Emotion Shown By Team USA In Comeback Win Could Boost U.S. Interest In WBC
A comeback victory for the U.S. over Venezuela last night in the World Baseball Classic saw a crowd of 16,635 at Petco Park "celebrating as if their own Padres had just clinched a playoff berth," and the win showcased the "kind of emotion Team USA needs to inject new life" into the WBC, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. U.S. CF Adam Jones said after the game, "Everybody's saying that Team USA lacks emotion. We just go out there and play a bland type of baseball. But we're emotional guys." Jones said the team "showed some emotion" when he homered in the eighth inning last night to tie the score. Jones added, "I love it when you see the Dominican and Venezuelan teams, Puerto Rican teams jump all over. I love when you show a passion for something that you really enjoy doing." Nightengale writes if Team USA keeps winning, and "doing it with flair, maybe they’ll capture the attention of the general baseball fan." Jones: "It's crazy, the WBC is here in the United States, and people don't know really what's going on unless you watch MLB Network. It's not promoted on 'SportsCenter' or any other of the various sports channels. But you look around the Latin countries and they know exactly what's going on. Their awareness is at an all-time high right now. It seems like with the U.S. and the American people, they think of Spring Training right now" (USA TODAY, 3/16). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote MLB stars who previously "couldn’t be bothered" to play in the WBC are now likely to have "pockets of envy." Jenkins: "It’s just undeniably cool to watch a bunch of All-Stars leaping around in their USA jerseys, acting like Little Leaguers on a big day at Williamsport." Heading into the homestretch, the WBC has a "chance to get even better" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/15).
TAKE NOTE? In N.Y., Billy Witz notes as MLB searches for ways to improve the game, it could "just make the game more like the WBC." Though Tuesday night's Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic game at Petco Park saw a "modest" crowd of 16,637, it "filled the ballpark with energy." The U.S.-Dominican Republic rematch on Saturday night at Petco is "close to a sellout" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/16). But in Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis asked, "Can a U.S. team well stocked with all-stars and World Series champions inspire American fans to rally behind their cause?" The WBC has "yet to register more than a blip on the U.S. sports consciousness." Americans are "busy finalizing their brackets for March Madness, pondering NBA playoff positioning and looking ahead to the NFL draft" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/15).
SUMMER BREEZE: In N.Y., David Waldstein noted Yankees manager Joe Girardi has "devised a plan that he thinks would make the [WBC] a more compelling and competitive tournament -- and less risky." Girardi: "There would be a lot of value to it in the summer.” To make the WBC a summertime event, Girardi would move the first two rounds "later by a week in March, so that the players -- especially the fragile pitchers -- are stronger and more prepared to play competitively." Then the semifinals and the final would be "held during an extended weeklong All-Star Break in July." Under Girardi’s plan, the WBC semifinals would be "held on Tuesday, and the final on Wednesday." The workout for the ASG would be "held on Thursday, and the game itself on Friday." Saturday and Sunday "would be off, and the regular season would resume on Monday." It "could be staged in the same town, with the entire baseball world focused there, or in a different city" with available ballparks (N.Y., TIMES, 3/15).
IN A PICKLE: In L.A., Andy McCullough notes after Mexico's victory over Venezuela on Sunday, Mexico 1B Adrian Gonzalez "thought his team had earned the chance to play a tiebreaker Monday against Italy." Mexico was "led to this belief after reading an explanation of the rules provided on MLB Network and through the official Twitter accounts of both the WBC" and MLB. But on Monday afternoon, it was Venezuela who "played Italy in the tiebreaker." The WBC "broke the deadlock by calculating which team had allowed the fewest runs per defensive inning in the games the teams played against one another." The "interpretation of the convoluted statistic created a discrepancy that led to Gonzalez's distate for the entire tournament." He said, "They're trying to become the World Cup. But they're not even close to being the Little League World Series." Gonzalez said the WBC has "no validity." He added, "I'll never do it again. It's not worth it. I'll tell anyone who asks not to play. ... It's good to be the hell out of that tournament" (L.A. TIMES, 3/16).