Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ichi(ro) the Killer

The WBC came to a fitting end last night with the Japanese team crowned as the champions and Ichiro proving once again that he's one of the best baseball players in the world. Unfortunately I forgot to publish my pre tournament pick, but believe it or not I predicted that Japan would win. You'll have to contact Michael Mejias for confirmation of that, but it's true. I really did believe that they would be the best-prepared team for the tournament. I never expected the strong showing from Korea. In fact for the first two rounds, Korea performed the way I thought Japan would. They did not commit an error, got great pitching and executed flawlessly. I think in the end that Japan just had too much talent for them. Japan had all their best players, except for Hideki Matsui (who I'm sure is kicking himself now for not taking part), and they had extensive preparation. They were robbed of a win against the US, but thankfully that did not stop them from moving on.

As I said yesterday, I think that the US has the most talent in the world and will probably be much better prepared for the next WBC, so I don't think that Japan will repeat as champions. However, for now, they can lay claim to being the best baseball team in the world. The Cubans had a great showing, but of course their team has been depleted by defections. It really is an amazing feat that they have been to the finals of every international competition that they've competed in for the last 50 years. It's a tribute to the dedication of the players and to the love they have for the game.

I think this is one of the best things that Bud Selig has done as commissioner. With Inter-league play, the wild card and now the WBC, Bud clearly deserves a lot of credit for bringing more excitement to the game. Now if he would just get rid of that ridiculous all star game tie in to home field advantage in the World Series, he would definitely be able to say that he left the game in better shape than he found it (that is, of course except for the whole steroid mess). The WBC will only get bigger and better and whether or not Bud is around as commissioner to see the next one, it will clearly be part of his legacy.

So I say congratulations to the Japanese team. Enjoy your well-deserved victory. You are the World Champions until 2009 when you'll have to prove yourselves all over again. But this one is yours and not even bad calls from the umpires can take it away.



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