Local ElectionsA quick reminder to all of those in the MSM, on the left, piling on Trump on twitter etc and declaring victory like this fool:

Thanks to you, the NFL and the media every Democrat running in a red state, especially those vulnerable Democrat senators, now gets to answer this question during election 2018.

“Do you support or oppose professional sports players kneeling for the national anthem in protest?”

I’m sure Manchin & McCaskill et/all and all the dem class of 2018 are dying to answer that question.

If they answer “support” in the primary it will doom them in the general

If they answer “oppose” it will certainly draw a primary challenge from the left that will either be too far left to win or force them to position even farther left to ensure primary voters still show.

Either way Trump wins.

Thanks NFL & Dems, because of you Trump will have to extra GOP votes to repeal Obamacare after 2018 and can tell McCain Collins et/al to pound sand.


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Over the last two years my wife has really fallen in love with the Patriots, she has consumed the game with a passion that only matches her love of quilting.

Today despite my own misgivings I turned on the game for her (I’m pretty indifferent except for Brady) and while Tom Brady, Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick all stood there were a bunch of Patriots taking a knee.

When she saw this something happened that I didn’t expect.

She told me to shut it off.

As she said: “they’re paid to throw and catch pigskin, protest on your own dime, your own dime and your own time…this girl is not going to fall all over anybody because they are babies, spoiled overpaid babies. Put on your big boy pants and grow up.” ”

She didn’t stop there “the Patriots are supposed to be a class act and that shows no class at all.”

she had plenty more to say but I can’t type that fast.

She also apologizes to Tom, Grok and everyone who stood and while she will always root for her boys but as of today as long as there is a Patriot kneeling for the anthem, the TV gets shut off or changed.

The people at work will be shocked when she doesn’t ask for the score of the game, but if they want to make a statement fine, this is hers.

I really didn’t think this would happen and I suspect neither did the NFL.

May they be happy with the path they have chosen.

Update: Apparently they lost a large chunk of the crowd at the game too:

During the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Gillette Stadium, 17 Patriots players decided to take a knee, including defensive starters Devin McCourty, Malcolm Butler, Duron Harmon and Stephon Gilmore.

The fans didn’t like that

Fortunately for the NFL as MSNBC show you can still make a good living with a niche market.


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Last year the NFL tried to spend an entire season pretending that the protests against the National Anthem were not hurting attendance while trying to appease players who decided they’d want to be social justice warriors of the pampered 1%.

This season attendance and rating continue to drop as athletes decide to focus on protest rather than play and the athletes doubled down asking the NFL to dedicate a month to protest.

Four NFL players submitted a 10-page memo to the league’s top officials asking for “overt league support” and a month of anti-police activism.

The 10-page memo was obtained by Yahoo Sports and was endorsed by Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles’ Torrey Smith and former NFL player Anquan Boldin. The memo was sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent.

Bennett has sat during the national anthem during games and raises a fist on the field after making plays in protest of the police.

The memo asks for the league to make the month of November as “activism awareness month” such as the league does with breast cancer.

This was a bombshell aimed directly at the blue collar white fan base that Roger Goodell would like to avoid, but alas for him a more media savvy person recognized that NFL base that is getting angry at pampered athletes dissing the country and law are upsetting his base too.

Ed Morrissey saw where this was going:

After this, what will be more likely: NFL players decide to obey Trump, or NFL players make a special show of defying Trump? Given his relative popularity in the urban areas that support these teams, bet heavily on the latter. And even those who might have eschewed protesting during the anthem before this for reasons of patriotism will now have incentive to show solidarity with their teammates, knowing full well that Trump’s comments will put pressure on them to show that they’re not going to take orders from him.

This fad may have petered out naturally after a few more months; Trump’s all but guaranteed that we’ll get it through the 2020 election. And that may mean that NFL players will need to keep it going through 2024, given the unpopularity of the protests everywhere else. It’s a win-win, I guess.

Sure enough the NFL commissioner who wasn’t willing to critique his players was more than willing to hit Trump

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fired back at President Trump on Saturday for encouraging league owners to remove players who take a knee during the national anthem, saying Trump’s “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”

Oddly enough I don’t recall him calling the protests “divisive”, nor complaining about the “unfortunate lack of respect” for police or the country and the flag.

Furthermore on Friday another story came out about Stephen Curry saying he’s not going to the White House over Trump and the Warriors hedging about going 

”I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Myers said. ”It’s not as clear as, well I assume some people think it is and some people think it isn’t. So, from our opinion, my opinion, it deserves a proper forum. It deserves the right amount of thought, and so when we make the decision we at least put in the right amount of time to make it.”

