March 9, 2006
Is this revenge for losing the Expos to Washington? Or perhaps for the invasion by American troops in the War of 1812? A team of virtual unknowns from North of the Border trounced the United States team at Chase Field last night, 8-6, putting the home team on the brink of elimination in the World Baseball Classic. Shame! Was Ken Griffey Jr. dragging his heels in center field on that bizarre inside-the-park home run? That's what it looked like to me. Steven Poppe is attending the games in Phoenix, and I look forward to his perspective on this. Canada and Mexico play this evening, and the U.S. plays South Africa (!?) tomorrow afternoon. The tie-breaking procedures in the WBC are from the International Baseball Federation, rather unfamiliar to American fans. It has something to do with runs allowed per game; see if you can figure it out at worldbaseballclassic.com.
FEEDBACK: Canadian fan Matt Bahm took exception to the phrase "virtual unknowns" referring to his country's team, of which he has every right to be very proud. No disrespect intended. I know of Corie Koskie, but the name of Pirate All Star Jason Bay was somehow missing from my feeble memory, which just goes to show my lack of familiarity with most non-East Coast teams. In my defense, I try to stay abreast of political developments in Canada and expect my students to at least know who the Prime Minister is. (Do you know? He's new.) Back to baseball, I think Canada's surprise victory validates my point yesterday (in reference to Kirby Puckett) about team effort outweighing "star power" when it comes to winning Big Games.
UPDATE: Mexico beat Canada 9-1 this evening, which was quite a shocker, but good news (for us folks south of the 49th parallel) nonetheless. It means the United States can still advance to the next round in the WBC by beating South Africa tomorrow. In that case, the three NAFTA partners will be tied at two wins and one loss each. If Mexico's margin of victory had been less than three runs, under the tiebreaking rules, the U.S. team would have been eliminated no matter what. I agree with Johnny Damon: the WBC tiebreaking procedure "makes you use your mind a little more than you want to." It would appear that Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico are all headed to the next round, which will be held in Hiram Bithorn Stadium, beginning Sunday.
The Washington Nationals have extended the contracts of General Manager Jim Bowden and his assistant through the rest of this season. That's good news, but I'm a little less confident in Bowden than I was a year ago. Whether the new owners decide to keep him or not depends more than anything else on how Alfonso Soriano behaves after he returns from the WBC. Team player? The Nationals have only won one exhibition game so far this year, and Frank Robinson is rightly upset at his players. See MLB.com. Time to kick some butt in the dugout.
The Cashman Field page has been finished, which means that every Major League Baseball venue used since the early 20th Century is now covered on this Web site -- I think.