FanDuel - WFBC

March 21, 2006

Japan wins World Baseball Classic: While half of America slept, and the other half blissfully ignored the event, Japan defeated Cuba, 10-6, in the title game of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Well, maybe not classic, but not bad, and no one refused to play left field. Japan's Matsuzaka took MVP as Sadaharu Oh, the most legendary and storied player in the history of Japanese baseball, added to his legacy.

posted by justgary to baseball at 04:29 AM - 67 comments

It is a shame that nobody really cared about the Classic except the diehards. There were some really great games played. Hats off to Cuba, who showed that they could play at the MLB level. I'm not sure, but I think there were around 170-175 MLB players in the entire tournament, and only 2 (Japan) in the championship game.

posted by wingnut4life at 05:55 AM on March 21

...and only one on the field. Hats off to those guys. I love baseball, thank god the regular season can get under way.

posted by GoBirds at 05:59 AM on March 21

...and no Cuban players requested political asylum!

posted by MPeter at 06:34 AM on March 21

I just now heard on CNN that a teacher in Japan watched the entire the Classic in his classroom!
I hope he teaches current events...

posted by wingnut4life at 06:45 AM on March 21

Fidel Castro kept his best players at home because he feared defection and they still made it to the finals. What does it say when only one starting player (Ichiro) from both teams is in the Major Leagues?

posted by doggstarr at 06:52 AM on March 21

It says to me that Major League Baseball loses its claim of having the best baseball players in the world. How many Cubans could start today in the bigs?

posted by rcade at 07:15 AM on March 21

Fidel Castro kept his best players at home because he feared defection and they still made it to the finals. Source?

posted by yerfatma at 07:34 AM on March 21

Maybe we should have a real "World Series" between the US champion and Japan's champion. Hardcore fundamentals vs. Raw Talent

posted by SleepingChicken at 07:38 AM on March 21

You know, i really hate baseball...but if this was an bi-annual event or every 4 years like the World Cup and there actually was a 180-200 country participation in it, I would be all over it...watching, maybe even going to see a game if it was feasible...

posted by StarFucker at 08:08 AM on March 21

"What does it say when only one starting player (Ichiro) from both teams is in the Major Leagues?" It says baseball is team sport and a few superstar hitters won't win this type of series. Next time the US should find players willing to train together for a few weeks before the series. I watched as much of this series as I was able. I hope a sports network picks up the next classic.

posted by ?! at 08:20 AM on March 21

if this was an bi-annual event or every 4 years like the World Cup and there actually was a 180-200 country participation in it, I would be all over it That's the plan: the next WBC is scheduled for 2009, and then every four years thereafter. (The initial three-year hiccup is to avoid being in the same year as the winter Olympics and World Cup.) Also, I'm sure MLB would love to have 200 countries representing, but they had a hard enough time getting 16 legitimate teams. That's one of the major purposes of the tournament: it's an attempt to legitimize international baseball so that maybe one day we will have 200 countries wanting to play. Next time the US should find players willing to train together for a few weeks before the series. I think this idea is key to this event's future success. Now that everyone has more of an idea of what this thing is, I think we'll see better preparation in the future: rosters announced more in advance, more comprehensive training schedules for the teams involved. There was kind of a wait-and-see attitude to this year's WBC; I think everyone will be more ready for the next one.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 08:32 AM on March 21

Did you see the Team USA faces after that loss to Mexico? I think Jeter is *still* in that dugout, staring out onto the field. They'll take it seriously the next time around.

posted by NoMich at 08:42 AM on March 21

I would like to see the Cubans play more often since they were amazing. I think this also shows that Japanese leagues are just as good as the MLB, and imagine if there was a World Series between the MLB champion and the Japanese champion. That would be a sight to see.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:56 AM on March 21

It would be a sight to see, but it wouldn't prove anything. The seven game series doesn't necessarily prove who is the better team or league. This classic didn't prove Japan was the best team.

