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I really, really love baseball.  I hate it when business interests and misguided commissioners screw it up.  I hate the designated hitter rule.  I hate the three-division system in MLB. I believe that, other than the color barrier and the reserve clause, baseball should be played more or less the same way it was played when Mickey Mantle (or Johnny Bench) played the game.  Some things just shouldn't be fucked with; baseball is one of those things.

Given that, I enjoyed the final game in the World Baseball Classic because the participants played baseball with great passion, as it should be played.  It was clearly the greatest baseball game I have seen since Game 6 of the 1975 World Series which, whether you were rooting for the Cincinnati Reds or the Boston Red Sox, arguably was the greatest game ever played up until last night.

A little background on Japan and Korea.  The rivalry between these two countries extends way beyond sports, and makes the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry look pathetically tame by comparison.  Why else would tens of thousands of Koreans gather in a large stadium in Seoul to watch a TV broadcast of the game taking place thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean in Dodger Stadium, cheering as if they were in Los Angeles watching the game live?

The Japanese team I saw last night would have crushed the Phillies of last year's Fall Classic.  They would have shredded them with small ball on offense, and smothered them on defense.  This was a team that could advance runners on a bunt single, then score a run on a fly ball that barely made it to mid-left field.  This was a team that possessed extraordinary discipline, that had eleven hits in the first eight innings, ten of which were singles, and led Korea 3-1.  That Korea could force such a game into extra innings was a monumental accomplishment that only brings credit upon a team that won the gold medal in Beijing just six months ago.

I had no stake whatsoever in this game, but I was on the edge of my seat up until the time my Dish DVR's recording of the game (it was getting REALLY late, and I reluctantly had the remainder of the game recorded and went to bed) ended abruptly, causing me considerable anguish.  I really wanted to see the end of the game.  I even resisted reading the sports page so I could watch it and not have the ending spoiled for me.  But alas, I had to get the final results from Yahoo! News.  Damn.  Note to Dish Network - your DVR system really needs to be smart enough to continue recording sports events until their conclusion, whenever that might occur.  Or at least let me decide for how many hours I want the recording to run, as I might have with a VCR.

Nevertheless, it was thrilling.  Yahoo! even said the game had a kind of reverse Dodger effect where people would show up at the stadium in the middle of the game just to witness the awesomeness.  Why can't American baseball inspire people like that?

Originally posted to Steaming Pile on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 07:42 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Am A Die Hard Cards Fan (7+ / 0-)

    and you are right. As a nation we are wimps. I just wonder if I could flip the word back and Musial or Gibson was around for this "war."

    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

    by webranding on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 07:49:03 PM PDT

  •  Great diary!!! Great game, but you need tips! (5+ / 0-)
    •  Korean manager cost his team the game (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MT Spaces, 207wickedgood

      There is only one argument for pitching to Ichiro in the 10th with 1st base open and runners on 2nd and 3rd. Walking Ichiro would load the bases, forcing the Korean pitcher to throw strikes to the next batter, Kawasaki.

      If it wsan't Ichiro, that strategy would make perfect sense. However, it was idiocy to pitch to Ichiro.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:40:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pitch to Ichiro -- with TWO runners ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FischFry, chrome327

        ... in scoring position ???!!!???

        Home team or not (I don't know who was who), Ichiro is an unusually good batter who is used to making his own luck anyway.

        ... public service is a privilege. It's not about advantaging yourself, it's not about advancing your friends or your corporate clients.

        by MT Spaces on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 10:16:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When he came up to bat... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MT Spaces

          It was runners at the corners -- but then the runner on 1st stole 2nd -- unchallenged. It was probably a bone-headed move. A big-league US manager would have been ready to kill him, because that move should've taken the bat out of Ichiro's hands. At first, they had to pitch to Ichiro. Once it was runners on 2nd and 3rd, it should've been a no-brainer to walk Ichiro.

          Korea was designated the home team, and had tied the game in the bottom of the 9th (but had pinch-run for their best hitter). There wasn't much chance of Korea rallying in the bottom of the 10th -- especially not from 2 runs down.

