regional and will play Sunday at 1 pm PT against Japan. Jake Peavy expected to start for the U.S. Japan will likely start Koji Uehara if they stick to their rotation from the first round.
WBC Game Chat: Netherlands vs Panamá, 10 am PT
Well, somebody has to win this game. Panamá lost to Puerto Rico 2-1 and to Cuba 8-6 in 11 innings. The Netherlands lost to Puerto Rico 8-3 and to Cuba 11-2.
The Dutch will start a 19-year old named Shairon Martis. Panama will start Miguel Gomez. Andruw Jones is not in the starting lineup for the Dutch.
After the game is over, the teams will get together and swap canal stories. Panamá has the more famous one, but the Dutch make up for that with quantity.
MERCY! Netherlands 10, Panama 0 ended after 7 innings.
Complete game no-hitter for Shairon Martis. Panama had just two baserunners, a walk by Olmedo Saenz and Adolfo Rivera reached on an error by Ivanon Coffie. Orlando Miller committed three errors and the Dutch scored five unearned runs.
No home runs in the game.
WP - Shairon Martis
Thursday in the WBC
The "Elite Eight" (to borrow an NCAA tournament phrase since it's March) is almost full. The Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico joined Japan and Korea in the second round and there's just one spot left to fill.
A commentary on baseball in Taiwan
The China Post editorializes on the state of Taiwanese baseball. And the outlook is not rosy.
It is hard to give a complete explanation for the poor showings of the Taiwan team in the World Baseball Classic. However, there is little doubt that baseball in Taiwan has remained where it was or even slipped back while the same sport has progressed in our Asian neighbors.
Once they pull him back in, he goes out (Vladimir Guerrero)
Earlier today, there were reports that Vladimir Guerrero would rejoin the Dominican Republic team in the WBC.
"Not so fast my friend"
Guerrero says he hasn't changed his mind and he won't play in the WBC.
WBC Game Chat: Cuba vs Netherlands, 4 pm PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn! On ESPN Deportes live only.
The Dutch try to stay alive in the WBC, but they will have their hands full with Cuba. Diego Markwell will start for the Dutch while the Cuban starter is still on a "need to know" basis at this time. And I don't need to know apparently.
While Andruw Jones is supposed to be the Dutch star, more people will be interested in seeing Cuba's second baseman Yulieski Gourriel.
If Cuba wins, both Cuba and Puerto Rico move on to the second round next week in San Juan. If the Netherlands wins, then the Friday games will have meaning.
Final score Cuba 11, Netherlands 2
WP -- Ormari Romero
HRs -- Yoandy Garlobo, Osmani Urrutia
Cuba and Puerto Rico clinch spots in the second round. They play each other Friday in San Juan at 4:30 pm PT. The Neterlands will play Panamá at 10 am PT.
WBC Game Chat: Venezuela vs. Australia, 5 pm PT
Live from Lake Buena Vista, Florida! On ESPN Deportes at 7:30 pm PT.
This game, which promises to be one of the bigger mismatches in the tournament, could be meaningless before it starts.
Australia lost a 10-0 mercy rule-shortened game to Italy on Tuesday and had just one hit. And now the Aussies are facing a far better pitching staff. Kelvim Escobar will start for Venezuela with Phil Brassington piching for Australia.
If the Australians get the game to nine innings, they will have a moral victory. But it won't get easier for the Aussies as they have to face the Dominican Republic Friday.
Australia won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, so they are not unfamiliar with the world stage.
It's quite possible that all of Friday's games will not have any effect on who makes it to the second round, although the Puerto Rico-Cuba game should be interesting regardless.
Final Score Venezuela 2, Australia 0
WP -- Kelvim Escobar
The Australians made a better show of it with their pitching, giving up only two runs, but they did surrender 12 walks. But for the second straight game, they managed just one hit.
Venezuela joins the Dominican Republic in advancing from Pool C. The Dominican Republic plays Australia tomorrow at 4 pm PT, but has already clinched first place.
Venezuela's next game will be on March 12 against the loser of Friday's Cuba-Puerto Rico game. That will be Pool 2 play in San Juan. The Dominican Republic will play the same day against the winner of Cuba-Puerto Rico.
WBC Game Chat: Mexico vs. Canada, 5 pm PT
Live from Chase Field! On ESPN Deportes at 11 pm PT and ESPN at midnight PT.
This game is essentially a must win game for both teams despite Canada being 2-0 and Mexico being 1-1. The way the tiebreakers work out, Canada will advance to the second round with a win or a loss where they give up just one or two runs. Mexico advances with a win or a loss paired with an unlikely loss by the US to South Africa on Friday by seven or more runs. If Mexico beats Canada and scores three or more runs, Mexico and the US advance. Another twist is that if the game ends in a tie after 14 innings, Canada moves on to the second round in Anaheim and Mexico would only be able to advance if the U.S. lost to South Africa.
Jeff Francis will start for Canada and Esteban Loaiza will be on the mound for Mexico. Not that the two countries have a big rivalry, but this is the biggest baseball games these two nations have ever played against each other.
Canada has shown it can hit, scoring 19 runs in its first two games. Mexico was shut out by the U.S., but managed 10 runs against South Africa.
If anyone is thinking that somehow Canada will try to play for 1-0 or 2-1 win, I don't think it's likely. It's just too hard to do in baseball. You can't run out the clock.