posted by ?! at 09:16 AM on March 21

I think this also shows that Japanese leagues are just as good as the MLB No, they aren't. When quadruple-A players (better than AAA, but not really MLB talent) continue to rack up huge numbers in the Japanese leagues, it's a sign that the league (in general) isn't up to MLB levels just yet. The rule that "anything can happen in a short series" is true. The best measure of two teams isn't just one game, but longer series (or even full seasons). As well, the depth and breadth of talent in MLB is much greater than that of Japanese baseball (for now). I'm pretty sure that the "B" team for MLB would be MUCH more talented than the "B" team for Japanese baseball. (remembering, of course, we are talking about MLB and not just USA)

posted by grum@work at 09:43 AM on March 21

Oh let me add... I won't bother watching if the Championship is a seven game series... A one game Championship game...thats all that is needed.

posted by StarFucker at 10:09 AM on March 21

Jason Stark is crazy: World's best? Japan's proof is in the results

posted by yerfatma at 10:45 AM on March 21

A one game Championship game...thats all that is needed. Have to disagree with you there. Baseball is wonky like that. A one-game final is kind of like deciding a championship on penalty kicks. A larger sample size of play is needed for more accurate results.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:10 AM on March 21

I'll admit I didn't really get into the WBC, mainly because so many U.S. players decided not to play. I did see the champioship game though. In this era of overpaid, under achieving, egotistical athletes, it was refreshing to see all that enthusiasm and pride for one's country displayed by the Cuban and Japan players.

posted by livedawhile at 11:19 AM on March 21

MLB ceased to be an American game years ago. Baseball is not the type of game that can be decided with a one game scenario. Not when the best teams still loose 40% of the time the worst teams still win 40%. A great hitter fails 65% of the time and a mediocre hitter fails 75% of the time. Series play is required for a game when short term luck is such a big factor and only longer term consistancy averages come into play. You can hit a ball solidly 400 feet and be out, or you can ground a ball down the line for a triple. So what it's a yawn no matter how you slice it. The results are a clear demonstration of the arrogance of MLB to refer to their championship as the World Series. It seems to me the US has lost the World Series.

posted by Atheist at 11:39 AM on March 21

What grum said re the level of talent in Japan. I don't know how many Cubans could start in the majors right now, but my guess it would be no more than a handful (2-3), if that. Certainly a number would probably be ready for the high minors. Trying to judge the quality of non-MLB players through this tournament is just silly, though -- it's like saying that the AA player who hit .300 and took Randy Johnson deep in Spring Training is MLB-ready based on those stats. He may be, he may not be, but the sample size is too small and the limitations of Spring Training are too great to just draw quick conclusions.

posted by holden at 11:40 AM on March 21

Grum@work you make an excellent point, and pretty much proved my statement wrong. I do think that there are quite a few Japanese players who could be succsesful in the MLB, but I was wrong in saying that the Japanese league is at the level of the MLB. However, I think that Japan's league is growing in quality and one day could reach that level.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 11:57 AM on March 21

I do think that there are quite a few Japanese players who could be succsesful in the MLB, Definitely. Ichiro is probably the most obvious example, but I'm sure there are a bunch of (currently) unknown players in the Japanese leagues that could easily hold down major league roster spots. I think that Japan's league is growing in quality and one day could reach that level. Agreed. However, for that to happen, they'll have to stop the slow trickle of their talent to MLB. You can't build a better league if the best players leave all the time.

posted by grum@work at 12:01 PM on March 21

For me the most interesting thing was that the style of play-- for both Japan and Cuba-- was so much fun to watch. And why wouldn't that be true, really? The best athletes may be in the pros, but wouldn't you rather watch Olympic basketball or hockey instead of NBA or NHL? I would. The drop-off in talent between MLB and AAA is quite apparent-- you can always spot the AAA player who is on the way up, I find, but the smallball style of play made these games exciting to watch.

posted by outside counsel at 12:19 PM on March 21

Sind Sie alle ein Bündel amerikanische morons? Wenn nicht, was im Bumsen Sie sind. Danke! Ist dieses ein amerikanische Web site. Wenn Sie mir erklären können, wo so der deutsche Aufstellungsort ist. Danke.