Stephen Curry has been outspoken about not attending, saying at media day Friday, ”I don’t want to go … my beliefs stay the same.”

So the President, understanding that this is another gimme for his base, decided to make things easier for them by taking the decision out of their hands.

Now by this time it should have been pretty obvious that the President is trolling the left here and hoping beyond hope that they choose to bite because he understand that to his base, particularly in state that the left needs if they want to win in 2020 can’t afford to upset those voters who decided to abandon them.

So if they were smart they would have let it go.

They Didn’t

And the msm has piled on with some disingenuous breast beating:

Trump knows this. He is an avid consumer of TV and culture. Which means that he is purposely playing at and with racial animus here. That is a dark thing to do as the leader of the United States. And something he deserves to be condemned for.

This is from CNN which has spent the last 5 years playing the race card and doing all they can to divide the country.

However some people get it like the folks at Powerline:

Liberals have responded with predictable hysteria in defense of Colin Kaepernick’s (and others’) First Amendment rights. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement that criticized Trump without, however, mentioning the National Anthem issue, which suggests how sensitive it is to the league’s hierarchy.

And Rich Lowry:

He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics. When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view.

and Allahpundit who while he sees a silver lining for the left as well

All of which … works out pretty well for both sides. Liberals are forever grumbling that pro athletes aren’t as “socially conscious” as they should be given their influence; James and Curry have the cachet to change that, and to do so at the expense of Democrats’ least favorite politician. Trump fans will hate every minute of that and some apolitical fans will grow annoyed at having politics crammed into yet another form of entertainment, and the backlash will benefit Trump. As a matter of raw populism, you can’t do better than the white-identity-politics president in a war of words with a group of black superstar athletes defending another black athlete known for complaining about how oppressive America is. I’d bet a kidney that Steve Bannon, Trump’s populist id, couldn’t be more excited about last night’s shot at anthem protests and today’s fallout.

but forgets that this helps Trump in places that he needs to win again and hurts him in places that he’s doesn’t, while helping the left in places that they are already winning in and hurts them in swing states and districts.

Because nothing is going to win over white working class voters than a bunch of rich athletes talking about how oppressed they are by the country that made them rich.

The left doesn’t seem to get this or if they do, they are too afraid of getting any single part of their fragile coalition together to risk keeping silent, they don’t want to see a bunch of primaries where they are flanked on the left.

What’s really ironic here is Trump is using the tactics of the left against them and playing by the same rules that they normally do or as Kurt Schlichter put it

The left will miss the old rules come election day.

Update: Instalanche, thanks Ed. You’ll want to see these two follow up posts

The NFL Lost my wife today

and

The NFL Question Every 2018 Red State Democrat Candidate Now has to Answer

Also I had Robert Stacy McCain stay with me for a week, we hit Harvard, Clark, UMass Amherst, He did TV in Worcester, gave speeches in Lexington and did an event on feminism in Leominster. You can find it all here.

Update 2: Guess what NFL shirt is the #1 seller for the Pittsburgh steelers

or buy Amazon and give the NFL nothing

Plus the ultimate NFL twitter irony


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Given the omnipresent heaviness of current news around the world, with natural disasters and threatened man made ones on all sides, thought it best to take a moment and breathe.

The NFL seems hellbent on self-destruction, what wth continued permitted player protests during the National Anthem plus a deadly inability to address CTE. You’d think with the tens of bajillions the league rakes in it’d spen some of that money on designing a more protective helmet, but unfortunately it does not appear to be in any way a priority.

Still, football remains the straw that stirs the American sports drink. Baseball might be the national pastime, but football is the national passion. Even more than arguing about politics, believe it or not.

Although I am San Francisco Bay Area born and raised, my football alliances lie with the Colts, for reasons explained here, and the Los Angeles Rams. The latter is most unusual, given the NorCal-SoCal rivalry bordering on open warfare. But I always liked the Rams … when they were in the rather tarnished Golden State. Now they are back home, although based on game attendance this season not many people in Southern California are aware of this.

Doubtless to the eyeroll of many, this weekend’s first prime time football matchup featured the aforementioned Rams, who haven’t had a winning season since the last Bush administration, and the San Francisco 49ers who presently bear zero resemblance to the team that won five Super Bowls. The stands were half-full at best, more than a few news stories passing around how you could buy a secondary market ticket for the game with less money than the price of two pretzels at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the 49ers and Who’s Who in Peninsula Gangbangers.