The FIFA World Cup has had some shady dealings with teams manipulating final scores to gain advantages. One of the ones I remember was at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
Group 2 had West Germany, Austria, Algeria, and Chile in it. West Germany opened up against Algeria and lost in a stunning 2-1 upset. Austria beat Chile and Austria in its next two matches while West Germany bounced back to rout Chile 4-1 in its next match.
The last matches were set for June 24 and June 25. Algeria played Chile on the 24th and won 3-2. That left the Algerians were four points, but had a goal difference of zero. Austria and West Germany played on the 25th and Austria came in to the match with four points and +3 in goals. West Germany had two points and were +2. So if West Germany were able to beat Austria in a low-scoring match, the two neighbors would be through to the second round and Algeria would be out.
And what was the final result? West Germany 1, Austria 0. Germany scored 10 minutes in to the games and for the next 80 minutes the two sides wandered around the field with a general lack of enthusiasm. The Algerians were perturbed that Austria didn't even appear to try. The press dubbed the game Anschluss 1982. Germany would go on to lose to Italy in the final.
WBC Game Chat:Italy vs Dominican Republic, 10 am PT
Live from Lake Buena Vista, Florida On ESPN Deportes live and ESPN2 at 11 pm PT.
In what looks to be the last roundup for Italy, Tony Fiore hopes that he will fare better against the powerful bats of the Dominican Republic, who battered around the likes of Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano of Venezuela on Tuesday. Odalis Perez will start for the D.R. squad.
With a win, the D.R. advances to the second round in San Juan and can play the JV squad Friday against Australia. If Italy can pull off a miracle worthy of canonization, then they have to hope that Venezuela gives up a bunch of runs to Australia later in the day, which would be a bigger miracle.
Wednesday in the WBC
WBC Game Chat: South Africa vs. México, 6 pm PT
México thought it did well to hold the US to just two runs Tuesday, but they still lost 2-0. South Africa thought it did a great job to score eight runs against Canada Tuesday, but they still lost 11-8. And now both teams face a must-win game. And for México, the pressure is much greater as no one expects South Africa to win a game or even go nine innings, although the South Africans led Canada 8-7 in the ninth Tuesday night.
Francisco Campos will get the start for México. He's a Mexican League veteran, who has also had a few seasons in AAA. Campos is nicknamed "Pancho" or sometimes "Pancho Ponches" (Pancho Strikeouts).
México will likely benefit from the fact that South Africa used any pitcher that was remotely good Tuesday night and manager Rick Magnante will really need to pull off a miracle to win this one. Darryn Smith, a 30-year old with Olympic experience, is the tentative starter for South Africa.
If México wins as expected and Canada loses as expected that will set up an elimination game Thursday between the two countries to see who will advance to the second round in Anaheim.
WBC Tie or No Tie
Mexico, Canada and the U.S. could all finish 2-1 in their World Baseball Classic pool (Pool B). Here are the WBC tiebreaking procedures when head-to-head competition doesn't determine which two teams will advance:
You can see that the official WBC standings track these tiebreakers. It's not run differential that matters, but pitching, followed by batting average (and you thought that stat was dead), followed by Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.
All other things being equal, a good-pitch, no-hit team has the advantage over a good-hit, no-pitch team in a tiebreaker situation.
In any event, Team USA's shutout of Mexico on Tuesday, while Canada was allowing eight runs to South Africa, has kept the Mid-North Americans in line for Round 2 advancement, even with today's loss. Canada and Mexico will probably be playing, as expected, for the other spot from Pool B. (This all assumes South Africa will go 0-3.) Correction: Runs allowed to South Africa are irrelevant in this scenario, as long as the other three teams finish 2-1. So right now, the U.S. does have reason to fret - if Mexico beats Canada in a low-scoring game, the U.S. could be out of it.
WBC Game Chat: Puerto Rico vs. Netherlands, 4:30 pm PT
The Dutch team, which consists of players from Dutch possessions in the Caribbean as well as the European continent, makes its WBC debut against 1-0 Puerto Rico in Pool C play.
Puerto Rico eked out a 2-1 win over Panamá on Tuesday thanks to an Alex Rios home run and an RBI single from Bernie Williams. The big question mark for Puerto Rico is the health of Carlos Delgado, who is battling tendinitis in his left elbow. If Delgado sits again, Williams should get another start at DH.
The Dutch, managed by former Yankee Robert Eenhorn, will start Rob Cordemans on the mound while Puerto Rico is expected to start Seattle Mariner Joel Piñeiro.
Andruw Jones is the star hitter for the Netherlands (and he can even speak Dutch), but after Jones, the pickings get slim with guys like Randall Simon and Eugene Kingsale expected to compete with the likes of Carlos Beltran and Pudge Rodriguez.
WBC Game Chat: Italy vs. Venezuela, 4 pm PT
It's a must-win game for one of these teams and it's not Italy. Italy won a mercy-rule shortened 10-0 pounding over Australia Tuesday. Venezuela, with the most highly regarded pitching staff in the tournament, got pounded by the Dominican Republic 11-5 as David Ortiz and Adrian Beltré each hit a pair of home runs.
Freddy Garcia will start for Venezuela in an attempt to restore order. Tony Armas Jr. and Kelvim Escobar are also expected to pitch. Italy will start Red Sox pitcher Lenny DiNardo. Italy used just two pitchers against Australia, but may have to send out more of them today.
Italy should be a big underdog in this one, but last night's Canada-South Africa game has made me not feel so sure about anything right now.
We interrupt your game chat for this Alex Cintron update
The White Sox have acquired Alex Cintron from Arizona in exchange for Jeff Bajenaru.
Cintron is playing for Puerto Rico presently in the WBC.
WBC Game Chat: Canada vs USA, 1 pm PT
Both teams won their openers, but in much different ways.
The USA used some of the best pitching seen in the tournament so far to completely shut down Mexico, 2-0. Meanwhile, Canada needed 8 South African wild pitches and 3 errors to help stave off an upset with an 11-8 win that might have drained the team's pitching staff.
Dontrelle Willis will get the call to start for the U.S. while Adam Loewen will pitch for Canada. It could be that Canadian manager Ernie Whitt has written off this game as a lost cause and may be saving his big guns for Thursday's crucial game against Mexico. Al Leiter is the scheduled second pitcher of the game for the U.S. Relievers Gary Majewksi, Scot Shields, Huston Street, and Brian Fuentes also haven't pitched. Roger Clemens is expected to start on Friday against South Africa.
The U.S. offense produced just two runs against Mexico, both on solo home runs by Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones.
Holy Paul Henderson!
Canada 8, United States 6
WP -- Adam Loewen
The US team gets a day off to lick its wounds (and they're considerable) before facing South Africa in a must-win game on Friday at noon PT in Scottsdale.
Canada plays Mexico in what is now a "highly preferable to win" game instead of "must win" game Thursday at 5 pm PT in Phoenix.
WBC Game Chat: Cuba vs. Panamá, 10 am PT
Cuba makes its much-awaited WBC debut against the 0-1 Panamanian squad. Cuba's starting pitcher was unknown as I wrote this. Panamá was going to start Bruce Chen in a must-win game in Pool C.
Panamá got some excellent pitching against Puerto Rico, but their bats failed them with Olmedo Saenz and Carlos Lee combining to go 1 for 8.
Cuba's team is younger than most they have sent out to international tournaments so they are very much the X-factor in the whole tournament.
Final Score Cuba 8, Panamá 6, 11 innings.
WP -- Yuneski Maya
HRs -- Yulieski Gourriel, Ruben Rivera
Clemens may or may not retire and is it news?
Bob Nightengale of USA Today has an interview with Roger Clemens where the Rocket states that he will likely retire after the conclusion of the WBC. Or he might not.
This is not unlike Barry Bonds making the same "announcement" to Nightengale back on February 19.
I'm going to call up Nightengale and tell him that I might or might not get a chicken burrito for lunch. But I may change my mind and get Chinese food.
Snippets of an E-Mail Exchange
Cliff: ... Bob Sheppard. He's been announcing Yankee games since 1951.
Bob: I read that Sheppard is a lector at daily Mass at his local Catholic parish church. That really makes him "The Voice of God."
Cliff: Can you imagine? The sound of that might even make me a believer.
Bob: Your attention please. Your attention please. Replacing Paul's Second Letter to the Thessolonians, the Acts of the Apostles. Acts of the Apostles."
Tuesday in the WBC
The first day somewhat went to form except for the final game of the night.
Game 1 of the day at Lake Buena Vista, Florida matched up two of the powerhouse teams of the tournament: Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The game was a matchup between the power of the D.R. and the pitching of Venezuela.
And it was the power of the Dominican Republic that prevailed in a 11-5 win in Pool D. David Ortiz and Adrian Beltré each hit two home runs and that offset homers by Miguel Cabrera (who narrowly missed a second) and Edgardo Alfonzo. A 5-run ninth secured the win.
The second game took us to Phoenix where the USA took on Mexico at Chase Field. The USA got solo home runs from Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones in a 2-0 win in Pool B. USA manager Buck Martinez trotted out seven pitchers who gave up just four hits, walking none while striking out nine.
Game 3 took us to San Juan where the home country (or commonwealth if you will) team, Puerto Rico, edged past Panamá for a 2-1 win in Pool C
Panamá scored a run in the fourth when catcher Carlos Ruiz drew a bases-loaded walk, but left the bases loaded. In the fifth, Puerto Rico tied the game on a home run by Alex Rios and then took the lead when leadoff man Bernie Williams, who started only because Carlos Delgado had a sore elbow, singled home Alex Cintron.
After that, Puerto Rico kept the Panamanians under wraps.
Game 4 brought us back to Lake Buena Vista for a matchup between Australia and Italy in Pool D. With neither team expected to have a chance against D.R. or Venezuela, this was a big game. But it turned into no contest as Italy battered Australia for a 1--0 win shortened to 7 innings by the mercy rule.
Australia could manage just one hit (a double by Trent Durrington) while Italy had 12, including home runs by Mark Saccommano and Vincent Sinisi. The three Italian major leaguers in the lineup: Frank Menechino, Frank Catalanotto and Mike Piazza were a combined 5 for 12. Detroit Tigers picher Jason Grilli went 4 2/3 innings for the win.
Game 5 took us to Scottsdale, Arizona for the second game in Pool B. Canada was taken on the supposed easy marks of the tournament, South Africa, but the game hardly went to form.
The game was scoreless through four. Canada broke through for three runs thanks in part to an error by third baseman Jonathan Phillips. But in the bottom of the fourth, Canada brought in veteran reliever Paul Quantrill, who was awful.
