I’m putting my money–all 63 cents–on the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic to be held from March 6 to March 22. But first, a couple of unpaid advertisements. Putting a runner on second base for free to start any extra inning? Take whoever came up with that one to the woodshed.There are enough cheesy clown tactics filling up our everyday lives already and the bid from the new commish to cater to short attention spans is lame to the extreme. Some less than intelligent individual suggested another way to hurry things along would be to limit the number of throws to first base to hold runners. Let’s see now, the pitcher only gets two throws to first, so, if I’m the runner, I guess I just wait and then go. Brilliant. Maybe we could have a mandatory game of pickle with that free runner on second to start the tenth inning so that he could possibly score without even one pitch being thrown. I think that these calls for “speeding up” the game come from two directions. One, there is a saturation point for writers and other media types because they work with deadlines and get too many free passes to major league games whereas, at least when I was kid back in the Slide Rule Age, if I ever got a chance to go to a real major league ballpark, I wanted doubleheaders and extra innings in both games. Also, the proliferation of frantic, multiple sources of over stimulation of the senses and over taxed brain cells does indeed make for short attention spans. One of the best things about baseball is that it is an antidote to that stuff.
The way the WBC goes now is a mixture of good and bad, chiefly because of WHEN it gets played, which is bad, and HOW it is organized by countries, which is good. Many of us, especially multi-millionaire team ownership groups, worry about players pushing themselves too hard too early in the season because of the competitive instincts and damaging their bodies before the REAL season begins. That’s a real concern. At the same time, it is wonderful that players are able to represent their geographic homes and it probably does help spread the joy of the game around the globe. Perhaps if it were held at the end of the major league season or, better yet, in the middle of it, it would be more fun for everyone. If we really wanted to go off into dreamland, how cool would it be if the major leagues truly were global with teams from Cuba, Australia, Japan etc. that had territorial rights to players in their boundaries? Futbol teams in Europe mix national sides with multi-national professional leagues fairly smoothly already, so it’s not as though it can’t be done. Of course, Rupert wouldn’t like all of the time zone differences but it could be worked out. It is a global economy now, ain’t it?
At any rate, the Dominican team is bad ass. Just look at the pitching staff: Dellin Betances, Santiago Casilla, Johnny Cueto, Bartolo Colon,Edinson Volquez, Fernando Rodney,and Jumbo Diaz. Wellington Castillo at catcher. The infield is super:Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado,Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Carlos Santana. Outfielders? How about, as Joe Buck would say, Jose Bautista, Nelson Cruz, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco? This is a pennant winning team in my opinion.
Mexico would be formidable with the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Sergio Romo, Yovani Gallardo,Joakim Soria and Oliver Perez. Cuba has Yoenis Cespedes and a bunch of guys we haven’t heard much about that I’ll bet are pretty good. Puerto Rico would of course be well represented with J.C. Romero, Hector Santiago, Yadier Molina, Javier Baez, Roberto Perez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan and Eddie Rosario. Australia would not be favored but they have pitchers Travis Blackley, Liam Hendriks, and Peter Moylan.
Venezuela, managed by Omar Vizquel, will be very tough with Jhoulis Chacin, Jeanmar Gomez,Yusmeiro Petit, Salvador Perez, Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Alcides Escobar,Felix Hernandez, Frankie Rodriguez, Martin Prado, Freddy Galvis, Victor Martinez, Ender Inciarte, Carlos Gonzalez, and Odubel Herrera.
Would this strip the United States of too many good players? Hell, no. The USA will have Chris Archer, Buster Posey,Jonathan Lucroy,Tyler Clippard,Eric Hosmer, Daniel Murphy, Brandon Crawford, Adam Jones, Andrew Miller, Danny Duffy, Tanner Roark and Paul Goldschmidt. That would be definitely a contender.
It would be a bunch of fun, which I think used to be the idea. Let’s do it around all star game time, and the winning team gets to host the next one. Play ball!