Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, March 7.
If you didn’t get up early and watch the Cuba-Japan matchup in the World Baseball Classic, the sizzle was better than the steak. The enormous crowd was uproarious even when nothing was happening and when Nobuhiro Matsuda crushed a 3-run home run in his team’s five-run 5th the noise level shook the aging Tokyo Dome to its foundations. At that point with Japan ahead 7-1 and my iffy feed conking out every few minutes I went back to sleep. Japan finished with an 11-6 win in their first game of the tournament. Korea has already played twice and lost twice, to Israel and the Netherlands. China plays their first game at 10 PM Eastern time tonight against the Cubans who are clearly not the power they were when they had such luminaries as Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman and the late Jose Fernandez. There was a familiar name in the lineup-Cespedes. Yoelkis Cespedes, age 19 and half-brother to Yoenis had 3 hits for the Cubans in a losing cause.
The unfortunate part about this fourth World Baseball Classic is the country that gave baseball to the world does not take this tournament seriously. This is beyond my understanding.
If Americans hadn’t invented the game the rest of the world wouldn’t have a World Baseball Classic and no players or leagues to form an All-Star team for this tournament. There would be no KBO in Korea, no Central or Pacific Leagues in Japan, no Nacional Serie in Cuba, nothing. Zippo. And yet the majority of the American media looks down its collective nose at the tournament. ESPN won’t touch it, at least not in English. They have the rights to Spanish-language broadcasts through ESPN Deportes. The MLB Network has the American rights to broadcast in English which makes the broadcasts less accessible than they would be if they were on ESPN. Fewer homes get the MLB network and I for one consider the cost of their internet TV package prohibitive since I would only use it for the tournament. All regular season and postseason games are available through Gameday Audio at a nominal yearly charge.
If the teams felt as the media does they would put a stop to their players playing in the tournament. That isn’t happening. Quotes differ on how many Mets alone are playing in the tournament. I have heard 11, 14 and 19 and have no idea which is the fact. Either way their roster is so depleted that 2017’s answer to Eddie Gaedel-namely Tim Tebow-is in tomorrow’s lineup. Not some minor-league lineup on a strange and distant field, the major league lineup on the big field where Tim Tebow belongs about as much as I do. I wish I could insert a picture here so readers who don’t know me would see how unathletic and generally average I am.
Unlike Gaedel who faced an average pitcher in his one 1951 atbat, Tebow is facing Rick Porcello. Hopefully the Red Sox’ Cy Young winner won’t take pity on the nebbish just because he was a college quarterback who failed dismally as a pro. I hope Porcello throws his best at baseball’s embarrassment and makes him a one-atbat wonder. We’ve seen this movie, people. Michael Jordan quit the NBA to escape gambling trouble and hid for a year in the AA Southern League where he hit all of .202. And this was MJ, a top pro_ athlete as opposed to a top collegiate who never had the tools for the pro game.
The Mets are making a laughing stock of themselves when all they should have done is require one, just one of the many players who are in the Classic to stay home and play. Better yet they should sign some young unknown and send Tim Tebow back to whatever the Tim Tebows of the world do for the rest of their lives.
I feel MLB’s Richard Justice is as wrong as he can be pandering to this latest embarrassment to the game. In my opinion Justice, a Texan has to know the Texas-size talent gap between Tebow and even average major league pitching. He has to see that this is a move a hopelessly bad team like the Rays, Angels, Padres or D-Backs should make rather than a team that could be playing in the next World Series. Then again, Red Barber was fired by the Yankees for being truthful and never broadcast another game in the bigs. If it could happen to the Old Redhead it can happen to anybody.
As for today’s slate of spring training games, the Braves will broadcast their game against the Pirates while KDKA does not. The Boston network is the only one carrying the Red Sox’ game against the Nationals. The Marlins-Cardinals game will be covered by both networks. The same is true for the Phillies game with the Tigers though the Phillies’ version will be Internet-only. When the Rangers face the Rockies, one version will be available on the Internet. I don’t know which team’s broadcasters will be there. Both teams’ networks will have the Royals-Reds game. Ditto for the Giants game against the Dodgers although the Giants’ version is Internet-only. When Oakland faces the D-Backs, both teams will broadcast only over the Internet. The Orioles will broadcast their game against the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team. When the Bluejays face the Canadian WBC team it will be available through gameday audio. Ditto for the Cubs’ game with the Italian WBC team. The one game of this kind not being covered is the one between the Padres and the Mexican WBC squad.