World Baseball Classic Round 2, Day 5


Okay. I guess I am flattered that some of you are complaining I did not write anything about last night, but the deal was that I was writing about the locations I was at. I spent yesterday flying back from San Juan to NY, worked in the office (for the first time in almost two weeks) until game time last night, and then flew today to San Diego. But I do have some comments, even if a day late (and probably more than a dollar short):

1. I was struck by how excited the Mexican team and their fans were after the game, even though they had been eliminated. Beating the U.S. team was obviously a big deal. They played and pitched well, and executed when they had to. Vinny Castilla moved a lot quicker than most 38-year-olds with a bum knee.

2. Even though it was the difference in the game, I was glad my fellow MLBlogger Jorge Cantu drove in Mario Valenzuela with the run in the third inning ( 350K). The replays were clear about the ball hitting the foul pole at least eight or 10 feet up the pole. There was no question it should have been a home run. It would have been brutal to the long-term credibility of this event if the U.S. team advanced on two questionable calls in two different games in the second round. Maybe these games are already significant enough that we should use foul-line umpires like we do in the playoffs and All-Star Game. I think back to the first exciting Dominican Republic/Venezuela game in Orlando, where the third base umpire, Fred van Gronigen, from The Netherlands correctly called a ball in play off the outfield wall that could have been called a home run and impacted the outcome of that game and perhaps the round. The call last night was missed, pure and simple.

Rogerclemens3. Roger Clemens put on a gritty performance
( 350K) and probably deserved a better fate. From a personal standpoint, I hope he comes back sometime this year. His retirement will leave a hole in the game.

4. I think the biggest surprise to me is not that the U.S. team lost this game, necessarily, but that it ended up 3-3 over six games. I don’t think anyone thought it was a .500 team, even with the injuries and non-participating players. It does demonstrate how much better competition has gotten worldwide. Although that should not be a shock, I guess, when you consider that Ichiro won the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards his first year in the Major Leagues, and Chan Ho Park and Hee Seop Choi have certainly performed at a high level since coming to the States. One point to those who are posting that the U.S. was arrogant and that players A, B and C should have played:  Remember, this was a voluntary signup. Some players chose not to participate because they did not feel ready physically and others because they just did not want to play, not because they were not "chosen." Could some of them have helped? Sure. But if you look at the roster that was assembled and the starting lineup that went out on the field, there is no team in the Major Leagues that would not like to field that team during the season.

Interestingly, the newest ESPN SportsNation poll has 78 percent believing that the U.S. loss will be a neutral or a positive in that it will drive interest in other countries, and 77 percent are still interested in the remaining games. The ratings last night were 2.1 on ESPN, meaning that almost 2.5 million viewers tuned in, making it the most-watched game of the Classic so far in the United States. It was the most watched cable show among men 18-49 and 25-54 yesterday, against, of course, the strong competition of the NCAA Tournament.

As I said, we arrived in San DIego this afternoon. The weather is cool but, more significantly, as I write this it is pouring rain. The forecast for tomorrow is dicey. I hope that if we get a game started, we can finish it. Given the format of the event, it would be a shame to get a game washed out or suspended. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow.

As I mentioned last week, I agree with the posters who would prefer to see cross-over semifinals, i.e, Cuba vs. Korea and Dominican Republic vs. Japan, with the winners meeting Monday. I hope that will be on the agenda to review for 2009.

Rain or shine, we will be out at the Habitat for Humanity site tomorrow morning along with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and officials from the host San Diego Padres. The buildout at the All-Star Game last July in Houston got a lot of coverage as we built a number of homes that were shipped to the Gulf Coast, and this weekend, three more will be built and shipped to the same area. Some of the players have agreed to help out on Sunday in a terrific show of international compassion and sportsmanship. I will try to post a picture tomorrow night.

Can Korea actually beat Japan three times? Can Cuba do to the Dominican team what it did to Puerto Rico: Come back from a thumping and win when absolutely necessary? Tune in tommorow.




    An embarrassing game again for team USA. Two bad calls in two games, only one win even with the help of the umps. I don’t live in the US and I could tell you that team USA in our country is being called sore losers. I hope in 2009 international umps are used or at least get some US umps that will help you WIN in all the games.


    I am writing from Japan.

    As a matter of fact, Mr. Davidson has become the most known American umpire in Japan right now. Although he is not even a MLB umpire but he is obviously very “American.”

