History Lesson: even great careers rarely end well

Leave a comment

Lar at Wezen-Ball reflects
on the presumptive end of Tom Glavine’s career by looking at how other
first-ballot Hall of Famers — a club Glavine will almost certainly
join — ended theirs:

With everyone talking about the Braves and Tom Glavine this week,
and how unfair the whole situation seems to be, it’s good to remember
that there are many all-time greats whose careers ended in a similar
(or worse) way than Glavine’s seems to have ended. It’s the sad nature
of the game, though, especially as players like Tom Glavine or even Tom
Seaver age beyond the ability for their bodies to come back from
injury.

Still, as true as that may be, we shouldn’t fret. Yes, we all
remember Willie Mays falling down in the outfield as a New York Met or
Dave Winfield failing to make the postseason roster in his final year,
but that’s neither the lasting image nor the last feelings that we have
of these greats. Instead, we remember their power and their grace and
their energy and their attitude from back in their prime. That’s why,
when you think of Babe Ruth, you see him swinging for the fences in
Yankee Stadium or leaning on a bat grinning, and why you see Willie
Mays running out to centerfield to catch that ball when you think of
the Say Hey Kid.

Before reaching that conclusion, Lar runs through excerpts from the
final game stories of multiple legends. Eye-opening stuff for those of
you who think of Reggie Jackson as a Yankee, Dennis Eckersley as an
Athletic, and Steve Carlton as a Phillie.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
9 Comments

United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

Harry How/Getty Images
10 Comments

The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.