World Baseball Classic Round 2, Day 3


Jeff Zelevansky /

San Juan

In a game that clearly had the atmosphere of the playoff game that it was from start to finish before a largely pro-Dominican and very noisy crowd of 13,000, the Dominican Republic escaped with a 2-1 victory over Venezuela tonight and became the first semifinalist in the first World Baseball Classic. Manager Manny Acta, along with Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, Bartolo Colon, Moises Alou, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre, are on their way to San Diego.

Cabrera By about the seventh inning, people started to inquire about what would happen if the game ended in a 1-1 tie after 14 innings. Fortunately, it never came close to that, but if I understand the rules, assuming there was not a tie in the game tomorrow night, it would have come down to batting average in tonight’s game to determine the winner since head-to-head, runs and earned runs would all have been equal. But there were lots of nervous moments to the very end, with Venezuela leaving the bases loaded in the top of the ninth. Dominican pitcher Daniel Cabrera was dominant over the first four innings, allowing no hits and getting readings in the high 90s for his fast ball, and Venezuela continued to have trouble hitting, getting only a single hit off the five Dominican pitchers — a fifth-inning double by Omar Vizquel.

For those who are curious, Hiram Bithorn Stadium is located near the Roberto Clemente Sports City complex in the northern section of San Juan, about 20 minutes from the airport. It holds 19,000 fans and is 325 feet down both lines and 404 feet to dead center field. It was named in 1962 after the first Puerto Rican-born player in the Major Leagues, right-handed pitcher Hiram Bithorn, who played for the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox from 1942-1947. MLB opened its season at Hiram Bithorn in 2001 in a game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, and the Expos of course played 43 games here during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, drawing just under 530,000 fans over that span. During the winter league season, it plays host to the Santurce Crabbers.

ClementeThey have four numbers retired in the stadium, Bithorn’s (#25), Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente (#21) and Orlando Cepeda (#30), and Puerto Rican great and New York Giants pitcher Ruben Gomez (#22). Gomez was among the league leaders in games started, completed games, shutouts and earned runs allowed several times during his 10-year career. Each night on the Jumbotron here, they show a video tribute to Clemente, and every night his throws from the right-field corner to third base seemingly while off-balance and on the run look more and more incredible.

Everyone is staying in three hotels on Isla Verde, an area about five minutes from the airport. The development and construction going on is impressive. There seems to be a crane on every block. When I used to come here in the late ’70s, there were only two hotels in this area, the El San Juan and a Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn was shaped like a U, and you could stay facing the courtyard, where a band played each night until 2 a.m., or on the outside, where you heard the planes arrive and depart all night. Now, there must be 20 hotels and as many condominium projects.

Some continuing really good coverage for the Classic:

  • For those of you who missed the ESPN SportsNation poll, 70 percent of the respondents indicated that the Classic was "better than they expected" and 82 percent rated it either a "smashing" or "modest" success. Surprisingly to me based on press commentary, almost 50 percent indicated that the current schedule is the best time to hold the tournament, vs. only 30 percent who want it played after the season. And 85 percent either raved about the one-game format or acknowledged it was the only practical way to go.
  • Cuban officials told us today that their television ratings for the Cuban games are 90 percent and that workers were given an official holiday for the team’s first game in the tournament.
  • Tom Verducci of wrote a great piece about the event and one paragraph in particular resonated with me and seemed to pick up the thread many of the posters to these blogs have established:

    Chipper_2"If you want your millionaire players to dive for pop-ups, run the bases with abandon, watch the entire game like Little Leaguers from the top step of the dugout and play the game for pride and for fun, just like American Legion ball…the (World Baseball Classic) is your ticket to happiness. To a man, the U.S. players have raved about the experience. Chipper Jones, a World Series champion and MVP, called the (Classic) ‘the best baseball experience of my life — bar none’."

    Tom also has an interesting comparison between the different styles of the different teams in the tournament, which is worth reading.

While the United States did not play tonight, the outcome of the Japan/Mexico game means they need help to qualify for the semifinals. Again, if my math is right, they either need Korea to beat Japan or Japan to win and score eight runs or more tomorrow and then beat Mexico to advance, in the first instance with Korea and in the second with Japan. There is also a way to advance if the U.S. loses to Mexico and if Korea beats Japan, but the permutations of what happens with three teams at 1-2 I will leave to others. Also, if Japan wins tomorrow, 7-6, in nine innings and the U.S. beats Mexico, the three teams will be 2-1 with each having allowed 10 runs in the games involving the tied teams, so it would go to earned runs allowed. I think that all sorts out, but the best part is that the four teams will likely decide it on the field the next two nights as will Cuba and Puerto Rico in the final decisive game down here.

Watch_the_games_live_on_mlbtvI am somewhat puzzled by the postings complaining that games have been switched around by ESPN to viewers’ disadvantage. When we signed up with ESPN, we took every available slot they had given the constraints of their existing schedule. All games went on ESPN Desportes, which obviously does not yet have the carriage of the other ESPN networks. Last Sunday, ESPN added a game to ESPN2 to present a triple-header, given the popularity of the games, but did not subtract any games. And, of course, all of the games have been available live via, and on XM Radio. I guess it is a good sign that people want to see all of the games and we will certainly take that into account in 2009 in working with our broadcast partners in providing coverage.

Lots of excitement here about the game tomorrow night. This is an awful lot of fun, considering the regular season won’t start for another two weeks.



    Dear Bob:

    I have to say WBC is definitely better than expected, especially in the 2nd round.

    While most people have gotten past the “call” here in Japan, I do belive that international umping is important for the integrity and future sucess of WBC (and baseball). The way I look at it, one of WBC’s contribution to baseball is that it helps the standardization of baseball. By coming together, we are finding out that we handle things somewhat diffrently that needs to be tweaked if we are to compete internationally.

    One of those would be officiating. I know that different leagues have different strike zones, and if WBC were to become popular, such differences need to be minimized — especially if you want to employ international crews in the tournament.

    It will also help standardaize equipments. I don’t know if you’ve heard from Japanese pitchters, but they were concerned that the WBC balls were much more slippery (harder to grip) than the one they are used to in Japan.

    WBC really made us aware of some of these subtle local differences that need to be addressed if international baseball matches were to become more popular.

    Speaking of popularity, until the Olympics pick up baseball again, I am all for having WBC every two years. Let’s keep this momentum. Once baseball is reinstituted by the Olympics, we may have WBC in between the Olympics, much like FIFA handles the World Cup.

    Bad calls or not, WBC has rekindled excitement among many baseball fans. Hope you will keep it going.


    “All games went on ESPN Desportes,” I am sorry but that?s wrong. Although all the games are being shown on ESPN Desportes they are not all live castings. Tonight?s game with Japan n Mexico again wasn?t shown on Desportes but the Ven n DR was. Why??? I missed the game because I didn?t have ESPN or ESPN2 available. I tried using the MLB.TV live broadcasting and paid the $9.95 but the ******* thing didn?t work for me. The video feed kept freezing and reloading it wasn?t worth it. I want my 10 bucks back!! I guess because so many people were online trying to access a site all at the same time made it not work right. I have a DSL internet with updated software so there was no reason for it not to work. Do you have to have a T1 line or something? Basically MLB.TV ***** to me.

    I hope you?re reading all the bad comments and will make this thing twice as better in 2009. I vote to show all games on Local National TV like just like the Olympics!!!!!!!!!!!!


    I hope Buck saves R. Clemens for Korea, I don?t want to see D. Train anymore. He has already blown it twice. Mexico should be an easy win for us, so we need to save Roger and start someone like Todd Jones for Mex. Anyone agree with me??


    I wished the final game would be a best of 3 series. It doesn’t seem fair to go the whole tournament without ever facing the other teams in the other pools then have to play a one game final against them.

    I think you should draw names next time to see who gets in what pool. Or just have it where you can play against everyone at least once if possible.


    so the winner of this world tourney will be the world champs… the winner of the world series would be the world series champions of the usa and technically can’t lay claim to the world title just a thought


    calling the championship series the “the world series” never made any since to began with. it should be renamed.


    I am not against using MLB umpires, as long as there is not a conflict of interest.

    I also believe that not all MLB umpires are Americans. It won’t be that hard to scramble for four non-American MLB umpires to officiate a game that involves the United States. For all other games, maybe American umpires will be just fine.

