Tagged: World Baseball Classic

The Birds and the Bees (and the Bears)

Japan_South_Korea_World_Baseball_Classic.sff.embedded.prod_affiliate.138.jpgOnce again, all is right with the world. Well, at least half a world away it is. Japan proved again last night that the only way to win consistently is the small-ball way. And they have some pretty good credentials to back it up now. Two for two in the World Baseball Classic? Yep, I’d say that tells us all we need to know.

But to go back a little, the game between the US and Japanese teams the other night felt kind of familiar. A scrappy team with only a couple household names beats the longball launching representatives of the American heartland. Is this 2006 all over again? And with Adam Dunn manning first base as if he took fielding instructions from tape of the Tigers’ 2006 World Series pitchers, it hit a little too close to home. Why is it that the teams I support field like Nadya Suleyman’s doctor?

The thing is, this should be a happy time. Baseball is back and after a couple week hiatus the regular season officially begins. We no longer have to worry about a potentially disturbing summer at the Jersey Shore and even my beloved and much maligned home state is slowly coming to grips with reality. As if that wasn’t enough, dreams come true next year when for only $194k, you can have your own flying car!

But it just doesn’t feel quite right when the country that invented baseball can’t win at baseball. It’s a good thing there are pole-dancing bears out there or I’d have no reason to ever get out of bed again.

-A

The Filibuster

Despite the late-inning dramatics and clutch hitting by Team America,
the World Baseball Classic will be especially notable to MLB managers
because of the rash of injuries that has hit the players. With
important team leaders like Chipper Jones, Kevin Youkilis and Ryan
Braun suffering injuries, how do you think this will effect teams’
decisions to let their players participate next time around?

— Allen
__________________________________________

tom cruise oprah.jpgA wise woman (my mother) once said, “Jeff, nobody’s perfect. Tom Cruise comes close but just look at how screwed up he is.  Still, Tom is about as close as you can get.”

The World Baseball Classic, still in its infancy, is similar in that it has yet to find the perfect balance of entertainment and logic.  We, the viewers, cannot expect it to be the perfect international tournament it aims to be — not yet at least.

There are naysayers.  There are those who feel the Classic is a colossal waste of time.  There are general managers and agents and players and pundits who see it as a liability more than an asset.  And I understand their points of view.

theo epstein.jpgIf I were Omar Minaya or Theo Epstein or Frank Wren and I was forced to watch my best players risk injury in the name of a “friendly” tournament with seemingly zero tangible gain, I guess I would be a little ticked off too.  But I believe the World Baseball Classic is more than just a King Bud money machine meant to get more people interested in Major League Baseball around the world.  To me, it is a showcase of the most talented players on the planet: a baseball bravura boasting a playoff-like atmosphere during the most boring weeks of spring training. 

And whether ballplayers are playing in the WBC or in Jupiter, Florida or with their kids at home, guys are going to get hurt.

guitar hero.jpgJust ask Joel Zumaya about his Guitar Hero hangup.

Or just ask Aaron Boone about his penchant for pickup basketball.

Or just ask Ken Griffey, Jr. about wrestling with his children.

And while the easy way out is to say let us put an end to this World Baseball Classic for good and focus on the regular season, players are still going to find ways to injure themselves on and off the field.  Personally, I would rather see a guy get hurt for his country than a video game.

The WBC only happens every few years, folks.  Eventually, the kinks will be worked out.  In the meantime, the foreseen benefits of firing up an entire baseball-following planet are far and beyond more plentiful than the occasional injury risks inherited by players, teams and front offices.

The truth is: baseball (yet again) was light years behind the rest of sports in not having an authentic international forum.  And while the rewards of the Classic won’t be seen for another twenty years or so when little Chen Jianguo and Mario Perugino and Ned van Flanders are all grown up and starting superstars in the Majors, I think we all owe it to the world to give this tournament a chance — and most of all, to enjoy it.

But just to be safe, we should all continue to pray to the baseball gods that our team’s best players escape injury free and refrain from jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Abyss, Staring Back

Nietzsche_Family_Circus.jpgI enjoyed Tropic Thunder. I understand why some people boycotted seeing it and I appreciate their arguments but I also think the movie made a valid point about the treatment of the mentally retarded in popular entertainment. Maybe that’s why I was a little taken aback this past week when President Obama made a Special Olympics joke on The Tonight Show. It wasn’t so much that he made the joke because, let’s be honest, most of us have probably made a Special Olympics joke at some point in our lives. I know I have. But as a friend once told me, “It’s not really fair to make jokes at the expense of a group that can’t defend itself.” And it’s not what I expected from this President.

But I was surprised that I experienced an eerily similar feeling yesterday when I checked in at RSBS and read:

As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming
semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad…There is much more to fear… for example: Rape!  Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got
nuthin’ on the Japanese
.

Now, I’m not disputing my friend and colleague’s point about the horrific events that took place in Nanking. As a self-confessed sino-phile, I’m sure he is eminently qualified to talk about this tragedy. Beyond that, the historical record tells us that Japanese troops were indeed responsible for those atrocities. But to imply that the current Japanese national baseball team has any connection to that event seems like fear-mongering at best and outright xenophobia at worst.

There are legitimate reasons to fear the Japanese. The US team has been decimated by injuries. The Japanese took apart an excellent Cuban team. And Team USA’s in-game management has been mediocre at best. But there is no reason to resort to tired stereotypes when pointing out the Americans’ impending doom.