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

          by FischFry on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 10:24:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It sounds like Korea was likely to ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... go down one run, with Ichiro at the plate -- his on-base percentage is phenomenal.

            Maybe the players were tuned in to some psychological vibes on the field that gave them the idea that they could manufacture a win by flustering the pitcher into doing something macho, like trying to beat Ichiro by pitching to his strength at that critical moment. (We'll never really know.)

            ... public service is a privilege. It's not about advantaging yourself, it's not about advancing your friends or your corporate clients.

            by MT Spaces on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 07:46:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My point was this... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MT Spaces

              If you let Ichiro hit, you get the result we saw: a two-run hit. If you walk him, you load the bases, which does make it possible to walk in a run...but then it's only one run, not two.

              It was an interesting at-bat. On the pitch before his hit, he actually fouled off a ball that bounced before he hit it. Then, they threw one right down Broadway.

              Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

              by FischFry on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 09:56:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I was just thinking about baseball (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Danno11, alnc, palantir

    I haven't been able to stop all day long. Last night we did our fantasy draft and it has gotten me so pumped. I really liked this years WBC, those Dutch games were amazing (I would actually credit them with doing a lot in making this an enjoyable tournament). In terms of those Philly's the were barely above average and were a flukey "running hot" team. I dunno if the Japanese would have beaten them during that run, but they could have easily been beaten otherwise (I'm a mets fan for a bit of disclosure).

    In terms of my own personal thoughts on baseball it is unique in ways no other sport can compare (soccer comes closest I feel). But really there just insn't the tension, the release, the euphoria, the depression, the what ifs, shoulda, coulda, wouldas, the I CAN'T BELIVE IT feeling in anything else.

    Let's start a baseball conversation...

  •  Wow! I am sorry I missed it. (3+ / 0-)

    I used to be a big baseball fan. I still am I suppose, just not a major league baseball fan. Pro baseball is run by a gang of idiots. For one, they have promoted the big homer over the intricacies of the game. I suppose that is forgiveable. What isn't is that they haven't expanded the franchise into other countries except Canada. I can't believe they don't have a Latin American franchise by now.

    But getting back to the positive. I lived in Japan in 1988-89. I was very ill during my first spring there, and spent my time in bed watching the Japanese HS playoff games. This is sort of like the NCAA basketball playoffs with Texas HS football fandom in the mix.

    What was so enjoyable about these games was the player's skills in executing the fundementals, particularly bunting. I realize bunting isn't exactly the most exciting thing, but I mean this as indicative of the overall skill set of the players. I don't think many major leaque players could drop a bunt that just dies there like Japanese HS players.

    Japanese major league games are also a gas, with a lot of noise and sake. The only thing I don't like about Japanese baseball is the lack of grass in the infield and that they play to ties.

    I was talking with a Korean grocer around the corner who had one of the games on last week. He gave me the skinny about Korean baseball. I had no idea it was so popular there.

    •  Lol don't you remember Byung-Hyun Kim (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alnc, crankyinNYC, palantir, Yasuragi

      I still feel sorry for that guy, it was horrible to watch. I still like, even love, MLB with it's problems and all. A lot of this steroid shit has been really hard to take but there is still so much beauty in the game and lots of really young good talent. Sure the long ball is overplayed and sure people seem to slack on the fundamentals, but don't tell me that watching Derek Jeter's flip to get Jeremy Giambi out or Barry Bonds walk off homer right after his father died (steroids and all) didn't give you chills down your back--even thinking about them now i get chills.

  •  I love the DH rule (3+ / 0-)

    I'm a M's fan so Edgar Martinez was the man, its more pleasing to see the DH than pitchers hit.

    "There is nothing wrong with America can't be cured by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

    by SensibleDemocrat on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 08:18:52 PM PDT

    •  Edgar aside (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, Yasuragi

      The DH gives baseball a reputation (undeserved) that it is a sport of lazy fat guys who can't run. With only a DH we would never have seen Kerry Wood homer in the NLCS and nearly win the game for himself (I think he also doubled that game as well).

    •  Put Edgar in the Hall of Fame (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, Steaming Pile, Yasuragi

      Then we can talk about rescinding the DH rule.

