Tag:World Baseball Classic
Posted on: June 1, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 4:13 pm
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Thailand in the WBC? It's no joke

In the Asian Games last November, Thailand lost its opening game, 18-0 to Japan.

And if that doesn't get you excited thinking about the newly expanded 2013 World Baseball Classic, what will?

Thailand is in. So is the Phillipines, the team Thailand beat to win the 2007 SEA Games gold medal.

And England! And France!

Is this a joke? Actually, no, it's not.

Actually, the expansion of the WBC from 16 teams to 28 makes perfect sense, and might actually improve the competition in the early rounds -- or at least in the early rounds that we'll see. The new countries like Thailand, France and Great Britain will play in a qualifying round, along with the four countries that failed to win a game in 2009 (Canada, Chinese Taipei, Panama and South Africa).

The qualifying round will produce four teams to join the main tournament, along with the 12 countries (Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela) that qualify automatically.

By doing it this way, the WBC has a chance to grow the game internationally, without messing up the main tournament with too many games that are too one-sided. If it works, maybe some of those teams we laugh at now will eventually be good enough to compete (just as the U.S. soccer team has improved to the point where it can be competitive in the World Cup).

The WBC still has big problems, the biggest being that there's no perfect time to hold it. I have to admit, I haven't been nearly as excited about the first two WBC tournaments as I was about the idea of a baseball world cup.

But one big issue in organizing a world cup is having enough countries that play the game and can participate. By expanding the WBC, baseball is encouraging more countries to compete, and to improve their programs.

It's not a bad idea.

And when Thailand plays the Phillipines in the fall of 2012, I'd love to be there to see it.

Seriously.

*****

The 16 teams that will be part of the qualifying round, which will be played in the fall of 2012: Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Phillipines, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.

The 4 qualifiers will join these 12 automatic qualifiers in the tournament, to be held in the spring of 2013: Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.


Category: MLB
Posted on: March 18, 2009 4:06 pm
 

The WBC lovers fire back

I've never really thought of myself as a true WBC-hater. I've always liked the idea of a baseball World Cup, even if I've sometimes criticized the execution.

But I have to admit, what I never expected was to hear from so many WBC lovers, who couldn't understand my mixed feelings.

From Aaron: "Many Americans are just learning about the WBC and rather than building it up, you tear it down at every opportunity. Nations around the world are in love with the World Baseball Classic. Last night in Miami, thousands of Puerto Rican-Americans went crazy for their team of choice. The vast majority were American citizens. Do they not count? Are white Americans the only gauge of interest? Today, thousands of Japanese-Americans and Korean-Americans and Mexican-Americans will watch their teams with huge interest. Maybe you should too."

Actually, I thought that's exactly what I said. The Venezuelan and Puerto Rican fans get it, and so do their players. Yes, Puerto Ricans count as American citizens. Absolutely. But for the most part they're not Team USA fans, which leads to . . .

From Michael: "I wonder why Puerto Rico, a United States territory, fields a separate team. I wonder why a championship series would institute a mercy rule. I wonder why the World Series winner or winning All-Star team from the previous season does not represent the USA. Most of all, I wonder why baseball put games on a cable network most of us do not have. I want to watch the games; personally, I find basketball boring and I cannot wait for the Cactus League every year. The WBC gives us games that count; perhaps they should not be held in Florida, like this time, or Arizona, last time, where we already have more games than most of us can possibly afford to attend. Obviously, I find reasons to care about the WBC. How can you be sure that so few others do?"

Here's how I can be sure: Hardly any fans at the Team USA games. Hardly any sales of Team USA merchandise, while Venezuela and Puerto Rico caps and shirts were everywhere you looked. Oh, that and the Braves fan who came up to me at the hotel this morning and told me how upset he was that Team USA beat Puerto Rico, because it meant that Brian McCann wouldn't be returning to Braves camp yet. I'm glad you care, but I'll stick to my point that not many do. Except . . .

From Kris: "You are perfect for the media because you are Mr. Negative. Why tear down the WBC? Yes it still has issues that need to be worked out, but this is a chance to showcase the greatest sport on a world level, to possibly build something bigger than MLB, and actually create World Champions vs. the crap we call the world series. For anyone that has watched the WBC, it has been very exciting."

Yes it has, but that's just the problem. Is anybody watching? Well, maybe . . .

From Peter in Australia: "Funny how you don't care about something when your losing. Funny how everyone that wins a tournament in your country you consider to be world champions."

Good point. The WBC is being held in our country, and we're going to consider the winner to be the world champion! At least, most of us will . . .

From Dan: "It is hard to care about something which was forced on us! In an attempt to build interest in baseball and the MLB globally, MLB never asked us if this is something we want. Frankly, I don't care about the WBC, I care about MY MLB team. I also resist any unnatural forces that would compel me to care about something that is as force and fake feeling as the WBC."

Watch out for those unnatural forces, Dan. Oh, and thanks for proving to me that at least one reader doesn't care about the WBC!


Category: MLB
Posted on: March 17, 2009 5:51 pm
 

Braun: 'I'm OK'

MIAMI -- Dustin Pedroia left Team USA because of an injury. So did Chipper Jones.

Ryan Braun badly wants to stay.

In fact, Braun said, he wanted to play in tonight's World Baseball Classic elimination game against Puerto Rico. He said that if Team USA wins tonight, he'll take batting practice Wednesday, in hopes of returning to the Team USA lineup for the semifinals.

"I wanted to [play tonight]," he said. "[The Brewers] didn't want me to, and I fully understand."

Braun said he did talk Brewers general manager Doug Melvin out of the need for an MRI exam on his sore right side.

"It's not at all severe," Braun said.

Also today, Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom said he doesn't believe the shoulder injury that forced him out of the WBC is serious.

"Just a little inflammation," Lindstrom said.

Lindstrom tried to clarify his comments from Sunday night, when he said the shoulder felt sore while he was warming up in the bullpen. Today, he said the shoulder was just a little tight.

"I thought I was OK because the ball was still coming out good," he said.

Posted on: March 17, 2009 4:33 pm
 

The Venezuelan spirit -- in Port St. Lucie

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There was no one dancing in the stands.

Of course not. There weren't many fans at Field No. 7 this morning. There are barely even any stands.

So you might say that Johan Santana was as far away from the World Baseball Classic as he could possibly be. You might say that, except that in his heart, Santana was right there with his Venezuelan countrymen when they beat Puerto Rico Monday night, to qualify for the WBC semifinals.

"It was great," the Mets left-hander said, after pitching against minor leaguers on Field No. 7. "That's what baseball's all about, and you want to be part of it. That game last night, we showed, both teams, what Latin American baseball is, how passionate it is."

The Mets kept Santana from playing in the WBC, because he had offseason knee surgery and also had some elbow soreness early in spring training. Santana's health is no longer an issue, and he said again today that he is focused on pitching for the Mets on opening day.

Santana watched the Venezuela-Puerto Rico game on television.

Popcorn?

"No," Santana said. "Pita chips."

He'll be watching again when Venezuela plays in the semifinals next week.

"We still have a little bit to do," he said. "I think this is huge for our country."

 

Posted on: March 17, 2009 12:44 am
 

Will it ever be like this for Team USA?

MIAMI -- We know for sure how one of the two teams will react Tuesday night, in a winner-take-all playoff between Team USA and Puerto Rico for a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals.

We know how important this is for Team Puerto Rico, because we saw it in the Puerto Rican faces, and on the field, and in the stands, during Monday night's 2-0 loss to Venezuela.

This was the WBC as it's supposed to be, the WBC as you'd hoped it would be, the WBC at its emotional, national-pride-on-the-line best. This was the WBC that rarely shows up in the games Team USA plays.

It's not that the American players don't care. It's more that they don't seem to feel it the same way the Puerto Ricans and the Venezuelans feel it, and that the American fans don't feel it the same way, either.

Asked if the U.S. team has the same emotion about the tournament as the two teams on display Monday, Puerto Rican first baseman Carlos Delgado answered bluntly.

"I don't think they do," he said. "I don't know the reason, but I don't think they do. Having said that, that doesn't make them a worse team. They still have a great team.

"And at the end of the day, it's not the fans, it's the players playing."

The fans are a huge part of it, no question. As Delgado said, "You've got 25,000 Latins going crazy."

Monday's game was great in part because Venezuela starter Felix Hernandez pitched like King Felix, as they call him in Seattle. It was great because closer Francisco Rodriguez was great in getting the final four outs.

But it was also great because the atmosphere was everything the WBC organizers could have hoped for, a nine-inning party.

"It was an unbelievable atmosphere for both teams," Pudge Rodriguez said. "It was unbelievable."

At least for now, it's not an unbelievable atmosphere for Team USA, unless you mean unbelievably bad.

"Their passion for baseball is a lot different than we have here," said Ian Snell, the U.S.-born pitcher who started Monday for Puerto Rico.

As Delgado said, that doesn't mean Team USA can't win Tuesday night and advance to the semifinals. What it does mean is that the feelings the Americans will take into the game are different from the feelings the Puerto Ricans will have.

And the hurt if the Puerto Ricans lose will be an entirely different hurt than the Americans will feel if they lose.

"I know we'll be ready to play," Rodriguez said. "Looking at the guys' faces after the game [Monday], they were devastated."

Devastated, and ready to make up for it.

Will the Americans, admittedly embarrassed by their Saturday night run-rule loss to Puerto Rico, feel the same way?

Posted on: March 16, 2009 9:01 pm
 

Chipper Jones rips the WBC

MIAMI -- More bad news for Team USA and the World Baseball Classic, and the Americans didn't even play today.

But Chipper Jones returned to the Braves camp after leaving Team USA with an injury, and he told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he wouldn't play in the WBC again, if it's played under the same format.

"There's some serious problems with the WBC setup," Jones told O'Brien.

Jones complained about the number of off-days in this year's WBC. Team USA played just once in five days before opening the second round of the tournament last Saturday. Jones played in that game, then left the team Sunday when he aggravated a rib cage injury he suffered last week in Toronto.

Others with Team USA, manager Davey Johnson included, have also complained about the number of off days.

Team USA will play Tuesday night's elimination game against the Venezuela-Puerto Rico loser with only 11 healthy position players. Ryan Braun is unavailable after straining his side in Sunday's game. Neither Jones nor Braun can be replaced on the roster in this round.

The Americans will also be without reliever Matt Lindstrom, who hurt his shoulder Sunday night. But with 10 other relievers on the roster, Lindstrom's absence shouldn't be a factor.


Posted on: March 16, 2009 9:00 pm
 

Chipper Jones rips the WBC

MIAMI -- More bad news for Team USA and the World Baseball Classic, and the Americans didn't even play today.

But Chipper Jones returned to the Braves camp after leaving Team USA with an injury, and he told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he wouldn't play in the WBC again, if it's played under the same format.

"There's some serious problems with the WBC setup," Jones told O'Brien.

Jones complained about the number of off-days in this year's WBC. Team USA played just once in five days before opening the second round of the tournament last Saturday. Jones played in that game, then left the team Sunday when he aggravated a rib cage injury he suffered last week in Toronto.

Others with Team USA, manager Davey Johnson included, have also complained about the number of off days.

Team USA will play Tuesday night's elimination game against the Venezuela-Puerto Rico loser with only 11 healthy position players. Ryan Braun is unavailable after straining his side in Sunday's game. Neither Jones nor Braun can be replaced on the roster in this round.

The Americans will also be without reliever Matt Lindstrom, who hurt his shoulder Sunday night. But with 10 other relievers on the roster, Lindstrom's absence shouldn't be a factor.

 

Posted on: March 15, 2009 7:22 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2009 8:05 pm
 

Chipper Jones leaves Team USA

MIAMI -- Team USA has lost its second player in two days.

Chipper Jones was scratched from the lineup for tonight's game with the Netherlands, after aggravating an oblique muscle he originally strained during the first round of the World Baseball Classic in Toronto. Officials said Jones will leave the U.S. team and return to the Braves.

Jones said he doesn't believe the injury is serious.

"It's just a strain of the oblique," he said. "If you can take care of it now, I certainly don't see there being any problems in going forward [for opening day]. But it's something that's really bugging me and progressively getting worse."

Under the rules of the WBC, Team USA can't replace Jones on the roster during this round. Derek Jeter replaced Jones as the Team USA DH.

Saturday, Team USA lost Dustin Pedroia, also to an oblique strain.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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