Getty Images

The World Baseball Classic gets underway with an upset

28 Comments

The World Baseball Classic began in the wee hours this morning as Team Israel took on Team South Korea. On paper that’s a mismatch — Korea is one of the better teams in the tournament and certainly has produced a good number of major leaguers while Israel is one of the lowest-ranked squads — but they don’t play the game on paper. Israel beat South Korea in an upset, 2-1 in extra innings.

Israel doesn’t have a lot of baseball players. Indeed, there is only one native-born Israeli on the roster. But like a lot of teams in the WBC, they welcome players with a shared heritage, so there are some recognizable names on the team. One of them, Jason Marquis, got the start and pitched three scoreless innings. Israel’s only run in the first nine innings came on a bases loaded walk in the second off of Won Jung Chang. Beyond that, however, Team Israel had some trouble scoring, thanks in part to the fact that South Korea has Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh on the staff. He shut them out for two innings later in the game. Korea only scored once in regulation as well, via an RBI single from Geonchang Seo. The game would go to the 10th.

In the top of the frame Israel put two on via a walk and a single. Then Scott Burcham hit a ground ball to second which Seo couldn’t get a handle on, allowing Mike Myers — who was running for Ike Davis — to score.  Josh Zeid, who pitched three innings, got the win by shutting down South Korea in the bottom half.

This doesn’t end things for anyone, as it’s not a single-elimination tournament in the first round. Tomorrow Israel will go on to face Chinese Taipei and South Korea will face the Netherlands.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

3 Comments

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.

 

Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had a brutal collision in right center field

Getty Images
2 Comments

The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.

Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.

Watch:

 

Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.

UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: