World Baseball Classic can draw a crowd for host teams

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I’ve written a couple posts this week about the lackluster attendance at World Baseball Classic games in Japan, where the announced attendance for Cuba-China and Brazil-China was over 3,000 but the actual attendance was closer to 100.

It was startling to see the games played in what was basically an empty dome and my point was that when the host country’s team isn’t playing the overall interest level in the WBC is minimal. When the host country’s team is playing, however, plenty of people come out to watch.

For instance, the fine folks at MLB inform me that “the crowd of 23,431 that watched Chinese Taipei play Korea” yesterday “was the largest ever for a baseball game in Taiwan.” And while not a packed house the Cuba-Japan matchup that ended a few hours ago–and I just finished watching on my DVR–was definitely well-attended.

I still think 100 people showing up for a WBC game is a lot more newsworthy than 23,431 people showing up for a WBC game, but fair is fair. And regardless of attendance, I’ve already watched a handful of the games, including staying up into the wee hours to watch live a couple times.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.