Naturally, the Rams and 49ers played what will doubtless be considered the season’s most entertaining game, a seesaw battle ultimately decided in the Rams favor by a thwarted two-point conversion and a final defensive stand after the 49ers recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter. It was the first game I’ve been able to watch all year (work schedule; same reason I’ve been silent about NASCAR). To say both teams are works in progress would be the strongest understatement since noting as of late the Caribbean weather has been less than stellar. But, Jared Goff is getting a firm grip on this NFL quarterbacking thing; this plus some major personnel upgrades have taken the Rams offense from being offensive period to potent.

It was good for a few hours to forget the controversies; forget the wars raging online and threatened wars in real life, and simply enjoy the game. We are often told we steal much of life’s joy by routinely failing to live in the moment, this coupled with a reminder that Jesus’ first miracle was changing water into wine to keep the party going. (Nevertheless, I do not drink, but that is a story for another time.) Can we allow ourselves the luxury, at least once in a while, to have fun? Tonight was much-needed fun, this due in no small part to my team winning but also to two teams doing what the naysayers insisted couldn’t be done: put on a show.

What is the average Arena Football League salary?
A:
QUICK ANSWER
The Arena Football League’s collective bargaining agreement states that players are paid $830 per game, which amounts to a salary of $14,940 over an 18-game season.

Reference.com

The same day that we’ve seen the story of Evergreen College joining Mizzou in floundering in terms of enrollment and budget Dan Wolken at USA today show some folks still haven’t got a clue:

 it’s an interesting question: What would happen if a star college football player, particularly at a high-profile school in the deep South, wore a Black Lives Matter shirt during warmups or used a postgame media session to talk about police brutality and racial profiling rather than the game?

What would the consequences be for the school? What kind of pressure would conservative white fans put on the coach to denounce it publicly? And in turn, what would the recruiting consequences be for the coach if he tried to silence or stifle a player bringing light to an issue?

“It’s an entirely different dynamic because the coach in college holds absolute sway,” Curry said. “I would pray that nobody would say, ‘I’m taking your scholarship away,’ and I don’t think I know anybody that would do a thing like that, but that’s what is possible at the college level.”

Given the current climate, it’s only a matter of time before someone tests that theory. And given how scared athletic departments are right now about this very scenario, even without an anthem to kneel for, college football players might find out they have more power and a louder voice than they ever knew.

For a moment let’s ignore the possibility of boosters pulling their funds, enrollment dropping like a rock and potential recruits deciding they’d have a better chance making the NFL playing somewhere else (and let’s face it nobody on a football scholarship is not thinking about their best chance to make the NFL) and let’s look at a basic fact.

While I’ve argued that Colin Kaepernick has pretty much himself to blame for not being signed to a big money contract, or any contract to this point the fact is he is an established NFL quarterback who was at one point a star NFL quarterback.  There is no question that he is good enough and skilled enough to play in this league (perhaps not at the level he once did) If he had gone 10-2 as a starter rather than 2-10 no amount of protests would have kept him from a starting job somewhere and give the nature of football,  sooner or later injury or performance will cause a team to offer him a contract as a backup and only stubborn pride will keep him from a seven figure salary and while some fans might get pissed at his signing the sustained level of anger will be directly proportional to the number of wins he produces and if he helps a team get to the playoffs.

None of that can be said about any college player.

No matter how good a player does at the college level, no matter how strong a player performs at the combine, no matter how much hype comes with a player, there is absolutely no guarantee that a college player, even one drafted in the first round or a Heisman Trophy winner, will make it in the NFL, and even less of a guarantee that such a player will be an impact player.

So if you are a head coach or a scout for an NFL team, how willing are you going to be to risk a high draft pick (let alone a 1st round pick) on a player who is going to cause disruption for your team even before the first regular season game is played?

I’m betting not very.

Wade Davis not withstanding a college player deciding to become a social justice warrior on the field might play well on the new woke ESPN but it’s a great way for a potential 1st round pick to slip to the 3rd or below with all the subsequent salary drop such a move entails an easy way for a potential 2nd or 3rd round pick to become a candidate for Mr. Irrelevant and spectacular way for 4th-7th round pick to end up considering an exciting career in Canadian or arena football because for every guy who makes an nfl roster there are a dozen guys or more already with proven NFL experience ready to bust their asses to earn a roster spot for themselves and the difference between that 53rd and final roster spot and that 54th spot off of it isn’t as big as you might suppose.

