World Baseball Classic Day 5

ORLANDO
 
Well, it is nice but strange to be back in the
States.  And I really don’t have to write much tonight since anyone who is a fan
of the game enough to read this certainly watched the game from here
this afternoon and knows what an incredible experience it was – absolute
baseball bedlam and magic.  I wish everyone could have been here to see, feel
and hear all that went on.  Just a few highlights:
 
  • The Venezuelan contingent showed up with 300 more
    people than had tickets.  Fortunately our people on site were quick to find
    another 300 spots on the grass and everyone got in and thoroughly enjoyed
    themselves.
  • The parking lot was full three hours before the game
    with bands, picnics, dancing and flagwaving.  The park was full an hour before
    the game the the music continued throughout.
  • For the thousands of Dominican fans present, to see
    Albert Pujols stride to the plate in a uniform with Dominican Republic across
    the front, or see David Ortiz hit a ball to dead center field over 400 feet has
    to be an incomparable thrill.
  • Merchandise sales have been incredible.  You could
    not get a hat from any of the four teams by 7 pm tonight, and by the end of the
    game tonight almost all merchandise was gone.
  • I got to sit with the Dominican Ambassador to the
    United States the Honorable Flavio Dario Espinol.  Ambassador Espinol hosted
    Bill Dewitt, owner of the Cardinals, Hall of Famer Tony Perez, Hall of Fame
    executive Dale Petrosky, and myself at breakfast a few weeks ago in D.C., and he
    is a huge baseball fan so it was no surprise to have him attend.  He told me he
    and his wife attended five Nationals’ games last year and Washington won all 5. 
    I told him we would invite him to all 81 this year. (As an aside, thanks to the
    action taken by the D.C. City Council tonight, he will be coming to games in D.C.
    for generations to come.)  He is now 1-0 watching the D.R. teams in the World
    Baseball Classic
    as well.

Some real differences between the fans today and the
six games in Japan.  In both places the fans were knowledgeable, intense and
took the game outcomes very seriously.  But there are differences:

  • Did not see a single painted face in Japan.  Today, literally hundereds.
  • Lots of vocal, unorganized cheering which is just not done in Japan
  • The umpires, who have done a terrific job in all venues so far, were
    routinely booed and yelled at whenever a fan felt aggrieved.  On what could have
    been a turning point today, however, until the D.R. opened the game up in the
    ninth inning, Dutch umpire, Fred van Gronigen, a thirty-five year veteran, got
    the call right (based on replays) and ruled no home run on a ball off the top of
    the wall in centerfield.
  • Lots of dancing in the aisles and seats and lots of standing, again not
    something we saw last week.

A few notes from Japan since my last posting.

  • We don’t have the Korean ratings yet but in Japan the Korea/Japan game did a
    24 rating, twice the rating of a typical Japanese game during the season and
    comparable to what the Yankees/Devil Rays did for their opener in Tokyo in 2003
    featuring the return of Hideki Matsui to Japan.
  • The logistics of transporting the teams and getting them set for their
    exhibition games in Arizona were enormous.  One serious issue:  it has been
    impossible to find satisfactory Korean food in Phoenix. Hopefully it was worked
    out.
  • The ratings for the overnight games on the ESPN networks in the US doubled
    what they have been doing in that space for other programming.  For teams with
    very few recognizable players to the U.S. market, and given the time slot, that is
    an impressive start.

Speaking of ESPN, technology is an amazing thing.  I had connectivity for the
whole flight each way to and from Japan on JAL.  While I was slugging away doing
emails and listening to XM radio online, I looked at my watch and realized it
was 5:30 a.m. in New York.  I switched over to ESPN radio, heard the last
half-hour of the overnight show and then the first two hours of Mike and Mike. 
It was great to hear Mike Greenberg, just back on the air, acknowledge on the
basis of the exhibition game between Puerto Rico and the Mets that his
skepticisim about the Classic was misplaced and that in his words the event "had
juice".  After the games today, he should be even more enthused.  Lots of good
games:  U.S./Mexico, D.R./Venezuela, Panama/Puerto Rico.  A great day and night.

I would be remiss if I did not mention how sad we all are about the passing
of Kirby Puckett.  His career was sadly cut short by illness and now, more
tragically, his life was cut even shorter.  His joy of the game, his enthusiasm,
would have no doubt made him a willing and exciting participant in this type of
tournament.  He obviously will be missed in Minnesota and all over baseball.

See you tomorrow.

