World Baseball Classic

I’ve spent good chunks of the last three evenings watching the
finals and semifinals of the World Baseball
Classic
(WBC). Here are some random thoughts:

  • Other things being equal, I was rooting for the team with
    the fewest major leaguers on it. I’ve always found it offensive
    that the Major League
    championship should be called the World Series, when all the
    eligible teams are located in two countries, neither of which
    seems to ever win a real world
    championship. Of course, other things weren’t equal — I
    usually felt like rooting for the Red Sox players I like, and I
    watched the finals with a Japanese friend, so I rooted for Japan
    over South Korea, even though Japan has several times as many major
    leaguers on their team.
  • I was annoyed that they abandoned play-by-play for a large
    chunk of the close-fought final game for an interview with the
    Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Baseball broadcasts tend
    to do this more casually than I like anyway, but you would think
    they would take a championship final a little more
    seriously.
  • Besides, the interview was not illuminating. They asked the
    Commissioner what could be done it increase fan interest in the
    WBC. Nobody mentioned the idea of putting more of it on TV,
    or some of it on broadcast TV.
  • If the Commissioner had been asked about TV coverage, he
    probably would have said that people with internet connections
    could watch it online at mlb.com. This isn’t true for anyone I
    know who’s tried. Admittedly I tried 3 years ago, but a friend
    who’s a big baseball fan and doesn’t have cable tried this
    month, using his Mac with DSL, and found it unwatchable.
  • An article I read before the WBC started said that it wasn’t
    going to be a real world championship until you could get 16
    teams without using weak entries like Italy and the
    Netherlands. In fact, both of those teams did quite well. What
    you would write with 20/20 hindsight is that you won’t get a
    good world championship until the semifinals can have 4 teams
    that are all better then Venezuela was on Saturday against South
    Korea. I didn’t see enough of the preceding games to be able to
    tell whether Venezuela was better at the beginning or whether
    they really got to the semifinals by beating teams that were
    even worse than that. The couple of games I saw earlier in the
    tournament were better than that.
  • I couldn’t figure out what the point of the pitch-count
    limitations was. I assume it’s to mollify the MLB
    managers who don’t want their players used up before the season
    starts. But it might have been to prevent a Davis Cup type
    situation where a country with a good pitcher and one or two
    good hitters can embarrass the countries with lots of good
    players. But that would be good television, if it
    happened.
  • The official scorers seemed a little error-happy to me. I
    saw several plays ruled as errors that if the player had made
    it, I would have been impressed. One particularly memorable one
    was on Sunday night, when Ichiro was batting for Japan against
    the US team. He hit what normally would be a routine ground
    ball to third except:

    • Ichiro is one of the fastest runners in baseball, so he
      beat it out.
    • The third baseman’s throw to first was a little
      wide.
    • The US team didn’t have a real first baseman, and were
      using a converted shortstop, and he had his right foot on the
      bag, when the throw was wide to his right side, so he could
      have stretched better if he’d had his left foot on the bag.

    I would have probably given Ichiro a hit, but the scorer ruled
    it a throwing error by the third baseman.

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