posted by St.Louis Sandi at 02:07 PM on March 21

wouldn't you rather watch Olympic basketball or hockey instead of NBA or NHL No. I'd prefer to see the very best compete against the very best. That's the whole point of sport.

posted by yerfatma at 02:13 PM on March 21

I find myself nodding in agreement with most of what everyone is saying and seriously mulling over the finer points of the rest. The WBC, I believe, is one of the pivotal moments in baseball that we may all point to in the future as having changed the game for the better. Considering how slow to embrace change the game tends to be, it was startling to see it take off as successfully as it did. Chipper Jones was quoted in SI saying it was the best baseball experience that he has ever had, World Series, All-Star games included. You will be seeing A LOT more big leaguers next time around.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:22 PM on March 21

I overheard some commentary during one of the games along the lines of 'Well, the Cubans have experience in winning tournaments of this type'. (italics mine). I assume the person was referring to the Olympics etc. I think that's maybe the way to approach the WBC - it is a different kind of tournament, requiring a different kind of strategy and approach. It is patently not the World Series or the regular season. And so we should sit back, watch and enjoy it for what it is.

posted by owlhouse at 02:30 PM on March 21

wouldn't you rather watch Olympic basketball or hockey instead of NBA or NHL No. I'd prefer to see the very best compete against the very best. That's the whole point of sport. i think i'd disagree here yerfatma. if i had to choose between a diluted talent pool in the nba where kwame brown is the starting PF i have to root for vs. the nba's best americans (lebron, kobe, wade, brand, marion, etc) vs the world, i'd be more interested in the latter. i love the nba, but i do get pumped for international play. it's like an all-star game where they at least theoretically care to win. i for one loved the wbc and it was a hit with the latino community here in socal. i was skeptical at 1st, but i gotta give bud credit on this one.

posted by ninjavshippo at 02:55 PM on March 21

For being the inaugural tournament, I think that it turned out pretty good. The passion from the fans always kept me interested. I think that we should take it for what it is, a one game elimination tournament and not the World Series. Hats off to Japan, and kudos to Cuba. All of that being said, I still refuse to give Selig any of my friggin' credit!

posted by wingnut4life at 03:05 PM on March 21

Woops. Looks like Tom Verducci found yet another winner: ...find me a bigger winner in the tournament than Peter Moylan, a 27-year-old pharmaceutical salesman from Australia who hasn't pitched professionally in seven years -- and who promptly signed with the Braves for $30,000 after the WBC.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:24 PM on March 21

Pharmaceutical salesman? With MLB's recent record? I kid, I kid. I watched the WomBats versus Italy. If you blindfolded someone and put them near the plate, they would have had a better chance of getting a hit. But at least the Aussies were all born in Australia. I'm looking at you, Piazza - and your mates.

posted by owlhouse at 03:32 PM on March 21

LOSERS: (A few from the article) Byung Hyun Kim, Alfonso Soriano, United States, and... Higinio Velez (how do you say Crybaby Jackass in Cuban?) The Cuban manager whined about the umpires after his team lost 10-6 in the final. Call it the World Baseball Classless. The umpires had nothing to do with the outcome of a game in which Velez used five pitchers to get the first 14 outs, falling behind 6-1 despite only six balls leaving the infield, or the four-run ninth-inning blowup that put the game away for Japan. Thanks for the article, Dr J. Excellent reading.

posted by wingnut4life at 03:37 PM on March 21

Over at Baseball Prospectus, one of their primary writers (Joe Sheehan) was adamantly against the WBC and had a list of reasons why he didn't like it. Then he watched the Canada/S.A. game and a couple of others and he was hooked. I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical of the whole thing at the beginning, but was fascinated in watching all of the nations play, and seeing the fan support for almost every team. Cuba vs Japan turned out to be a good game, but the crowd (with the drums and the cheering) was probably the highlight for me. When they do it again, I REALLY hope that it's in November and they remove the pitching limitations. One more thing: MLB likes to travel to other nations to play in front of foreign crowds (Puerto Rico, Mexico, Japan), but I'd like to see foreign teams (Japanese, Korean) come and play in America/Canada some time. I think people would get a BIG kick out of watching exhibition games in late March between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Yomiuri Giants, or Toronto Blue Jays and the Hanhwa Eagles.

