Category Archives: World Baseball Classic
By OSCAR SÁNCHEZ SERRA, Special correspondent, Granma
TOKYO.—“Only one person is responsible for the defeat, and that is me, players don’t lose games, I lose them. The coach has the maximum responsibility,” affirmed Víctor Mesa. Continue reading
Cuba fell short in the World Baseball Classic, writes PETER C. BJARKMAN*, but it is now the only country playing in the Classic with only its home-grown and home-trained national talent. “There are many of us on the outside of Cuba looking in whose love of Cuban baseball is not tied solely to winning… they are the last vestige of a pure baseball – a sport that is still sport and not big business or staged television entertainment, a game played for passion and not merely for dollars.”
(March 12, 2013 from Tokyo, Japan) – FOR MANY it was the most devastating among a slew of painful eleventh-hour losses for recent editions of the once dominant but now somewhat tarnished Cuban national team. There have been many such defeats in recent years – the 2008 Olympic finals (versus Korea) in Beijing; the 2009 World Cup finale (USA) in Nettuno; the 2010 Pre-Mundial championship setback (with the Dominicans) in San Juan; and the final-edition 2011 World Cup gold medal loss (Netherlands) in Panama. These defeats reflect little more than the new world order of international baseball, where talented but no longer untouchable Cuban teams are now forced play against some of the best young stars (and even seasoned veterans) drawn from North American professional ball clubs; the near misses do not (despite all the ceaseless wailings in the Cuban press) signal any major failings of the Cuban baseball system itself, or any catastrophic drop-off in the level of Cuban talent. This year’s Cuban Classic team showcased more top-level young prospects than any island squad of the past decade. True there was a visible shortage of normally strong Cuban pitching in the end, but the final reality is that we no longer live in 1970s or ‘80s world, in which each opponent quakes and crumbles in the presence of the once unrivaled Cuban arsenal. Continue reading
By CIRCLES ROBINSON
HAVANA TIMES (March 11, 2013) – Team Cuba lost a seesaw do-or-die game to Holland 7-6 on Monday and leaves the third World Baseball Classic unable to advance to the semifinal round, similar to what happened in the last tournament in 2009.
Kaian Sams hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give Holland their first ever ticket to a WBC semifinals. Continue reading
By PETER C BJARKMAN*
March 10, 2013 (from Tokyo, Japan) – FOR THE SECOND TIME in seven years Team Cuba now sits poised to pull off a World Baseball Classic “miracle run” designed once more to underscore the true quality of post-aluminum-bat and post-amateur-era island baseball. It now all comes down to one final rematch on Monday night with either the Dutch or Japanese (it will be the Jaanese– ed.) – this time with a trip to San Francisco as the ultimate prize. One more victory and Cuba will join Japan and Korea as the only three clubs so far to reach the final championship round of the MLB Classic on multiple occasions. Continue reading
By PETER C. BJARKMAN*
(March 9, 2013 from Tokyo, Japan) – IF TEAM CUBA at least temporarily dispelled one myth in Fukuoka on Wednesday (that they could perhaps never learn to hit funky Japanese pitching), they nonetheless failed miserably on Friday afternoon to dismiss yet another pervasive theme (that their new insurmountable hurdle seems to be the talent-rich forces of the Dutch national team). In Panama in September 2011 a Cuban squad managed by Alfonso Urquiola went down harmlessly twice against the Dutch forces (their only two tournament defeats) and thus squandered an opportunity to reclaim an IBAF world title during the final edition of the now-suspended Baseball World Cup. In a Taiwan tune-up late last month Cuban bats were again effectively blanketed by Dutch pitching. At the 2010 Haarlem Baseball Week a Cuban B squad managed by Germán Mesa suffered through the only “mercy rule” drubbing (10-0) suffered by a top-level Cuban outfit in more than four full decades. In brief, The Netherlands (now featuring a host of young big league prospects like Kalian Sams, Andrelton Simmos and Jonathan Schoop) has recently become just as large a thorn in the Cuban side as have the two-time WBC champion Japanese. Continue reading
PERHAPS Canada should stick to lacrosse and ski cross. While Mexico soundly defeated Team USA 5-2, a second US team posing in the uniforms of the Azzuri drubbed Canada 14-4 at the World Baseball Classic today.
The mercy rule, comprehensive national humiliation is simple enough to explain on the surface: atrocious pitching, lack of key hits from the Canadian major leaguers – especially the two former MLB MVPs in Joey Votto and Justin Morneau (with the notable exception of young Michael Saunders from Victoria, BC who had two hits and a pair of RBIs on the day) – errors of judgment, and aggressive hitting by “Italy” backed up by adequate pitching and defence. Continue reading
A brief note to explain the avalanche of e-mails to subscribers about articles on the World Baseball Classic, the third edition of which is now underway in Japan and Taipei. Many of the story lines and narratives in the media are replicating those from 2006 and 2009, such as the “no show” of athletes like catcher Russell Martin of Team Canada, who in my opinion is being unfairly stigmatized in the sports media for “selfishness,” while the real issues are left in the shade. More about that later. I am posting a host of articles from our archives either written by myself or from other sources from 2006 and 2009, many of which also treat issues of national and amateur sport, fair play and ethics, and the globalization of sport. The best way to access these articles is to visit the monthly archives (table on the right) for March, 2009 and/or March, 2006, or use the tags (World Baseball Classic 2009 and World Baseball Classic 2006).
Later in the week I will be posting articles about the 2013 tournament. Will Japan be able to three-peat? Will Cuba continue to maintain top-flight form? Then there’s the latest edition of the U.S. Dream Team and Team Canada, who won gold at the Pan-Am Games in 2012. I hope you find them informative. If you have any suggestions, do not hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org