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Thread: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

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    "Let's Roll" TeamBoone's Avatar
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    U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    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
    "Enjoy this Reds fans, you are watching a legend grow up before your very eyes" ... DoogMinAmo on Adam Dunn

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  3. #2
    Pagan/Asatru Ravenlord's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    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'
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    Your killin' me Smalls! StillFunkyB's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    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.
    "And the fact that watching him pitch is like having someone poop on your soul." FCB on Gary Majewski

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by StillFunkyB
    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.
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    we got no wa

    just moola

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    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.
    Can't win with 'em

    Can't win without 'em

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    "Let's Roll" TeamBoone's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    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.
    "Enjoy this Reds fans, you are watching a legend grow up before your very eyes" ... DoogMinAmo on Adam Dunn

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamBoone
    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.
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

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  10. #9
    "Let's Roll" TeamBoone's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R
    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.
    "Enjoy this Reds fans, you are watching a legend grow up before your very eyes" ... DoogMinAmo on Adam Dunn

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamBoone
    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.
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

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  12. #11
    Do it! TheBurn's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    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.

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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamBoone
    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

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R
    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.
    Can't win with 'em

    Can't win without 'em

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton
    we may not have the best team, but we can rationalize like nobody else
    It's what makes this country great.

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    Re: U.S. no longer envy of baseball world

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    It's what makes this country great.
    Israel upset us in the last Rationalization Cup, but we've got a strong team this year.


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