MLB honors GLAAD Spirit Day, baseball fans react like cretins

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Today is GLAAD Spirit Day, an annual event bringing awareness to and promoting the prevention of the bullying of LGBT youth. Major League Baseball has responded in support. Teams’ Twitter avatars have gone purple (the color identifying alliance with Spirt Day) and ervery MLB team has posted a link to GLAAD’s Spirit Day webpage to their Facebook page. Nice gesture for a good cause.

Unfortunately, certain fans are responding to it in awful fashion. Deadspin points out the nasty things Braves fans are posting on the team’s Facebook page.  But it’s not limited to Atlanta. The Dodgers page has multiple horrendous responses. As does the Mets. I’m sure most pages have a showing of cretinism as well.

The ones that gall me the most, however, are not the purely bigoted responses. There are jerks and homophobes and bigots everywhere, and they actually provide a service in identifying themselves. Sort of like a sign near a toxic waste dump, warning us off.

No, the ones who really bug me are the “stick to baseball” crowd who, while not explicitly opposing MLB bringing attention to an important issue, seem to wish sincerely that they not do it.  One wonders if they’d feel that way if they were around in 1947. Or the “stay out of politics” crowd, who apparently think that there’s something “political” about not wanting kids to get bullied, beat up, driven to depression or even suicide because of who and what they are.

Anyway, kudos to Major League Baseball for showing solidarity with a good cause. To those who feel that the prevention of bullying of kids is something which should be shouted down or opposed: Please reevaluate your values, your priorities and your life. Thanks.

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.