posted by grum@work at 04:20 PM on March 21

I heard that PetCo park where the final was played, sold out for 3 Classic games in a row, and their own hometown team (The Padres) haven't sold out three games in a row since the park was built. I would have gone to one of the games if I had a chance. Congrats, Japan.

posted by sublime4390116 at 05:22 PM on March 21

I hate Fidel Castro. I also agree with the post that the best Cuba players were not in the country. So Japan beat the 2nd best Cubans. A win never the less. Congratulations Japan. Were was So Taguchi?

posted by St.Louis Sandi at 05:59 PM on March 21

Were was So Taguchi? I believe Taguchi turned down an offer to play for Japan because he wanted to focus on Spring Training with the Cards.

posted by holden at 06:28 PM on March 21

When quadruple-A players (better than AAA, but not really MLB talent) continue to rack up huge numbers in the Japanese leagues, it's a sign that the league (in general) isn't up to MLB levels just yet. Nice switcheroo. Baseball is a team game, and as the Classic shows, no amount of individual skill can carry a badly trained team. Japan leaguers are the equal of MLB teams, not because they are as physically and athletically dominant, but because they have top notch fundamentals and team play. I think it would be better to say that the current MLB is not up to the standards of the J-Leagues.

posted by Heathen Dan at 06:55 PM on March 21

St.Louis Sandi: SVP, trouve un meilleur moteur de traduction. Ce n'est pas parce que nous n'utilisons pas le français dans ce forum que nous sommes sourd-muets.

posted by ?! at 06:58 PM on March 21

HathenDan: I still don't see the best Japanese teams playing a season in the MLB. The Americans teams (and the lone Canadian holdout) play a longer season than Puro Yakyū teams. I believe the best method of training would be a blending of the two styles. Unless we put an American team in Japan or a Japanese team in Puro Yakyū this is merely conjecture.

posted by ?! at 07:07 PM on March 21

Japan leaguers are the equal of MLB teams, not because they are as physically and athletically dominant, but because they have top notch fundamentals and team play. Nice switcheroo. This logic suggests AAA teams could regularly beat MLB teams if they're better trained. Or that a Little League team could.

posted by yerfatma at 07:13 PM on March 21

Switcheroo de Nice. Le base-ball est un jeu d'équipe, et comme expositions classiques, aucune quantité de compétence individuelle ne peut porter une équipe mal qualifiée. Les ligueurs du Japon sont l'égale des équipes de MLB, pas parce qu'ils sont en tant que physiquement et athlétiquement dominant, mais parce qu'ils ont les principes fondamentaux d'entaille et le jeu supérieurs d'équipe. Je pense qu'il vaudrait mieux de dire que le MLB courant n'est pas jusqu'aux niveaux des J-Ligues.

posted by St.Louis Sandi at 07:42 PM on March 21

Foad.

posted by yerfatma at 07:56 PM on March 21

St.LouisSandi: Please stop. If you're going to mangle a language please pick another. No matter how well a team is trained they must start with individual talent. Are the Ham Fighters better than the Devil Rays over a seven game series? Maybe. Are they better than the White Sox over an 162 game season? No, I don't think so. Would the Sox be a better team with Japanese training? I doubt it. It's a different type of baseball they play.

