A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Viva Japón

The World Baseball Classic is over and I'm disappointed. Watching some real baseball and going to back to watching Spring Training games is going to be rough (not that I can even watch the ones not on channel 11). The WBC gave us all some phenomenal baseball games and upstart teams with few to no Major League players beating the behemoths and making it to the finals. Korea was undefeated until their semi-final loss against the eventual winner of the WPC in Japan and really was the big story for me for most of the tournament.

Cuba's rough first inning was just too big to recover from with Japan's entire lineup seemingly able to beat out infield hits and Cuba gave up four runs despite giving up only one solid hit. With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for Japan, Cuba had little chance. Cuba should know Daisuke pretty well as he hurled eight shutout innings against Cuba for the win in the 2004 Olympics before giving up three runs in the ninth inning.

Matsuzaka was throwing some nasty mid 90's heat and featured a filthy slider. The dude is good. Major League quality no doubt. Matsuzaka went four innings and was the eventual MVP of the tournament and finished with a 1.38 ERA. Japan took a 6-1 lead before he was pulled with the game seemingly over, but Cuba came back to make it a one run game in the eighth inning. Japan then firmly wrapped it up by scoring four in their half of the ninth capping off an amazing game. This tournament was packed with great baseball and was a smashing success. It really was no surprise for many that the best three teams were the teams that had their players in much better form due to when their own baseball seasons start and were more familiar with playing with each other. Hopefully the next WBC is planned out better time wise to give everyone more of a chance to get up to speed. All in all, Selig is smiling and for good reason.

A couple side notes from the game though. First, hearing Jon Miller say "adios pelota" after Cuba's first inning homerun off Matsuzaka hurt my ears much like it hurt Vincent Antonlli's (aka Todd Wilkinson) ears when Barney Coopersmith was trying to say capice. "Are you trying to say capice?" "Yeah" "Well, don't do it, cuz it hurts my ears when you do it.". Jon, do us all a favor and lay off the Spanish. If you cannot lay off the Spanish, do it right then. Say "goodbye sr. pelota" or "quadurangular". Secondly, when ESPN first flashed to Parque Central back in Cuba after the homerun, a guy with USA Flag on the back of his shirt. He's probably in jail now. Everyone pray for him.

* * *

  • In honor of Ossy's interest in Jack Bauer kicking some ass last night...
    • Jack Bauer shops at Costco... without membership.
    • The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.
    • Jack Bauer sleeps with a pillow under his gun.
    • There have been no terrorist attacks in United States since Jack Bauer has appeared on television.
    • If Jack Bauer shot you while quail hunting, it wouldn't be an accident.
    • Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone.
    • Kim Bauer was an accident. Not even the pill can stop Jack Bauer.
    • The Black Eyed Peas were just The Peas until Jack Bauer heard their music.
    • My parents told my little brother and I that Jack Bauer was "just a television character". We are now orphans.
    • Jack Bauer thinks it's cute when David Banner says “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”. You wouldn’t have the opportunity to not like Jack Bauer when he is angry, you'd be dead.
    • The real reason whales beach themselves? Jack Bauer occasionally goes swimming.
  • Marty Noble breaks out a scary fact:

    With Kaz Ishii back in Japan, Zambrano (5.04) and Dennys Reyes (5.28) are the only active pitchers with a minimum of 500 career innings who average five or more walks per nine innings.

    Wow, and the Mets had both of them in the rotation for the majority of last season. At least Zambrano did have streaks where he was successful. Ishii just had nothing and the Mets rode that nothing for just about the entire year.

  • The Mets already surpassed two million tickets sold before the season even started. Eight teams last year did not even draw two million fans and the Mets have already eclipsed that number. In 2005, the Mets drew 2,782,212 fans, in 2004, the Mets drew 2,318,321 fans, and in 2003, the Mets drew 2,140,599 fans. By no means is this number this early a small one. The Mets will easily eclipse 3,000,000 tickets sold this season and will make a run at the top five in attendance this year and should sneak in there.

  • Reyes could have been honing his skills instead of bench warming, but better later than never.

    With Jose Reyes back with the team, Rickey Henderson will be an instructor -- teaching Reyes the art of base stealing and about being a better leadoff hitter.

  • Some reassuring words:

    The Mets view a trade for Alfonso Soriano as unlikely even after the Nationals said yesterday they will try to find a new home for him.

    While top Mets decision-makers batted around the idea of making a play for Soriano after his refusal to enter last night's exhibition game, Mets people aren't enamored of him as a player and would be interested only at a deep discount. Some Mets decision-makers view Soriano as a defensive liability at second and inflexible in his approach at the plate.

    Smart move. The Nationals are threatening to put him on the disqualified list if he does not agree to switch. That means he gets no money. Good stuff. How the Nationals could trade this guy and get even a bag of balls right now is beyond me. Check this out though...

    Yet when the Nationals practiced fielding situations in the afternoon heat, Soriano promptly reported to second base, where he took grounders and turned double plays as the second-teamer, behind Vidro. Robinson said Soriano had not been assigned to second base for the drills. Soriano joked with a few teammates as the players stretched and went through their workout, but for the most part seemed isolated.

    I'm starting to think he is a bit crazy and as if all of that were not enough, getting put on the disqualified list means the Nationals can really screw him.

    So if there is no trade, and Soriano doesn't have a change of heart, the most likely resolution is a trip to the disqualified list. An interesting wrinkle to that possibility is the fact that Soriano would not earn service time if he were disqualified. Therefore, though Soriano is due to be a free agent after the 2006 season, his contract would in effect be suspended, "and he would not be a free agent," Bowden said. "He would still be our property."

    I'm thinking he better have a change of heart soon.

  • Mark Hale breaks down some scenarios involving Heilman and Bannister.

    One MLB team executive suggested yesterday the Mets are best served with Heilman in the rotation, saying, "They should send Bannister to [Triple-A] and keep their depth in order. He will be the protection if Pedro [Martinez] is not ready. I would start Heilman for now and give Pedro as much time necessary to rest the toe and recover between starts. They can always put Heilman in the pen later in the year and bring up Bannister if they want."

    Keep in mind there is a danger in putting Bannister into the rotation based on excellent spring stats. Bannister has allowed only one earned run in 14 innings, but two springs ago, the Mets awarded a rookie pitcher the job after he gave up one earned run in 14 spring innings. That was Tyler Yates, who ended up appearing in 21 games (seven starts) for the Mets that year and put up a 6.36 ERA.

    I think Bannister looks better than Tyler Yates did and Yates did have some control issues which ultimately buried him.
  • Here is plenty of information on Xavier Nady for whomever is interested.

    Xavier Nady's father calls him Junior, as his father did, as his father did, as his father did and as his father did.

    The continual line of Xavier Nadys spans six generations and stretches back more than 150 years, to when Nady's great-great-great-grandfather, the man they call X the First, moved his family from eastern France to raise horses on a 660-acre patch of farmland in southeastern Iowa.

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