Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 16, 2006
BASEBALL: We Aren't The World

Now, I haven't been following the buildup to the World Baseball Classic that carefully, but on Tuesday they announced Team USA's 30-man roster, which seemed to have a few oddities:

[Starters: Roger Clemens,] Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis and C.C. Sabathia. . . .

Relievers: Chad Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Todd Jones, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Scot Shields, Huston Street, Mike Timlin, Billy Wagner, Dan Wheeler

Catchers: Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider, Jason Varitek

Infielders: Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, Michael Young

Outfielders: Johnny Damon, Jeff Francouer, Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells, Randy Winn

Twenty-two players who were on the provisional 52-man roster were dropped. Among them were pitchers Jeremy Bonderman, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, Brett Myers, Andy Pettitte, Ben Sheets, Al Leiter and Gary Majewski; catchers Paul Lo Duca, Joe Mauer and Chad Moeller; infielders Eric Chavez, Craig Counsell, Morgan Ensberg, Bill Hall, Jimmy Rollins and David Wright; and outfielders Lance Berkman, Barry Bonds, Carl Crawford and Luis Gonzalez.

Bonds and several others had withdrawn, citing their need to rehabilitate following injuries.

First of all, and I understand that a lot of this may have been disctated by who was available and healthy (Mauer, for example, was nursing his injuries), but CC Sabathia over Roy Oswalt and Tim Hudson? Brian Fuentes over BJ Ryan? Todd Jones over Trevor Hoffman?

And the outfield seems particularly unimpressive - not only no Berkman or Bonds or Adam Dunn or Jim Edmonds, all of whom presumably had injuries to recover from, but no Brian Giles either. Are we really desperate enough to need Matt Holliday, Jeff Francouer and Randy Winn? They're not bad players, but Holliday's never hit that great even in Coors, and Francouer is still a green rookie with horrible strike zone judgment. When you've gone down from All-Stars to these guys, you might as well take someone like Aaron Rowand or Scott Podsednik or Crawford who brings a specific useful skill to the table (you're telling me we might never need to pinch run a base thief in a key situation?). You'd have a better squad using Chipper in the outfield (as David Pinto suggested) and carrying David Wright.

On the other hand, while he'd be an improvement over those guys, I'm glad at least that Cliff Floyd's sitting this one out. The Mets have four major players who have such significant durability/health issues that they should in no circumstance be playing in this tournament, and the other three - Wagner, Pedro and Reyes - are playing anyway. I'll be rooting very vigorously against the Dominican team, no because I don't like them (truth be told, I probably like the guys on their roster better than the US team) but because every pitch Pedro throws in this tournament comes off pitches he can throw in September and October.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I have a little background on the Sabathia pick. He was slated to be on the Olympic team in 2000 but, at the request of the Indians, was left off the final roster. I personally know that he really wanted to be on the team and would have been if the Tribe hadn't expressed concern over their young pitcher. I think they were kind of throwing him a bone here to make up for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was missed (Gold medal). And I heard Hudson say that he declined earlier this week on XM radio.

Posted by: Nate at February 16, 2006 10:12 AM

I would guess that Chipper will wind up playing the OF, in which case it's not really that weak at all.

Posted by: Jerry at February 16, 2006 10:25 AM

Pedro, Reyes & Bill, oh my. Pedro, Reyes & Bill, oh my.

Would I be unpatriotic if I wished for the US team to be DQ'd, or jingoistic if I want the same for the D.R.'s squad?

I'll take nations over teams in war, economics or even the history books.

But this is BASEBALL!!!

Posted by: Mike at February 16, 2006 10:57 AM

(yawn)

Am I the only baseball fan that really does not care a whit about this "Classic?"

Seriously. If Pedro was still on the Red Sox my interest would rise to the level of Crank's Pedro Pitch Watch, and that's it.

Wake me when the season starts...

Posted by: Mr Furious at February 16, 2006 11:54 AM

Right there w/ you Furious. Bode Miller, Dick Cheney's hunting misadventure or the World Baseball Classic- which is the biggest non-story waste of time?

Posted by: seamus at February 16, 2006 11:58 AM

I'd like it if:

a. It took place in November, and
b. The best players actually played.

I mean, c'mon, even if you're not a soccer fan, you don't like the World Cup? Baseball's either the biggest sport or one of ther biggest in the US, PR, DR, Japan, S. Korea, Venezuela, Panama. There are great players out there.

But what we're getting next month is a watered down exhibition that'll send some big star to the DL for the season.

Posted by: Mike at February 16, 2006 12:04 PM

Oh, and Seamus-

"Bode"

By a big margin.

Posted by: Mike at February 16, 2006 12:05 PM

Am I the only baseball fan that really does not care a whit about this "Classic?"

Do you mean there are baseball fans that are? I'm just baffled, myself.

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring training today. Hooray!