posted by ?! at 08:10 PM on March 21

I really enjoyed the wbc. I've been looking forward to it for years. I always thought I would enjoy it and I did. > It is a shame that nobody really cared about the Classic except the diehards. I'm not disagreeing with you: the last time I watched baseball (besides the Sox-Yanks and only because the games went into the tenth inning when I was coming home from school) might have been when Ketih Hernandez was smoking cigarettes in the Mets' dugout. To answer the question above. I'd rather watch world cup of baseball/basketball/hockey/soccer than individual club and league play. >HathenDan: I still don't see the best Japanese teams playing a season in the MLB. The Americans teams (and the lone Canadian holdout) play a longer season than Puro Yakyū teams. I donno. I think this was the same argument used about Euro-based hockey players not being able to last in the NHL. >Nice switcheroo. This logic suggests AAA teams could regularly beat MLB teams if they're better trained. Or that a Little League team could. Before a AAA team could beat an MLB team, the players would become MLB players and the AAA team would no longer be MLB-calibre but be AAA calibre. I watch very little baseball but I'd like to see Japanese club sides play MLB teams, but I doubt it will happen soon. > Switcheroo de Nice. Heh.

posted by Philfromhavelock at 08:19 PM on March 21

The White Sox proved last year that "pure" style baseball as opposed to playing the "Long Ball" can be a very effective way to approach today's game. Japan, Korea and Cuba showed the same. I particularly enjoyed the hit and runs, bunts, slapped balls to the opposite side of the field... the basic fundamentally sound baseball in which the final 4 nations played the game (less so the DR).

posted by zippinglou at 08:46 PM on March 21

Tired of hearing about the timing of the WBC, that it was spring training for Major Leaguers. If you took representing your country seriously come in shape a month earlier. If you put the best US team out there it wouldn't have turned out much different due to the fascination with the long ball. The White Sox game evolved because of a Venezuelan manager playing small ball, the way baseball was played before ESPN.

posted by doggstarr at 09:38 PM on March 21

Bud Selig...nice job. The only thing that could have embarrassed him more would have been a 7-7 tie in the final game, with no field players left. "Now pitching, Sadaharah Oh..."

posted by wolfdad at 10:09 PM on March 21

The White Sox proved last year that "pure" style baseball as opposed to playing the "Long Ball" can be a very effective way to approach today's game. The White Sox game evolved because of a Venezuelan manager playing small ball, the way baseball was played before ESPN. Stop the madness!!! The White Sox were 5th in MLB in home runs last year and scored over 40% of their runs via the long ball. They won the World Series in spite of trying to play small ball (if that's what you call wasting outs on bunting, caught stealing, etc.), not because of it.

posted by holden at 10:20 PM on March 21

The White Sox game evolved because of a Venezuelan manager playing small ball, the way baseball was played before ESPN. I'm a little confused by this apparently popular feeling that the White Sox played "small ball." Yes, they were fourth in the majors in stolen bases, but they were also fifth in the majors in home runs. The biggest hits they had in the World Series were home runs by Podsednik and Blum -- two of a total of six they hit in the four game series. The White Sox, it seems to me, won the way every team wins -- with a very talented roster: great pitching, a deep bullpen, and a balanced attack. There doesn't seem to be anything novel, earth-shaking or revolutionary about that team as World Series champs go. (I don't mean to pick on doggstarr, but that was the last of several comments on this issue, in this thread and others.) If you want to say they're "throwbacks" in that their pitchers threw complete games, okay, but that isn't "small" ball. I don't even know what "pure" style baseball is.

posted by BullpenPro at 10:29 PM on March 21

Tired of hearing about the timing of the WBC, that it was spring training for Major Leaguers. If you took representing your country seriously come in shape a month earlier. Except, of course, the rules of the tournament wouldn't allow the pitchers to throw as many pitches as they would at the regular season. So it didn't matter how "in shape" you were for the tournament, pitchers could not perform at the level they would normally perform during the regular season (or playoffs). The White Sox proved last year that "pure" style baseball as opposed to playing the "Long Ball" can be a very effective way to approach today's game. Japan, Korea and Cuba showed the same. Different styles can win, but to suggest that one style is more "pure" than the other is a bit silly. Almost every "style" of team has won the World Series in the last 10 years. "Small ball" - 2003 Marlins (less HR, more SB and more SH than the 2005 White Sox) "Moneyball" - 2004 Red Sox (lots of HR, many BB and few SB/SH) "Strong Hitting" - 2002 Angels (high AVG) "Strong Pitching" - 1995 Braves (solid ERA/WHIP) In preview: not piling on to what BullpenPro said, just adding my two cents as well.

