World Baseball Classic Day 7

Orlando

Pujols_beltre_1While Chuck Armstrong, president of the Seattle Mariners, traveled all the way to Japan to watch Ichiro perform for the advancing Japan team last week, the star from the Seattle roster so far in Round 1 has without a doubt been here in Orlando. Adrian Beltre hit his third home run in two games, leading the Dominican to its berth in Round 2 with an 8-3 victory over Italy, which finished its Round 1 eliminated at 1-3. Beltre shows signs of returning to 2004 form where he whacked 48 home runs and batted .334 for the Dodgers before slipping to 19 home runs and .255 last year in his first season with the Mariners. In the second game tonight, Venezuela also advanced, beating a tough Australia team with knuckleballer and secret weapon 35-year-old Phil Brassington, who did not play at all last year but who gave the winning team fits for four innings. Pretty tough to pick which country — Venezuela or the Dominican Republic — has the most enthusiastic fans. We’ll wait until San Juan to decide, where we have the four teams advancing everyone eagerly awaited. The big Puerto Rico/Cuba showdown tomorrow night may give a preview of next week’s coming attractions.

In Phoenix, the tiebreaker suspense was broken early when Mexico threw a four-spot at Canada in the first inning after two were out. If the U.S. beats South Africa tomorrow, they advance, sending Canada home despite its thrilling victory over the U.S. yesterday.

Tiebreakers are tricky things, but necessary in a tournament of this type. Ron Blum of the Associated Press reminded me of a very controversial tiebreaker, when West Germany and Austria advanced out of the first round of the 1982 World Cup. Algeria had upset West Germany and West Germany beat Austria 1-0 in the final game of the round robin, allowing those two teams to qualify at Algeria’s expense. All three had gone 2-1, but based on the 1-0 score, the two European teams advanced. Observors believed that the 1-0 score was not accidental and investigations ensued.

Ratings continue to grow. The U.S./Canada game on ESPN2 surpassed the game the day before and is now the highest-rated show on ESPN2 this year, giving the Classic the first- and second-place shows. As a measuring stick, the games thus far have outrated the regular-season NBA games on ESPN and ESPN2 this year by a significant margin. No doubt interest in the novice event is growing and hopefully the matchups in Round 2 will only enhance your interest.

Before we head on to Round 2 over the weekend, a few answers to some of the questions that have been posed in the postings.

  • Seedings in Round 2. The home teams for each game and each round are decided by draw. Each round starts off from scratch. You can only be the home team in two of the three games at most. That is why Japan is the home team in its return matchup with Korea next week, even though Korea advanced as the No. 1 seed.
  • Exhibition games in Arizona. Because they had the week in Arizona and wanted to stay sharp, the two Asia pool teams have played exhibition games. Japan wanted to play three; the other three possible qualifiers only wanted to play two. So while we listed on the schedule Asia Pool Team 1 and Asia Pool Team 2, they were designations, not meant to imply winner or runner-up. As long as Japan advanced, it was going to play three games, including one interesting matchup with Seattle. If Japan did not advance, we were going to have to scramble on the third game and try to persuade one of the teams to play an extra game.
  • I just flat goofed on Vic Power. Power was, of course, a Puerto Rican, born in Arecibo in 1927 and died last November at 78 years old in Bayamon. I enjoyed his flashy fielding as a kid and really enjoyed his excerpts in the terrific Dan Klores’ movie last year "Viva Baseball," about the struggles of early Latin players in the Major Leagues. I remember Power stealing home twice in one game in 1958, but did not realize until I looked up my mistake that he only stole three bases that entire seaon. Several fair-skinned Cubans played in the Major Leagues through the first 40 years of the last century, of course, but Power was one of the first black Latino players to play in the Majors, making his debut in 1954 with the Philadelphia Athletics. Sorry about the birthplace mistake.
  • A recent inquiry was why we played the Dominican Republic/Venezuela game in a stadium holding only just over 10,000 people. Fair question. In hindsight, we probably could have sold twice the number of tickets. But this was a new event, we had no idea if people would travel for Round 1, and we had to consider the likely attendance of the other games in the round robin. Next time we will perhaps consider a split use, like we did in Phoenix this week. On the other hand, the ballpark at Disney’s Wide World of Sports is one of the best Spring Training stadiums in all of baseball.

I have to miss the Orlando finale tomorrow between Australia and the Dominican Republic, but we’ll see you in San Juan. Keep watching, listening and subscribing.

15 Comments

Please tell me what is up with all these astericks on the schedule for Round 2 in Anaheim. I paid hundreds of dollars for a strip of tickets that includes Game 1, which is scheduled to be Pool A Runner-Up versus Pool B Runner-Up (likely a great match-up of USA versus Japan). Unfortunately, I am completely spooked by the astericks on the schedule that say “Game times may be reversed for television.” Are my dream tickets for USA-Japan going to suddenly morph into Mexico-Korea tickets for the benefit of these ESPN ratings that you keep bragging about in your blog?