Quantrill gave up a single and then walked a batter and hit a third to load the bases for shortstop Brett Willemburg, who cleared the bases with a double. One batter later, Canadian shortstop Pete Orr misplayed Nicholas Dempsey's grounder and Willemburg scored to put RSA up 4-3.
The 4-3 lead held through the sixth, but in the seventh, Canada struck back. Jason Bay and Justin Morneau had back-to-back doubles to tie the score. One batter later, Corey Koskie smacked a 2-run home run to put Canada up 6-4. Pete LaForest doubled and then moved to third on a wild pitch by 17-year old South African pitcher Jared Elario. Matt Rogelstad ran for LaForest and scored on another wild pitch by Elario. In all, South African pitchers threw eight wild pitches. Catcher Willem Kemp also had a passed ball.
In the bottom of the seventh, South Africa got a run back and trailed 7-5 and took that score into the eighth. Chris Reitsma came into pitch the eighth for Canada and walked Kyle Botha and then hit Jason Cook with a pitch. Shannon Ekermans singled to load the bases. Ian Butcher struck out, but Paul Bell, who go for 3 for 3 and reach first safely five times, doubled home three runs to put South Africa up 8-7 going to the ninth, three outs away from an improbable upset.
But it was not to be. Elario was still pitching and clearly had nothing left. Ryan Radaminovich led off with a wind-blown triple. Adam Stern followed with a sharp double down the rightfield line to tie the game at 8-8. Orr sacrificed, but Phillips threw the ball away and Stern scored and Orr went to second. Three wild pitches and an RBI double by Sebastian Boucher made it 11-8 and Jesse Crain held off South Africa in the ninth. Box Score
WBC Game Chat: Canada vs. South Africa, 6 pm PT
Live from Scottsdale Stadium! ESPN Deportes will start showing this at 7:30 pm PT and ESPN2 at 11:30 pm.
This is the game that Canada must win and preferably in fewer than to get ready for Wednesday's matchup against the U.S. in Pool B.
Canada manager Ernie Whitt is leaning toward Eric Bedard as his starter. South Africa manager Rick Magnante plans to call on Carl Michaels.
Since South Africa remember the mercy rule in place for the early rounds.
The game is over if:
Canada's likely lineup:
Final Score Canada 11, South Africa 8
WP - Chris Reitsma
HR - Corey Koskie
Tomorrow Canada takes on the US at 1 pm PT in Phoenix while South Africa faces Mexico in Scottsdale at 6 pm PT
WBC Game Chat: Australia vs. Italy, 5 pm PT
Live from Lake Buena Vista, Florida! This will only be on ESPN Deportes at 11 pm PT
Ahh, when these two nations get together to duke it out, you can expect... something. There aren't a lot of sports where these nations compete against each other directly although both made the FIFA World Cup this summer in Germany. This game is likely the only one that either team has a chance to win as they are stuck in Group D with Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Italy's manager Matt Galante will start Jason Grilli of Detroit. Australia manager Jon Deeble will start John Stephens.
Italy was able to fill its rosters with a few, for lack of a better word, ringers in Mike Piazza, Frank Menechino, and Frank Catalanotto. John Smoltz declined a spot for Italy as did David Delluci, but not Dustin Delucchi.
Australia has Justin Huber and Trent Durrington to lead the offense. And Dave Nilsson is back!
The Aussies are upset over some of the ringers on the Italian team. They should be more upset that they are in the same group as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Final Score Italy 10, Australia 0, 7 innings, mercy rule
WP - Jason Grilli
HRs - Mark Saccommano, Vince Sinisi
Italy plays Venezuela Wednesday at 4 pm PT. Australia's next game will be Thursday at 5 pm PT against Venezuela.
WBC Game Chat: Panamá vs Puerto Rico, 4 pm PT
Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan! The game is being televised on ESPN Deportes live and on ESPN at midnight PT.
Javier Vázquez will be starting for Puerto Rico and Panama will start Lenin Picota, a 39-year old, who has pitched in Taiwan.
The big question mark for Puerto Rico is the health of Carlos Delgado who is battling tendinitis in his left elbow. If Delgado can't play, Javy Lopez will start at first and Bernie Williams will DH. If Delgado plays, Lopez DHs and Williams comes in off the bench.
Cuba starts play tomorrow against Panamá and Puerto Rico will play the Netherlands Wednesday as well in Pool C.
Update - Delgado is sitting the game out. Bernie Williams starts at DH and leads off! Javy Lopez plays first and bats cleanup behind Carlos Beltran.
Final Score Puerto Rico 2, Panamá 1
WP - Jose Santiago
Bernie Williams goes 2 for 3 in the leadoff spot as the DH and drives in the winning run.
On Wednesday, Panamá plays Cuba at 10 am PT. Puerto Rico takes on the Netherlands at 4:30 pm PT.
WBC Game: USA vs. México, 1 pm PT
Live from Chase Field in Phoenix. The game is being televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
Jake Peavy takes to the hill for the U.S. against Rodrigo Lopez for México.
The planned U.S. lineup by manager Buck Martinez
México manager Francisco Estrada will likely go with this lineup:
Final United States 2, Mexico 0
HRs - Derrek Lee, Chipper Jones
The game was over in 2:06 as U.S. pitchers threw just 88 pitches and 66 were for strikes. The U.S. struck out nine Mexican batters and got them to ground into three DPs.
