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.

My wife’s illness has kept me so busy I missed the start of the world baseball classic. So here are some updates.

The Israeli Juggernaut

One doesn’t think of Israel as a baseball juggernaut but they dominated their group crushing little league powerhouse Chinese Taipei 15-7 while edging Korea in extra innings 2-11 and doubling up the Netherlands (who also advanced to round two) 4-2. With the exception of two innings including a weak 9th with a 12 run lead the Israeli wins were all about pitching.

Hank Greenberg would be proud.

The Rising Sun continues to Shine…

Japan continued its dominance in first round action going undefeated against China Australia and Cuba who also advanced to round 2.

They seem to be on a mission get their third title after failing to make the finals last time around.

while the rest of the orient is in free fall:

It’s been a bad WBC or oriental teams not from Japan. Mainland China continues its imitation of the 62 mets scoring only one run in three defeats. Chinese Taipei while averaging over six runs a game did no better as their pitching gave up double digit runs to both Israel and Korea while being edged by the Netherlands while the only team that South Korea, which made it to the final four the first year and the finals in the second and playing their 1st round games in front of a home crowd, only managed to score against the hapless Taipei pitching.

Meanwhile Pool C & D games started this week.

In pool C The returning 2013 champion Dominican republic made short work of Canada 9-2 while the US edged Columbia in an exciting game ended by a walk off single by Baltimore’s Adam Jones

This sets up a must win game for both Canada and Columba today at noon while the clash of the titans US vs the Dominican Republic takes place tonight at 6 pm.

And Red Sox fans if you’re wondering, no David Ortiz is not on the DR roster so this isn’t one last chance to see him play

In Pool D 2013 Runner up Puerto Rico absolutely crushed a Venezuela team no doubt weakened by the lack of food in the country 11-0 while Italy scored five times in a 9th where two Mexican pitchers gave up 5 hits and one walk with one error behind them without recording a single out before the home crowd giving them the a 10-9 win.

Italy brings that momentum with vs Venezuela at 3 pm today while Mexico will try to recover against a high scoring Puerto Rico team at 9:30 PM

Round 2  Tokyo

While this goes on Round Two action begins in Tokyo as Israel tries to prove their 1st round dominance was no fluke against Cuba at 10 PM while in the wee hours of the morning (7 AM sunday) the Dutch who have a history of surprises in the WBC face the Japanese.

The key game of the series will be on Tuesday at 6 AM when Japan meets Cuba again. It remains to be seen if either of the underdogs in this round the Dutch or Israeli who meet the day before at 6 AM, will be able to take advantage of the loss that one of the other baseball powerhouses will suffer.

Either way it looks to be a great World Baseball classic which has one thing over the spring training games currently being played in Florida and Arizona.

All these games mean something.

I was sure the Dominican Republic wasn’t going to win the World Baseball Classic, not because of their team, their team had talent to spare, and not because they had an easy schedule, (their opponents went a combined 15-20 in the tournament).

My conclusion was based on one simple fact, it is very hard, even for a great team to win 8 straight against even mediocre competition and even harder to win three straight against a good team (Puerto Rico lost only one game in the entire WBC to a team other than the DR (a 7-1 round 2 loss to the US).

but when it comes down to it there is one rule of Baseball that overrides all others, Pitching Pitching Pitching

Rays closer Fernando Rodney recorded a Classic-record seventh save by pitching the ninth inning on Tuesday. Previously unheralded starter Samuel Deduno of the Twins finished 2-0 with 17 strikeouts and a 0.69 ERA after firing five innings of scoreless, two-hit ball and whiffing five against the Puerto Ricans.

The Dominican Republic’s bullpen was lights-out for the tournament, which can be illustrated by the fact that the Dominicans won their last five games by a total of 10 runs, including a 4-1 victory over the feisty Kingdom of the Netherlands in a semifinal game here on Monday.

That doesn’t even tell the story adequately. In the eight games of the tourney the DR gave up a grand total of 14 RUNS. 14 runs in 71 innings 8 games is an ERA a 1.77 ERA for the SERIES.