posted by grum@work at 10:35 PM on March 21

MLB is nothing more than a soap opera for men. The headlines are dominated by Bond's alleged steroid use and impending investigation and Soriano's refusal to play the outfield. I love baseball. The WBC, particularly Korea and Japan, gave me exactly what I love about baseball. Baseball. Where was the honor in respresting your country? I am reffering to the U.S. I'm sure they are proud to respresent and didn't want to lose, but I saw no real effort. No hustle. I think their real allegiance is to the $$ and not the love of the game. I know that is a broad stroke and I am sure that there are those who might be offended. F*&^ em! I am tired of the excuses of why we (U.S. teams) come up a little short. It just proves talent alone can't win championships but heart can take you a long way... Nippon, Omedeto gozaimasu!

posted by Sailor at 12:51 AM on March 22

It just proves talent alone can't win championships but heart can take you a long way... Hmm, sounds good, but a betting man would still be better off sticking with talent.

posted by justgary at 01:00 AM on March 22

WBC proof small ball rules sport again.

posted by justgary at 01:10 AM on March 22

I'm going to run right out and vote for Fidel now! Politics aside, the guy is hard to like; my guess is you would be hard-pressed to find many Katrina victims whose day-to-day life is worse than the average Cuban's.

posted by yerfatma at 08:23 AM on March 22

The players were praised for returning home and not deserting to the Major Leagues, lured by big money. Now that is impressive! I honestly thought that there would be a couple of Cuban players bolting for the money and "freedom." I put freedom in quotes, because I personally don't know how life is in Cuba. I only read or hear or see what the media provides. All they ever show are the makeshift rafts...

posted by wingnut4life at 08:29 AM on March 22

Actually, the Cuban players would be silly to defect directly to America. If they do that, then they're subject to the draft (unless things have changed). In the past, they've defected to places like the Dominican Republic so that they can enter the majors as free agents instead and can name their price.

posted by Jugwine at 09:51 AM on March 22

Actually, the Cuban players would be silly to defect directly to America. If they do that, then they're subject to the draft (unless things have changed). Cruiser: I joined the army 'cause my father and my brother were in the army. I figured I better join before I got drafted. Sergeant Hulka: Son, there ain't no draft no more. Cruiser: There was one?

posted by BullpenPro at 10:37 AM on March 22

Baseball is NOT the nations past time. Pass it on.

posted by Drallig9399 at 03:19 PM on March 22

Pass.

posted by yerfatma at 03:23 PM on March 22

...subject to the draft (unless things have changed). It's called the Selective Service System. More jug, less wine. Pass.

posted by wingnut4life at 04:52 PM on March 22

"Chicks dig me, becuase I rarely wear underwear...and when I do, it's usually something unusual." Pass.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:00 PM on March 22

I'm a little confused by this apparently popular feeling that the White Sox played "small ball." "Oftentimes the "small ball" model is associated with the National League, while power hitting is seen as more associated with the American League. However, some of the more successful American League teams of recent memory, including the 2005 Chicago White Sox and the 2002 Anaheim Angels, have experienced their success in part as a result of playing "small ball," advancing runners through means such as the stolen base and the related hit and run play. Successful teams often combine both styles, with a speedy runner or two complementing hitters with power." Source

posted by zippinglou at 12:59 AM on March 23

A few have defected to Costa Rica to avoid the draft

posted by doggstarr at 01:02 AM on March 23

Because Cuba had to forfeit any potential cash winnings to play in the WBC, Castro will not be making any donations to any hurricane victims.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 02:39 PM on March 24

TBH, I agree now that I read the article from the 24th, but really up until then, "I" never heard Cuba was getting nothing. I would have thought there would have been other articles prior to this that would have made this point moot. I never saw any, and I thought their share was going for a cause that "our" government could use if it didn't get wasted in red tape. Just wondering if I'm alone? Thanks

posted by gfinsf at 06:16 AM on March 25

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