The U.S. takes on Canada next tomorrow at 1 pm PT in Phoenix. Mexico plays South Africa at 6 pm PT tomorrow in Scottsdale.
WBC Game Chat: Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela, 10 am PT
Live from Lake Buena Vista, Florida! The game is being televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
Pool D gets underway with a clash of the two Caribbean titans. Bartolo Colón will face Johán Santana and then expect a parade of relievers.
Manny Acta will send out this starting lineup for the Dominican Republic:
Luis Sojo has this starting lineup for Venezuela
It's quite likely these teams could face each other three times: this game, again in the second round and again in the semifinals
Final Score: Dominican Republic 11, Venezuela 5
WP - Colón
HRs - Ortiz 2, Beltre 2, Cabrera, Alfonzo
The Dominican Republic scored off of all five Venezuelan pitchers. Miguel Batista gave up 4 of the 5 for the Dominican Republic.
Venezuela plays Italy next on Wednesday.
Kirby Puckett: 1960-2006
Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett passed away today in Phoenix after a stroke. Puckett was 44 years old.
Earlier references (including Baseball-reference.com) stated that Puckett was born in 1961, but the New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, and ESPN state he was born in 1960.
My mom was a big baseball fan, but she was stricly a National League fan. I remember back in 1987, she called me up when she was watching the ALCS and asked me "What in the world is a Kirby Puckett?" I don't think she had ever seen a baseball player built like Puckett.
Batgirl's tribute, thanks to Linkmeister.
Team Canada hard at work, in a Canadian sort of way
Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports on the impromptu street hockey game played by Team Canada in Dunedin, Florida after finishing their daily workout.
Instead of Gatorade, they drank Molson Golden on the bench between shifts. Ryan Radmanovich's Shirts swept the best-of-three series by identical 5-3 scores over Justin Morneau's Skins.
Presumably, the Canadians will take it a bit more seriously in their opening game against South Africa in the WBC Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona. After all, Équipe Canada ne regarde pas au-delà du match d'ouverture.
As for Team USA, Al Leiter says he will likely retire after the WBC. Yankee fans weep no doubt.
Most infuriating pitcher in my recent memory retires
Kirk Rueter has decided to finally hang 'em up and isn't pursusing a job with any major league team. And it's likely no one is pursuing him either.
I saw that Rueter is infuriating because I can't think of a pitcher who ever won as often (lifetime record of 138-92) with so little to offer as a pitcher.
Rueter struck out more than 100 in a season only twice, in 1997 and 1998 when he struck out 115 and 102 respectively. His career ERA+ was 97 and he spent a good chunk of his career in "Large Telecom Company-themed" park in San Francisco. But in Rueter's last two seasons, he went 11-19 and had an ERA over 5.
He even got lucky as a batter in the 2002 World Series. Do you remember this 5th inning from Game 4 of the 2002 World Series (courtesy of Retrosheet)
GIANTS 5TH: Rueter singled to pitcher; high chopper, funny
Baseball's ears will get smaller now.
South Africa, the WBC's real underdogs
Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail interviews Lee Smith about the South African team in the WBC.
The South Africans are the longest of the long shots. The roster on the WBC site doesn't list ages for all the players, but there are teenagers on the squad. And there is no doubt that catcher Bradley Erasmus will be wondering why he decided to get involved in this folly.
South Africa starts play Tuesday with a game against Canada at 6 pm PT in Scottsdale, AZ. Carl Michaels will start for South Africa while Adam Loewen will be the likely starter for Canada.
The nation of South Africa will just have to settle for winning the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars.
Maury Brown examines the recent HOF vote -- added info
Maury Brown in the Hardball Times takes a closer examination at the voting process for the recent Negro Leagues induction for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
So, what are we left with? Unfortunately, it seems that the Hall is in a no-win situation. There seem to be cases that could be made for inducting both O'Neil and Miñoso, but not under the criteria of the Special Committee vote. Certainly in the case of O'Neil, there could be consideration of an alternative method for induction based on his "contributions to the game."
And an ESPN Insider column Rob Neyer defends the committee and also contrasts the election of Effa Manley against other executives who aren't in the Hall of Fame, such as Walter O'Malley, Jacob Ruppert, and Barney Dreyfuss.
I think O'Malley's omission from the Hall of Fame is one of the more inexplicable decisions in HOF history. But as long as the myth of the idyllic and beloved Brooklyn Dodgers and their fans, who apparently were specially touched by the baseball gods and endowed with magical powers that separated them from mere mortals, then O'Malley's plaque will not be going up in Cooperstown.
Ruppert and O'Malley are two owners that the other owners should be grateful for as they helped transform baseball ownership from being a small-time operation into a license to print money if done correctly.
Dodgers and Padres fans breathe easier
David Wells has decided that he no longer wants to be traded to the West Coast and he intends to finish the season in Boston and then retire.
The "Third Man" to join Miller and Morgan
The dynamic duo of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on ESPN Sunday night baseball games will likely become a trio in 2006, according to Michael Hiestand of USA Today as Peter Gammons will be joining the crew.
Gammons may be in the booth or be a roving reporter in the stands. Regardless, The Score Bard is standing by.
Aussies set up pitching rotation
Team Australia manager Jon Deeble has set up his rotation for the WBC.
John Stephens starts the first game against Italy. This is also known as "the game Australia might win."
Phil Brassington will start against Venezuela. This is also known as "the game the Australians hope goes 9 innings."
