Just before gametime of the winner-take-all Canada-USA matchup, and I thought I would only have one thing to be livid about, except I now have three: the announcement of the disciplinary action to be taken after the Mexico-Canada brawl, the issues of relegation being unsettled, and the lineup put out by Joe Torre and Team USA.
Starting with the Mexico-Canada brawl, if you haven’t seen any of it, I have you covered here, and if this were to happen in any regular season game, you know there would be fines and suspensions abound. However, as JJ Coop from Baseball America wrote, there will be no suspensions beyond the ejections that happened last night. Luis Cruz gets off free, Team Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon, who took the orders, gets to continue on not understanding the tiebreakers, and Cale Iorg, who threw a water bottle into the stands after it hit his pitching coach, will see the field. This is just a snapshot of whom should be punished, yet here we are. I believe guys like Cruz and Team Mexico outfielder Eduardo Arredondo, who plays exclusively in the Mexican professional league and not in MLB, should at least have been suspended for one round of WBC play, whether they had plans on playing again or not. Same for Cale Iorg, who should have just focused on finding out who threw the water bottle, instead of potentially hitting an innocent bystander. The WBC had a chance to levy some suspensions, and in reading Coop’s article, I understand how tough it’d be to replace some of those players, but giving everybody a free pass doesn’t set it up well for brawls in the future, because what’s going to stop anybody from holding back the fists?
More Coop articles, because the World Baseball Classic has no idea how 2017 is going to work in terms of relegation. What that “relegation” means, is that in 2009, teams with the worst record from their pools would have to qualify for the round of 16 by playing other teams in a separate Pool of four teams. Canada, Spain, Brazil, and Chinese Taipei all had to go through it for this tournament, and with China beating Brazil, and Australia finishing 0-3 in their Pools, you’d think those two teams would have to go through that again, but hold that thought, because the WBC might want to change the rules if that means teams like Venezuela and the USA have to go through that round facing much weaker competition. While sometimes change is good, making a change because your players are going to have to do extra work is ridiculous. If the US or Venezuela has to play extra games to qualify, I don’t care, although I’m sure their ticket sales department cares, especially if those teams don’t make it.
Lastly, today’s lineup that got rolled out is plus one Shane Victorino, but minus one big bat in Giancarlo Stanton because Joe Torre has made promises to MLB managers to make sure players get their playing time. I can understand his predicament, and you do want to honor a promise made to other friends and baseball partners, but it just makes this game look like what @TrippingOlney called “a glorified Spring Training game.” In an elimination game, you should be able to put your best on the field, but it’s a shame that the USA can’t do that.
I’m very much into the WBC, I watch a lot of the games, I want it to be a bigger thing, but when these things happen, how can I defend it to people trying to get into it? I can’t. The people running the show are not realizing the full potential of the product they have in front of them, and it’s making the event suffer, holding it back from moving forward and further globalizing the game it’s trying to market.
I wake up and my timeline is angry. Shouting about this and that, but they’re not fighting with each other, they’re hurling counter-arguments at one person, or subtweeting in his general direction. It’s about the World Baesball Classic and the validity of the results of said tournament. From Jon Morosi:
Baseball is America’s pastime. It has become a global game. And WBC results should be accepted as legitimate. No excuses.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 7, 2013
My responses to that would be: Yes, yes, no, no. There have been plenty of wonderful responses to what Morosi has begged for in the WBC’s legitimacy, but when your tournament for the finalists is only having played nine games, even though you may be going against six to seven different teams over that course, you’re measuring more of the luck in a short series than you are of a close to acceptable sample size to evaluate the greatness of a team.
The WBC is a terrible way to figure out who the best team is if you’re concerned with being accurate. But so are the MLB playoffs.
— Franklin Rabon (@fjrabon) March 7, 2013
Yes! Three rounds of short series do not necessarily mean the Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, etc. have been the very best teams in the past three years, but they have happened to do very well in a smaller sample size when it mattered. The same can be said for our World Baseball Classic participants: whomever lifts the trophy at the end, whether it’s Japan for a third time, or someone else, will have won with a combination of skill and greater luck that they didn’t have to face every other team twenty other times to prove their dominance over the league.