      Of course it'll never happen. The Players' Union likes the DH because it gives guys like Frank Thomas and for all I know Ken Griffey Jr. an extra year or two of big league pay (and an extra year or two of money to the union). Me, I probably wouldn't protest too loud if it went -- but even if it did I'd still have the memory of Edgar hitting those lovely doubles.

      They only call it class warfare when we fight back.

      by Omir the Storyteller on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:20:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No love for DH, but love the 3 divisions (3+ / 0-)

      Baseball killed the real meaning of the pennant when it switched to 2 divisions and playoffs in 1969. After that, all they managed to do was create resentment because the winner in the second division often had a worse record than the second-place team in the other division. 2 of the best teams ever were the '78 Red Sox and the 1993 SF Giants -- neither of whom made the playoffs, after losing one-game playoffs for division titles.

      Since that time, baseball went to the 3 division format, and struck financial and entertainment gold. First, there are three divison champs, not 2, plus a wild card. This not only expands the playoffs, it greatly expands the number fo teams that are competing for a playoff spot in the last month. This is great for the fans in many cities.

      Also, it means great second-place teams still qualify for the playoffs. A few wild-cards have even won the World Series. Having wild-cards has allowed the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry to extend into postseason, giving us the two of the most memorable playoff series ever.

      And, while pennant races mean less in the age of the wild-card, they aren't eliminated. Look at the Mets' 2 consecutive collapses missing the playoffs on the final day. I think the wild-card has been the only innovation of the last 40 years I really endorse.

      Interleague play is pretty cool, too -- but I'm biased, having grown up in NY. I wish we'd had Mets-Yankees series back then, but they're pretty cool now.

      As for the DH -- it did give us Edgar Martinez. These days, it gave us David Ortiz. I can't deny how thrilling Big Papi has been for baseball. And, I concede it is a little frustrating to watch National League rallies die because the pitcher is coming up. It does take some excitement/tension out of the game. On the other hand, it is organic. The DH feels artificial. Baseball players should be able to play a position. The idea that each time (in the AL) gets to have one player who doesn't have to be a decent fielder does rub me the wrong way.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:59:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  .514 (0+ / 0-)

        That was the won/loss percentage of the 2006 Cardinals, who managed to win the World Series that year.  Pitiful.  They would have struggled to reach third place in the old two-division league.  One day, we will have a World Series "champion" with a losing season.  It will happen.

        It's Major League Baseball, not the National Hockey League.  You should have to earn a spot in the playoffs, not limp in because you're in a weak division.

        Half-baked ideas for sale - cheap!

        by Steaming Pile on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 06:02:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  That was a fantastic bad America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    only supports pay for play events. All these national players play because of pride, love of country and the game.

    Our country is too full of overblown millionaires and a sports radio talking head group that bashed this event as..."who cares".  

    Well, last night we saw these guys cared and it was great!!

    "We are the change we are looking for", Barack Obama!!!!

    by alnc on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 08:28:25 PM PDT

    •  I think that there is some legit... (3+ / 0-)

      criticism on the part of these talking heads when it comes to MLB player inclusion. Since MLB teams are "more important" than a national team you don't have as many top flight pitchers, among others, who are willing to play for fear of getting injured or not having enough Spring Training warm up time. International teams, particularly the ones that seem to consistently do well, do so because they practice as a team much more. I think the Americans who were playing took the games pretty darn serious, it's the format, timing and hesitation on the part of Major League teams that cause the problems. Don't forget the madhouse that David Wright caused with his game winning hit--that was real.

      •  The problem is the timing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's not that MLB teams are more important. MLB runs the classic. They'd love to turn into a much bigger moneymaker, on the scale of the World Cup. The question is when to hold the tourney. The biggest problem for the USA was not missing players (so were the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela) so much as it was these players were not in competition shape.

