WBC ’09 almost down to final four

My interest in the WBC teams is roughly inversely correlated with the presence of major-league regulars on the roster. For that reason, I am sorry that one of the still-contending teams in the pool now nearing its conclusion in San Diego will be eliminated. Korea, with hardly anyone I have heard of on the roster, but many players who are a joy to watch play the game (and play it really well), is already in the final four. I suppose my first sentence gives away my rooting interest for tonight, but it will be really hard not to root for the team I am not rooting for. (This international baseball fan stuff is hard!)

Naturally, given the interest mentioned in that first sentence, I have not paid close attention to the pool of teams playing in Miami (especially since the expected early exit of the surprising Netherlands team). But last night’s USA comeback in the bottom of the 9th against Puerto Rico was, well, a classic. And the advance of Team USA to the final four is great news for increasing interest in the tournament; it should certainly help ticket sales and TV ratings for this weekend’s games in Los Angeles. And if they were to play Korea in either the semi-final (seeding to be determined by USA-Venezuela game tonight) or the final (or both), the presence of a very large Korean community in Los Angeles would make for an intense and exciting atmosphere. But really, any of the still-possible match-ups would be interesting.

7 thoughts on “WBC ’09 almost down to final four

  1. I attended the game last night. Venezuela’s Carlos Silva was just terrible. There were a majority of S. Korean fans in attendence in the “announced crowd” of about 43,000. They chanted and banged drums and thundersticks throughout the game. The small contingent of Venezuelan fans continued to boo their countryman, but more important to them, Hugo Chavez supporter Magglio Ordonez at each of his plate appearances. The Koreans advanced to the final, 10-2.


  2. Back in ’06 I was annoyed that Korea and Japan ended up playing each other three times out of eight games. But now they’re about to play their fifth game of the tournament!


  3. I went to game two. Game two saw US Manager leave Roy Oswalt in too long for a single elimination game. The wind was blowing in gusts of around 20-30 mph and it really seemed to hurt US power hitters like Adam Dunn and Ryan Braun. Several fly balls that might have been home runs were held up at the warning track. Japan’s mostly line drive hitting lineup appeared to be able to adjust to the conditions better. The attendence was an “announced” 43,000 again. On to the championship game tonight!


  4. I did go to the final. The announced attendance of 54,000 appeared to match the actual attendance this time.

    This might be one of the 10 best games I’ve ever seen. It had all the elements of a great game, home runs, pitching, a well placed bunt for a base hit and countless other moments.

    The Korean manager at least managed rationally for an elimination game, unlike the Venezuelan and the US managers. After the Korean starter gave up a few hits in the 5th inning, he took out the starting pitcher.

    The star of the game was Ichiro Suzuki, who not only got the bunt for a base hit but also got the game winning hit to drive in two runs in the top of the 10th.

    We may have to rethink the abilities of Japanese baseball players. They have won the first two WBCs. I saw a documentary about Bobby Valentine, who has managed teams in both the US and Japan. He said in the film that Japan is the only world power in which baseball is the most popular sport. Their best athletes become baseball players, not some becoming basketball or football players like in the US or soccer/football players in the rest of the world. At least on the field, the Japanese may be the best.

    Another result of this WBC is that I expect US teams to sign more South Korean players in the future. There are four active in the US majors right now.


  5. That was on the short list of best games I have ever seen–whether in person or on TV. No doubt the atmosphere was even more electric for those who were there.

    When I have a game on the DVR, I often skip over delays (like the catcher visiting the mound, which in the case of the Cuban team is after just about every pitch). But in this one, I did not skip much at all, because the entire thing was just so entertaining.

    In today’s LA Times, Bill Shaikin calls the game possibly the best 10 innings of baseball ever played in Dodger Stadium. (I can’t find the item at the paper’s website or I would link it here.)


  6. The next WBC is almost upon us!

    The format is slightly changed. Instead of first round pools being double-elimination, they’ll be round-robin. The tie-breaker will be “Team Quality Balance”, which is basically run-difference adjusted for innings played.

    A lot of the silliness of the previous format is still there. The two winners of each first-round pool go into the same second-round pool. And the two winners of each second-round pool have to play each other, rather meaninglessly, before advancing to the semifinal. It’s quite possible that Japan and Cuba will play each other four times out of eight or nine games.


  7. I’m just shocked that Brazil, a country where most of the population has never seen a baseball game, let alone played it, beat out Panama, Nicaragua (countries where baseball is the national sport) and Colombia (where baseball is the primary sport on the Caribbean coast, where most of the players come from, and where the spot is reasonably popular throughout the country) for the Latin American qualifier spot.

    I’m also quite surprised that the Mexican government is willing to let their team play in Arizona because of SB1070 (though their sporting federations may be autonomous, as is the case in much of Latin America), and that there has been no talk of a boycott by Mexican players, Mexican fans, or Latino fans in the US.


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