UPDATE: Frank McCourt took calls from Dodgers fans; didn’t help himself

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UPDATE: It doesn’t sound like Frank McCourt changed any minds during his radio hit today. According to Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts, McCourt basically said everyone is lying about him:

“If the stuff that was written about me was true, I wouldn’t trust me either”

Except that most of the stuff that has everyone hating and not trusting him were things that came out under oath during his divorce proceedings. Or, as Jon notes, all of the defenses McCourt raises are ludicrous on their face. Such as his claim that the FOX deal is totally fabulous despite the fact that it was clearly struck while McCourt was desperate. And that his financial woes are the result of Major League Baseball blocking the deal, even though it is a deal for the future and that it’s his past that is catching up with him.

The fans aren’t buying it either. The first caller on the radio show said that he won’t go to a Dodger game as long as McCourt owns the team. I don’t think that person is alone.

For a totally thorough recap, go to Dodger Divorce, where my friend Josh Fisher and ESPN’s Molly Knight, each of whom have been covering McCourt in detail for years, live-chatted the call, the recap of which you read now.  It’s not pretty for Frank McCourt. Unfortunately for him, he’s too deluded to realize it.

2:29 PM: This ought to be fun. Via Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts comes word that Dodgers “owner” Frank McCourt join Steve Mason and John Ireland at 3 p.m. Pacific time on ESPN AM 710 in Los Angeles. And during the broadcast he’s going to take calls from fans.

Here’s hoping that some good sharp questions are allowed through the call screeners. Not ranting lunatics, but Dodgers fans who can explain to Frank McCourt that his problems are not, contrary to his claims, one of fan perception. And fans who can demand from him something a little better than the condescension he’s been giving them for some time.

Mostly, though, this should be good for Frank McCourt awkwardness. He doesn’t strike me as a man who is very self-aware. It should be interesting to hear what happens when he’s challenged.

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.