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TeamBoone
03-15-2006, 02:26 AM
3/14/06

U.S. no longer envy of baseball world
Ken Rosenthal / FOXSports.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Time for all those American kids to stop playing video games, not to mention football, basketball and soccer.

If the World Baseball Classic has proven anything, it's that the United States no longer is the pre-eminent baseball power.

True, not all of the best Americans are playing. But even a diluted U.S. team figured to handle Canada or Korea with little difficulty.

Didn't happen.

Team USA lost its second game of the tournament Monday night, falling to Korea, 7-3. If not for a blown umpire's call, the U.S. also might have fallen to Japan the day before.

Back-to-back second-round defeats would have meant near-certain elimination and dropped the U.S. to 2-3 overall, with one of its victories over hapless South Africa.

As it stands, even if the U.S. survives the second round and wins its semifinal matchup, it will face a starting-pitching crisis in the championship game.

National pastime? Once upon a time. No more.

Team USA isn't assured of reaching the final round even if it beats Mexico on Thursday night in possibly the final start of Roger Clemens' career. Japan must lose one of its next two games to guarantee that the U.S. would advance with a victory.

If Japan beats both Mexico and Korea, the U.S. could be eliminated before it even plays Mexico due to the WBC's tie-breaking formula fewest runs allowed in games between the teams tied.

The U.S. already is at a disadvantage, having allowed 10 runs against Japan and Korea. Japan allowed four runs against the U.S., Korea three.

Dontrelle Willis may have dominated major-league hitters in 2005, but he's struggling to keep batters off base in the WBC. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

As if all that is not daunting enough, if the U.S. somehow reaches the championship game in San Diego, it likely will have little choice but to start struggling Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis, who has allowed 17 baserunners in 5 2/3 innings in his two WBC starts.

Clemens will be finished for the tournament if he exceeds 49 pitches Thursday. WBC rules state that a pitcher can not pitch for a minimum of four days after throwing 50 or more pitches. The WBC championship game is Monday.

Padres right-hander Jake Peavy is scheduled to start the semifinal game Saturday, leaving Willis as the only option for Monday. The U.S. has no other starting pitchers on its staff.

Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia ducked out of the WBC at the last minute, but Clemens, Willis and Peavy ranked first, third and eighth in the majors last season in ERA.

They should be good enough.

"I don't think there's a man in that clubhouse who doesn't want to give the ball to Dontrelle Willis," U.S. manager Buck Martinez said. "It's just a matter of getting him one more chance."

Perhaps, but other American deficiencies are evident.

The starting corner outfielders Monday night, the Blue Jays' Vernon Wells and Rockies' Matt Holliday, combined to go 0-for-7. Wells is a fine player, but Holliday, entering his third season, is largely a Coors Field creation.

The Yankees' Johnny Damon, slowed by a troublesome left shoulder, did not start for the second straight game. The Giants' Randy Winn and the Braves' Jeff Francoeur are the team's only other corner outfielders. And Francoeur, a second-year player, has batted only three times in the tournament.

Where is Barry Bonds when you need him?

Of the top seven American outfielders in on-base/slugging percentage last season, only Ken Griffey Jr. is participating. The other six the Reds' Adam Dunn, Cardinals' Jim Edmonds and Padres' Brian Giles; Phillies' Pat Burrell, Brewers' Geoff Jenkins and Yankees' Gary Sheffield are in spring training with their major-league clubs.

The American's lack of left-handed bullpen depth also became an issue against Korea; the Rockies' Brian Fuentes had worked the previous day, and the only other lefty reliever, Al Leiter, is a liability. The U.S. added Leiter only after Billy Wagner, the best lefty reliever in the game, backed out.

In the fourth inning, Korea inserted Hee Seop Choi, a left-handed hitter, for Tae Kyun Kim, its right-handed cleanup man, without fear of Choi seeing a quality left-hander the rest of the game. Choi hit a three-run homer off Astros righty Dan Wheeler, extending Korea's lead to 6-1.

Both Korea and Japan, the Asian quarterfinalists in the WBC, are near-flawless in their execution. Major-league scouts say Korea's professional league is the equivalent of Class AA, but its national team appears to be a level or two above.

Korea is 5-0 in the tournament. Its defense has yet to commit an error. Its bullpen has allowed three runs in 25 2/3 innings. Its No. 3 hitter, Seung Yeop Lee, leads the WBC with five homers and 11 RBIs.

The vaunted U.S. offense was shut down Monday night by six Korean pitchers, only two of whom Byung-Hyun Kim and Dae Sung Koo have pitched in the majors. The other two major leaguers on Korea's staff, Jae Seo and Chan Ho Park, did not pitch.

"Something happened today which nobody could believe," Korean manager In Sik Kim said.

Believe it.

