This Day in Baseball History: March 7th, 2006

Yes, Chipper will be in every picture today as he is obviously the best player involved. Don’t criticize my bias. I’m completely objective.

On March 7, 2006:

The USA beats Mexico 2-0 in first round of the World Baseball Classic.

In honor of the beginning of the second World Baseball Classic, I proclaim today “World Baseball Classic Day”. Okay, I have no authority to do so, and the WBC has already begun. Regardless, what I meant to say was that today’s posts will be related to the WBC.

Three years ago, the WBC began very well for the USA. Jake Peavy started the game by throwing three, one-hit innings with 3 K. Mike Timlin, Chad Cordero, and Dan Wheeler followed with perfect innings. Todd Jones came in to give up two hits, but he got out of it. Joe Nathan came up next, and althoug he gave up a hit, he struck out the side. Brad Lidge came in the ninth for the save. In between, Chipper Jones (7th inning) and Derrek Lee (4th inning) hit home runs to give the US their only scores of the day, but because of the dominant pitching, the USA took the game 2-0.

Though the game was at Chase One Ballpark, the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of Mexico. This would be a common theme in these contests. The team playing the US often had more fans cheering than the US did. Why that is is up for debate. US fans generally aren’t too rambunctious and consider loud cheering obnoxious. Other countries, especially those who are really interested in soccer (which is basically everyone else but the US), are used to rowdy crowds that come during soccer (football) games, and they carry it over for baseball. Another reason might be that they just like to stick it to the US. Doesn’t really matter.

I haven’t mentioned much about the WBC, and I probably won’t after today. I like the idea of the WBC, but I have the same problem with it that I have with the Olympics — the best players aren’t necessarily the ones playing. Teams keep their players out of the WBC because they are afraid the player will get hurt. I’m not blaming the teams (they have a lot of money invested in these players), but it’s hard to “crown” a team “the champion of the world” when the best players aren’t really playing (yes, I realize that “World Series” isn’t really a world series). Still, I’ll watch a few games, and I watched the China-Chinese Taipei game last night. I don’t necessarily have anything against the WBC (honestly, it’s more interesting than Spring Training), but it’s hard enough to keep up with 30 teams. I just don’t have the energy to keep up with dozens more. It’s a terrible excuse, but I just can’t get too excited for a series that seemingly decides nothing.

If you want to know about the WBC and how it might play out, you should head over to Baseball Over Here, where Ron Rollins does a lot of really good work on the subject. Ron does a much better job on it than I would. I could try to feign some intelligence, but you should just go to his site.

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