    It is unfortunate that an umpire gets this much attentions instead of the players from around the world.

    Therefore the under-qualified umpire like him should go back immediately to his previous job: softball games umpire for $20 a pop.


    Mexico VS USA had me on my toes all night!!!


    As I had said in earlier postings here:

    Korea VS Dominican Republic


    Dominican Republic!

    I used the baseball yardstick to size the Asian teams with the Latin-American teams:


    I can tell you outright that neither Korea or Japan will best either Cuba or the Dominican Republic head to head.

    Team USA failed because it lacked the hunger to win, a hunger that is more than personal pride, more than country pride, it’s the need to give back to the people at home a crown they know it’s long due: Beisbol!

    No other countries in the world have the passion of the Caribbean fans, they push the teams to do the impossible and more!

    Team USA lacked the heart of fire to win, it had the weapons, the bullets but not the never-give-up soldier behind them!

    To all those who call it Cuba Vs Korea:

    The only real time Cuba lost to a team in real play was to the Dominican Republic, quite simply the game VS Puerto Rico was a gimmick to fill the programme, Cuba and Puerto Rico had already clinched their spots for the next round. Cuban player didn’t play to win at all at that particular game, just to get by for the next meeting.

    Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic was due to lack of pitching on the Dominican side.

    Cuba could upset the Dominican Republic but it will be hard to do at this point, most hitters already faced Cuba’s arms and watched the tapes from the earlier Cuban games, so don’t think these guys get pay the big enchilada for nuttin’.

    So lets find out how good my observations are tomorrow!

    (Japan could get even with Korea too!)


    Sadly, the USA was the only country at the tournament not treating this event with respect it deserves. While only a handful of international players pulled out of the event, plenty of US players did. Also, Buck Martinez was far more concerned about getting players playing time than he was about winning games. I really think Buck was an absolute disgrace. Why was he the manager? Japan is being managed by the greatest player in the history of the country, while the USA is being managed by someone whose only managerial experience was an absolute failure. He had Jeter, Varitek and Griffey out of the game against Canada when the score was 8-6, and didn’t have Varitek in until the 8th inning yesterday.
    This isn’t meant as an excuse. Even with all their best players and a real manager the US might not have reached the semi-finals.

    I really think this tournament is wonderful and I hope it becomes a big part of baseball in the future.


    Viva Korea…
    I hope Korea will get past Japan one more time, who is considered second in the world in quality of the league behind MLB. Remember Ichiro broke an 80 year old record of most hits in a single season in MLB and among the top hitters year in and year out. I don’t see how some people think Careabean teams are better than Asian teams head to head. Before this tourney, I believed that Japan was considered second best team behind USA and not DR or PR or Cuba. And Korea beat Japan twice this tourney and is undefeated so far. All in all, the most important factor in baseball is pitching and Korea ‘s got pitchers… We shall see who wins it all tomorrow and Monday night. May the best team win. Viva Corea!!!


    Thanks Bob for the page everyday and the blog. I enjoy reading everyones comments and ideas.

    Again I just want to say if the USA wants to win an event like this in the future I hope they start planning today on how and ways to win. We should not have to rely on our own umps to try to help us win. Again like someone just said even if we had better players like Bonds, I am not so sure Buck Martinez would of even had played him in the spots most needed. I also feel Buck was only trying to get players in the games because yes they did choose to voltner thier time to come and play. But again if we are going to ever win we need a better manager and smarter players not just good players but smart players that know how to win as a team and at least know how to lay down a bunt, yes I am talking to you Mike Young. We never had a leadoff type hitter either. Jeter had 9 hits but only 1 RBI. Jeter should had been our leadoff hitter. I vote for Tommy to manage the team in 2009.

    Also I feel that if we our going to win our team needs to been picked a year in adavnce and needs to be voted in. And they need to start pacticing a month ahead of time before the tourny begins. I am glad USA is out, now I can watch the rest of the games without being stressed out. Thanks for putting up with me everyone. bye


    I agree with everyone that in the simis the two groups should switch. I think its not as exciting to watch Japan and Korea 3 times against each other. Its crazy to think if Japan beats Korea they will get to play in the finals after lossing to Korea twice and for Korea to go home with only 1 lost.