To be honest even an event with Dominican Republic VS anybody could fill the Disney stadium anytime.
If the tickets had been sold for specific events instead of all this other matchups, maybe you could say that using the nearby Marlins stadium as a host for this Dominican lineup dreamed about for so long by Dominicans and non-Dominicans alike was the way to go.

I know of many people who wanted to get the tickets for the Dominican games but were held back by having to get the whole tomato for the salsa.

If you really wanted to fill Yankee’s stadium and Shea to the bleacher ends, just setup a few exhibition games against two powerhouses of Dominican Beisbol: The Aguilas Cibaenas and The Licey Tigers VS The NY Yankees and NY Mets(a very equal and level match when they play with passion).

And to add to this point as well, “Beisbol” is very much to the same level as MLB in these latin countries…

I hope one day we could see a true “World Series” in MLB with expansion teams from Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, Japan and perhaps even Cuba.

They could add teams from these countries to each National and American leagues, so we could also see some very interesting matchups during inter-league play on those countries as well.

Just think of this:

It takes an all-star team of the USA from MLB to hold Mexico to a 2-0 win! Imagine what would happen to ANY National or American league regular lineup…

MLB can’t hold baseball to the actual teams and format played today. If we’re going to be able to see baseball in the future we should match and top the “World Cup” as the grandest event in the world period!

Note to ARod:

Kick self in the rear for the stupidity of having to wait for the last moment to play for “your” country USA instead of having let it be out as soon as you were asked about it!

The Dominican lineup would had been a star better but as proven otherwise redundant…

Just like Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz told you: Don’t give it too much head!

All this from a die-hard Yankee’s #1, religious, bleacher creature Fan.

Oh! and did I mention Dominican as well?

Us Mississippi baseball fans are pumped that the tv raitings are so high. When the closest big league team is six hours away, we need all of the televised games we can get.

This tournament has been great, and I don’t care what anybody says because Major League baseball has done a fantastic job with it.

Cowardly…. That is the only way to describe MLB’s acquiescence to Cuba. Last time I checked, Puerto Rico is governed by the US Constitution which has a Freedom of Speech clause. The fact that you would ban political speech – especially due to speech condemning a brutal dictator – is appalling. Who cares if Cuba leaves the tournament… Cuba and Cuba alone. Let them go, it’s their loss. Instead, you gave into a tyrant. Hey, and I’m a Democrat – I can only imagine what the conservatives are saying about this. I can’t imagine the ratings in Cuba are that important to you. You had a chance to do the right thing, as Americans… as citizens of the world, and you turn into a real profile in courage. It is a sad day for baseball…

I have a question for you:

Why Mexico was ranked higher that Team USA, if USA won the game versus Mexico?

Both finish the round 1 with the same record (2-1) but USA won to Mexico. USA should be start to play the second round versus Korea and not Japan.

Let me know if I read bad the tie break rules.

to angel,

Because US and Mexico are also tied with Canada, and the head-to-head record of the 3 teams are all 1-1, so the second tie-breaker kicked in: the fewest runs allowed per inning.

to hbbiv,

I believe that sports should stay away from politics. I don’t think stadium is a good place for you to express your political opinion.

Don’t you think team USA has a great advantage for being in pool1? besides, why the 2 teams qualifying for the semifinals have to play again?? don’t you it would be more fair the following way?

pool1 winner vs pool2 runner-up

pool2 winner vs pool1 runner-up

Imagine Dominican Republic and Venezuela in the semifinals. They would have played 3 times. And I honestly think in pool 2 there is too much power to eliminate 2 teams. We all know USA will be in the finals, not b/c it’s better than venezuela, dominican republic and puerto rico, but just because it’s way easy for them. It’s obvious that USA will be in the finals,and I think Dominican Republic will be in the finals as well; but, do the USA team deserve the 2nd place in this World Classic without playing against Venezuela and Puerto Rico??? (If Dominican Republic is Finalist)

To samba2k2:

My point all the way!!!!

Why:

Because they figured that if team USA was tko on the first round by facing either the Dominican Republic, Venezuela or Puerto Rico, people in the US wouldn’t follow the rest of the tournament at all after that!

Big mistake!

Now you can’t call a real who’s who in baseball at all, simply because team USA(no doubts about it’s merits) wouldn’t face an stablished powerhouse like Dominican, Venezuela or Puerto Rico for us to find out who’s the big tomato here.

Also the pitching handicap leaves too much out of the first and second rounds.

I could only dream what if USA had faced at least one game each to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela…

Yet… My hat’s off to MLB for bringing us this dream to the real diamond.

Say all you may about pitching, but Dominican Republic’s looks a lot like murder’s row from leadoff to mop-up…

Santanas, Zambranos, Cy youngs don’t make a dent on this Dominican Slugging Machine at all.

