Gambatte Nippon! Japan Inaugural WBC Champs

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Congratulations to Sadaharu Oh and Team Japan, champions of the World Baseball Classic after a 10-6 victory over Cuba before a sold-out crowd of more than 42,000 last night in San Diego. That they did it without their greatest star, who preferred to remain in Yankee Camp, is even more impressive. (Ichiro, however, scored three runs last night, and his helmet goes to the Hall of Fame.) Kudos also to Cuba, for mounting a comeback in a game in which they were down 4-0 and 6-1, and for their overall achievement in making the final. Those players don’t get a chance for glory on the game’s greatest stage; it was nice to see them have that opportunity here, and to take advantage of it so well.

For all the criticism—and, yes, there is much to be learned for the next go-round in ’09—it’s hard not to see the WBC as a wonderful success. The players who played loved it. Attendance hit somewhere around 750K. Excitement was built around the world. International baseball federations now have a little more in their coffers for development. (Let’s hope MLB spends their money earned on programs in America’s inner cities.)

Okay, to celebrate we’re going to go read this

PS: The WBC All-Tournament Team after the jump. But we think you can guess who’s starting at short.

C: Tomoya Satozaki, Japan
1B: Seung Yeop Lee, Korea
2B: Yulieski Gourriel, Cuba
SS: Derek Jeter, United States
3B: Adrian Beltre, Dominican Republic
OF: Ken Griffey Jr., United States
OF: Jong Beom Lee, Korea
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, Japan
DH: Yoandry Garlobo, Cuba
P: Yadel Marti, Cuba
P: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japan (Tournament MVP)
P: Chan Ho Park, Korea

5 comments… add one
  • Okay: this in from the Getting Carried Away Dept: New York Times columnist William Rhoden now thinks we need to rename the World Series. Because it’s not really world. Oy.
    Lighten up, Bill.

    YF March 21, 2006, 9:33 am
  • I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, until that all-tournament team. I don’t even mind Jeter’s inclusion; but what’s up with the inclusion only of semifinalists and Team USA? At the very least, Shairon Martis (Netherlands; no-hit Panama) and Adam Stern (Canada; beat Team USA nearly single-handedly) should be in there.

    Earl March 21, 2006, 9:39 am
  • Good points, Earl. I don’t know whether there was a “Second Team.” If so, those guys should definitely be on it. But I’m not so sure the oversight is that huge. I would have given it to Martis, but do note that in that game he only pitched 7 innings and, amazingly, had zero strikeouts. That suggests he was fairly lucky. As for Stern, do you take him over Junior, who hit .583 with 3 homers? Cuba and Japan also had worthy outfield candidates left off the team.
    Anyway, for my money, Korea’s Seung Yeop Lee was the obvious MVP (5 dingers, 1.372 OPS). Not giving the award to him—that doesn’t make sense to me.

    YF March 21, 2006, 10:00 am
  • Since I wasn’t born here, it always seemed funny to me that you have “World Series” tournament for an event that only US takes part in. I know Canada hypothetically can get in to it. Hardly the grounds for WS title if you ask me. But nobody did ;-)

    Cape Codder with a Twist March 21, 2006, 10:28 am
  • Fair enough. Though re: Martis, I watched the game, and while somehow I missed the zero K line, he was making quick work of the batters — easy groundouts and popflies. I can’t help but think the Panamanians gave up near the end (it took him 10 pitches to get his last 6 outs, which is stupid given the strict pitch limits), it was a really impressive outing.
    Also, it’s worth mentioning in terms of individual stats, Team USA benefited from playing South Africa, easily the worst team in the tournament (Canada and Mexico similarly benefited). Take away the game vs. South Africa, and Griffey goes 7-for-17, with 1R, 3 RBI, and 1 HR. Still impressive, but…

    Earl March 21, 2006, 10:30 am

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