    In 2009, if we cant vote for our team to represent us then at least let us vote for the Manager. Again I vote Tommy in 2009. ALso, getting to play in this event like this should be an honor not just a volunter thing. A player should have to earn his spot on the roster. He should get a golden letter, like a golden ticket in the mail sent by MLB saying you have been pick to repesnt your country in the greatest game ever.


    There are reports in the DC media that DC mayor, Anthony Williams, will meet with Bud Selig on Saturday at the WBC. How likely is it that we will get a decision on a time-frame on an announcement for a new ownership group for the Nationals?


    Dear Mr. DuPuy – No small part of the success of the WBC has been your wonderful blog – thank you. I’m a lifelong baseball fan and I am going to watch all the final games even though the USA has been eliminated, because of the quality of baseball being played in this tournament. I’m posting part of Thomas Boswell’s column from the Washington Post this morning which speaks to that issue.
    “MLB can thank its lucky stars for March Madness. If the nation had not been busy with its NCAA basketball brackets, it might have noticed that teams from all over the world now know how to emphasize pitching, defense, “small ball,” team play and high spirits, while our players sat back and waited for guys with big muscles and bigger salaries to hit home runs.

    The message of this first, but not last WBC, may be clearer than we think. For more than 15 years, MLB’s brand of baseball has been long on “juice” and short on subtlety. That era is finally over. Teams like the Chicago White Sox, who play the whole game properly and function as interlocking units, not as isolated individuals, now rule the sport.

    While the American version of the game has spent a generation bulking up and dumbing down, the rest of the world has been catching up. If you watch the rest of the WBC, you will see teams that lay down precise sacrifice bunts, play hit-and-run, advance runners, hit the cutoff man, cheer each other madly and hit according to the demands of the situation, not the desires of their own egos. You may not recognize many of the players. But you will probably still recognize the game. It’s baseball.”

  10. pochtecatl@cox.nt

    Glad you are back Bob. Here are a few thoughts. 1. Its not too late to use foul line umpires at least for the final game. I am sure there are two Major League category umps living in Southern California willing to take a trip to San Diego and participate in the WBC’s final. I am sure you could find a way to make it worth wile for them. You would give the tournament the respect it deserves, more credibility and, to the eyes of the world, start making up for what wasn’t done before. A sort of: “hey, we screw up with some umpiring calls, but look, we are already taking steps in the right direction” I think it would go a long way.

    2. Maybe the next WBC we can have instant replay like they do in football for field calls. I am not talking about balls and strikes, but for an occassional bad call like the ones made against Japan and Mexico. The WBC doesn’t have to follow every MLB rule.

    3.The best players and coaches should play in this thing, period. Either by a vote or by a national coach that picks them. If they don’t want to play, let them be exposed as the greedy, selfish, unpatriotic lowlifes they are. The fans in the stadiums will remind them every chance they get. Let’s see if they don’t want to play now.

    3. Great thing about the ESPN polls, but now there has to be a follow up and renewed effort to get more countries interested in the sport. The US doesn’t have to do this by themselves. We now know that there are other great teams out there. Maybe we can get the Cubans, Koreans, Mexicans, etc. to go play exhibition games to some of these countries with baseball potential. With the exception of Cuba, the other teams won’t be exactly the same caliber, but the intention remains.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this blog. I am in San Diego, it is saturday morning, and can’t wait to make it to the ballpark. The sun is peeking through.


    The excitement is mounting now – heck I was excited yesterday!

    A point on the US. A lot of flack for Buck Martinez (who won 1 of the 3 US games) and the players here. Understandable but I think wrong. Buck and all of those players were willing to stand up put on the US jerseys and play in a tournament where defeat would be world news and victory greeted with ‘so whats’. They deserve praise for that at least. US fans might turn their attention to those who SHOULD have been there but were not… I hope that in 3 years the entire US baseball establishment will be ready to work to ‘put this one right’!

    I’m rooting for the cindarella team Korea and the underdogs from Cuba so you should all get your money down on a DR v Japan final



    I don’t blame any player that did not want to participate in the first wbc. I do believe that more players will be interested in playing after seeing all of this year’s WBC.
    The comments about USA..lacking passion for totally false. The American players tried hard, but they just couldn’t succeed. Buck Martinez did a good job, if he was winning, everyone would be praising him. In this type of tournament..anyone can win. Bob Davidson made all the right calls from his viewing points, he does not have the access to replays.

    goooo Corea!


    yooj – on anyone being able to win a tournament like this. Up to a point, maybe. A team can have a dream few weeks and win. However, lets look at the last 30 years since international baseball came together. In the Olympics, World Cups and Intercontinental Cups there have been 28 events. Cuba have won 24 and been second the other 4 times. In the last 19 European Championships – generally 8 or 12 team tournaments – the Netherlands have 12 and Italy 7, the rest none.