    Or maybe not. I know that in soccer world cup they do not allow referees to officiate any game that might have anything to do with the standing of where these referee are from (that means no American umpires for the Japan-Korea matchup… considering another call goes against Japan resulting a Japanese loss, the media will be all over it again…)


    Tonight’s RD v. Ven. game was a great one. Almost as exciting as this year’s Caribbean World Series final. Gotta love the “winner stays, loser goes” stakes. Can’t wait to see the same drama unfold manana with Cuba v. PR. The atmosphere in San Juan is gonna be unbelieveable! WAIT!!! The game is NOT being shown on either ESPN or ESPN2. Are you freakin’ kidding me? Not even on a delayed basis?
    So, MLB wants us fans to get excited over their $$ project yet fail to show us a do or die game. Why? Thanks Bud or whoever the genius is that can’t figure out that 90% of us can’t even get deportes. Talk about a messed up marketing plan! Idiots! Lucky for them it is great baseball. And even they can’t mess that up.


    I agree this was a complete mess up.

    MLB was good to start this classic but failed to inlcude the rest of the world in it. I love this classic but I am soo freaking angry about the sheduling on TV. oh wait not on TV.


    Simply cannot believe that ESPN will not televise the Cuba-PuetoRico game tonight.Another smart decision of theirs just like giving up NHL to OLN. I long for an alternative to ESPN. The next WBC should take this decision into consideration when they decide who gets the Classic. Robert


    Simply cannot believe that ESPN will not televise the Cuba-PuetoRico game tonight.Another smart decision of theirs just like giving up NHL to OLN. I long for an alternative to ESPN. The next WBC should take this decision into consideration when they decide who gets the Classic. Robert


    And, who?s decision was it that the Ven and DR game gets to be on ESPN Des. but not the Japan and Mexico game??? I am soo pissed off of MLB all you stupid rich people running the world and dont care about us poor baseball fans that can?t afford the premium cable package that includes all 3 ESPN channels or cable at all. Thanks alot. I guess I can just hang out at ******* and watch it there. WOOHOO


    I made sure I had ESPN Deportes and the whole alphabet along with it so I didn’t miss the games at all.

    It was very hard on me to juggle the actual ESPN timetable and all that, but at the end I did get most of the games.

    How in heaven can you tape a live explosive game in the WBC to rebroadcast it later after we all knew the outcome??!!

    Who’s the genious behind that one????

    Also the lack of post-game commentary and interviews left a dryness in the mouth after some riveting games.

    If you had given me the contract to broadcast the games, I could had set up a better pre and post game setting, also I would had televised the games over via UNIVISION and TELEMUNDO two very big hispanic networks in the US and most of Latin-America(the games could be broadcasted both in English and Spanish at the same time with both commentators)and saved a lot headaches to baseball fans who didn’t get the games locally.

    Too bad Cuba is playing with most of it top players watching the game in Cuba on national tv, due to the asilo option to their best players. Like I mentioned in an earlier posting make a rule that no Cuban player who asks for asilo will be hired by MLB ever while attending the WBC or after so that they’ll return to Cuba as they came: With their team.

    Keep the one game per team-round thingy alive and well, it’s the motivation to win!!

    If MLB needs a few good ideas please contact me free of charge! (for a limited time only, not valid to residents of NY, NJ or CA, all taxes to be paid according to local laws, you must be over the age of 21, all information herein,hereto is trademarked and copyrighted to the signer below)

    Reynaldo Pichardo


    Just hear because Damnon is hurt Bonds might be called to join on the Team. Forget Bonds, we need pitching!!!


    Dear Mr. DuPuy
    re: TV, radio, internet etc.

    Sports should be broadcast LIVE. Most people use broadcast television for their sports. Internet streaming and ‘XM Radio’ may be suitable for some who are at work or traveling, but not the majority of fans who want to watch at home on their TVs in their living rooms or dens. No one I know has ‘XM radio” , but most would have liked to have the games available on their regular car radios.

    About the rules – did the USA coach and players miss that message? They do not seem to understand the rules and regulations of the Classic even now. Are these rules posted here on the WBC for fans to read?

    If you are considering allowing Barry Bonds in this tournament, please reconsider. Do not allow him in the park – there are too many children there who will not understand why you would allow a known cheater and drug user to play. Here in CT we have had a major steroid scandal in a local high school and are trying to get steroids, drugs etc. out of our sports. It would help if MLB would adopt the Olympic standards you are using for this WBC now.