Finally Damian Moss will start against the Dominican Republic. This is also known as "the game the Australians hope doesn't end up as bad as the one against Venezuela did."
USA! USA! USA!
Team USA, in its lone warmup before Tuesday's first WBC game, defeats the Giants 11-7.
Chase Utley went 5-for-5 with a 2-run homer in the 8th to put Team USA ahead.
In other exhibition games today, The Dominican Republic beat the Astros, 12-8.
The Braves shut out The Netherlands, 4-0.
Puerto Rico beat the Mets, 6-1.
The Red Sox beat Australia, 3-0.
Venezuela beat Philadelphia 1-0.
Italy lost to Detroit 6-5.
South Africa lost to Oakland 13-1.
Mexico beat Arizona 6-1.
There's a shortage of catchers
Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com claims that there is a catcher shortage in the majors.
Various plans in place to remedy this situation:
1) Work with our top scientists to develop alternative forms of baseball catchers
Steinbrenner frets over injuries, but Castro frets over
Possible defections of his Cuban players while participating in the WBC.
Cuban fans aren't optimistic about the team's chances for success.
Marlins cut ties with Pokey Reese
After dropping out of camp for a couple of days, the Marlins have released Pokey Reese.
Dan Uggla is now the frontrunner for the second base job with the Marlins.
Kirby Puckett hospitalized with stroke
Kirby Puckett suffered a stroke at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was scheduled to have surgery at a Scottsdale area hospital.
The last time ever I led the league ...
I recently received my 2006 copy of the Complete Baseball Record & Fact Book by the Sporting News. I get a free copy because I volunteered to track the Dodger team records set last year. And that was an easy job with the 2005 Dodgers.
There are charts of yearly leaders in major batting and pitching categories. I thought it was interesting to look at which categories have gone the longest without a reprsentative from a team or franchise being the leader.
I think some people care (Japan-Korea WBC game reactions)
Judging by this photo and accompanying story in the Korea Times, Korea's 3-2 win over Japan Sunday evening in Japan (early Suday morning in the U.S.) was a fairly big deal.
From the AP story in USA Today, Ichiro Suzuki wasn't too pleased.
"I feel ashamed of this defeat," the Seattle Mariners star said Sunday after the South Koreans upset Japan 3-2 to win Group A in the first round of the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
WBC Regional Grudge Match Chat: Korea vs. Japan, 1 am PT
Both teams have already advanced to the second round in Anaheim and are playing this one for national pride, which is no small matter between these two countriers. The two teams will meet again in the second round on March 15 at 7 pm PT at Angel Stadium. And they could conceivably meet a third time in the semifinals in San Diego on March 18. However, USA manager Buck Martinez has already named starting pitcher for the semifinals. Before playing a single game.
Korea will likely start Sunny Kim and Japan should start Shunsuke Watanabe on the mound for this one.
The winner of the game gets full claim to Takeshima/Tokdo and the right to call the body of water separating the two nations either The Sea of Japan or the East Sea. Seriously, it would be better if more international disputes were settled this way, but I'm also glad that baseball isn't just politics carried out by other means.
The North American side of the tournament starts on March 7 at 11 am PT with a big game between the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in Orlando.
Final score: Korea 3, Japan 2
WP - Dae-Sung Koo
HRs - Munenori Kawasaki, Seung-Yeop Lee (his 3rd)
Korea and Japan both advance to the second round.
Japan's games in the second round.
Korea's games in the second round
WBC Playing out the String Chat: Taiwan vs. China, 6 pm PT
Taiwan came into the WBC with hopes of making it into the second round. China hoped not to be a total embarrassment. Both countries have come up short of the mark as they both lost games to Korea and Japan and neither team was able to get in a full 9 innings against the Japanese.
The political underpinnings are present, although there aren't likely going to be many fans at the Tokyo Dome to watch this one.
China will start Wang Nan on the mound today, but Taiwan hasn't settled on a starter. Taiwan manager Lin Hua-Wei tried eight different pitchers against Japan, but with little success.
In the FIFA World Cup, Taiwan didn't fare much better. The Taiawanese won a home-and-home qualifier against Macao and then in the first round of group play, they went 0-6 in their group that contained Uzbekistan, Palestine, and Iraq. China missed out on the FIFA World Cup when they lost out to Kuwait on total goals in the second round of Asian qualifying.
Final score: Taiwan 12, China 3
WP - Wei-Lun Pan
China goes through the tournament 0-3 and outscored 40-6. Taiwan finishes 1-2, but is outscored just 17-15. But that 2-run deficit came in a 2-0 loss to Korea that sealed their fate in the first game of the tournament.
I really wouldn't feel cheated
The Yankees are posting an apology by their ticket booths because some of their stars won't be available at spring training.
Thank you for expressing your concerns. We are sorry that certain players will not be present for portions of spring training. These players have elected to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The World Baseball Classic is an event sanctioned by the commissioner of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The New York Yankees did not vote to support this event. Any comments you have regarding the World Baseball Classic should be directed to the commissioner of Major League Baseball or the Major League Baseball Players Association.
I would think that Yankee fans are more upset over the ends of the 2004 and 2005 seasons than who shows up for a spring training game.
Rosters for Pools B, C, and D finally released
Although some countries had released "final" rosters before, the real final ones were released for the teams that have yet to start play in the WBC.