But if something is true to baseball it’s that anything can happen till the last out on the ninth, and this round is too quick for slumbers to awake or adjust.

I hope team USA makes it out from their meeting with Mexico as it was a close call, too close for comfort…

I think it was unfair to the other teams on pools C and D to have known beforehand the kind of a team Dominicans could put on a roster and still MLB put this team on the other side of team USA’s pool.

But I guess that was the intention to the end:

USA vs Dominican Republic

Who knows? It may end up looking much like Japan vs Puerto Rico, or Mexico vs Venezuela, or Korea vs Cuba in such a confusing type of grading and short matches.

But what the hel*!

I love every second of it!

The closest to a real World Series doesn’t get any better than this!

Note to MLB:

Have the Aguilas Cibaenas and Tigueres of Licey of the Dominican Republic open their season with at least 3 matches at Shea or Yankee’s stadium. I assure you tickets could be sold at the same prices they are on any regular season game and sell out like butter in a popcorn convention and you’ll let the US feel what fans of baseball Dominicans are when they let it out from the first pitch until they turn the lights out(the only way to get them off the stadium)

As you said:

Baseball is spoken here!

Reynaldo Pichardo

I guess Cuba wanted to play it safe with a team of kids who had too much to leave at home to defect during the tournament.
My brother in law(a Cuban national)just came back from the island and told me Cuba didn’t allow most of the top Cuban players join this team for fear of their greater chance of defecting.

So I guess we’re watching play a handicapped Cuban team right now.

MLB should make an agreement with Cuba that guarantees that no Cuban national who plays for a Cuban national team would be hired ever by any MLB club if it defects during any tournament or event sanctioned by MLB.

That way we could see the best of the best of Cuba’s national team on future tournaments of this kind.

My opinion as a baseball fan.

Reynaldo Pichardo.

And to those with political problems:

This event is for baseball fans not for politicians!!!

I support democracy when I vote during the elections, I don’t vote at the stadium.

So please take your political views and use them where they do the actual work: Elections.

I guess you can voice any opinion you have at any political or rally activity, but a sport complex is not a political arena!

Let us enjoy baseball without the politics, unless of course it’s the politics of baseball!!!

Semper Fi!!!

GOOOOOOOOOO YankeeEEEEES!!!

Reynaldo Pichardo

Let’s see, saying we should cut a deal with the Cubans, disallowing the freewill of their players, is not politics???? This isn’t about politics or politicians. It’s about freewill… the freewill of fans to express themselves and the freewill of players to move freely, as they choose. If Cuba decides not to send its top players for fear of defection, that’s its problem. This event is a sham anyway. If it were real, teams wouldn’t just play one game against each other. This is baseball, you need a couple game series to decide anything. However, MLB wouldn’t like that due to the fact that it would interfere with the season, or top players wouldn’t play because they wouldn’t get any down time.

BTW – TO MINGZHONG: it doesn’t matter where you “think” a germane place to express your opinion is? It is a matter of where you have the right to express your opinion – which should be virtually anywhere, including a stadium…

I was all set to watch the game between USA & Japan…but I don’t see it being televised anywhere…c’mon Baseball I’m trying here!

hbbiv – I assume you felt the same regarding the Montreal hockey fans a few years ago? If so fair enough – if you were one of those who got upset then thats another matter…

With regard to the USA v Japan. I think the officials made an honest mistake. However, when its an honest mistake made by a US crew in favour of a US team then you can understand why some might have concerns. I understand the difficulties involved but neutral officiating should be considered for future WBCs.

Its tournament play – you have to perform on the day and that applies to officials as well as players. You don’t get 161 opportunities to make up for your errors…

For a start, Cuba is the most interesting team in this tournament. The fact they come from an island run by a crazy man is of no conciquence atall. These guys play with passion unknown to the US team who play with the mentality that they SHOULD win. Watching USA play is like a simulated game or something, its ridiculous how good they think they are and how they think they’re automatically in the final. How, I say HOW have they not been ontop since the start of the WBC with the fixing of the schedule? They’re not a top seed, to fix who they will play won’t win it for them, only make them look worse. And not telling other teams about scouting reports that were avialable to everyone. Shocking if you ask me.
I am supporting of the WBC and think its mostly been put together very well and enjoy watching it. But if there’s no changes by the next one, or if anything else like US/*** happens no-one will bother watch it. Also its such a short tournament with so little teams, i think it should be less than every 4 years.

Why not move it to a free part of the year?? Where there’s no excuse for players staying loyal to clubs etc and not being able to play.

Going back to a previous comment about the US roster. Do you not think Buck has got the best players AVALIABLE to him? He cant control MLB clubs decisions etc. To be honest the roster is not USA’s problem, look at cuba for god’s sake! Average age about 24, most never having played at this level or in this kind of spotlight. the reason the US are doing so bad is the over-confidence of players/team and the poor managment of the team. They’v got the MLB talent, well most of it anyway.

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