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March 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Who loves the WBC?

Probably not Alex Rodriguez, who skipped the tourney because of health reasons. But I’m sure he’s got plenty of other things to focus attention on. Oh, by the way, there’s a nice story on him in Details magazine, where the photo to the left comes from.
Speaking of the WBC, I see Chipper Jones is no fan of Toronto. In criticizing the number of off-days he’s had while playing for Team USA in the WBC, he said:
“Just way too many days off,” he said. “We stayed in Toronto for a week and played three games. I don’t know if you’ve ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.”
Hey, Chipper, lived there for nine years. Can’t say I ever plucked my eyebrows out, as those of you watching Geoff Baker Live! can attest. And Toronto is a decent city in many ways. But the claims that it’s the “New York of Canada” are grossly overstated. If any city can make that claim, it’s Montreal. Like New York, it does have a nightlife that extends beyond 2 a.m., in case anyone was confused.
Back to the basics on the WBC.
I’m confused by all the criticism I’ve heard from some quarters about the “sudden death” nature of the tourney. Even though it’s actually double-elimination style pool play, where two losses means you’re out, it does have a bit of a “sudden death” quality to it. Lose one game and you’re up against it, as A-Rod’s would-be Dominican squad found out.
Some fans are turned off by this. They say it doesn’t reflect the nature of baseball, where winning one game isn’t that big a deal, compared to, say, the ability to win six or seven of ten like MLB playoff teams over a full season.
After all, the LCS and World Series are best-of-seven affairs, so part of that is true.
But for me, that just adds to the excitement of the WBC.
As for the criticism, how is it that college basketball gets away with its format in this country and is beloved by all? I mean, basketball teams play a full season over several months, like the Huskies, only to have it vanish when they play a bad first half. At least, as far as the conference tournament goes. So, U-Dub plays a full season, finishes first in the Pac-10, wins a playoff game, then gets bounced because of a shaky start in the semi-finals.
Last I checked, NBA teams played a best-of-seven playoff format. Basketball is also a sport, like baseball, where winning one game is entirely possible, no matter how much of a favorite one team is over another. Just check out the 1983 college title game where NC State beat Houston.
So, why does the WBC get all the grief, while the college format, which makes a mockery of the regular season, has become an ingrained tradition in this country?
Hey, I like both. Just don’t get the double-standard.
So, who loves the WBC? Well, fans of Felix Hernandez, I suppose, after last night. Hernandez has yet to allow a run in WBC play, though I’m sure the Mariners were holding their breath as he threw 85 pitches over 4 2/3 innings last night. Seven strikeouts, four walks. Let’s hope he doesn’t start clutching his elbow come April.
Don’t forget Geoff Baker Live! today at 11 a.m.



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