It costs nothing for a social justice warrior to urge you to risk a chance for an NFL payday but when they do remember that at the current US minimum wage of $15,600 it will take you 27.8 years to earn as much as the NFL rookie minimum salary for 2015 ($435K )

So college player think long and hard before you decide to become anyone’s useful idiot.

By John Ruberry

Deep in southwestern Germany in the Rhineland-Palatinate state lies the small village of Kallstadt, which has about 1,200 residents.

It is well-known for two reasons. It’s a stop on the German Wine Route and it’s the ancestral home of Henry J. Heinz, the founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, and President Donald J. Trump. In fact, Heinz and Trump’s grandfather, Kallstadt-born Friedrich Trump, were second cousins.

I was digging deep–very deep–on Netflix for something interesting to watch when I stumbled across Trump’s face on a movie poster for Kings of Kallstadt, a documentary by Simone Wendel, a Kallstadter. It was filmed in 2012 and released in 2014; her movie probably would have been forgotten outside of Rhineland-Palatinate had the Trump Train not steamrolled into Washington last year.

Much of the dialogue is in German–with subtitles of course.

There is a Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon feel within Kallstadt, because Wendel tells us that “the sun always shines and the wine never runs out.” And while Kallstadt has only 1,200 inhabitants it counts 1,600 members in its 27 clubs. “That amounts to 135 percent of love,” Wendel beams. Does Kallstadt have a Miss Kallstadt? No, it has a Wine Princess. No, make that two of them, which is a situation you might expect to find in the Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry. Kallstadt’s culinary delicacy is saumagen, that is, stuffed sow’s stomach.

Yummy!

Trump is interviewed here, along with the family historian, Trump’s cousin John Walter. If you ever imagined what our president would be like if he was a modest accountant–that’s Walter. Because he’s a modest, albeit retired, accountant.

Fascinatingly, even before he officially entered the political world, the man who was then simply known as the King of New York felt compelled to bring up his troubled relationship with the media.

“Okay, I think (there are) a lot of misconceptions about me,” Trump explains to Wendel in a Trump Tower conference room. “I’m a lot nicer person than the press would have you think. I don’t want to ruin my image by telling you that, but I believe that.”

Not discussed in the film is what Donald and his father, Frederick, said about their heritage–the Trumps were Swedish–which the legions Trump-haters jumped on during the presidential campaign. But the Swedish fib is an understandable distortion of the truth. During World War I it was quite common for German-Americans to hide their ethnicity. I regularly run into people who tell me stories of a grandfather or great-grandfather who changed his name from say Muller, to Miller, after being hounded out of a town as Americans fought the Kaiser’s army. After World War II Trump’s grandmother, Elizabeth, and Frederick rented many apartments and sold many houses to Jewish New Yorkers, who understandably had extremely uncomfortable feelings about Germans.

“He had thought, ‘Gee whiz, I’m not going to be able to sell these homes if there are all these Jewish people,'” Walter told the now-failing New York Times last year about the dilemma of Trump’s dad.

More on Grandma Elizabeth in a bit.

“After the war, he’s still Swedish,” Walter continued. “It was just going, going, going.”

As for the Swedish tale, Donald repeated it for his best-seller, The Art Of The Deal. Frederick was still alive then. But by 1990 the Swedish stuff was dead lutefisk.

Outside Chicago’s Trump Tower in 2017

Friedrich Trump left Kallstadt at age 16 for America where he enjoyed great success in Seattle, Yukon, Alaska, and then New York. Walter tells Wendel that Grandfather Trump married Elizabeth Christ, a Kallstadter. She demanded that he sell his American properties and return to Kallstadt, which, in a story Trump confides to Walter that he never heard, Prince Leopold of Bavaria deported Friedrich. Yes, a Trump was deported! Friedrich died in 1918 in Queens, likely an early victim of that year’s flu pandemic. Elizabeth and Frederick then founded Elizabeth Trump and Son Company, now known as the Trump Organization.

Back to the almost present: a group of Kallstadters are invited as guests of New York’s German-American Steuben Parade. Trump was the parade’s grand marshal in 1999. They also visit Pittsburgh and the Heinz History Center, where amazingly, no members of the Heinz family meet them. Say what you will about Donald J. Trump, but he earnestly tries to make himself accessible except to those who are openly hostile to him. Trump could have easily dismissed Wendel’s request for an interview for her quaint little film. But Trump has alway been a salesman.

