Great time Saturday at PETCO Park for the 2 semifinal games of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The baseball was top-notch and played as if it was the last game of these players’ lives. For those out of the loop, Cuba absolutely owned the Dominican Republic sluggers, making the 3-4 killer combo of Pujols and Big Papi just look ridiculous! Likewise, Japan’s pitchers proved inflappable, shutting out Korea in the nightcap.
It seemed as though the Japan-Korea game would remain scoreless deep into the night, until, who else but Byung-Hyun Kim (yes, the guy who allowed game-tying and winning home runs in one 2001 world series game, followed by the Scott Brosius tying 3-run shot the next night) gave up the first runs of the game, allowing a pinch-hit home run followed by a long double..
Nothing was as exciting, however, as the intensity of Team Korea’s fans — chanting (in Korean) “Republic of Korea” throughout the game banging drums, thundersticks, and even playing trumpets! Apparently, the fans of nearly every country outside the United States brought with them the enthusiasm one might find at a World Cup soccer match much less a lazy game of exhibition baseball.
Was it a surprise that the major-leaguers on these teams were not necessarily the best ballers? There will be very few major-leaguers in Monday night’s Cuba-Japan final. The U.S. team lost to Canada AND Mexico?!? Will the Cuban pitching staff be covertly quarantined in an underground tunnel for protected defection in the 7th inning of Monday night’s final?
Professor Shugart provides the bewildering math behind this insightful diagram at Fruits and Votes: