Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lots of WBC Action


Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic starts today, and it's wall-to-wall games today, with Cuba vs. Venezuela at 10:00 AM, Japan vs. the USA at 1:00 PM, Puerto Rico vs. the Dominican Republic at 5:00 PM, and then at 8:00, I'll be attending the Mexico vs. Korea game in Anaheim. Should be lots of fun. David Pinto over at BaseballMusings.com is blogging updates to most of the games, and in general maintains the best baseball discussion site I've found on the web.

A few notes of my own:
  • Three cheers for the police in Puerto Rico. A Cuban exile held up a "Down with Fidel" sign at Thursday's Cuba-Netherlands game in San Juan, so some of the Cuban delegation's thugs confronted the guy. What happened next? The police escorted the Castro stooge to the police station and gave him a lecture on free speech! I've heard that (but can't find a link for) MLB quickly instituted a no-political-signs rule instead of calling Cuba's bluff on this incident. A protest zone remains outside the stadium, though, which is far more protesting than you'll see allowed in the "worker's paradise" of Cuba.
  • Puerto Rico and Cuba both advanced from their pool, but P.R. won a mercy-rule victory over the Cubans the next day. It was the first time Cuba had been mercy-ruled since 1983 vs. Taiwan (or "Chinese Taipei," as the communists would prefer us call them).
  • Speaking of the mercy rule, Team USA quickly recovered from its embarrassing 8-6 loss to Canada on Thursday with a 17-0 called-after-five-innings annihilation of South Africa to advance to the next round. Obviously, South Africa is supposed to lose that game, but the U.S., behind Roger Clemens, made sure there was no doubt.
  • But even Clemens didn't have the most impressive pitching performance of Friday's action. That honor goes to Shairon Martis of the Netherlands, who pitched a no-hitter against Panama. What makes that feat extra-remarkable for the Giants farmhand is that he finished the no-hit bid just inside the 65-pitch limit for the first round of the WBC. If his teammates hadn't plated 10 runs behind him to invoke the mercy rule after the 7th inning, the game would have continued and Martis would have had to come out of the game.
  • Team Japan is back in action today, which means we'll get more looks at a bunch of guys whose Beatle haircuts make them look like they have mullets when they're wearing batting helmets. First baseman Michihiro Ogasawara, though, has a bad-ass Fu Manchu.

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