The Kallstadters attend a Pittsburgh Pirates game–big league baseball–but one cranky woman constantly complains that there is “no action” in the game.

But is there is a lot of action in a 0-0 soccer match, frau? Other than the brawls in the bleachers?

Then comes the Steuben Parade. As the Kallstadters–two of whom are carrying a giant model of a saumagen–and Walter gather on the route, an “Obama 2012” sign is seen from a window behind them.

Blogger in Washington State last year

Late in the film Wendel asks Trump if would like to visit Kallstadt. “When I’m over there I will certainly visit,” he replies. “Absolutely.”

The president will be in Germany next week for the G20 summit. No word of a Trump homecoming yet, along the lines of his visit to the birthplace of his mother in Scotland in 2008. Although Trump isn’t very popular in Kallstadt, at least according to media reports, since his political rise.

“Believe me,” Trump just might respond to such stories, “that’s just fake news, believe me.”

In addition to Netflix, Kings of Kallstadt is also available on Amazon. It’s an enjoyable, wunderbar, and yes, big league movie. Even if you hate Trump. Believe me.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Continuing on my quest to ignore politics – provoked in great part by the media’s recklessness on Russia – I’ve been reading about John McEnroe’s comments about Serena Williams,

Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.

Garcia-Navarro: You think so?

McEnroe: Yeah. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke ’cause she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.

I stopped playing tennis when I was very young since even back then my knee was complaining, which was about the same time when McEnroe was at his prime. I’ve never been a McEnroe fan (Rafa is more my type), but McEnroe is right.

For starters, men’s four grand slam – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open – are best-of-five sets matches, while women (and men in other tournaments) play best-of-three sets. When you consider that someone like Nadal is lasting for five sets while doing 110 mph serves consistently enough to win the French Open ten times, you can see McEnroe’s point.

We can spend all day chewing the fat over tennis, or over gender differences or whatnot, but here comes the best part: we’re the ones being played.

Brian John Thomas did some digging,

John McEnroe said something controversial about Serena Williams and women’s tennis. Oh shock.

Guess what people, it’s a stage managed outrage to sell some books. Both share the same book agent, obviously.

Sure enough,

It’s all a game after all.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Chances are I wouldn’t recognize Susan Slusser if she passed me by on the street. I’ve seen her photo online and her on local sports television a few times, but given how I’m the living embodiment of jokingly stating the reason retail workers wear nametags is so we can remember our own, it should come as no surprise I’d most likely miss her if she was tap dancing in front of me. In a duet with Stomper.

Ms. Slusser is a superb sports reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her main assignment since 1999 has been my beloved (albeit sometimes bedraggled) Oakland A’s. She writes with crisp, clean accuracy, covering the team’s ups and downs while drawing little if any attention to herself. It’s said the best referees and umpires are the ones you never notice due to their calling the game correctly. Similarly, in today’s world where reporting and opinion are far too often mixed in an unwieldy, unsatisfactory in both areas whole, Ms. Slusser is admirable in keeping the two separate, never tipping her hand or interjecting herself into the story. She is informative, in depth, and invisible.

Like most every media person in any field these days, Ms. Slusser has a social media presence. Unlike most every media person in any field these days, using said social media as something other than sheer self-promotion she engages with her readers, or at least the ones with a few synapses firing in coordinated fashion. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with her in recent months, and she has been unfailingly polite and informative. In like fashion, I have always addressed her with completely deserved compliments, respect, and consideration, often looking for a way to insert something she hopefully finds chuckle-worthy into the conversation. I gotta be me, after all.

I’m quite certain that Ms. Slusser and I voted for different Presidential candidates last November. Which is fine. Politics aren’t everything; I’d much rather chat about what the A’s are doing to address their defensive deficiencies or my beloved classic Christian rock artists. I don’t need to debate every policy and platform with everyone. Sometimes – most all of the time, in fact – I’d rather find common ground and not mix politics with everything else. I’d rather enjoy a ballgame. I also figured out quite some time ago that no one in Washington DC was refreshing any given blog site where I write fifty times a day, trembling with anticipation of my next great pronouncement so they’d know which policies and platforms to pursue. Something others, given their predilection for incessant self-righteous babble, have apparently yet to learn. But I digress.

There are many on my side of the political aisle who live for open combat with one and all in mainstream media. It works for them. It generates heat; it creates a scenario in which the fearless flamethrower, backed by gallant retweeters and such, speaks truth to power hiding behind corporate walls. Makes for great spectacle. Hail the conquering snarknado master!

