Saturday, March 14, 2009

If the USA loses in the WBC and no one is around to watch, does it still count as a loss?

USA lost in a terrible way (10 run mercy rule after 7 innings) to Puerto Rico. Venezeula beat the Netherlands in the other pool 2 (we've switched to numbers now) game.

What this means is that in order to advance, USA must beat the Netherlands on Sunday night, then beat the loser of the pool 2 winners game (PR vs Venezuela). This is a little odd, because if the US wins, they will go on to try to knock off either of the two teams they have already played. The could play Venezuela, who they beat once in their first round pool, then lost to in the pool champion game, or the could play Puerto Rico, who they just lost to in a game ended on the mercy rule.

As much as I want to like this event, I hope it goes away for four years and comes back something more like a tournament and less like a drunk guys dance card.

Here's what the first two rounds could/should be:

Round 1: 4 team pools. Every team plays the other 4 in the pool. The two teams with the most wins advance. Ties are decided by head-to-head record and then by run differential. There is no mercy rule, nor should there be, so teams have full games to rack up runs.

Round 2-3: Teams are reseeded based on number of wins and number of runs scored (or runs allowed, whichever). Teams should not be likely to replay teams they already played in the first round unless their performance dictates that it happens. This round, and the next, will not be round robin, but instead be a best of 3 series between two teams. Double header on day 1, single game the following day if necessary. Round 3 (quarterfinals) starts using the round two seedings and winners.

Semis and Finals are also both best of 3 series, instead of fluky best of 5-9 innings.

Bud, how hard would this be to pull of? The joy here would be actually piting teams against each other and using strategy to get by. Currently, the system seems to (here's the numbered list of the post): 1) focus on the novelty of seeing teams play a bunch of other teams, 2) Give losing teams the chance to play and beat the team they already lost to with much higher stakes, and 3) suck.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WBC Updates

Cuba is beating Mexico in the 6th inning.

Also, the WBC is still worthless up to this point. Here's hoping for a decent 2nd round.

UPDATE: Several seconds later, Cuba is still beating Mexico. More importantly, my trade immediately following the beer based league draft was accepted (getting Bonds, giving Mesa).

UPDATED UPDATE: Cuba scored a bunch in the bottom of the 7th to seal the win and made a meaningless game finish a couple of innings early. This was unlike the UConn-Syracuse Big East Tournament game that I caught the end of, and all 6 over times.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

World Baseball Flacid

Everyone loves naughty sounding titles.

Here's all the WBC news you don't care that much about:

Dominican Republic was beaten twice by the Netherlands and eliminated. One can only assume that this is A-Rod's fault.

There's a bigger beef with the classic set-up, namely that DR had a chance to eliminate Netherlands even though they already played them. It's fortunate that the Netherlands won and made this point somewhat moot, but how stupid is it that you can beat a team once and still be ousted by them in the first round.

Same can be said for the determination of the first round "pool winner." In pool C, USA beat Venezuela 15-6 in the first meeting, but lost to them 5-3 in the pool deciding game and so come in as the 2nd seed from the pool. Let's think about this... or not, let's think less about this and just look at the obvious problems. I like numbered lists, so here's the list with numbers:

1) USA won its first two games and thus earned a game off. Who needs a game off after two games? Besides, there are all kinds of stipulations from the MLB clubs that a player has to rest for one game. If you make them play a third game, the MLB players could rest and get that out of the way there, if you don't play the third game, they have to rest in pool winner game. Stupid.

2) USA played Venezuela twice with an aggregate score of 20-9. Yet somehow Venezuela won the pool.

3) USA didn't even play Italy.

It's not just a USA bias, Japan got hosed worse than USA. Here's the list of hosing:

1) Japan also won its first two games and earned a day off.

2) Japan played Korea twice with an aggregate score of 14-3. Yet somehow Korea won the pool.

3) Japan didn't even play Taipei.

4) This is basically back to number 2 but I was digging the symmetry. So, Japan won its first game against Korea 14-2. That's bad. What's worse is that it was called on the mercy rule in the 7th inning. So the game where Japan was having its way with Korea got called early. This means that Japan lost the chance to knock around more Korean pitchers that would have possibly then been unavailable for the second meeting. At least the Japanese players would have gotten the chance to see more Korean pitchers and have a better chance against them. It is not like the Korean win was impressive, it was a 1-0 error fest (baserunning faux-pas mostly).

Back to the DR vs Hothlanders oddities. One good thing out of pool D is that Puerto Rico beat Holland twice to win the pool (8-1 aggregate). The bad is what could have happened.

Holland played 4 games in a pool with 3 other pool members, but somehow played DR twice and PR twice and never played Panama. That's stupid on its own. Worse though is that the Netherlands beat DR in their first meeting (3-2), but then had to play another 10 inning game before either team scored again.

