Saturday, March 16, 2013

Playing Taps For Team USA

Hey everybody,

I was really hoping this was going to be the year that Team USA is able to step up and make a serious play for the WBC Championship.  Sure, it's a fledgling, young, imperfect, and at times, deeply frustrating tournament, but it's nonetheless a REAL tournament that U.S. MLB cannot and should not ignore or continue to treat like a quaint distraction. 

And if we are gonna play in it, then we should play to win it, period.  Among the many WBC naysayers out there is one group that says this tourney might injure their favorite players, so they don't like it.  Anybody who's played sports for fun or money will tell you that one of the surest ways to get hurt is to play a physical game half-assed or to not take it seriously when you play against a serious opponent.  Take the tourney seriously or get (pushed) outta the way.

This time Team USA managed to open the WBC by losing their first game, and from there they went on to hit one dramatic grand slam for one dramatic win...

One grand slam comin' up - courtesy of Captain America

...and then they played the rest of the tournament like dramatic game-winning grand slams can simply be ordered up at any time in order to make up for mismanaged bullpens. Welcome to Joe Torre baseball!

Apparently all those years of managing powerhouse Yankees teams (that even I could have managed) spoiled him for running any type of "regualr" team.

That said, Team USA gave us some quality baseball performances. Starting pitchers brought enough game for us to still be alive in the tourney.

Dickey got dinged a bit, but always recovered well enough to keep the club close..

The worst possible pitching at the worst possible time came from Cleveland's Vinnie Pestano.  He came into the elimination game against Puerto Rico with the game still very much on the line.  But he promptly walked two, including walking in a run with the bases loaded. 

...but Manager Torre, who 5 minutes prior had an quick trigger finger in pulling starter Ryan Vogelsong, felt the urge to stick with Iffy Pestano.  I'm sure Torre was counting on some magic grand slam to just materialize later.  You can't really blame a guy who clearly hasn't got it for proceeding to blow it further, and that he did (yes, I was referencing both Pestano and Torre). We never recovered.

While there were offensive spots in the lineup that stunk it up...

Exhibit 'A'

...there were a couple of guys who shone in the WBC spotlight...

Exhibit A

It's going to be a long few years until the WBC makes its way around again, and while I'm disappointed as a Team USA fan that we're out of it, I'm very happy as a Dodger fan at the way the Dodgers are being represented on other teams...

Hanley Ramirez has been blasting WBC baseballs out of the park for Team Dominica

Nick Punto batted .421 for Team Italy

Adrian Gonzalez blasted a sweet homer for Team Mejico, unfortunately it was against Team USA
Jansen has jumped over to pitch for the Dutch.  I'm looking forward to him getting a chance

Plenty has been printed that "we woulda won if Captain America (David Wright) had not been injured and dropped out of the lineup."  I don't buy that theory myself.  It's happened before that a committed star has been injured and left the rest of the team to finish the crucial remaining games without him - and the team managed to rally and win when it counted.

Go look up Kirk Gibson and the 1988 Dodgers.  Both men inspired their teams with momentous home runs and quickly exited due to injuries.  One team came together (under a brilliant manager) while the other fizzled and shizzled.

There's rarely one reason for anything, and there was certainly more than one reason Team USA has bombed out of the WBC -YET AGAIN.  I, for one, am hoping MLB takes the blows to national and sports pride to heart and commits to winning the next time around.

Thanks anyway for the efforts Team USA.  You'll be back again for the next one, I'm sure. And so will I.


  1. Yeah, a shame to see the lack of passion in the US team but luckily all the other teams have no shortage of that, making it a fun tournament to watch. Hup Holland Hup, SF here we come !!

    1. Hey Jeroen! Yup, the tourney has been fun to watch. Just because Team USA is out, I'm still following the tourney.

      Dominica just beat Puerto Rico. Hup Holland Hup vs. Dominica!