WBC, THOMAS BOSWELL, SAM FARMER

March 12, 2009

WBC- WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

(Sam Farmer-LA Times) “By now, you know the Netherlands stunned the mighty Dominican Republic with a 2-1 victory in 11 innings Tuesday at the World Baseball Classic.
But consider these numbers, courtesy of the New England Sports Network: The Dominican Republic roster consisted of 23 players in the big leagues, 1,801 career home runs in the majors and a team salary totaling $83.4 million.
The Netherlands squad has two major leaguers, 82 big league home runs and a team salary of $400,000.”

(Tom Boswell- DC Post)In essence, a bunch of Class A players, aged obscure big league retreads, 19-year-olds and submarine pitchers somehow eliminated a Dominican team that was virtually an MLB all-star team, with a lineup that included José Reyes, Willy Tavares, Hanley Ramírez, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, José Guillén and Robinson Canó, as well as pitchers such as Pedro Martínez.

The only person in a Netherlands uniform most fans have ever heard of was the pitching coach: Bert Blyleven. Only three Dutch players have ever appeared in the majors: Randall Simon, Sidney Ponson and Eugene Kingsale. Yet the Dutch scored two runs in the bottom of the 11th on a double, a bloop single, a two-base throwing error on a pick-off throw to first and, finally, an error by first baseman Willy Aybar.

After this night, the WBC will never again draw the kind of bemused mockery that greeted Nationals Manager Manny Acta when he called the Dutch win Saturday over the Dominican “the biggest upset since the U.S. beat Russia in the ’80 Olympics.” After the Dutch repeat feat, Acta’s amazement might be only moderately exaggerated.

The whole goofy WBC, with four first-round pools of games all over the globe, looks like an ungainly animal built by committee. A couple of teams still look like they can’t beat anybody. Just like the Dutch, until they did. You can’t claim, with a straight face, that the event is truly important or that such a fluky format proves a great deal. For American fans, it’s totally outgunned by the NCAA basketball tournament. But it sure is a lot of fun.”

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