Report: Feds open SEC probe into Marlins’ stadium deal

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Heath Bell? Check. Jose Reyes? They’re still trying. C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle? Maybe. An investigation by the SEC? Safe to say that wasn’t on the Marlins’ wish list this offseason.

According to a report in the Miami Herald, federal authorities have opened a “wide-ranging investigation” into the Marlins’ ballpark deal with Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami. Specifically, the SEC is demanding financial information regarding nearly $500 million in bond sales and records of campaign contributions from the Marlins to local and state elected leaders.

The county and the city have until January 6 to fork over a host of documentation on the stadium deal, including minutes of meetings between government leaders and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and MLB commissioner Bud Selig and records of Marlins’ finances dating back to 2007.

The subpoenas focus heavily on the Marlins, requesting communications to and from team executives, documentation that might show the team’s ability to pay for or contribute to the financing of the stadium, and information on any meetings involving not only Loria and Selig, but also team President David Samson and former Major League Baseball president and chief operating officer Robert DuPuy. DuPuy was instrumental at the latter end of the hard-fought deal.

The new taxpayer-funded stadium, which is set to open next season, left the county and city on the hook for almost 80 percent of the $634 million price tag. This investigation comes just weeks after a report in the Miami Herald revealed that the stadium will cost taxpayers more money than originally pitched by politicians.

Marlins president David Samson told the Herald that the team has yet to receive a subpoena and merely said “Appreciate the info.” when asked to comment on the investigation.

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.