Monday, March 20, 2006

Blogger No More

Blogger had me blocked from posting for 3 days under suspicion of this being some kind of spam blog. This is why I had nothing to offer about the semi-final games.

Since I was already annoyed by Blogger's poor service and getting ready to revamp the blog I went ahead and did that this weekend. This blog has been renamed The Baseball Review and moved to www.baseball-review.com as well, it should be up and running there by the end of the day. I will also be adding daily content soon to go with the new look and name.

Friday, March 17, 2006

USA Preparation

A-Rod suggests that Team USA should spend a few weeks at a training camp together before the 2009 WBC. The rest of the team seems to agree. This is great news for the future of the tournament. The USA players want to win next time; they recognize it as a legitimate competition and they are willing to bust their butts to win it.

I think they should also play some exhibition games against MLB training squads, too. And don’t be surprised if, by the fourth or fifth iteration, they are playing in other tournaments just to warm up for the Classic.

WBC Preview: Semifinals

The tournament is arranged so that each of the semifinals games is a rematch from the Round 2 pools. This is the last chance for each team to play its best strategy to beat the other.

Japan came into the tournament looking to assert its dominance over Korean and Taiwanese baseball. They had quick success with the Taiwanese part, but they have lost to the Koreans twice now, both in close games and largely thanks to the top-notch Korean pitching. So Japan is going to need their bats working tomorrow if they want to make the final game. Korea just needs to play like they have been.

The powerful Dominican Republic lineup has had its own offensive troubles through most of the tournament. The one time the bats did get going in Round 2, however, was against Cuba. Cuba also committed 2 errors in that game and walked 8 batters. They had similar troubles against Puerto Rico in the first round, but showed more control in the rematch. They will need to have another turn around and shut down the Dominican bats to move on.

Asian Baseball fans, I think, have to be rooting for the Dominican Republic to make the finals along with Korea or Japan. That result would again put the MLB stars up against the KBO and/or Nippon Baseball stars. A tournament win under those conditions would garner a little more respect for the Japanese Major Leagues than a win over Cuba would. Either way an Asian tournament win would be a major victory.

Anti-Doping

The World Anti-Doping Agency is threatening to fail the WBC's testing policy. They originally brought this up a couple of days ago and have been making a steady stream of noise since then. There is a rebuttal here, accusing the WADA official of making his statements without an understanding of the facts and targeting them frivolously at MLB instead of the organization in charge of testing, the International Baseball Federation.

The more I read about this, the more I think it is a ridiculous power struggle. Apparently an incomplete list of banned substances was sent to athletes at some point. The appropriate response, I think, when the WADA learns of a mistake like this would be to make sure that a correct list is sent out ASAP. Instead we get public news items and threats against Baseball’s Olympic reinstatement. A correct list, however, was sent out and none of the athletes have tested positive for any of the substances (the WADA hasn’t issued any complaints about the actual testing). Seems like the WADA is just making a play to take over testing for this tournament.