Posted by: Henry at February 16, 2006 12:08 PM

I'm mildly interested. And as long as Mariano Rivera isn't participating, I don't care who is. Mo's going to get more than enough work this season as is.

Posted by: rbj at February 16, 2006 1:22 PM

I like the concept. It is in its first year so give it some time. They may be able to mold this into something on par with a world cup. I for one am a huge baseball fan who is excited for the idea of watching some of the biggest names compete on national teams in March.

Posted by: phanatic at February 16, 2006 2:38 PM

MLB has the worst marketers in the universe. If the NFL were involved, you can bet the house (pun maybe intended) that every star would be playing; hockey understands (and they get little else) that the Olympics is the time to stop and get all the players over there. Baseball can't even figure out that just maybe, the games should be on early enough so kids can be developed into a future market.

This is a chance to start getting new fans interested, maybe develop a couple of players in areas that never produced any; you never know. China is fielding a team. If the US and China start developing a baseball rivalry, then the European bozos who banned baseball, thumbing their noses more at Cuba than us, can just stand by. So anything that promotes baseball is a good thing.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 16, 2006 2:42 PM

I'll say this. So as as we have this thing, I'm glad we backed down on our idiotic threat to ban Cuba from participating.

The embargo (47 years and counting) is bad enough; but to bring baseball into it is beyond the pale.

Posted by: Mike at February 16, 2006 3:10 PM

So what if this is an exhibition? It'll be the best damn exhibition I've ever seen. As was mentioned earlier, this is the first go around. Let some upset happen this year and fire up some other countries for version 2.0. I'm getting to see a Spring Training All Star Game at 1/3 the cost of a trip to Pitt this July.
Keep in mind we let college and minor leaguers go against international comp and were shown the door before the Olympics even started. What's wrong with a little pride/ego stroking?
USA! USA! USA! (in Homer Simpson voice)

Posted by: Nate at February 16, 2006 5:03 PM

Ken Griffey Jr. is playing, but Bonds, Berkman, Gonzo, and others backed out due to injury? Griffey's legs are ticking time bombs of DL time. There is no way that Cincy's management is happy that so much of their payroll is risking his fragile condition.

Posted by: SFC B at February 16, 2006 6:35 PM

The interest will follow if they are high quality games. Problem is doing it prior to the season you have players still working on timing and building arm strength. Most fans will be watching more out of concern for potential injuries than real interest in the outcome.

I wouldn't compare this thing to the Super Bowl, but it is useful to remember that the first few Super Bowls were not sold out. It may take a few years to get the right format. The idea of holding it in November at a neutral warm weather location may be an idea worth pursuing.

Posted by: LargeBill at February 17, 2006 11:26 AM

Bill-

I like the neutral, warm-weather site idea. Who's gona object to a baseball tourney in Brazil in November? Or even a rotating hosting thing. But the warm-weather is key.

Posted by: Mike at February 17, 2006 11:46 AM

"the first few Super Bowls were not sold out"

Only the first Super Bowl (15 Jan 1967) was NOT sold out. I was in the 61,000-plus crowd that saw Max McGee score the first Super Bowl touchdown.

I am much more interested in watching regular season MLB games than this international tournament next month. In 1984 I chose a Minnesota @ California baseball game over an Olympics baseball game. The Angels won 14-2 to pin a defeat on Frank Viola. In August 1989 I saw Viola (then pitching for the Mets) shutout Orel Hershiser 1-0 in the first regular season game that had the two Cy Young Award winners from the previous year start against each other. That 1984 game was my Sweet Viola intro.

On other websites (e.g. Indiamike.com) I get into arguments with cricket fans regarding national teams. Why does a country with one billion people (India) have only one cricket team? Here in the USA we have 30 major league teams. If St. Louis vs Chicago, Boston vs New York, and Los Angeles vs San Francisco works why not have Delhi vs Bombay, Calcutta vs Madras, and Bangalore vs Srinagar? Why go nuclear over India vs Pakistan? Hands down there is more money in baseball than in cricket. USA! USA! How about "just another Halo victory?"

Yes, there will be a serious injury or three in this international baseball tournament. There should be an enforced limit of two consecutive days use for relief pitchers.

In a baseball tournament I prefer at least 2-out-of-3, better 3-out-of-5, or best of all possible worlds Dr. Pangloss 4-out-of-7 to a single elimination game. All of a team's starting pitchers should get a crack at Cuba or whoever.

Last spring there was a steroids controversy in baseball that reached the U.S. Congress. The international Olympic Committee was so disgusted with MLB that they banned baseball from the Olympics. Beezlebud Selig got deservedly earholed for being a pale albino version of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. MLB should get rid of Selig and bring back the Unknown Solidier, William D. Eckert!

Posted by: Yetijuice at February 17, 2006 4:56 PM
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