May 14, 2005


Play Ball! (Baseball America, May 11, 2005)

This is Baseball America's take on what the starting lineups will look like for the 16 teams expected to be involved in the World Baseball Classic next spring, and how each of the teams can be expected to perform. Teams will be divided into four pools, with two teams advancing from round-robin play out of each pool. The eight remaining teams will play another set of round-robin competition, with four teams advancing to a winner-take-all semifinal and final. Rosters were determined by the staff of Baseball America with the help of our correspondents. The organizations of players who are in the American major or minor leagues are listed in parentheses.

C—Jason Varitek (Red Sox)
1B—Todd Helton (Rockies)
2B—Jeff Kent (Dodgers)
3B—Scott Rolen (Cardinals)
SS—Alex Rodriguez (Yankees)
LF—Lance Berkman (Astros)
CF—Jim Edmonds (Cardinals)
RF—Gary Sheffield (Yankees)
DH—Barry Bonds (Giants)
SP—Roger Clemens (Astros)
SP—Mark Prior (Cubs)
SP—Ben Sheets (Brewers)
SP—Mark Mulder (Cardinals)
RP—Billy Wagner (Phillies)
Manager: Bobby Cox (Braves)

Skinny: USA Baseball has been one of the major players on the international scene in the last 40 years, as it should be, and is the only nation other than Cuba to win an Olympic gold medal. The United States will be the favorite at the World Baseball Classic, though its biggest advantage--depth--might not be a major factor in this tournament. A team of U.S. reserves would have a good chance at the gold, but it won't be a cakewalk. Players with previous Team USA experience, such as Mulder, Prior and Sheets, could get priority.

C—Miguel Olivo (Mariners)
1B—Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2B—Alfonso Soriano (Rangers)
3B—Aramis Ramirez (Cubs)
SS— Miguel Tejada (Orioles)
LF—Manny Ramirez (Red Sox)
CF—Jose Guillen (Nationals)
RF—Vladimir Guerrero (Angels)
DH—David Ortiz (Red Sox)
SP—Pedro Martinez (Mets)
SP—Bartolo Colon (Angels)
SP—Odalis Perez (Dodgers)
SP—Daniel Cabrera (Orioles)
RP—Francisco Cordero (Rangers)
Manager: Felipe Alou (Giants)

Skinny: Though they're thin at catcher, the Dominicans match up with Team USA as well as anyone. Like Puerto Rico and Venezuela, the Dominican has never made a splash on the international scene before now because of disorganized national baseball federations. That all changes with this tournament, where the talent comes out. Anyone want to bet against Pedro in one game for all the marbles?

And none of them throw like girls.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 14, 2005 7:14 PM

"Thin at catcher?" I wish. Olivo is currently hitting .127. They're pretty well transparent at catcher.

Posted by: Timothy at May 15, 2005 1:15 AM

If the game with the Dominican finishes 1-nil, oops, one to nothing, will y'all declare it "boring"?

Inquiring soccer-minds want to know.

(BTW relegation dogfight on the final day of the Premiership this morning, CDT. As it now stands Southampton, Norwich, and Palace go down, West Brom live to fight another year in the Prem. Let you know how it turns out when the matches end in 20 minutes.)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 15, 2005 11:33 AM

Oops, Palace just scored to go ahead 2-1. Now they're out of the relegation zone. (3 goals in a footie match, can you folks believe it!)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 15, 2005 11:35 AM

No, that's a pitchers' duel.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2005 11:35 AM

Charlton have equalized at home to Palace. Now its West Brom who look set to stay up, 5 minutes to go. Edge of seat excitement folks.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 15, 2005 11:46 AM

Palace still seek that elusive winner at The Valley while they're starting to celebrate at The Hawthorns. Into added time now.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 15, 2005 11:51 AM

Final whistle at The Valley and it's official - West Brom are safe and Crystal Palace are relegated. Iain Dowie is expressionless as the London derby against Charlton ends 2-2. The Baggies stay up with 34 points after that 2-0 defeat of Portsmouth. West Brom are the first side ever to be bottom of the Premiership at Christmas and avoid relegation.

Wigan and Sunderland will join the Baggies in the Prem next year. 3rd promoted side to be determined.

Stay tuned folks.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 15, 2005 11:56 AM

Baseball has it's 1-0 games, but when was the last metric footbal game that mattered in which both teams combined for over 10 goals? How often does a lead change more than once? (Hard to do when two or fewer goals are scored in most games.)

Hey, instead of a tied game going beyond 10 iinnings, maybe baseball should hold a home-run derby to determine the game's winner. After all, that's what futbol does to determine its world champions.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 15, 2005 4:12 PM


I was kidding. To my mind a 1-0 pitchers duel is the optimal game. Which is why I find the argument that soccer is boring b/c there's not enough scoring incredibly lame.

The best era of baseball was probably either the deadball era, or the late 50s early 60s when the Gibsons and Koufaxs ruled the sport.

To paraphrase Belloc, a baseball game that lasts more than 2 hrs is heresy.

There's nothing I hate more than a 4 hr game filled with crappy pitching and steroid cases jacking the ball out of the yard.

As for the penalty kicks, that's a crap rule, but its one of the only concenssions the sport has made to the tv market. Back in the day, the games would be replayed if they ended tied. Which is the way it should be, but its impossible given the tv money.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 16, 2005 1:39 AM


Scoring wouldn't help soccer. It's still just guys kicking a ball around.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2005 7:10 AM

2nd best sport in the world, and closing fast on four hour steroid ball.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 16, 2005 1:10 PM