Let’s not get too worked up about All-Star snubs

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If I had carte blanche to make an All-Star team I probably wouldn’t have done it like John Farrell, Mike Matheney, voting players and voting fans did. I think everyone would make different choices if they had their say, and of course any committee of decision makers is subject to the weird things that committees do.

I’d like to think I’d find room for Garrett Richards or Huston Street. That Kyle Seager or Ian Kinsler could make the team. That maybe Josh Harrison wouldn’t be on it and, instead, I’d find room for Anthony Rendon. That is, if I wanted to maintain that utility player role Harrison is apparently filling. If I just wanted to go for star power and narrative, I’d go for the finally-rebounding Justin Morneau and let him return to Minnesota with his head up. I’d probably replace 85% of the relief pitchers picked with starters, all of whom could easily go an inning next week. Most starters are more famous. They’re bigger stars, and that’s what the All-Star Game is about. It’s also why I will giggle at anyone who says Derek Jeter doesn’t belong. He’s the biggest star of them all.

But while I’ll gladly argue with anyone on a surface level about this choice or that choice (arguing is fun for me if you haven’t noticed), it’s really, really hard for me to get genuinely worked up about “snubs.”

Partially because, between now and next Tuesday, a lot of players on the All-Star team will beg out with injuries, real or imaginary. Many pitchers will be ruled ineligible by their teams due to work loads and the like. Just about everyone who is “snubbed” as of this morning will be in Minneapolis next week. That is, if they want to be. Many of these guys are probably secretly happy that they were snubbed so that they can get three or four days off in the middle of a long season to go fishing or to the beach or to spend time with their kids, wives or girlfriends. Regardless of how it all shakes out, no one is likely to give quotes to the press in which they honestly and passionately express their feelings of being slighted.

I’m a blogger and bloggers have the reputation of shooting first and aiming later, substituting immediacy for consideration and reaction for reflection. We can argue about how fair of a stereotype that is for a given web-based writer, but I totally see where that’s coming from.

But in the “biggest All-Star snubs!” game, I’m inclined to wait it out for a few days. If we do so, most of all of this will be taken care of.

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.