If someone isn’t doing their job properly because of implied or overt bias, fine. Call them out. They deserve it. But with this duly noted, is it impossible to praise, and treat the same way you and I wish to be treated, reporters who regardless of their political beliefs do work of the highest quality? Or for that matter, members of any given profession?

Certainly engaging people as, well, people is far less exciting and attention-drawing than treating others as raw meat designated for tossing to your wolfpack fan club. But does the latter genuinely accomplish anything? Sure, you look like the tough guy or mucha macha chica on Twitter et al. You’ve also alienated, probably permanently, a whole lot of people you’re supposed to be trying to reach for your cause who, astonishing as it may seem, aren’t that interested in your totem pole positioning within their echo chamber. Why not for once try being respectful to another human being possessing the same dignity and worth as you? If it doesn’t work, you did the right thing. But if it does …

… you too can exchange tweets with the Susan Slussers of this world.

Well It’s a week later and there have been more developments in the WBC.

Cinderella is a pumpkin again…

Israel who shocked the world by winning their first 4 games of the world baseball classic (which made seven straight wins if you count the qualifier rounds finally turned into a pumpkin as the Dutch avenged their earlier defeat by thumping them 12-2 in an 8 inning mercy game while Japan finished them off with a 8-3 win. It was still an impressive run for the team who will finish no worse than 7th overall (6th if Puerto Rico beats Venezuela) whose world ranking is sure to rise and their trip to the 2nd round automatically qualifies them for 2021.

Cuba falls apart.

The vaunted Cuban team was outscored 23-7 losing all three of their 2nd round games including a 14-1 mercy defeat against Australia in a game that could have forced a 2nd round playoff. While it’s always a good thing to see a communist government embarrassed it’s kind of sad to see a country that has produced so many fine players humbled in this way. However like Israel they did make the 2nd round so they will be back in 2021 but will they have the talent to get back to their previous level? That remains to be seen.

Venezuela pines for Italy.

Team Venezuela had an odd path to the second round going 2-4 in round one with two wins against Italy while being beaten by Puerto Rico and Mexico, however without Italy to kick around round to has been a disaster with loses to the US and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico’s win against the US knocked them out so today’s game is just for pride but the question remains can Omar Visquel’s injury plagued team edge out one of the favorites to go to the finals in their last game.

The Japan Dutch repeat

Four years ago Japan and the Dutch made it to Baseball’s final four and were beaten by Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, both teams earned a 2nd chance to change that result. Japan going a perfect 3-0 against their 2nd round foes and the Dutch crushing the Cubans to guarantee their trip to America. Last time around the Dutch fell to the Dominicans this time they will draw Puerto Rico which is likely to be no easier, however the Dutch team looks even better than last time so it will be no pushover for the runner ups for 2013. Meanwhile Japan will have to wait for the result of the US vs DR game later tonight to see who they will face and nobody should count out the 2 time champions.

Puerto Rico stands alone

The only real question for the PR squad that has gone undefeated in the classic is do they rest their stars in a meaningless game vs Venezuela? They have played excellent defense and offense and their pitching has done the job against some tough teams (although they almost blew it vs the US yesterday). The real question will be how they deal with the young and cocky Dutch who are no pushover in the semi final and do they hold back their best starter for the final against either Japan, the DR or the US? I’m glad I don’t have to make that call.

The last big game. US vs Dominican Republic

The Dominicans and the US face an elimination game tonight at 10 PM the winner will take on Japan in the final four the loser will go Home. The US finds themselves in this spot thanks to a digging a big hole in game one vs PR and their failure to get the tying run home in the 9th while the DR gave up fewer runs but couldn’t produce offense against the PR team (although in my mind an interesting strike zone cost them dearly as well). The DR will need to get by the US and Japan for another crack at the Puerto Rico squad (presuming they get by the Dutch) meanwhile the US is looking to return to the final four that they last made in 2009.

There are no easy games left for any of these teams but the odds on favorite would be for a DR vs PR rematch and one has to give the defending champs the edge there but it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of the final five teams walk away with the crown and in one respect both Puerto Rico and Japan have one disadvantage. There is no sport harder to keep up a winning streak in (even the 62 Mets won 40 games) Japan has one six straight to win it all they’ll need to win 8 while Puerto Rico will be in the same spot unless their meaningless game to Venezuela.

Either way from today through Wednesday the WBC will be the spot for the best baseball of the spring.