Friday, March 17, 2006

World Baseball Musings

The curious part of yesterday's WBC game, to me, was that Mexico effectively eliminated themselves from the WBC by scoring a run in the third inning, which is why I figured there was no way they'd bother playing well enough to hold off the USA and win the game. Why play hard and score runs when scoring runs will knock you out of the competition? Why should there ever be a scenario where it's not in a team's best interest to score runs?

Check out the "Classic Scenarios" sidebar at the bottom right of this article. The tie-breaking procedures are at the bottom of the WBC Standings page. While I suppose I understand the logic, and I don't really have a better suggestion for a tiebreaking system, it really did bring about a really bizarre situation, didn't it?

If the US won the game against Mexico, there was no issue, as it'd be Korea 3-0, US 2-1, Japan 1-2, and Mexico 0-3 for games won/lost, and there were no tiebreakers involved. But if the US lost the game, since the standings would be 3-0, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, and each of the 1-2 teams had lost once against the other 1-2 teams, it went to the runs and earned runs.

But in the case of Mexico winning, that's where things got weird.

Mexico could only advance if they managed to get their RA/9 below Japan's, and raise the US's RA/9 above theirs. In order to do the first part, they had to pitch 13 scoreless innings to the US team, and in order to do the second, they had to score at least 3 runs and win.

You'll note that in order to pitch 13 scoreless innings to the US, first, they had to go into extra innings. Second, they had to go into extra innings with the score tied 0-0. If they scored a run at all, heck, even if they scored the 3 runs and won the game 3-0, they would still not advance, because their RA/9 would be higher than Japan's.

So, in effect, scoring a run in the third inning eliminated them from the WBC. But I think that was the right and honorable way to go. Trying not to score runs themselves would look really bad, and if the US DID score any runs, they'd automatically be eliminated anyway, so why not just go for the win?

I was surprised it happened, since I didn't think the team would really feel they had anything to play for at that point besides national pride, but maybe national pride is a bigger motivator than I thought.

In all honesty, and maybe it makes me a pinko commie mutant traitor, I wanted Team USA to get eliminated. Despite the implications of the American team losing at the All-American sport, I think it's more interesting to watch all of these other players that we don't usually get to see on ESPN; most of the Cuban, Korean, and Japanese players are largely unknown to the baseball fans in the USA. And as Beerleaguer points out, San Diego has a huge Asian and Latino population, so the international showdown aspect of the WBC should appeal to a large number of people, especially in the midst of March Madness.

Anyway, the only thing that's sort of stupid right now is that they're having Korea play Japan yet again tomorrow. Ideally, the Dominicans would play Japan and Korea would play Cuba. On the other hand, Korea's now beaten Japan twice in very close games, and I'm sure the Japanese players are *pissed off*, which could make for an interesting game. The Dominican games have been pretty exciting as well, and all Mariners fans are enjoying watching Adrian Beltre slug up a storm. So, we'll see.

But, I hope Bob Davidson isn't umpiring. And so does most of Japan. (Scroll down to the bottom of that page -- Gary Garland posted scans of a bunch of Japanese newspaper articles full of anger towards the umpires from the US-Japan game.)

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