Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The WBC has come to an end for the second time and just like the first the Japanese are your world's best baseball team despite the Koreans best efforts. The Koreans down by two in the 8th inning fought back lead by Lee Bum-ho. In the 8th Bum-ho lied a double off the wall to lead off the inning and eventually scored on a sac fly. In the 9th Bum-ho singled in the tying run after Yu Darvish decided to avoid bats by striking out two and walking two. At the end of the night the hero was fittingly Ichiro. With two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd Ichiro fought off pitch after pitch after pitch until eventually lined the ball up the middle two score the go-ahead runs. In the bottom of the 10th with the bottom of Korean lineup up, Darvish casually used his slider to dominate and clinch the Japanese second World Baseball classic in two attempts.
And now we go into random thought mode.
~TEAM ASIA DOMINATES!!!!!!!
~The Japanese may or may not be the best baseball team in the world but they have three top tier pitchers who all pitched well. America has some solid starters who didn't show up for the tournament but it's not like pitching Roy Oswalt should be a liability. Meanwhile, the Japanese got solid starts from Dice-K and Hisashi Iwakuma and had Darvish come out of the pen in back to back games.
~The Koreans were effectively a National League team. Solid to spectacular on defense. A solid but unspectacular middle of the order and slap hitting bitches at the bottom of the lineup.
~There are many issues with the World Baseball Classic, the biggest in my estimation is its live feel. In the vast majority of the games in the tournament the game did not have the feel of being an important game. The obvious reason for this is piss poor attendance. When you turn on a game and are watching it on television and see 15,000 people in the stands and half of the behind the plate seats empty, it doesn't scream this game is important get into it. Last night on the other hand did thanks to the Korean fans and their stupid thundersticks. The place was load, their was a solid atmosphere and it vastly increased the intensity and feel of the game.
~The first problem is most people aren't in the baseball mood right now. It's March Madness time. It's basketball time. It's not time for some new baseball tournament with some funky rules during Spring training. Americans just aren't into it enough right now.
~The second problem is the location of these games. The biggest baseball markets in America are in cold weather cities. But in March you can't hold games in NYC, Boston or Chicago so you have to hold them in Miami a place where they never ever show up for baseball games.
~So what needs to happen to take this tournament to the next level? Well it needs the best players around the world to play in the games. Each squad has all-stars but they certainly don't have the best of the best. No Johan. No CC. No Mariano. No Pujols. No Sizemore. And the list goes on and on. Players seemingly look for a reason to back out. Take Joe Nathan for instance. He was 'injured' or something. He's already thrown 6 innings in spring training. Chances are he wouldn't have even thrown that many innings in the WBC. Additionally as soon as someone gets a mild sprained ankle they pull out like a sissy girl (I'm looking at you Shrek and Doucheroia).
~The World Baseball Classic absolutely positively makes the most sense during the an elongated all star break. Every 4 years take 2 weeks off and shove the games in that time frame. Players are in midseason form, players that are unhealthy would get extra time to heal, Americans are in the baseball mood, and you can showcase the games in the greatest stadiums in America (Wrigley, Fenway, Yankee Stadium). Too bad MLB will never fly with that idea, it would make this tournament infinitely more relevant and popular. Alas, they seem to be content with showing it in March to rabid baseball fans like myself, Latinos and Team Asia.