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.
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
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
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
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 USA/Mexico game on ESPN2 was the third-highest
rated baseball game ever on that network other than Division Playoff
- 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
- 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.
ESPN 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.
guess. Back tomorrow before rolling into Round 2.