Of the 12 countries, only
The Dutch team ended up not taking Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, and Shea Hillenbrand. It will have Ivanon Coffie who plays for Instant Holland and has a ready made nickname.
South Africa has only one player under contract to a major league team, pitcher Barry Armitage, who is in the Royals sytem.
The Dominican Republic put Vladimir Guerrero on the roster although he has said he doesn't want to play after losing three family members in a car accident recently.
Quantrill announces retirement
Paul Quantrill, who will pitch for Team Canada in the WBC, has said will retire after the tournament is over.
He was considering coming back for a 15th season but didn't feel the fire to play, so he decided to make his stint with Canada at the World Baseball Classic his swan song.
In Quantrill's career he pitched in 14 seasons and his best years were 2002 and 2003 with the Dodgers. Which allowed him to cash in on a big free agent contract with the Yankees, which didn't go very well.
Quantrill also made the All-Star team with Toronto in 2001. He is third alltime in saves among pitchers whose last name starts with Q (Dan Quisenberry 244, Joe Quinn 57).
WBC Game Chat/Slumber: Japan vs. Taiwan, 1 am PT
Live from the Tokyo Dome (I hope)
Daisuke Matsuzaka is slated to start for Japan with Chu-Chien Hsu for Taiwan. Taiwan must win to have any chance of advancing to the second round. A win by Japan sends them and Korea on to the second round in Anaheim, March 12-16.
The game will be shown live on ESPN2.
The game is ended after 8 innings because of the mercy rule.
WP - Daisuke Matsuzaka
HR - Hitoshi Tamura
Japan and Korea are through to the second round. They face each other at 1 am PT Sunday to decide first place in the group. China and Taiwan meet at 6 pm PT Saturday for pride.
WBC Game Chat: Korea vs. China 6:00 pm PT
Korean manager In Sik Kim hasn't settled on a starter (He has and it's Min Han Son), but he threw his four best pitchers up against Taiwan in his team's 2-0 victory yesterday: Jae Seo, Byung-Hyun Kim, Dae Sung Koo, and Chan Ho Park. Third baseman and cleanup hitter Don Joo Kim hurt his shoulder and may miss the game. Manager Kim knows that cliches translate well "You never know what will happen (against China), who will win. And the day after tomorrow, we'll just keep doing our best."
Final Score: Korea 10, China 1.
WP - Min Han Son
Korea advances to the second round in Anaheim if Japan beats Taiwan in game starting Saturday at 1 am PT. Korea faces Japan tomorrow for the top spot in Pool A.
Pokey Reese gone missing, but now found
Pokey Reese has not shown up at the Marlins spring training camp for the past two days and team officials are concerned.
[Marlins GM Larry] Beinfest said the team tried to check on Reese at the apartment where he has been staying, but there was no answer at the door. Reese's agent told the team he hadn't heard from his client, Beinfest said.
Update - Should have waited. Reese has been located.
Minor league umps vote to strike
The minor league umpires voted today to authorize a strike. One of the side effects of this is that the AAA umpires who fill in for injured or vacationing MLB umpires won't be available.
Bruce Weber had an op-ed piece in the New York Times outlining the minor league umpire's plight.
Minor league umpires are currently working games in the WBC.
Next stop on the Marlins stadium tour
Now the good people of San Antonio and Bexar County, Texas are trying to get into the mix to attract the Florida Marlins.
Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri sums up Japan's 18-2 rout over China.
Interesting quote from Japanese manager Sadaharu Oh:
"The first, second and third Chinese pitchers were quite good, but after that, their lack of depth began to tell and what you saw was a result of that," Oh said.
Oh knows not to waste outs when his team can hit the ball over the fence against inferior pitching.
Today, Korea plays China in the 6 pm game and Japan faces Taiwan Saturday morning at 1 am. (Pacific time)
Dominican Republic, Mexico rosters set
The link is in Spanish for the D.R. roster, but for those interested.
Dominican Republic Pitchers: Miguel Batista, Daniel Cabrera, Bartolo Colón, Francisco Liriano, Dámaso Marte, Odalis Pérez, Fernando Rodney, Jorge Sosa, Duaner Sánchez, Julián Tavárez, Salomón Torres, José Acevedo, José Valverde, Ervin Santana. (However, Santana has said he won't pitch, so go figure.)
Catchers: Alberto Castillo, Juan Brito and Ronnie Paulino.
Infielders: Adrián Beltré, Pedro Féliz, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, José Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada, Plácido Polanco, Ronnie Belliard.
Outfielders: Moisés Alou, Juan Encarnación, Wily Mo Peña, Willy Taveras.
Presumably Feliz will also see some duty in the outfield. But probably not Alfonso Soriano.
Mexico Pitchers: Luis Ignacio Ayala, Rigoberto Beltrán, Francisco Campos, David Cortés, Jorge de la Rosa, Elmer Dessens, Edgar González, Esteban Loaiza, Rodrigo López, Pablo Ortega, Antonio Osuna, Oliver Pérez, Roberto Ramírez, Dennys Reyes, Ricardo Rincón, Ismael Valdez, Oscar Villarreal.
Catchers: Humberto Cota, Gerónimo Gil, Miguel Ojeda.
Infielders: Alfredo Amézaga, Jorge Cantú, Vinny Castilla, Juan Castro, Luis Cruz Bojórquez, Erubiel Durazo, Benjamín Gil, Adrián González, Oscar Robles. (Robles has said he won't play)
Outfielders: Karim García, Luis García, Luis Carlos García, Mario Valenzuela.