        I think the ideal time is right after the World Series. Those MLB players called to their national teams could stay in shape through October camps. Then, when the World Series ends, the Classic could begin. That might put the different nations on more equal footing.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

        by FischFry on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:37:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah it is the timing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Timing is a huge problem, but I see the same problems occurring--having your best pitchers now forced to throw somewhere in the range of 300 or more innings during that year. For hitters it isn't quite as problematic, but it is the pitching that is the kicker. A part of me actually likes the idea of how the Europeans do the Champions League, taking scheduled breaks during the regular season to play those couple of games. If you had a team set beforehand managers could schedule pitcher start dates around those games and we get 5 days off during the year--extending the season slightly or compensating for that and starting it a bit earlier. I'm not sure it would work but I think it is better than at the end or the beginning.

          •  Is the right comparison Champions League? (0+ / 0-)

            MLB is trying to do the World Cup, not Champions League. A self-contained tournament that builds excitement as it progresses from one week to the next, one round to the next.

            It takes more than 5 games. Right now, MLB is talking about expanding beyond the 16 teams they have now -- only Colombia and Nicaragua have real baseball programs, but they'll probably add at least 4 teams, if not 8. That's a lot of baseball to get down to 2 teams.

            Your idea doesn't even include travel days. As for the team managers -- would they hold out their best pitchers, so they could pitch for the national team, or would they make sure they pitched for their club team instead? Some people have suggested a 2-week All-Star break. I'm not sure that's enough time, though you could do the later rounds, or just have the semifinals and final during All-Star week.

            It's harder to do than soccer, for a number of reasons. I'm not sure what the best route is, but the current system didn't work. Not only does it mean the players aren't ready, but neither are the fans -- at least not here.

            Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

            by FischFry on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 10:09:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What I had in mind... (0+ / 0-)

            With my other comment about the All-Star break...

            It could be like the World Cup, with something like a qualifying tournament that takes place months before the finals. I'm not sure that's a great way to capture the interest of baseball fans around the world, but it's logistically more feasible.

            MLB players could build up and do the early rounds in late March, when they're a bit sharper. Then, the top 8 teams could be invited to a double-elimination finals during the All-Star break -- the way it is now (2 groups of four, with top 2 teams advancing to the semis).

            Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

            by FischFry on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 10:15:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  A fine report. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil, palantir

    I'm proud to rec it.

  •  Don't know about Japan beating the Phillies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think that the middle of that Phillies order would give them a lot of trouble. I would like to see Darvish v. Hamels though. That'd be off the hook.

    Also, the MLB people got exactly what this event needed to mature...the Dutch knocked out the Dominicans. And the Australians were much more that last ass kicking by Mexico.

    This space for rent!

    by Danno11 on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:02:20 PM PDT

  •  I like baseball, I really do . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but I may have to switch my attention to soccer this year, especially if the Sounders keep playing like they did last Thursday. They looked like anything but a first-time team out there on the field. Oh, and with Kevin Callabro announcing -- he sounded pretty smooth for his second game ever.

    Thread hijack over. I will of course change my mind if the Mariners come out swinging, and more to the point, hitting the ball. I hesitate to listen to the games, though. So far I've only heard one spring training game, and the Mariners' opponents batted around and scored 9 times in the half inning I listened to. I know it's just spring training and that pitcher is probably going to AA or something, but . . . ouch.

    They only call it class warfare when we fight back.

    by Omir the Storyteller on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:24:37 PM PDT

  •  Baseball (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I used to follow baseball pretty closely - well, at least I followed the Twins. Just don't have the time or patience for it now. I do like to catch a game (or as much of it as I have time for) when I'm on a walk in the local park and see some people playing. Little League or the just a couple amatuer teams, or a pickup softball game, is fine with me.

  •  Japan vs Korea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't follow baseball but I do (did) have Japanese and Korean friends. When in Japan, one of my friends in the JMSDF (Japanese Military Self Defense something or other) used to tell me that in the previous centuries, the national past-time of Japan was invading Korea. Later, I met a South Korean married to an American national here in Texas. After I told him what my Japanese friend had said, he said. 'Its true.....but it isnt funny'.  The rivalry apparently goes back a LONG ways....

    'War is a racket' - Major General Smedley Butler

  •  Dish Network does have an option to add time (0+ / 0-)

    to the end of a broadcast.  I always recorded 4 hours for a 3 hour scheduled game, but that would often not be enough when it went extra innings.  For Critical games, I often added 3 extra hours.

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