Thursday, March 16, 2006

WBC: USA out

Earlier today, I wrote:
Japan advances to semifinals with:
A Mexico win over the United States by a score of 2-0 or 2-1, at any point before a second out is recorded in the bottom of the ninth inning
Well, there you go. Mexico beat the USA 2-1 and didn't need to come up in the bottom of the 9th to bat, so Japan advances. It's weird; if the score had been tied 1-1 and Mexico had scored the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, the USA would have lost the game but advanced to the semifinals.

I'm less bummed about the USA losing --- in a quick tournament, anything can happen, and it's not like it's a shock when a team of USA all-stars gets beaten in an international tournament anymore --- than I am about Cuba getting farther in this thing than we did. Here's hoping they get crushed by the Dominican major leaguers on Saturday. Also, Japan got screwed on that 3rd base call in the USA game, so there's some kind of karmic justice in them advancing. There was a screwy call against Mexico in today's game, too. Major-league umpires aren't immune from making bad calls, but next time around the WBC needs to use the highest-level umpires possible that aren't from either of the countries playing the game. That seems like a no-brainer in international competition.

Also, it would have just been wrong for us to lose the game a la the scenario above and still advance. Here's hoping they come up with a better tie-breaker scenario next time this tournament comes around. The competition, though, has been remarkable. Sure, some of the first-round teams like China and South Africa were dead meat from day one, but certainly in the second round we've seen a lot of tight, well-pitched games with a level of enthusiasm from the players and fans more on par with October baseball than March baseball.

Anyway, Korea gets to face Japan for a third time on Saturday, this time with a trip to the final game on the line. There's been a lot of trash-talking from the Japanese side, but maybe if Korea sweeps their three games they might shut up Japan for good.


At Friday, March 17, 2006 at 8:09:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I actually feel okay about the U.S. losing out because it means Japan gets the chance they were kind of screwed out of. I hope they make the most of it, though either Japan or Korea against the DR would be a good game. (I agree that Cuba must be crushed, though I'll miss watching their catcher yell at his pitchers when they give up a hit.)

I hope the WBC isn't a one-time experiment, but there definitely needs to be a few modifications. Streamlining the tiebreaker system would be one. (How about a simple run deferential for all games, not just head-to-head matchups?) And though there's no obvious time of the year to hold this thing, I would vote that they move it up to February (a dead time on the sports calendar, and early enough that any minor injuries could be rehabbed in time for the regular season). Post-season isn't really an option in my opinion -- not just because the players are worn out, but because by November most sports fans are really ready to focus on college and pro football.

In unrelated news, I'm listening to the song "Dogs" by Pink Floyd right now, which I probably haven't listened to in its entirety since I was in high school. Man that's a great song.



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