March 24, 2009

Japan wins a boxing title?

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

For a tournament that supposedly no one in North America watched, the WBC turned out to be pretty entertaining. Not to be confused with one of the many different boxing championships out there (WBC, WBA, IBF, etc.) the World Baseball Classic delivered some good games despite the time of year and numerous turned down invitations by superstars. It was all capped off by pretty good final too.

Sure, there’s a lot that’s fundamentally wrong with it. It’s baseball in March, which is just when guys are starting to get up to speed. Everyone is on pitch counts, including relievers, so you could be hung out to dry if enough of the other team works the count continually. And the format is awful, with the best example of that being that the championship game: Japan-South Korea V. These two teams met five times including last night; also, the States met Venezuela four times. There has to be a better way to hash out a tournament than that. Single elimination doesn’t really work, but how about group play followed by a page playoff system like in curling? Look it up, it works pretty well to determine the right finalists.

As for last night, other than the great back and forth with Korea tying it in the ninth and then Ichiro’s heroism in the tenth, what rang true is that small ball is a great way to go. Great fundamentals like bunting, base stealing and the fine art of stretching singles into doubles and going first to third will go further than that long ball your ’roided up cleanup hitter will get you. More teams should be trying this out, if they’re truly not concerned about ticket prices and really care about winning.

Conversely, if you don’t do it right, like Korea in the middle innings, you can put your team in the whole. In consecutive innings, the Korean had a guy get thrown out at second trying to stretch a double and then had a guy nearly get picked off after jumping too early. The trifecta was capped off when that same player was caught stealing.

And yes, I actually mentioned curling in a good light.

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