WBC Update 19/03/09

Why Can’t They Beat These Guys?

Japan beat China 4-0 and then demolished South Korea in the round 1 match, only to lose a 1-0 duel with the South Koreans in the seeding game. In Round 2, Japan then beat Cuba 6-0, a convincing effort at any time, only to play South Korea again and lost 4-1. Japan then played Cuba again and beat them 5-0, which must be giving Fidel Castro indigestion and fits.

Defending champion Japan advanced to the World Baseball Classic semifinals Wednesday night, leaving mighty Cuba in the fog of another international failure.
Japan beat Cuba 5-0 on a foggy night at Petco Park to clinch the final spot in the semifinals this weekend at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Japan scored two unearned runs with two outs in the fourth inning when Cuban center fielder Yoennis Cespedes committed a two-base error on Michihiro Ogasawara’s high fly ball. Even though it was hit into heavy fog and Cespedes had a long run, he seemed to see the ball and had it in his glove before it popped out, glanced off his cap and rolled to the wall.
Norichika Aoki went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored. Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-5 to raise his WBC average to .214. He tripled in the ninth and scored on Aoki’s single.
Hisashi Iwakuma and Toshiya Sugiuchi combined to five-hit the Cubans.
Baseball long has been Cuba’s soul, and the WBC and Olympics are among the few major forums it has to show off the country’s talent away from home.
But the Cubans are in a funk.
The WBC elimination came seven months after South Korea upset Cuba to win the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Three years ago at Petco Park, Japan beat Cuba 10-6 to win the inaugural WBC.

Thus, the final 4 are Venezuela, USA, South Korea and Japan. It’s kind of weird that Japan has shut out Cuba twice and can’t seem to down Korea in the money matches. Now we find out the 2 Asian nations are going to face each other again for the seeding of Round 3. It’s all a bit barmy and there’s still a 1/4  chance they might play each other in the finals if they beat their respective opponents in the Semis.

Manny Dons The Pads

Nothing to do with the WBC, but this article came in from Walk-off HBP.

The made-for-the-media event took place on a sunsplashed field often used by the Arizona Cricket Club, one of an estimated 750 cricket teams in this country. The event paired two men who make their living with a bat — although the bat wielded by Ramirez on Wednesday had an elongated handle and was flat, like a paddle.

Marsh is a left-handed opening bat who plays for his country and for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League. Like Ramirez, Marsh is coming back from a hamstring injury that he said had sidelined him for about six weeks.

Marsh said he had been looking forward to meeting Ramirez.

“I’ve heard a little bit about him, but I really don’t follow baseball too much,” Marsh said. “I read up about him when I was coming over here. He’s certainly an icon in American sport.”

Marsh gave Ramirez a few quick pointers on the rules.

“It’s pretty simple, mate,” Marsh said. “You just make sure you’re nice and relaxed. You keep your eyes on the ball, just like you do in baseball.”

With Marsh standing nearby, Ramirez swung and missed at his first pitch before lining the second one past the bowler’s ear as yellow-jerseyed members of the Arizona Cricket Club chased down the ball.

On the third delivery, Ramirez let the ball hit the wicket, which would have been an out in an actual game.

“That’s an out?” Ramirez said. “Give me one more chance.”

A few minutes later, Bhuta fired a ball that bounded behind Ramirez, who danced out of the way.

“Am I allowed to charge the mound?” Ramirez said.

It was a funny line, but cricket uses a shiny 5½-ounce ball that feels every bit as hard as a horsehide. Marsh said later he wasn’t worried that the Dodgers’ expensive property might take a ball in the noggin.

“They weren’t bowling too quick,” Marsh said.

Fair enough. Manny being Manny, when he was told Marsh once had a 9hour stint at the crease, he said such an at-bat would be just too long.  Of course, there’s more to the story.

But, after the last pictures were taken, Ramirez turned back toward the field and said, “Can I hit some more?”

That’s Manny.

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