The days of the U.S. being the envy of the baseball world are over.


http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/5407780

Ravenlord
03-15-2006, 03:49 AM
Wells is a fine player, but Holliday, entering his third season, is largely a Coors Field creation.
2005
Holliday's OPS: 866
Home: 1002
Away: 729

Wells' OPS: 783
Home: 846
Away: 722

just sayin'

StillFunkyB
03-15-2006, 08:40 AM
Our "team" might not be the envy of the rest of the world, but the rest of the players in the world want to come here to play.

oneupper
03-15-2006, 09:30 AM
Our "team" might not be the envy of the rest of the world, but the rest of the players in the world want to come here to play.

The money might have something to do with that, too.

Latin stars will suit up in the winter and play some games in their home countries to:

1) Stay in shape
2) Please the local fans

I'd say that's commendable.

princeton
03-15-2006, 11:01 AM
we got no wa

just moola

traderumor
03-15-2006, 11:30 AM
Of the top seven American outfielders in on-base/slugging percentage last season, only Ken Griffey Jr. is participating. The other six — the Reds' Adam Dunn, Cardinals' Jim Edmonds and Padres' Brian Giles; Phillies' Pat Burrell, Brewers' Geoff Jenkins and Yankees' Gary Sheffield — are in spring training with their major-league clubs.And there is exactly why the team is struggling. They just do not have enough big bats of those available on the roster.

TeamBoone
03-15-2006, 12:41 PM
Totally agree. Right or wrong, Team USA is not comprised of its best players; I'm just not sure the rest of the world realizes that.

Chip R
03-15-2006, 12:46 PM
Totally agree. Right or wrong, Team USA is not comprised of its best players; I'm just not sure the rest of the world realizes that.
The Dominican doesn't have Manny or Pedro either. Puerto Rico doesn't have Felipe Lopez. I don't believe Japan has Matsui either. On that front, the US has nothing to complain about.

TeamBoone
03-15-2006, 01:04 PM
The Dominican doesn't have Manny or Pedro either. Puerto Rico doesn't have Felipe Lopez. I don't believe Japan has Matsui either. On that front, the US has nothing to complain about.

That's less than a handful spread across three teams.

Chip R
03-15-2006, 01:08 PM
That's less than a handful spread across three teams.

But those are just the ones I've mentioned. There are more where that came from.

TheBurn
03-15-2006, 01:09 PM
I have to agree with Chip, every country is missing a top player or five.
OTOH and IMO it is pretty much a given that if the BEST players from each country were playing, USA and DR would be unmatched.
But what about those players from other countries that we really don't know anything about, and are not representing.
Unless we have some international scouts here, it's all pretty much speculation.

I still think USA gets in, BTW... Korea already beat Japan in the 1st Rd. :cool:

princeton
03-15-2006, 01:23 PM
Right or wrong, Team USA is not comprised of its best players; I'm just not sure the rest of the world realizes that.

we may not have the best team, but we can rationalize like nobody else

traderumor
03-15-2006, 01:27 PM
But those are just the ones I've mentioned. There are more where that came from.Regardless, the point is that the US is clearly short at least five guys in the lineup, and they would likely trump those missing from other nation's teams. A pitcher like Oswalt in the rotation and Wagner to close are two other glaring missing parties that would help. I think the point is, in a perfect setup of our best against any other nation's best, we would certainly be in contention for the championship.

westofyou
03-15-2006, 01:35 PM
we may not have the best team, but we can rationalize like nobody else
It's what makes this country great.

princeton
03-15-2006, 01:44 PM
It's what makes this country great.

Israel upset us in the last Rationalization Cup, but we've got a strong team this year.

Chip R
03-15-2006, 01:47 PM
Regardless, the point is that the US is clearly short at least five guys in the lineup, and they would likely trump those missing from other nation's teams. A pitcher like Oswalt in the rotation and Wagner to close are two other glaring missing parties that would help. I think the point is, in a perfect setup of our best against any other nation's best, we would certainly be in contention for the championship.

I think they would too but they still are in contention. Dontrelle Willis has a 12 ERA right now. If he pitches even close to how he did last year, the US is undefeated even without Wagner or Oswalt.

flyer85
03-15-2006, 02:10 PM
The other teams obviously have more scrappy veterans.

ochre
03-15-2006, 02:31 PM
Post WWII the Mexican League, behind it's leader Jorge Pasquel, made a push to raid American Baseball for talent. Major League baseball felt the pressure and won a key anti-trust case that pretty much ended this threat:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_baseball

February 19, 1946: Giants OF Danny Gardella becomes the first major leaguer to announce he is jumping to the "outlaw" Mexican League, the first shot in the series of events that will dominate baseball even more than the return of all the war veterans. His attempt to return to the ML a few years later will initiate a major court battle.

� February 28, 1946: Alex Carrasquel, White Sox pitcher, signs a 3-year contract with the Mexican League, the first shot in the event that will dominate baseball even more than the return of the war veterans.

� April 26, 1946: Giants pitchers Ace Adams and Harry Feldman jump to the Mexican League.