If you want to talk about what it measures in terms of fan attention, that’s a little difficult, mostly because I’m not going to do the research on television ratings in Japan, Cuba, Korea, and other losing countries when their team was or wasn’t “in it.” I have an idea of what America’s pulse will be if the US wins the WBC: yay with a lowercase “y.” It’ll be that attitude where you’re indifferent to glad it happened because you either a) didn’t care, b) expected it to happen, or c) you realize that this tournament isn’t what it should be yet.
Nothing says ‘legitimate’ like watching a reliever in the 4th RT @jonmorosi: WBC results should be accepted as legitimate. No excuses.”
This is what you will see in the first round and part of the second round as well (Pool C and Pool D action begin today, starting at noon for Mexico v. Italia). You may recall playoff games where starters are pulled early for the sake of their teams, but this is a pitch count issue that is being referred to. It may be part of the equation in why the WBC is lacking, but it isn’t the biggest part. The biggest part is the participation. Talk about Venezuela without Felix Hernandez, the US without Buster Posey and Justin Verlander, Japan without Yu Darvish, Korea without Shin-Soo Choo, and Canada without Russell Martin at shortstop, and you think, “Why would Russell Martin be at shortstop?” All of these names absent from the tourney are a reality, and imagine the bigger investment from fans into the tournament if these names were in it. This is no disrespect to R.A. Dickey and Ryan Vogelsong, but guys like Verlander, Cliff Lee, and Clayton Kershaw being in your rotation would garner a little more interest, not to mention having Shane Victorino and Eric Hosmer there as well lowers the excitement level, though to be fair, they will bring together people from other markets of the US.
So while what the WBC measures won’t be much, it doesn’t mean what it’s doing right now might not be the start of something more intriguing down the road. We need to keep encouraging discussion on making it better, because it has the potential to become something more wonderful and assist in advancing and spreading of the game, even if the utopian feeling of it being “legitimate” may never exist for this event.
It’s hard to watch the World Baseball Classic right now, especially if you’re seeing that the start times of a lot of these games are at 2:30-6:30AM EST, no one on this side of the globe will blame you if you miss the action. There are a couple of games going on tonight/early tomorrow morning, and one of them could spell the end for South Korea, who fell in 2009 to Japan in the finals.
In case you missed it, the Kingdom of Netherlands beat Korea in its first game, and both teams fared differently in the win-loss column against Chinese Taipei and Australia, respectively. The standings, look like this:
What are seen as the third- and fourth-place teams will play first at 11:30PM EST, and the Netherlands figure to be the favorite there. If we happen to get into a three-way tie for first-place or second-place based on win-loss records, the first tiebreaker will be run differential. Here’s the spreadsheet that gives you that up-to-date run differential for this Pool:
Now it makes sense why Chinese Taipei might be feeling pretty good about their chances to advance, and they also beat the Netherlands, so they have an eight run differential to play with, and Australia hasn’t been blown out that bad yet (although, yes, I see the pattern of 3’s being established with their losses). What would be wild is if Australia mercy ruled the Netherlands, and Korea loses to Chinese Taipei, making it Chinese Taipei and Australia moving on to Tokyo.
Of course, if Korea wins and the Netherlands loses, or vice versa, then we don’t have to worry about any tiebreakers, but I have a hunch that we’ll be seeing a tiebreaker settling a three-way tie at the top of Pool B. If Korea happens to be the odd-man out because the Netherlands beat up on Australia enough and Chinese Taipei kept it close enough in a loss to allow them to move on, that would easily make for the biggest quarterfinal upset in the WBC to date. Same story if all were 1-2 and Korea still wasn’t able to advance.
Australia and the Netherlands (the home team) will play in Taichung at 11:30PM EST tonight, while Chinese Taipei and Korea will play afterwards at 6:30AM EST, with Korea being the home team.
Today’s Giants Spring Training lineup contains some familiar names in it, but not quite all of the ones that carried the Giants through the last part of 2012:
Today’s #SFGiants lineup – Brown CF, Arias 3B, Gillespie LF, Pill DH, Belt 1B, Sanchez C, Perez RF, Tanaka SS, Bond 2B and Vogelsong RHP
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) March 4, 2013
With the Giants sending off Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, (but not Jose Mijares, and Andres Torres due to injury) to San Juan to Pool C’s WBC action, the Giants are four regulars less. The Pool D players from the USA (Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt), Mexico (Sergio Romo), and Italy (Tyler LaTorre) would see their last action with the big club today before heading out to represent their countries for the tournament if Bochy decides to play the ones not named “Ryan Vogelsong.” So when it’s all said and done, the team is down one back-up catcher, three relievers (four if you count Mijares’ left elbow impingement), two infielders, one outfielder (and Torres shouldn’t be gone much longer, maybe around Thursday when Tim Lincecum aims to return to the mound), and one starter.