So Mexico can field an all-Garcia outfield.
WBC Game Chat: Japan vs. China, 1:30 am PT
Koji Uehara is expected to start for Japan. I can't find out who will start for China, but don't get emotionally attached to him as the guy won't be out there long.
In the opener, Korea beat Taiwan 2-0 in the opener before 5,193 at the Tokyo Dome. Expect a bigger crowd with the home country team playing and the game starting at night, 6:30 pm Tokyo time.
As for me, I plan on finding out the score when I wake up.
Nomo inks minor-league deal with White Sox
Some accounts vary on the definitiveness of the report, but this one seems to indicate that Hideo Nomo has signed a minor league deal with the defending champion White Sox.
WBC Game Chat: Korea vs. Taiwan, 6:30 pm PT
There isn't a link up to the MLB.com Gameday application yet, but the game is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm PT (and let's have the people on the East Coast do the math this time instead of the other way around). Gameday link
The likely starting pitcher for Korea will be Chan Ho Park (that could change by the time you read this) and either En-Yu Lin or Ying-Chieh Lin will start for Taiwan (aka Chinese Taipei).
What's the most popular sport in Japan?
Eariler I had posted a story from a South African newspaper's Japan reporter.
In his column there was this passage:
And in Japan, an unprecedented players strike in 2004 turned more fans off from the sport they call "yakyu".
I don't know if the writer (Shaun Tandon) realized that the strike in Japan was just on weekends and was resolved within two weeks. The 2004 strike in Japan was nothing like what went on in MLB in 1994.
Also, the Daily Yomiuri released the results of a public opinion poll of the most popular sports in Japan.
Baseball remained the most popular spectator sport in Japan. The second most popular spectator sport is marathons, then ekiden which is a long distance relay race. Soccer was fifth. Marathons were the most popular spectator sport among Japanese women.
Remember that the Daily Yomiuri and the baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants, are owned by the same company.
The Giants were the most popular team according to the survey with the Hanshin Tigers finishing in second.
I don't know if cab drivers were asked for their opinions.
Last chance for Anaheim
Lawyers for the city of Anaheim are going to petition Peter Polos to require the Angels to call themselves Anaheim instead of Los Angeles.
A jury has already ruled in favor of the Angels and allowed them to keep their present name. If Polos overrules the jury, Keith Olbermann and Joe Posnanski will be there with Buck O'Neil petitions no doubt too.
And Pedro Martinez is out of the WBC finally
ESPNDeportes.com is reporting (in Spanish) that Pedro Martinez will not pitch for the Dominican Republic team in the WBC.
Martinez has been battling a toe injury and hoped that he could join the Dominican team for the second round of games. However, the rules of the WBC don't allow teams to add players after the tournament has started, barring injuries.
So in one day, the Dominican Republic team lost Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. Which is likely to make the Venezuelan team happy.
The WBC kicks off Thursday night at 9:30/6:30 pm ET/PT with a game between Korea and Taiwan at the Tokyo Dome. Which will be 11:30 am Friday in Tokyo. The games in Tokyo on Saturday and Sunday will start at 11 am.
Bret Boone retires
Citing a lack of passion for the game, Bret Boone announced his retirement from the Mets spring training camp in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The news was greeted with loud cheers from much of Greater New York. And probably the Twin Cities area too.
The three candidates now to play second base for the Mets are: Kaz Matsui, Jeff Keppinger, and Anderson Hernandez.
Family tragedy keeps Guerrero out of WBC
After an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic killed three of his cousins and badly injured a fourth, Vladimir Guerrero has dropped out of the WBC. It is also not clear when Guerrero will return to spring training with the Angels.
Two changes to WBC roster for the USA
Billy Wagner and C.C. Sabathia have dropped off the WBC roster for the U.S. and have been replaced by Gary Majewski and, for reasons best known to Buck Martinez, Al Leiter.
Al Leiter? Don't they know there are pitch limits? Leiter can throw 65 pitches to get out of one inning.
Will Wagner and Sabathia still be awarded a cap for being on the roster for a full international?
Why batters have trouble hitting the curve ball
A study published in the New Scientist, although primarily concerned with soccer goalies following curving kicks, comes up with the radical explanation of why it is hard to follow a curving ball.
Our long nightmare is over
Or maybe it's just New England's, but Manny Ramirez has showed up for spring training with the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida.
Ramirez said he won't be playing in the WBC for the Dominican Republic.
Related to that, Luis Castillo of Minnesota said he won't be playing in the WBC, although the presence of Alfonso Soriano on the team made that pretty certain anyway.
Someone other than Buster Olney criticizes the WBC
Shaun Tardon of the Mail and Guardian of Johannesburg, South Africa thinks that baseball won't catch on worldwide.
He quotes G. Edward White who wrote the book Creating the national pastime : baseball transforms itself, 1903-1953 as one of his experts:
"I don't think it's merely a matter of pushing buttons and creating a market for baseball as with Starbucks," [said White]
In other parts of the story:
"They say it is because baseball has no violence or the game is too long," he said.
That's how I do my polling. I ask cab drivers. How many cabs can you ride in Los Angeles anyway?
The guy doesn't even talk about South Africa's pitching ace, Carl Michaels, who isn't even famous enough to get an entry in The Baseball Cube.
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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