� May 23, 1946: The Cardinals, the pre-season favorites to win the National League pennant, suffer a blow when pitchers Max Lanier and Fred Martin, and infielder Lou Klein jump to the Mexican League. Lanier was 6�0 in six starts this season. The 2nd-place Cards win today at the Polo Grounds behind Johnny Beazley's 4-hitter, but will lose three of their next four starts and drop into 2nd place.

� May 27, 1946: The outlaw Mexican League scuttles its competition, Mexico's only league entry in organized baseball. There are now 43 minor leagues for 1946.

� July 8, 1946: A special meeting of clubs deals with Mexican League defections and attempts by players to gain new rights. Some results: $5,000 minimum salary, $25-per- week training-camp expenses, a fixed period for spring training, 25 days for post-season barnstorming, maximum pay cut of 25 percent. A pension fund aimed at providing $100 a month for retired 10-year players will be funded by WS broadcast rights and net proceeds from All-Star Games. Each league will have a player rep to baseball councils. The first player reps named are Yankees P Johnny Murphy and Dodgers OF Dixie Walker.

� August 5, 1946: Mickey Owen quits his Mexican League team. He and Luis Olmo ask Commissioner Chandler for reinstatement 3 days later.

� October 2, 1947: Ex-Giant Danny Gardella, suspended for 5 years for jumping to the Mexican League, files suit for $300,000 in damages. He charges that the reserve clause is "monopolistic and restrains trade." It will be dismissed.

� February 9, 1949: A federal appeals court orders the $300,000 suit against baseball by Mexican League jumper Danny Gardella back to a lower court for trial.

� March 8, 1949: Max Lanier and Fred Martin, late of the Mexican League, file a $2.5 million suit against baseball. A federal judge on April one will deny their right to be reinstated.

� June 29, 1949: Mickey Owen and Luis Olmo rejoin the Dodgers from Mexican League exile.

� February 20, 1953: The U.S. Court of Appeals rules that organized baseball is a sport and not a business, affirming the 25-year-old Supreme Court ruling. This effectively dismisses the antitrust suits of Jack Corbett and former Dodger farm hand Walter Kowalski. The $300,000 suit of Corbett, the owner of the Texas League El Paso club, is based on his belief that he lost money when ML baseball prohibited him from signing several players suspended for participation in the Mexican League. Kowalski's $150,000 suit is based on the general principles of the antitrust and restraint-of-trade laws. Their lawyer in these cases is Frederic Johnson, who also represents Danny Gardella in his suit against ML baseball.

LoganBuck
03-15-2006, 02:37 PM
Dontrelle Willis' starts have been the problem, to say that US baseball is a failure because the lost two games in which they one player spotted the opposing teams big leads, is just not accurate. That being said, they could really use another bat.

traderumor
03-15-2006, 02:37 PM
we may not have the best team, but we can rationalize like nobody elseI think reality is being dealt with in the discussion on the impact players not participating might have on the results.

princeton
03-15-2006, 02:49 PM
I think reality is being dealt with in the discussion on the impact players not participating might have on the results.

losing's reality. In 2002, I liked that even Allen Iverson was sportsman enough to call Argentina the better team.

pedro
03-15-2006, 02:51 PM
It seems to me that not enough of the best players and especailly pitchers participated.

no one can tell me that Jeff Franceur and Al Leiter are among the 25 best currect US players.

savafan
03-15-2006, 02:55 PM
The problem is this. Buck Martinez wasn't a good manager with the Blue Jays, and he's not a good manager now.

westofyou
03-15-2006, 02:58 PM
The problem is this. Buck Martinez wasn't a good manager with the Blue Jays, and he's not a good manager now.So Buck's the reason Willis has tanked 2 games?

pedro
03-15-2006, 02:59 PM
The problem is this. Buck Martinez wasn't a good manager with the Blue Jays, and he's not a good manager now.

that has nothing to do with it

oneupper
03-15-2006, 03:01 PM
Though it hasn't been reported on much in the US, Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo has been harshly critized for his selections and his feuds with certain players, ultimately leading to their non-inclusion.

Melvin Mora...did not participate, reportedly because Sojo wanted him to play CF (unreportedly because he and Sojo do not get along).
Alex Cabrera (1B)...who is big in Japan and probably the only bonafide 1B available...also had his troubles with Sojo. (He claimed his Japanese team wouldn't let him go).

Selected: Robert Perez...a "seasoned" veteran who knows how to play the game. Perez was greeted in Orlando with chants of "compadre" (buddy...or literally someone who is your kids godfather) and "Endy" (who ended up playing).

Not to mention Sojo's "small-ball" propensities.

No joy in Caracas today, when you limit the Dominican powerhouse to 2 runs, they expect to win.

savafan
03-15-2006, 03:05 PM
that has nothing to do with it

Really? Have you looked at the lineups and how he has handled the pitching staff?

bottom_feeder
03-15-2006, 11:08 PM
Totally agree. Right or wrong, Team USA is not comprised of its best players; I'm just not sure the rest of the world realizes that.

Not only that, but it's spring training. Some of these players are still going through the "get in shape" period.