There was talk that Japan was going to boycott the 2013 World Baseball Classic due to unhappiness over how the merchandising and sponsorship revenue is split up. That, it seems, has been averted. Maybe:
Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of international business operations, said in a statement “We fully expect Japan, the winners of the first two World Baseball Classics, will field another championship-caliber team of which its fans will be proud.”
I say maybe because just because the WBC is saying Japan committed doesn’t mean that Japan will honor its commitment (note: there is no word from Japan in this story). And even if they do, the protest seems to come from the Japan Player’s Association. So it’s possible that the good players will not go, even if there is a Japanese team there of some sort.
Japan has won the last two WBCs. If they field a substandard team or opt-out altogether, there’s gonna be a lot of people who will want to apply asterisks to the new champ.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: