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Volume 24 No. 114

Events and Attractions

The Dominican Republic beat Italy 5-4 at the World Baseball Classic last night and players "joyously" shared "high-fives and hugs after every big hit," but the announced crowd of 14,482 at Marlins Park was "another reflection of how the Olympic-like tournament has yet to be completely embraced on American soil," according to Joe Smith of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Meanwhile, there was "a more packed, and passionate 32,872 at Team USA's 7-1 win over Puerto Rico in the nightcap." Rays RF and Team USA member Ben Zobrist: "Anybody that comes to a game really can feel the electricity and the excitement in the air. And I think if we do well as a team, I think it'll bring more people out to feel that same kind of playoff atmosphere" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/13). In DC, Amanda Comak writes the debate has been "how much this tournament means, particularly to Americans." Nationals P and Team USA member Ross Detwiler "scoffed at the notion that these games are taken lightly." He said, "Everybody’s taking it seriously. Everybody’s out here to win. Nobody’s out here just to show up" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/13). Detwiler added, "It’s been incredible. It’s a dream come true to play for your country." In DC, James Wagner writes while critics may "view the event simply as glorified exhibition, the players are taking it quite seriously" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/13). 

BUZZ GROWING?'s Tom Verducci wrote of the atmosphere yesterday at Marlins Park, "What more do you want?" Verducci: "A stadium packed with more musical instruments than a philharmonic hall? More outlandish celebrations and -- get this -- all-out hustle that would never pass muster in an MLB regular season?" This tournament "needs the USA to at least get to the finals to really put an imprint on the American sports fan's calendar." Yesterday was "just another emotional day in the WBC." Marlins Park was "filled with nearly every noisemaker and musical instrument you could think of, perhaps the bassoon and cello notwithstanding" (, 3/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown writes the WBC "won't ever be a perfect event. It can't be. So maybe we never get to the ideal." But come tomorrow night at Marlins Park, when the U.S. faces the Dominican Republic in the final play-in game of the second round, it "gets close." It is a game that "should intrigue baseball purists." It could "draw more decent baseball out of March" (, 3/13).

AROUND THE HORN: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes the question is whether the WBC will "even exist in 2017." There are "plenty of reasons why it could -- or should -- be wiped off the calendar." But it also has "provided exquisite moments for those who embrace its distinctive flavor" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/13). In Detroit, Tony Paul writes the WBC "features some of the game's best players, and interest definitely is growing." But it "still has significant flaws -- especially when trying to appeal to American fans." We are "stuck with what we have -- a March showcase, which is beloved by international fans, and tolerated by many Americans because, hey, at least it's baseball in March" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/13). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner wrote for “all the pride players may feel, the games are an odd hybrid of intense competition and get-your-work-in spring training” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/12). In Detroit, Jamie Samuelsen wonders "who wants" a WBC other than MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Detroit “is a baseball town,” but “I don’t sense the tiniest bit of interest in this event.” MLB teams “don’t like it,” and there “clearly isn’t a huge fan following for it, or at least not in the United States.” The WBC “had little traction when it started" in '06, and it has “lost whatever it had in the following years.” If Selig “weren’t so stubborn, he would have abandoned this plan already” (, 3/11). CBS Sports Network’s Gary Parrish said, “Coming at it from an American perspective, I don’t know how much it matters to Americans.” Parrish added if the WBC “went away, I probably wouldn’t notice” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 3/12). But in looking ahead, Ken Rosenthal writes the bigger the WBC gets, the "more players will want to participate." Rosenthal: "And who knows? By 2017, baseball might have a new commissioner, one who applies more pressure than Bud Selig on clubs -- and specifically managers and general managers -- to commit more fully to the WBC" (, 3/13).