    Tournaments are a sprint not a marathon but you don’t win them if you are no good and they aren’t nearly as random as some folk who don’t know the stats like to suggest…


    Well the first semi lived up to its billing – a fine game and congratulations to Cuba.

    Last week a lot of folk commented that this was the Cuban second-string. Thank goodness they didn’t send the good players! To be serious, they do seem to have another gear when they know a game is a must-win.

    And on to Korea v Japan – can Korea really beat Japan three times? I can’t believe too many Koreans would have believed that possible before the WBC began but I suspect a lot of us neutrals will be rooting for them…


    I was looking forward to the Classic since it was first announced – and it has exceeded my expectations. Living in Arizona, I had the chance to see the USA vs South Africa game and I took in exhibitions between Seattle & Japan and San Diego vs Korea. It is a great opportunity to see players that I would not have the opportunity to. I was able to meet and receive an autograph from Mr. Oh – what a great guy and opportunity I never expected. For the next time, I would recommend international umpires and maybe a revised TV schedule. When the games were in Tokyo, it is okay to play at 4am, but when they are in Orlando, San Juan or Phoenix, it should be viewable aat a regular time. At least the semi-finals are on at a good time. I loved both Japan and Korea. Their rivalry will make tonights game great. I originally called the final four as USA/Dominican/Japan/Cuba. 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. I just wish I could have had the opportunity to see the Cubans. Thanks for helping make sure they were part of the Classic! All in all – A++

  16. pochtecatl@cox.nt

    Whatever you do, you have to watch the Cubans warm up before a game. Then, and only then, will you understand why they are so good. It boils down to fundamentals, and the Cubans are masters at it. Nice to see their approach to the game…its fresh, crisp, unspoiled; it was a treat I will never forget. Thanks to everyone who put this tournament together.

  17. pochtecatl@cox.nt

    Hey, Bob, you want an idea for a sure bet sold out game? How about the Yankees vs. the Cubans? I am not so sure the Yankees could pull it off…and the whole country would be watching.


    I was at the first WBC game here in the States (Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela). It was by far the most exhilarting sporting event I’ve ever been to. The fans were tremendous. I liken the players to kids in a candy store; they were so happy and energetic. Emotions were running high from the moment we walked into the park – actually from the time we got out of the car.

    I have to admit, though, that I am not as excited about the upcoming MLB season. Here’s why: the excitement and intensity that I saw on the field, in the dugouts, in the bullpen, and in the stands at Disney won’t be there in the major league ballparks. I think we, in the U.S., take baseball for granted. Its just assumed that we are the best and no one can touch us or share the love for “our game”. So, I’d like to challenge all of the true fans to go out and support your team the way the fans supported their national teams in this tournament. Paint your face, wave your flags, party in the stands. Just bring the joy back to the game. Baseball is more than the “Kiss Cam”, 7th Inning Stretch, and crowd crews throwing free Ts or towels into the stands. Why should the organizations entertain us? Let the players and fellow fans to do that. “Party in the Parks” this year, folks. I dare you.

    Nzinga B.


    As a retired US Marine, I have been watching the WBC from Japan and I have to say – WOW!! What a great idea this was. Kudos to all involved. Although I have not been able to watch every game, the excitement of the fans, especially the S. American, Carribbean and Asian fans just goes to show how international this game is. It also goes to show just how falsely arrogant many of the U.S. fans and players were about this from the get-go. OKay, so next time around lets stow the pride and play some ball. ****, we invented it, we should be able to get to the semi-finals at least.
    At any rate, this was a great tournament and I send best wishes to both the Cubans and the Japanese as well as to every player, coach, umpire and fan who made this possible. Ooorahh international sports!

    Maybe governments could learn from this 😦


    beagle – I feel your pain. As a Brit we invented football (your soccer) and cricket (not to mention lots of other sports) and we DREAM of ever making an international semi final again in most anything! I think thats why so many of us Brits support the Cubbies – there’s a certain affinity there 🙂

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