Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 World Baseball Classic Signals the Spring

Usually you hear a March meet up between the Americans and the Canadians and you think, is this an Olympics year?  Are we seeing some sort of Hockey Summit?  No, not this year.  This year is the Third Installment of the World Baseball Classic.  Where many pundits and general managers hate the WBC because it throw players into intense baseball early in March (Think Daisuke Matsuzaka's herculean effort in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, which earned him the most wasteful contracts in the history of the Boston Red Sox), I enjoy it because Spring Training is too long and drawn out.  I see if the boys want to watch.  They look at me befuddled.  They don't want to watch Spring Training baseball.  No it's more obscure than that.

Now the rules are a little different in the WBC, mostly to ensure that managers don't go crazy with their pitchers at the expense of  the teams that need them during the regular season.  The pitch count rules remind one of little league, but that's OK.  65 pitches maximum, 50 pitches requires 4 days rest and so on.  I wouldn't want a pitcher getting hurt for this.  Question:  why isn't this played in a warm location AFTER the season?  The mercy rules are also quaint.  I guess these guys have to be treated like 10 year olds? 

But this game is an elimination game.  Both the United States and Canadians are 1-1 in Pool play and the winner will move on to San Diego.  This is about as intense as baseball is intended to be in early March.

Joey Votto and Justin Morneau are on the Canadian Team?  I had to go onto Baseball Reference to double check and yes, they are both Canadians.  Who knew?

Second Inning.  After an uneventful 1st inning, the Americans put runners on 1st and 3rd in the second inning.  After a terrible contact play decision by David Wright, the Americans fail to score. To make matters worse, the Canadians light U.S. pitcher Derek Holland up with a double and then a long two run homer by Michael Saunders.  The Americans don't actually record an out until Pete Orr grounds out to third base.  Canada leads after 2 innings, 2-0.

Fourth Inning.  After an error and a sacrifice fly, the Americans tie the score up at 2.  Chants of USA start to ring around the stadium.  Wherever they're playing.

Sixth Inning.  As the crowd gets anxious (remember if the United States loses, they finish last in their pool), Team Canada scores the go ahead run on a dinky single by Adam Loewen.  The Canadians are winning 3-2.

Eighth Inning.  ADAM JONES!  With runners going from First and Second, Jones screams a line drive into the Left Field gap for a 4-3 lead!  The crowd shows signs of life for the first time all game.  So what if the centerfielder took a bad route to the ball.  The Americans add an insurance run to take a 5-3 lead in the top of the 8th.  Good thing since the Canadians score a run in the bottom of the inning to cut the score to 5-4.  A real nailbiter.  It's about this time that I would start to count pitches.

Ninth Inning.  The Americans break it open with 4 runs in the top  of the inning, highlighted by a three run double by Eric Hosmer.  As the Canadians go down quietly in the bottom of the Ninth, I yell down to the boys that the United States was moving on in the second round after winning Pool B.

"What's the World Baseball Classic?" C asks me. 


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