Now, I’m sure that no offense was intended and that my co-author was merely attempting to use his post as a satrirical parody of turn of the 20th Century “Yellow Journalism” in America. But, perhaps my friend Jeffy should be mindful of Little Jeffy’s prescient channeling of Friedrich Nietzsche as illustrated above. And Jeffy, don’t hate him ‘cuz he’s right.

-A

Why We Should Fear the Japanese

As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.

Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition.  Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status.  Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish.  There is much more to fear… for example:

rape of nanking.jpgRape!  Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese.  Don’t believe me?  Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city!  The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.

If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?

Ichiro suzuki running.jpgNot only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.

Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind.  To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:

They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.

US Americans, let us unite!  Persevere!  And conquer!

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

paul lebowitz.jpgP.S.  Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide.  You can get it *here* and you should get it soon.  It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”).  Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about.  He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.

On the real.

(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Fortnightly Cravings

colonel_sanders_statue.jpgThe WBC has seen an outpouring of international baseball love that seems to be carrying over into transnational baseball interactions. For instance, within the past week, a Japanese baseball team found the drowned statue of Colonel Sanders that had doomed it to playoff failure for the past 24 years and, in an act of selflessness, offered the bearded Kentuckian’s services to the Cubs. But the Cubs have supreme confidence that this really, finally is their year and have declined the offer.

Now, I’m not the most superstitious guy in the world but even I think that after a 100 year drought, maybe it’s time to try something, anything, in hopes that it will finally end the curse. When this is an accurate video representation of your past 100 seasons:

…can the filth stained statue of a recently de-bespectacled purveyor of 11 herbs and spices really make things any worse?

Instead, it appears that the Cubs will continue to rely on the combination of Old Style beer and frat boy loser-dom that has netted them so much success over the last century. Then again, the Colonel and his “finger-lickin’ good” chicken would probably spell disaster for Zambrano so maybe it is a good thing. I never trusted him anyway, with those “wee beady eyes.”

-A

Credits:
-Story and photo from Deadspin
-Video from The Daily Dish

Obama Falls to GOP Pressure, Poses As Tusken Raider; Oh, Yeah, and US America Wins!

ann coulter rush limbaugh bobby jindal.jpgThough I cannot necessarily prove this theory in conventional form, as an honest human being with an affinity for disclosure, I assure you that I have good reason to believe both Republican juggernauts Ann “She-Devil” Coulter and Rush “Just Call Me Jabba” Limbaugh were hunched over their television sets last night vehemently rooting against Team USA, praying to their hypocritical conservative god that Team Puerto Rico would find a way to quell the dreams and aspirations of US Americans worldwide.

It didn’t work.

Jimmy Rollins and David Wright became the baseball versions of Barack Obama and Joe Biden — once bitter rivals who put aside their differences, bridged the gap and brought home a win when it mattered the most.

Get over it.

That goes for my colleague, Mr. Allen Krause as well.  Because we all know that Mr. Krause would rather see Rollins and Wright duke out that “choke-fest” moniker on the field — the last man standing to be crowned the argument’s winner; but if we US Americans are really about anything, we are about coming together in times of need, when it matters most.

Unless you are a Republican, of course.

And though Obama has done a fine job of staying the course early on in his presidency, it appears he finally gave in and enlightened the snickering skeptics and delinquent ditto-heads by unintentionally posing as a Tusken Raider for the cameras:

obama tusken raider.jpgTusken Raider.jpg
This unfortunate photographic gaffe comes on the heels of an equally embarrassing egregious error regarding the double-talk surrounding those suspiciously infuriating AIG bonuses paid out to the very individuals responsible for schmucking the company’s total worth in the first place.

Are the Dems backpedaling on their original outcries?

Probably.

Does this reflect poorly on the majority administration?

More harm than good, I would say.

Should we blindly follow the GOP sideshow leaders and trust that malcontent dissension is the social bonding agent of the future?

Hell no.

Rollins and Wright.  Braun and Lilly.  Jeter and Youk.

There is a time and place to battle it out, folks.  But when enemy minds come through together in the clutchThat, my friends, is what makes the United States of America the greatest country on earth.

Ah… If only politics would mirror baseball.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

A Snake in the Grass?

venezuela_tigers.jpgThere is no Irish in baseball. Well, unless you include Jeff Samardzija, formerly of the Fightin’ Irish from Notre Dame. But today is a good day so I don’t want to talk about that. No, today is a day when we celebrate the completely fabricated story of St. Patrick ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes. However, apparently there are snakes aplenty within the comfy confines of the World Baseball Classic.

Much attention has been focused over the past few days on the Venezuelan fans booing of Magglio Ordonez. Now, when you seem to have become the lapdog of old friend of RSBS, Hugo Chavez and you are playing in front of a bunch of people who left Venezuela because of Hugo Chavez, well, it makes sense that something has to give. And so far that something has been any residual love for Maggs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about booing hated players. My brothers have made a sport of riling opposing outfielders from the cheap seats in left field and I’ve been known to throw a few choice words the way of batters during tight softball games. But the thing those people have in common is that they play for the opposing team. When you have become a pariah to even your own fans, it might be time to rethink your actions.

I’ll admit, I hated Maggs, too, but only when he was on the White Sox. Once he joined the Tigers and especially after that killer blast against the A’s that sent the Tigers to the 2006 World Series, he could do no wrong. But supporting the man who has managed to turn his capital city into the murder capital of the world? That might not have been the best choice.

Against Puerto Rico, some of the hatred seemed to subside and in a tight game, the Venezuelan fans were cheering every hit their team could muster. But pity the man if he pulls a Buckner or manages to strike out at an inopportune moment. Maggs, you’re on notice.

-A