Guesses as to who will pick up the slack with these guys gone?
Outfield: Top prospect Gary Brown
Starter: Yusmeiro Petit, last year’s one-game starter, and the guy who started for Lincecum on Saturday
Lots of names to choose from, and we’re still about a month away from the regular season starting. If you’re watching the games, this is your chance to really take a look at the guys trying hard to crack the 25-man roster, and you won’t even have to wait until the 5th/6th inning to see some of them.
“Hey, wanna hang out tonight?”
“Oh, sure! Who’s coming with you?”
“Ah, nobody, buddy! Just me!”
“Shoot, my girlfriendbosssupervisor just called me. Next time, alright?”
I want to like the World Baseball Classic more. A tournament that involves as many countries as it does to promote the game of baseball? Heck yes, sign me up. America may have an IBAF rank of “2,” and I’m hearing some people saying the Stars and Stripes should be the favorites, but really, the only people “favorites” should matter to are people that bet, and people that buy/sell tickets.
Anyway, the US released their roster yesterday, and overall it looks good. Decent infield, Mauer behind the plate most of the time, very good bullpen, above average starters, and a stellar outfield. Coaching staff is pretty good, too. Crazy thing about this roster is that any two losses in Miami or heaven forbid even in Arizona, could spell doom once again for the US of A. I did a homestay in Japan during the first WBC. When Japan had their backs against the wall and they had to play America, I was told numerous times by my host mother America was “too strong,” and that essentially Japan was as good as gone. As best I did to describe how baseball can baseball in Japanese, it didn’t work, and you probably know how Japan did, since they eventually won it all. Even if the US had the best team on paper, we know that doesn’t mean jack [something] in a one-game format against another team that has talent on their squad. However, what really gets me about the WBC, is the timing of it.
We’re doing this in March. While everybody is getting ready to play baseball, and so much so we put pitch limits on pitchers so they’re not overused so early in the season. Also a preventative measure from a country’s manager getting hated on by the team the player is under contract with. Not every player is ready to go in March, be it because of setbacks with injury recovery, or just having the desire to getting focused for the team that pays them. Maybe a WBC in November wouldn’t be perfect, either, but I have a feeling it’d attract more names to the game, and isn’t that what you want? Names? Venezuela’s roster is pretty stacked with names, and I know Korea actually wishes they had a few other countrymen dedicating their time, as would Japan with Ichiro, but I realize there will always be players that don’t go to the WBC no matter the time.
The WBC will be that guy/gal you don’t mind hanging out with every once in a while (once every three years), but you’re always left wishing there was more appeal to them. You don’t want to give them too much attention because you don’t want them to get the wrong idea, you know? But you’ll hang out with them anyway, because what else are you going to do, even if it’s the most dull matchup imaginable. Even if the country you’re rooting for is still in it, and you find yourself becoming annoyed by your lifelong American friends/acquaintances rooting for the country of their great-grandparents over the USA, you might feel alright, but in the end, you’ll know you could’ve had it better.
The World Baseball Classic is starting to get set for 2013, and Baseball America has given us the pleasure of getting us to take a look at some of the rosters! Some people have already pointed out some of the oddities of the rosters of France, Israel, Spain, and South Africa, but maybe you didn’t get to see them.
“Pitching Coach — Eric Gagne.” Yes, that Eric Gagne. Someone on twitter said they expect every pitcher on the staff to be wearing goggles (as a joke).
An outfielder with the last name of Pitcher. Does France have no respect for the game?!?!?
The team from Israel (whose OF are pictured above) is fielding two old favorites… with the emphasis on “old.” Nearly 40 YO Shawn Green and 37 YO Gabe Kapler are the veteran presents (this is spelled correctly) other teams will probably be happy to see!
Couldn’t find anything else that was odd from Spain’s roster, or South Africa’s, really. Well, 21/27 South Africa’s players are from Capetown or Johannesburg. On the flip side, only one player on Spain’s roster has a hometown in Spain, the fewest of the four rosters featured.