World Baseball Classic Day 6

Canada

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Orlando

 
Games today were good in every venue. …  Panama/Cuba
game was a classic — if there had been eight hit-by-pitches instead of seven,
(and with two outs in the ninth and the bases loaded, the pitch could not have
missed by three inches), Panama stuns Cuba with an opening loss. 

The Italian
team, which had such potent bats against Australian pitching on Tuesday night, ran into a pair of solid Major League performers — two time All-Star Freddy
Garcia from the World Champion Chicago White Sox and Carlos Silva of Minnesota ,
who has won twenty-three games over the last two years and had a solid 3.44 ERA
last season. 

And of course the Canadian stunning win over the USA, leaving the
U.S. team hoping that Canada beats Mexico, and they beat South Africa (which gave
Canada all it could handle) or else relying on the vagaries of the tie-breaker
to advance.

 
While there is a lot of baseball left in the first
round, including the Puerto Rico/Cuba matchup Friday night in Hiram Bithorn, if
things go the way they appear to be headed at the moment, Round 2 in Puerto Rico
will feature the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and host Puerto Rico. 
Every game in that entire round should be incredibly exciting and frenzied.  No
one may be able to see the games for all the flags that will be
waving.
 
Interest continues to grow, and writers who
were skeptical or pessmistic continue to be converted, the veteran baseball
scribe Hal Bodley of USA Today being the most recent. Broadcast ratings
have exceeded our expectations.  A few highlights from the first games back in
the States:
 
  • The USA/Mexico game on ESPN2 was the third-highest
    rated baseball game ever on that network other than Division Playoff
    games.
  • That game was the most watched weekday afternoon
    telecast on that network since Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS between the White Sox and
    Red Sox, delivered almost five times the normal afternoon rating on ESPN2 and
    was its highest rated show in calendar year 2006 thus far.
  • The Game between the Dominican Republic and
    Venezuela drew about 900,000 viewers, and that does not include ESPN
    Desportes
    , where no doubt many avid fans of those two teams
    watched.
  • An extraordinary number of computer users subscribed for $9.95 to watch that and any other World Baseball Classic game live over the Internet. And that does not include all the people who are signing up each day at MLB.com for an MLB.TV subscription, which is $14.95 per month or $79.95 per season. All broadcast World Baseball Classic games are included with that subscription, and the same is true if you subscribe to MLB.com All Access (includes MLB.TV and Gameday Audio) for $99.95 this season. For many people, watching the World Baseball Classic games this way is a way to tune up for their routine of watching their favorite Major League team throughout the summer.

Cuba_1ESPN did some nifty footwork today, allowing fans to
maximize their viewing, continuing the Cuba/Panama game to conclusion on ESPN2,
doing some look-ins on Canada/U.S. first and then putting it on ESPN and then
simulcasting a couple of innings on ESPN and ESPN2 after the Cuba/Panama game
ended and then finishing the Canada/U.S. game on ESPN2.  Nice to have two networks
with exposure to about 90 million homes each to be able to do that kind of
juggling and keep all the fans of all the teams happy!

One pleasant surprise is how competitive a number of
teams without long baseball traditions have been. South Africa gave Canada
fits, the Netherlands played Puerto Rico tough in their debut and Italy
dominated Australia before getting shut down tonight by Venezuela, before a
sellout pro-Venezuelan crowd.

Not much sleep last night.  Still on Tokyo time I
guess.  Back tomorrow before rolling into Round 2.

9 Comments

Hello Bob,
I’m sorry that this has nothing to do with your current entry, but I have a question about the scheduling for the second round.

Why is it that japan is home against Korea in the second round, when Korea finished ahead of japan in first round?

I understand that if Korea has a better record then the winner of Group B and has given up less runs, they would be home and

I understand that Korea will be home against the 2nd place finisher of Group B, since they finished with a better record then the second place finisher.

But, why is it that Korea is away against Japan?

Mr. DuPuy, I watched all three games yesterday and appreciated how ESPN managed when the Cuba/Panama game went into OT and ran into the Canada/USA game. Will ESPN be covering the Canada/Mexico game today? I can’t find it in my listings here in Central Connecticut.
I think you have a hit on your hands – all the media here in the Northeast is talking and writing about the WBC even as the Big East and Spring training is in play.

I am very much enjoying the blog and perhaps more importantly the WBC as a baseball fan from the UK. Since our boys aren’t there its been good to follow our old friends from South Africa, Canada and Australia as they joust with the big boys! I’ll already lay a claim for South Africa to receive a ‘fair play’ award for two very fine efforts by a very young and inexperienced team – the fact they will be rewarded by a chance to face the rocket makes the WBC a wonderful event already.

As for Canada – regard it as the Commonwealth’s revenge for a certain US victory over England in the 1950 Soccer World Cup! I really do think its comparable – a seismic event in World Sport and good for baseball in the long run. I hope the US progress to an exciting second round – and the WBC continues to build on an excellent start. Well done to all those who have worked so hard to bring it to fruition.

Mr. DuPuy,
For sake of our reputation you may want to inform the broadcasters to watch what they say. As the broadcasts from MLB are fed through ESPN they do not break for commercial and we hear everything they discuss from getting a cup of coffee to how slow certain pitchers throw. While I have not heard anything unappropriate they have been joking a bit about players here and there which could be misunderstood by your international audience.

I paid $9.95 to watch all the WBC preliminary games on MLB TV, and it’s the best ten bucks I’ve ever spent. The picture quality is pretty good, the convenience is awesome, and of course the baseball itself has been great. Gotta love those South African kids, huh? Somebody sign up Paul Bell!

Mr. Dupuy – Thanks again for both your entertaining and illuminating blog, and the WBC! I thoroughly enjoyed the Asian games, enough to justify the tournament, but now – this thing is just getting bigger and more amazing. I can’t imagine how any true baseball fan can watch any of these games without “getting” what this is about; and as you say, the skeptics are now coming on board. Of course I’m rooting for the USA, but with the loss to Canada (and the surprisingly strong showings of the less experienced teams in other games) there is plenty of suspense. Thanks to mlb.com I’m not missing anything – great coverage all around, such as the interviews with Mr. Selig and key participants, and discussion of the “controversies” – and I have to say that I’ve been getting a kick out of hearing the between-innings chat of the broadcasters when they didn’t know the mike was still on. My only complaint is that the supplier of the WBC merchandise is too slow; I’m still waiting for my program, and my nephew is still waiting for his pennant. I’m looking forward to another year with the Nats – but I’m beginning to worry that the regular season will seem sadly flat after all this! Thanks again for a great show, for a great game.

Thanks so much for your blog, it’s great to read about your experience at the games (especially the ones in Japan) for those of us who aren’t able to catch them on cable. We’ll be in Angel Stadium Sunday night & I can’t wait!!!

Bob–

Thanks for sharing. How do you feel about no baseball in the Olympics?. E Maj

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