Monday, March 20, 2017

World Series champs would like to challenge World Classic champs

I don’t often find anything to praise about the Chicago Cubs, but I have to confess to thinking that Cubs manager Joe Maddon has come up with a wonderful idea – the national team that wins the World Baseball Classic tourney come Wednesday ought to then take on the defending World Series champions.
Maddon offers a worthy proposal

Which, if it were to happen this spring, would be the Cubs!

NOT THAT I would think the Chicago Cubs need to beat anyone else to legitimize their accomplishments of 2016. Or that the WBC champion would gain any more legitimacy by beating up on the Cubbies.

But it could very well be the perfect way to end spring training, where the camps are scheduled to shut down toward the end of next week before U.S. major league ballclubs leave Arizona and Florida to begin the regular season in their home cities.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I don’t expect this idea to be acted upon this year. These things take time to prepare, and this idea would have about a week to become reality – what with we won’t know until Wednesday who even wins the World Baseball Classic.

So I don’t expect any team to leave Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium (where the championship games will be played Tuesday and Wednesday) to head for the Cubs’ training camp in Mesa, Ariz.

ALTHOUGH THE IDEA of the national teams put together for the World Baseball Classic playing U.S. major league teams isn’t absurd. Heck, there already have been such matchups during spring training.
If  Puerto Rico team wins, who would Javy pick?

Even the Cubs got to play Team Japan Saturday (the Cubs won 6-4) as part of that ball club’s efforts to cope with jet lag and adjust their body clocks (the games they have played thus far were in Seoul and Toyko) to playing in Pacific Daylight Time.

Pitting the two winners, whether in a two wins out of three games series like Maddon suggests or perhaps just one ballgame before breaking training could become a new tradition for the 21st Century.

If this idea had been in place previously, then the defending WBC champion Dominican Republic team would have played the San Francisco Giants, while the Japan national teams that won the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2006 would have played the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox respectively.
Easier rooting decision if Netherlands wins?

THE LATTER WOULD have provided a particularly intriguing scenario, and not just because we can’t help but wonder how much then-Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s feisty spirit and loud mouth would have intrigued (or offended) the Japanese.

But that Sox team had Tadahito Iguchi as its second baseman. How much grief would he have got playing against his home nation?

Actually, that same scenario could occur this year, if it turns out that Puerto Rico keeps its undefeated ways going and wins the World Baseball Classic. We’d get the chance to see the Boricuans versus los Cachorros.
There's already been a Javy controversy

Except that the second baseman for team Puerto Rico is Javy Baez – who also happens to be an infielder for the defending champion Cubs. Somebody would have to make a judgment call on which team would get him, and it would be a decision guaranteed to offend a segment of baseball fans.

AS IT IS, Puerto Rican fans already are upset at the MLB-TV channel that has been broadcasting the games (Channel 233 on my cable TV system), a graphic of Baez depicted him in front of a Dominican flag!

It’s almost enough to make some people hope desperately that the Netherlands’ national team prevails. No conflict, and considering that their big star is New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, it’s likely the Yankees-hating world of baseball will unite in rooting against them.
How would Ozzie have 'played' in Japan?

All I know is that this spring already has had some intriguing baseball moments due to the World Baseball Classic, such as Team United States of America having the tying run on third base when they lost Friday to Puerto Rico, the fact that Team Israel briefly was unbeatable as they even knocked out Equipo Cuba. And the outrage I personally feel at watching Team Mexico blow a four-run lead to Italy, then getting knocked out of the tourney altogether even after they beat Venezuela because of a screwy tie-breaking system.

Maddon’s idea is one that could help further cement the idea that the tourney is a part of the professional game – rather than something to be conducted in isolation. Even more important, it would be fun – and that’s what baseball is supposed to be about.


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