6 Comments

Mr. DuPuy – Thank you for this blog and for the WBC. I was skeptical until I tuned in to the exhibition game between the Mets and Puerto Rico on Sunday and saw how Bernie Williams (my favorite player and the nicest man in baseball) was recieved with loving chants of ‘Bernie, Bernie’ by all. Then I noticed the cameraderie on the PR team and the families in the stands with flags and banners. You have given me, a life-long baseball fan – a gift; a tournament without a play for pay theme. These players are playing for love of country and love of the game. Yesterday I watched USA/Mexico when after a great game, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon stayed and gave autographs to the children. Scenes like that are worth more than any baseball advertisement. You have fielded teams of true ambassadors of baseball in this undertaking and I hope you are successful beyond your wildest dreams.
JC

Mr. DuPuy–

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. On a day when one of baseball’s greatest turned out to be one of baseball’s worst, the WBC was a most welcomed breath of fresh air.

I will admit I was somewhat skeptical before the WBC started. Even after the Asian pool completed their first round I decided to wait until I saw atleast a few US games played out before I decided what I thought. As it turned out, I needed only one.

As I prepared to settle in to watch the US-Mexico game I found that there would be nothing settling about this game. From the cheers during both anthems to the wild and crazy chants during the game to the professional “100% I’m going to give it all” attitude they displayed. I was wowed. I could hardly sit down. I wanted to fly down and go to the next game before the third inning was even complete (I wish there was a way I could make that happen). There is no question that the WBC will be the next big thing in baseball. I am certain that 4 years from now no serious major league baseball player would turn down the oppurtunity to represent their country–saving injury and risking injury (I am, after all, a Mets fan still).

Perhaps most stunning was the players reactions after the game. Jake Peevy describing how he wanted to win that game more than any other. Seeing Chipper Jones, who I normally despise (Laaaarrrry), saying that was the most thrilling game he had ever been in–keeping in mind he has a world series ring–gave me chills.

On top of that, seeing the Dominican-Venezuelan highlights, how they played and how the fans reacted really sealed the deal for me. What a success.

So again, bravo to all of you who helped put this together and congradulations on an instant classic and introducing an entirely new spring tradition.

Mr Dupuy, thanks again for the blog. And thanks for all your efforts on bringing baseball to dc for good. I can’t tell you just how happy and relieved I am that the Nats are here to stay!

First, I’ve got to say how much of a success the WBC seems to be. The South African team really surprised me. These guys can play. Great to see baseball taking root in non-traditional markets.

I was curious, are there any other countries out there that play the game of baseball? I know Nicaragua does. I don’t know who else. It goes to show that the game is certainly growing globally, and this tournament will only help that.

Thanks

Chris

Mr Dupay, thanks for the blog and most of all for making this event happen. This trip has been a dream for myself and my brother. While I have a few minor complaints about this event (nothing big) one question has remained in my mind. While Disney is doing a great job hosting Pool D, I can’t help but wondering why the pool with the DR and Venezuela is playing in such a small park. Yesterday was the greatest baseball experience of my life and a memory I will share with my grandkids, yet I can only imagine how much better it would have been in larger stadium like Miami or Atlanta.
Thankyou again, this tournament is amazing and is surpassing our every expectation, I can only hope the media figures out how much we actually care and stop trying to convince us this isn’t worth our time.

Omar

I suppose that I am one of the few that didn’t enjoy the Classic. I found it to be an unwelcome interruption to Spring Training. The teams were all star teams and not all of the players were there for any of the countries. So, it just didn’t do anything for me and I considered it to be more of a promotional thing for MLB rather than anything meaningful.

To Mr Bob DuPuy:

I am a physician here in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area and a hard core Baseball and Marlins fan.

First I want to congratulate you for pulling off the impossible. Your success in the World Baseball Classic was an incredible feat. Sports writers all over the country were talking down on the event. Huge complicated political issues. And you pulled off a seamless and awesome event that culminated in one of the most exciting events of baseball in my live time (I am 58 years old). I flew to San Diego for final series. It was perfect!

Now I am begging you to pull off another miracle. I understand you are heavily involved in the stadium situation here in Miami. With your background and expertise, I am sure you are well aware of the complexities here in Miami and the vexing relationship between Mr Samson and the City of Miami. Unfortunately he has come down to “name calling” and political poison. Unfortunately Mr. Samson emits of perception of talking down when he communicates. Even in our season ticket get-together before the season, Mr. Samson was talking to us in a demeaning manner. Here I am a die hard Marlins fan spending over $6000.00 a year with season Founder’s Box tickets, and he projects this suboptimal image.

We need your help in all critical discussions that the Marlins have with city, state, Miame-Dade county. The young and somewhat brash affect of Mr.Samson has been a serious issue with the political issues in this Hispanic Community (I am a son of a Colombian, myself).

I know you are a very busy man, but I hope you take these comment to heart.

Most sincerely yours,

Robert Rudas, M.D.

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