    Who has ESPN Deportes?? My cable company doesn’t even offer it. I have to pay $9.95 on MLB Live to watch live Round 2 action such as USA-Korea and Korea-Japan?! Who in the U.S. wants to see tape delayed sports that’s happening on U.S. soil? This is just a method to get people to sign up for MLB Live. The frame rates are good but full screen image quality really suffers. I had to watch highlights on ESPNews just to what the action really looked like. Next time, just have it on Pay Per View so that I can see all the action clearly on my television. Or better yet, have all the round 2 and on games live on ESPN or ESPN2!



    I know MLB wants to have the WBC every 4 years, and I´ve read a lot of people here sugesting the 2 year frame, but how about wvery 3 years? It seems to me that every 2 years is not going to be attractive to owners and every 4 years is too much for fans to wait. If the event is held on March it will never be in the same month than de Olympics or the World Cup. Baseball can make its own calendar and gain momentum on the international stage every 3 years.

    Another idea is to have international qualifying rounds, so many countries from around the world will be part of this, gaining more interest, and leave the final tournament for the best 16 nations in the world, the ones that qualify (just like the World Cup). I live in a country where soccer is the big thing and every 4 years the whole country simply transforms itself during the qualifying rounds for the World Cup. Soccer gains huge interest on people who doesn´t follow or understand the sport. The irony is that our country has never been to the World Cup, but the qualifying rounds does that to everyone.

    This way you can slot the qualifying rounds one year before the WBC, and we´ll have two years of world baseball. It also gives the oportunity to countries like my own to participate, and sprade the game to new places.


    Again, rich people setting up a sporting event while poor people have to read the newspaper the next day to see who won.


    with all the channels we have now on our cable or statillie why cant these games be shedule on one of them besides ESPN since you guys didnt take in consideration ESPN was already full of events with the College Basketball games. I mean on my Dish Network we have about 15 stiupd fox sports channels and alll of times about 10 of them are all showing the same sporting event at the same time@! why cant these games be shown on one of these channels??????


    ESPN is being ridiculous. It is past 2:30 right now and the Korea/Japan game is still not on when their website,, and tv guide all listed it as being tape delayed on ESPN2 at 1am. Now I see on ESPN’s listings that it has been moved to 3am. I think it’s just poor business judgment that ESPN has felt that tennis and women’s softball can pull better ratings than the classic. MLB should have put some more pressure on ESPN to make things right, especially if they want fans to respond to the WBC. And I’m sorry but I already pay enough for cable each month, so paying for mlbtv when I didn’t know how good these games would be was not something I wanted to do.


    what up Bod no images or story yet of yesterdays games japan n Korea or Cuba and PR ???? I need to know who won….haha

    also, i heard D. Lee is out because he is hurt,,, thats two guys down alone with J. Damnon….and no reports yet of all adding another player like Bonds or a Pitcher…I dont understand it.


    USA is going to Lose to Korea if we dont add Bonds now. I dont care what people think of him hes the greatest we have and He said he would play if MLB asked him too. Now with 2 down and a chance to add him we need too. If he is cheating then prove it to me by catching him red handed on camera or shut up about it.


    For anyone who watched the japan and Korea game tonight you missed a great one. Have you ever seen such excitement and passion from a USA player during the MLB season for hitter a bouble and bringing in 2 RBI’s ?? I mean even in the World Series you dont see that.


    So he’s pitched once, now Buck wants Clemens to pitch tonight, AND hopefuly in the final. He’s playing this tournament like a computer game, having the best pitcher as much as possible. Although its probably the only or most likely way the US will get to the final(not that they’v not had any help already as we all know)its just not the variety of stars we wanna see.


    Hey, I am still awake after watching the South Korea v. Japan game because it was shown at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m. As others have already commented, ESPN2 was SUPPOSED to have it on at 1 a.m. but pre-empted it for tennis. And, here in Brooklyn, New York City, Time Warner doesn’t include Deportes. You can’t say that there’s not enough of a Hispanic audience here, in fact, I heard about the Classic because of the advertisements in Spanish on the subway. And with the large Korean population here who is eager to watch live(just like the fans in California who sold out Angel Stadium) we would like to watch at a decent hour or at the very, very least, when it is advertised to be televised.

    Please, please try to do SOMETHING to ensure this is the case for the remaining games.

    Kristin Pak

    Brooklyn, NY

    Rooting for Korea!

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