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.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.