UPDATE: Colvin struck by bat shard, done for year

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote a column in early May with a frightening but eye-opening lead sentence.  “Someone’s going to die at a baseball stadium soon,” he surmised, because of the splintering effect of newly popularized maple bats.

That didn’t happen this afternoon at the Marlins’ Sun Life Stadium.  But it could have.

Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin was struck in the left side of his chest by a shard from a broken bat while running down the third-base line during Sunday’s game against the Marlins.  It cut through the skin, left a deep wound, and he had to be rushed to a local hospital for precautionary monitoring.  This all comes via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Colvin will be fine.  He had minimal external bleeding and will probably return to the field early this week.  But had that bat shard struck him just a few inches lower — near the heart — we might’ve had a real tragedy on our hands.

It’s time to do something about the composition of baseball’s wooden bats.  Whether that means outlawing maple or throwing money into research for the standardization of a type of lumber, action must be taken before a player, umpire or fan is killed at a baseball stadium.

Colvin, a rookie outfielder, has hit .254/.316/.500 with 20 home runs, 18 doubles, five triples and 56 RBI in 358 at-bats this season.  He is 25.

UPDATE: MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann shares an incredible screen grab of the shard just inches from Colvin’s chest.

UPDATE II:
Wittenmyer says that Colvin will remain in a Miami hospital for the next 2-3 days as a precautionary measure.  The shard punctured his chest wall and air got in, but he is now in stable condition and expected to make a speedy recovery.

UPDATE III: The Chicago Tribune is now reporting that Colvin will not play again this season.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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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

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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.