Thursday, March 21, 2013

World Baseball Classic

In March 2009 I attended the World Baseball Classic at Rogers Stadium. It was a great event and I was glad to have attended. It might never be here again.

Italy, Venezuela, USA and Canada played in this round one. Canada did not advance but did play well against the United States. We got to see young players like Scott Diamond and a 19-year-old Brett Lawrie. Also we saw the veterans Joey Votto, Jason Bay and the very veteran Matt Stairs. Scott Richmond did not play, but was on roster. I think he was injured. Frank Catalanotto and Nick Punto played for Italy. Playing for the USA were Curtis Granderson, Chipper Jones and Ryan Braun, et al. For Venezuela came Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, and Ramon Ramerez and many more.

It was a blast to see all these players at the dome in March. The weather outside did not matter in the least. A pretty good crowd of around 20,000 plus was there each game. When the Venezuelan’s’ played the fans really showed up and cheered, “Venezuela Hoo!!” as loud as they could. It was a very impressive and exciting thing to see and hear. For the life of me I cannot understand a player not wanting to play in this format instead of spring training. If the reasons for not playing are injury or contract problems, maybe. But, to represent your country at an international competition should be one of pride and lots of fun.

That Russell Martin is dropping out of the WBC is just too much. He made a selfish demand of Ernie Whitt who rightly said no. Martin is a catcher now, not a short stop. If he thinks catching is too much strain, I don’t know how he’ll get thru the season with the Pirates. He should not be thinking that playing SS is going to be safer on his knees. Things can happen, especially if your not used to it. I agree with Justin Morneau, when he said of Martin "I understand guys trying to make teams not playing, or guys trying to get contracts," said Morneau, "but I have a hard time understanding why a guy who is healthy is not." He went on to say, "It's kind of hard for me to understand. Obviously, if you want to learn your pitching staff, new team, it's important as a catcher to learn those guys and he signed [in Pittsburgh] for two years. If that was the case, I think we'd all be fine with it. But the desire to play a new position is kind of what has everybody wondering what the decision-making process was behind that. When we get there, we'll be there with everybody who wants to be there and with somebody who's capable of playing shortstop."

The above was written the first week of March and I missed posting it because I was out of town. Now at the end of March, with the Canadians and the Americans out , Martin is still a story that needs telling. In an interview with Chris Toman in Lakeland, Florida a few days ago, Martin said this, “Everybody is going to feel foolish for booing me, that’s what’s going to happen. That’s my prediction”. To quote Toman, “Martin said he did not get a chance to talk to manager Ernie Whitt but he has spoken to Greg Hamilton, the director of the national team programs, and does not think his shortstop-or-bust attitude will lessen his chances of playing in the next World Baseball Classic.”

 If I were Ernie Whitt, I would not ask him again. Martin is just being petulant. It is just bad form.

The WBC, in spite of whose idea it is, is a nice new format for baseball. All players should be on board. It is fun.

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