And even THAT is deceiving because four of their pitchers who threw a combined 14 innings (19.7%) were responsible for 10 of those 14 runs (71.4%). Meaning the rest of the staff gave up 4 runs in 57 innings for an ERA of 0.63.

This is Gibson Koufax kind of stuff spread out among the entire staff and this is in a tournament with pick count limits.

Bottom line, the odds of going perfect for the series were slim but the DR came up with pitching that defied the odds and delivered a victory that the island can justly celebrate.

Just don’t expect these kinds of numbers in four years.

Nothing stays with a person like being humiliated. The most embarrassing moments of your life tend to cling to you. When recalled they can bring you pain years later.

The same thing happens with a nation. A national humiliation can stick with a country and shape the way it carries itself.

After World War 1 the Allies, hit Germany with humiliating reparations. Germany was not just defeated it was humbled and that humiliation created the opening for the rise of the Nazi Party promising to avenge that humiliation and for a time succeeding forcing the French to surrender in the same location where Germany had and occupying Paris.

The Six Day War was one of the most crushing defeats a military every experienced. Egypt was not only defeated but taken totally unaware. Even worse was the fact Egypt was mobilized and deployed, doubling the humiliation.

In 1973 when Egypt attacked during Yon Kippur that war was more than another attempt to destroy the Jews, it was an attempt to regain National Honor lost by their defeat. While the war ended in defeat again the early Egyptian victories made a huge difference to the Egyptian national psyche (and is the basis for the myth propagated by Egypt to this day that they won a war they lost.

Bottom line, nothing galvanizes a nation like Humiliation and the desire for revenge.

Which brings us to the World Baseball Classic and the Dominican Republic.

Forget the final, if you want to see the most critical game of the WBC this is it.

The Dominican Republic has gone undefeated so far in the WBC but for all their success there is still a bad taste in their mouth that needs to be cleansed.

Four years ago they were beaten and humiliated by a Dutch team that frankly on paper had no business being on the field with the most loaded team in the entire tournament.

Bob Menendez and the ladies not withstanding the favorite recreational activity in the DR is baseball, they live and breathe the sport like no place else. My Godfather goes there often and he has talked about the level of play there and the games, simply exciting.

For such a country to be defeated not once but TWICE by the dutch left a bad taste, and taste that this team wants to remove.

The last DR team was smug, this one is not, they have playing hard and tonight they have a chance to make their country forget the unfortunate history of 4 years ago..

It won’t be easy. There will be no taking these guys lightly. This Dutch team is heads and shoulders better than the last time around. Their speed is devastating and they proved themselves by eliminating a Cuban team that any major league team would have feared. Under normal circumstances no team would be ashamed to lose to these guys.

But this team has a mission to prove itself and avenge a national humiliation. To their credit I think they wanted this game most of all. I think they would rather beat this Dutch team than win it all and although I like this Dutch team and would rather see them win today I think the Dominicans is going to cut through them like a hot knife through butter

The Dominicans have won six straight, I don’t think they win 8, I’ve already talked about the math of baseball, even the best teams in history lost 1 in four games. It’s hard to be even a bad team three times in a row and Puerto Rico is a good team, if the Dominicans get to the finals I think Puerto Rico takes it all.

But that doesn’t matter. If the Dominican Players defeat the Netherlands tonight it will mean so much to the island that they’ll still return as heroes runner-up or no.

Of course if the Dutch win and go to the finals…it’s anybody’s game.

One of the truths of Baseball is the best team doesn’t always win.

If you look at history the best record of all time in the Majors was held by the Chicago Cubs winning 116 games and losing only 36 a winning percentage of .736 an incredible number before losing the World Series in six games to the Crosstown rival Chicago White Sox.

If you want a more recent example The 1998 New York Yankees won 114 games and losing only 48 times in 162 games before sweeping the Padres in 4 to cruse to the world series. They won so many games that year I thought John Sterling would lose his voice.

But this only emphasizes the reality. The Cubs were the best team of all time, the Yankees team of 1998 was the image of domination, yet they both lost to inferior team on average better than once every four games.

Maybe someone has a bad outing, maybe someone gets hurt, maybe the other team gets hot, maybe someone makes a mistake but no matter how you slice it, there was a better than one in four chance that John Sterling would save his voice on any given day.

And that brings me to the Dominican Republic

the Dominican team has played 5 games so far and is perfect, with one day to go they have clinched a spot in the final four.

Meanwhile the Dutch who are already in the finals are currently 4-3 and in the same spot that Japan is and in the spot the Dominicans want to be.

By the time you get to the finals by definition the teams you will be facing will be the best ones left. Logic says Japan and the Dominican Republic are the teams to beat, but the law of baseball averages says they have the hardest road to travel.

In the final four one loss and you’re out. Either Puerto Rico, or the US will join them they have already lost 2 games each (and one each to the DR)

If you think just stats. The Dominicans are going to be the team to beat PERIOD!

But if you think baseball, I think they have the hardest road left to travel.

(Yeah I know you were expecting another CPAC post but man does not live by CPAC alone).

I’m a big baseball fan so when I woke up way too early I turned on the WBC where Brazil was playing China in their final pool A game.

With only the top two teams advancing in the pool and powerhouses Japan (2 WBC wins in 2 WBCs) and baseball powerhouse Cuba both dominating in their Bracket the Brazil China game had the potential to be a real snoozer if it hadn’t been for a change in the World Baseball Classic the last time around.

Under the rules adopted after the last WBC the team finishing 3rd is guaranteed a trip to the next WBC but the last place team has to survive a four team qualifying round.

A few days ago Brazil blew an 8th inning lead against defending champion Japan. Going into the 8th this morning they lead again held a two run lead against a much weaker Chinese team that was 0 for the tournament with runners in scoring position.

But in the 8th things fell apart. There is no question Ray Chang an 8 year AAA player is deservedly the hero with his bases loaded 2 RBI single on an 0-2 count

but lets not forget it shouldn’t have reached that point. Brazil gave up a single and three walks before Chang reached the plate. All in all team Brazil used four pitchers in that 8th inning, in addition to two hits Brazilian pitchers hit a batter and gave up 5 walks. The other three runs who scored for China all scored on bases loaded walks.

Meanwhile in the 9th inning after a lead-off single for Brazil China turned a perfect double play that actually produced a cheer from the hitherto emotionless Chinese General Secretary of Baseball in the Dugout.

You can argue that this isn’t at the level of Major League play (that’s true) but this game highlighted two bottom line facts of baseball that the lowest little league coach to the manager of the New York Yankees can not stress enough.

You need 27 outs to win in baseball

The Best Pitch is baseball isn’t a 99 mph fastball or a killer curve or even a dancing Knuckleball, it’s STRIKE ONE.

It doesn’t matter how weak the team you’re facing is, if you can’t do those two things you will lose.

Never forget that even the 1962 New York Mets won 40 times including 4 victories against the pennant winning San Francisco Giants

The World Baseball Classic has begun and we’ve had our first upset as the Netherlands shut out South Korea 5-0 today, however the more interesting game was Uber Underdog Brazil facing two time champion Japan.

Brazil was not expected to even make the tournament. It took two upset wins against Panama in Panama to get that slot.

Manager Barry Larkin’s team managed to take a lead at 3-2 lead against Champion Japan in Japan and was only 5 out away from an incredible upset when they came back with three in the 8th to win the game 5-3.

It highlights the fact you have to get those 27 outs to win in baseball, but it also emphasises that if you are going to beat a Champion, you can’t make basic mistakes.

And that brings us to the Mass GOP straw poll.

Today the Massachusetts GOP had a straw poll in Danvers won by State Rep. Daniel Winslow.

Any GOP candidate facing any democrat in a statewide election is a serious underdog in Massachusetts, considering said candidate is going to face a sitting congressman either Ed Markey or Stephen Lynch that is doubly so.

That means you can’t make stupid or rookie mistakes if you want to win such a race.

So can someone tell me why the GOP is holding their straw poll at a YACHT CLUB?

“America sent a message to the Republican party in November of 2012. And the message is we have to be inclusive, we have to be relevant to women, we have to be relevant to millennials, we have to be relevant to new Americans,” Winslow said. “So I think that the symbolism of being in a country club and requiring people to pay to vote is absolutely the wrong message to send.”