THE GLOBAL GAME? SPORTS ON EARTH's Emma Span writes of "the possibilities" of the WBC, and the changes baseball "could see if this nice little tournament grows the way MLB officials think it might grow, are only starting to sink in." The key to "growing a tournament that celebrates America's self-proclaimed national pastime seems to be taking the focus off of America as much as possible" (, 3/13). Rosenthal also looks globally and said, “What we’re seeing here with the kingdom of the Netherlands is exactly what the WBC is supposed to be about. The sport is growing, there’s more talent there than there has been before and they’ve even got a 15,000-seat stadium under construction ... in Amsterdam that is said to be, when it’s completed, the best ballpark in Europe” (“World Baseball Classic Today,” MLBN, 3/12).

: Last night’s 11:00pm ET edition of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” led with NFL free agency and the Heat extending their winning streak to 19 games. The first report on the WBC was at 26:25 (26 minutes, 25 seconds) into the broadcast, a game story on the U.S.-Puerto Rico game. The broadcast had 2:26 of total WBC coverage. This morning’s 9:00am edition of “SportsCenter” led with Lakers-Magic, which marked the return of Lakers C Dwight Howard to Orlando after an offseason trade, and then Hawks-Heat. The first WBC report was at 22:45 into the broadcast on U.S.-Puerto Rico, with 1:36 of total WBC coverage (THE DAILY).

The decision to move the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament to Las Vegas was "a bold one, but it appears as if league officials knew what they were doing," according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Advance ticket sales for the tournament, which begins today at the MGM Grand Garden, "are up substantially from a year ago when the event was at Staples Center" in L.A. The bottom bowl of the Grand Garden is "sold out for all four sessions, and Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s title game are expected to sell out entirely." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "We anticipated people would be excited about coming to Las Vegas. The conference has had a lot of additional exposure with the launch of our own network and also the games we’ve had on ESPN." Carp notes it is the "first time a college basketball tournament has been on a Strip property, but Scott isn’t worried over safety for players, coaches or fans" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/13). In L.A., Chris Dufresne writes this year's Pac-12 Tournament "means that center court for amateur basketball has shifted west" as the conference becomes the fourth league to "contest its tournament in Las Vegas." The "drift from New York's heart-and-soul to Nevada's soulless Strip underscores and overscores the recent level of drivel dribbling out of NCAA headquarters." Las Vegas has "never been allowed a sniff of an actual NCAA tournament game, and axis-of-evil Nevada is prohibited from hosting an NCAA championship event in any sport." Staging four tournaments "within a week of NCAA Selection Sunday, well, that's somebody else's problem." Scott said, "When we were doing due diligence about where we were going to move the tournament, we checked with them. I talked with commissioners from the other conferences to see what their experiences were like. Everyone has been very happy with it" (L.A. TIMES, 3/13).

CAROLINA IN MY MIND: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he would "like to see" the ACC Tournament "always be in Greensboro." He said, "They put their arms around all the teams. ... They set up an atmosphere there that’s Final Four-ish." In Greensboro, David Morrison notes the tournament is "coming to the Greensboro Coliseum for the 24th time in its 60-year history this week and will be played in Greensboro the next two years as well." But with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville "soon to join the league, the thought of moving the tournament’s base has gained support." Greensboro is one of the "five sites being considered for the 2016-2021 round of ACC tournaments," along with Charlotte, Tampa, DC and a bid from Atlanta that involves Philips Arena (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 3/13).

BIG LEAST? The final edition of the Big East Tournament got underway at MSG yesterday, and in N.Y., Zach Schonbrun writes with the conference’s "bottom four seeds in action ... the Garden initially lacked the energy and intensity from the fans and players that became its staple over 34 years." Those moments will "undoubtedly come, as the weeklong celebration of the final Big East tournament ... unfolds" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/13).

SHOW ME MISSOURI: In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff writes a Sprint Center sellout is "expected for the Big 12, but a year ago the sellout sign went up a week before the tournament." As of last night, tickets were "still available for this year’s games despite several reasons for high fan interest in the region." The "biggest change" to this year's tournament is the lineup, as Missouri is "absent" after moving to the SEC. No Missouri means "one less school that would have snapped up its conference allotment of 1,100 tickets" (K.C. STAR, 3/13).