Monday, March 13, 2006

’06 World Baseball Classic – Round 2 update 1

Truly fine baseball is being played in this tournament. All 8 teams in this round belong here and, with the results shown today, there is no clear, runaway favorite to win it all.

I expected the USA to beat Japan and they did so, but they needed a controversial call to make it happen. I think the home plate umpire (who wasn’t even the guy who was suppose to make the call) blew the call – the Japanese player did NOT leave before the ball was caught and should not have been called out. It may have cost the Japanese the game. On the other hand, it was great to see A-Rod come through with the big hit. I hope he keeps it up because Team USA is going to need all the help it can get to win this thing. And what can you say about Derrick Lee? The guy has been Mr. Consistent for Team USA.

I just finished watching the Korea-Mexico game; another nail-biter. I really feel sorry for the Mexicans; they pitched great and their defense was outstanding, especially turning that double-play off a bunt attempt. But they lost because they just couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it. By losing this game, the Mexicans are almost certainly doomed to not make it out of this round. To have a chance to advance, they’ll have to beat both the Americans and the Japanese and I just don’t think that’s going to happen. The Koreans played a solid game and deserved to win. And, by winning this game, they have a chance to advance now.

In the other bracket, I was wrong twice. The Cubans played smart, opportunistic baseball and knocked off the Dominicans. And the Puerto Rican team is suddenly looking very scary. One of my picks to advance is certainly not going to make it out of this round. When the Dominicans play the Venezuelans, one of them is going to lose. That will give that team two losses and that will be the end of their chances.

All of these games have had a playoff atmosphere. Every game is meaningful and there are no more patsies in the tournament. The crowds are large and really into the games. The announcers have been pretty good and, with the exception of the 8th and 9th innings, the commercial breaks have been mercifully short. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s games.

Go Team USA!

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