In fact, if you combine the two games between DR and Holland, you would see a 20 inning stink-fest. Holland scored 3 runs in the first inning, then didn't score again until the bottom of the 20th inning and somehow won two games. DR scored in the 4th, 5th, and 20th innings, but only scored one run in each of those (1 run on a solo home run by Miguel Tejhghda). This is not good or entertaining baseball.

Maybe I'm a soccer freak, but why is there not an easier way to play this tournament? Why not have all 4 teams in a pool play each other? Why do some teams play 3 games and some play 4? Why is the advantage of locking up a spot in the second round taking a game completely off instead of getting the top seed in the pool?

At least the seeding is so bad that it might not affect anything.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Predictions (part 1 - AL Central,)

Over the course of spring training, I will attempt to predict the final standings in each division around the bigs. I may or may not throw in some individual award winners along with playoff scenarios, we'll see. I'll start with what I know best, the AL central. This means, of course, that I will probably completely miss on these predictions.

White Sox (5th): The current depth chart is a collection of the very old, the very young, and a big closer. Even if the Cuban Missile (Ramirez) and Quentin both improve on their impressive last season, the rest of the team has gotten older and more achy. Buehrle somehow runs under the radar as a high-level starter, but after that its a bunch of guys fighting for the 3-4 spots in a good rotation. My guess is they sucumb to the same cycle as the Indians and Tigers 2007 (good) then 2008 (bad) and finish in last place in the central.

Royals (4th): All of their prospects have career years. Unfortunately, all of their prospects lost prospect status at least 3 years ago and their career years are the definition of major league ordinary. Luckily their banner year puts them at not-last in the division two years running.

Tigers (3rd): They should have solid line-up, but the same was said last year. I expect that Verlander will bounce back a bit this year and settle in as a 12-15 win pitcher. The kitties need Bonderman to get past the non-baseball injuries enough to eat some innings. Galarraga can go one of two ways, that being good or bad (amazing analysis there). In the second half last year his ERA was a run higher than the first half. One of two things happened: 1) He tired out at the end of his rookie season, partly because he was hurling for a team in last place, or 2) He was deceptive before people faced him and was hittable afterwards. I'm betting on the second and I think the injury bug hits the rest of the team just enough to keep them from challenging for the division title.

Twins (2nd): The Twins are typically the poster-boy for mid- or small-market teams. Over the last 6 seasons, they've won between 79 and 96 wins with only one losing season (2007). I have no idea how they won the games they did with the pitchers they had (other than Joe Nathan who is amazing). Somehow, though, they will win their 86-89 games. They are as stable as any team in the bigs, but that puts them in the low-risk, low-reward territory. Their lineup should improve if healthy, but their pitching has to take a small step back leading to a second year of just falling short of the playoffs.

Indians (1st): This is first and foremost a complete homer call, lest there be some ambiguity. But here are the reasons that the Indians can and should win the division:
1) The starting pitching is just above mediocre, but in the AL Central, that's good enough. It helps that the Indians have the pitching depth to plan on Pavano being hurt and taking what they can get from Anthony Reyes. Cliff Lee will certainly step back from his first half last year, but his splits showed that he actually faired better against teams he faced multiple times last year (except the Tigers). No reason to think he goes away completely and likewise, Carmona has to bounce back from a disappointing 2008.
2) Besides Lee last year, the pitching was only okay after Sabathia was traded but somehow the club roared back to finish the season at .500. If the team can finish .500 after trading an ace and getting no production from its 3-hitter (Hafner) and very little from its 4 hitter (VICTOR), then they should be the class of the division if they get anything from those two men.
3) Go Tribe!
4) As far as I can tell, all of their players this year play at least 13 positions on the field. Not only that, but their utility players this year should be picked based on ability to play the game instead of trying to save face on a "can't miss" prospect. Mix the two and you have a good chance of staying healthy and productive.
5) No one cares about David Delucci. He played a lot early last year in the hopes that he would be good enough to dump on someone else in a trade. This year, I expect him to fair decently as a situational hitter or be unceremoniusly given the boot by the end of May.
6) Go Tribe!

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Alright, still nothing in depth here, but I have caught parts of several games now.

For now, the US is 1-0 and playing a second game to make it to the next round tonight (Sunday) at 8pm. Game will be shown on ESPN.

The other major news is that Dominican Republic, a team very similar the US team, lost to someone (who cares who, really?). Since the first round is double elimination, they have to win two more games to move on.

Japan is playing Korea again Monday night, which is strange since Japan is already through by virtue of beating Korea 14-2 on Saturday. I guess the two teams that have 2 wins then have a play off to determine the pool winner for the seeding in the next round.

Contrary to my rant before, apparently someone is interneting video from all the games live. Oddly enough the site running this service is so go and enjoy, or at least go and be amazed.