Monday, March 13, 2006

You Dropped the Bomb on Me, Baby


The Japanese were apparently ripped off in the WBC yesterday. I did see the game and while there is no definitive angle to prove whether the runner left early, the one that ESPN provided clearly showed that he did not leave early. I have been watching baseball for 30 years now and I have seen the appeal play at third base work twice. It works far less often that the "Hail Mary" pass at the end of a game, or the half court shot at the buzzer. It is practically never called. The Japanese are probably the most disciplined team at the WBC. They do everything by the book. I know that the players were excited about the possibility of beating the US, but excited enough to leave early from third base on a fly ball? I seriously doubt it.

First of all, the 2nd base umpire had already turned down the appeal. He was covering 3rd because the 3rd base ump had to go out to make sure the ball was caught. He was closest to the play and he made the call when the appeal was first attempted. The US manager Buck Martinez then asked the home plate umpire to talk to the crew and make sure that the correct call was made. I have never seen an umpire conference after an appeal has been rejected. NEVER! After a brief conference the home plate umpire then called the runner out. Think of what happened here, the US got an appeal of an appeal. Is this the US court system where you keep on going up the ladder until you get the decision you want? It was crap.

Just imagine what the US press and players response would have been if this game had taken place in Japan and the situation had been reversed. A Japanese umpire over ruling an appeal in favor of the home team. The press would have been using headlines like "Pearl Harbored", or "Sneak Attack", or "Damn those Asians are crafty", you get what I mean. They would have been merciless. It would have been worse than when the US basketball team lost the gold medal at the '72 Olympics. The players would have called the whole thing a travesty and demanded justice. The Japanese players and coaches have been very tempered in their response to the situation so far. There was a point when I didn't think that they were going to take the field after the call, but their manager sent them out after he met with the home plate umpire.

It's a shame really that the game had to be marred by one suspect call. The US and Japan played a great game. Good pitching, good defense, clutch hitting, it had all the feeling and excitement of a late season game between rivals. I give the Japanese players and coaches a lot of credit for not causing an international incident, because I can assure you that if it had been the other way around, the whining would still be going on.

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