Now a manager, Matt Williams must address his steroid purchases again

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The Nationals invited some controversy by hiring Matt Williams as their new manager on Friday. He hasn’t gotten all that much attention for it, but Williams, who hit 378 homers over 17 big-league seasons with the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks, was, for at least a brief time, a steroids user.

Williams was outed by the San Francisco Chronicle in Nov. 2007 as having bought $11,600 worth of steroids, human Growth Hormone and making agents from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Clinic in 2002, when he was playing for Arizona. He was later included in the Mitchell Report.

Williams admitted to the purchase, saying that he was advised to try hGH to recover from an ankle injury and that he stopped using it because he didn’t like the effects. He didn’t discuss the other substances he bought.

Which was good enough in 2007, since no one much cared. Williams had retired four years previously and was working as a broadcaster then.

Now that Williams is the leader of a major league club, it’d be for the best if he went into greater detail. Unless he happened to just flush everything else down the toilet, Williams wasn’t merely using hGH to try to aid his healing. All we really know is that 2002 was the only time he was caught cheating. This is a guy who appeared to be making a run at Roger Maris’s single-season home run record with the Giants in 1994 when the strike happened (he had 43 homers in 112 games). Was he enhanced then as well?

Frankly, I suspect that those late-90s/early-aughts Diamondbacks clubhouses were about as steroid-riddled as any in the game’s history. I’m not suggesting Williams starts naming names, but as a franchise leader, he should at least come clean about his own past.

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.