Now Straw Polls are usually fundraising devices so that’s not all that unusual but the following line from the GOP simply floored me.

“Well if they want to pay to host the event, they’re more than welcome to,” said Massachusetts Republican Party Chair Kirsten Hughes. She said the event was not a fundraiser and said the $10 per ballot was to cover the cost of the event — such as staffing and refreshments.

Basic math says that the 193 voters paid $1930 for the event. It what does it say that the Mass GOP found it necessary to charge admission to cover a $2000 bill? Both candidates for GOP Chairman in January boasted of their fundraising skills and reaching out to voters. Nothing says I’m a killer fundraiser like having to grab $10 a head to hold a straw poll (apparently they decided against a meat raffle because my local Knights of Columbus council had one yesterday). When you are facing connected insiders like Lynch & Markey, you want your candidate to run as a regular guy.

I don’t know who told the mass GOP “Nothing says regular guy to the voters like the words ‘Yacht Club'” but whoever did should stuffing envelopes from now on.

It’s only the top of the first so there is plenty of time, but you are an underdog playing the champs, you don’t have a margin of error for more of this.


Olimometer 2.52

This pay week has 5 hours to go and I am just under $200 shy.

10 people @ $20 gives me that gigantic $300 paycheck. Personally I think if the mass GOP invested $300 a week in the site they would have gotten better advice. Hold the event elsewhere, Find a donor to cover the cost and if you want to charge admission to make sure nobody stuffs the ballot box donate the money to the Jimmy Fund.

If that advice wasn’t worth $200 I’d like to know what is?

There are great games that stand the test of time, there are rivalries that define the game’s greatness. This game highlighted both.

If you are either a RedSox or a Yankee Fan you could not help but be riveted by this game. You would recognize the intensity of the players, the packed loud stadium, and the fans. This game went back and forth, a dramatic tie to force extra innings and a 2 out single in an 8 pitch at bat in the top of the 10th.

You can’t get baseball much better than this. The whole tourney was something to see. For me the highlight was Jimmy Rollins who in my opinion could have credibly been named MVP over Dice-K (who has now won a world series, 2 WBC and 2 WBC MVPS in three years.)

I think it might be interesting to see an annual tournament post world series where the US World Series winner plays a short 5 game series against either team Japan/Korea or the winner of the Japan World Series. Or on a smaller scale an “Asian world series” where the Japanese and Korean champion teams play a 7 game series after their respective seasons.

I’d watch it.

The bad news is it will be 4 years before we see this again, the good news is in 4 years it will only get better!

I Can’t see how you can pick a winner to the game tonight between Japan & Korea.

They have already played each other in the tourney 4 games and split them. Japan seems the superior team but Korea keeps rising to the occasion.

If I have to pick one I’ll say Japan but if Korea wins it will be no surprise to anyone.

Oh and I think it was rather disgraceful for the announcers last night to be going on about how the US manager priority isn’t winning. It’s an insult to Japan and sounds like sour grapes. What however is a bigger disgrace is they were likely right.

…but he had some interesting opinions on the WBC.

The organizers of the Classic decided that the three countries in the first three spots of world baseball shall play it out in San Diego, including Cuba arbitrarily in the Asian group despite the fact that we are definitely in the Caribbean.

He being a communist dictator begins with a lie. Blaming the pool for making them face the Asian teams in the 2nd round. They are out to get Cuba. This is a bit disingenuous as on paper their pool was the 2nd easiest to advance from. (Only pool 1 with China & Taiwan was easier). South Africa was a pushover but Australia rose above expectations. If it wasn’t for a pinch home run in the 8th Cuba might have played an elimination game with Mexico in round one…

I doubt that any team from the West can defeat Japan and Korea in the group of competitors who will be playing in Los Angeles in the next three days.

In this case events have proven him right they have played excellent ball and have also been almost injury free. The only teams that were able to cope with them have been each other.

Go ahead and read the rest if your stomach can take it, bottom line. World is out to get Cuba and our young team need to look at the innovations of Japan.