Archive for the 'Olympics' Category

World Baseball Classics and Olympics Could Clash in 2021

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

With the corona virus playing havoc on the world stage the Olympics being held in Tokyo, Japan moved to 2021. While the World Baseball Classic (WBC) will be held in March 2021 and the Olympics in June of 2021 there are still some issues.

Many of the Asian countries postpone their season to compete in the Olympics, if their teams qualify. Japan, the host of the Olympics is one team that has qualified. Korea, Mexico and Israel are the three other qualifying countries. Two additional Olympic qualifiers need to be played to determine the other participants for a total of six countries competing. Dates for those events have not been set yet, with the last qualifier dependent on the date of the next to last qualifier.

The WBC was hoping to expand to four additional countries, increasing the number of countries competing to 20. Two qualifiers were supposed to be played in March to identify those additional four countries. They had to be postponed because of the corona virus and no new dates have been established.

Because Japan will be starting early to make up for the days in their season lost to the Olympics, their season will begin in March. Just like the major leagues, they have their best compete in the WBC. But unlike the major leagues, they also have their best compete in the Olympics. So they may either have to send college or industrial league players to compete in the WBC in March or NPB teams will have to sacrifice doing without during the NPB season those players selected to the WBC roster. Just like the major league owners, I doubt the NPB owners will allow their players to compete in the WBC during the season.

While the WBC is organized by the major leagues, they rely heavily on the advertising money Japan sponsors contribute to the event. If the Japan professionals are not playing in this event, the advertising money will not be as great. As we all know, money talks. And since Japan is hosting the Olympics, that will take priority over the WBC even though in the past Japan has hosted many of the events at the WBC. There has always been some rancor over their lack of influence in the WBC.

One challenge for Japan and their hosting WBC games is those games are played at NPB stadiums. If those stadiums are not available it will become difficult for them to host games. That would either involve major scheduling revisions, which they are already doing for the Olympics, or playing at stadiums that normally do not have NPB games.

Another issue facing the WBC is at what point do they identify the other four teams to compete. The 16 they have already identified were easy to select since they did not eliminate any country from the previous WBC. To identify the new participants they will have to conduct these tournaments in November if they want to have teams eligible for March, and the major leagues has never been fond of holding events in November, especially this year if the major and minor league season need to be extended.

The other complicating issue is again the corona virus. Teams have not been able to practice. There is still a lot of uncertainty about when this pandemic will end. Many are of the view that organized sports may not be able to begin until November. This will make it difficult for teams to prepare for a qualifier for the WBC if those time frames prove realistic.

It is also still not clear what kind of team Korea will bring if they move their season openers in 2021 to March to accommodate the Olympics. They are another country that plays on postponing their professional season for the Olympics. Since they are not hosting the Olympics they may still be willing to send their best to the WBC and either shorten their season or extend the season into November. With the corona virus issues they have already been talking of extending the 2020 season and having playoff games at neutral sites at baseball parks with domed stadiums. Doing it again in 2021 may not be attractive if they had issues in 2020.

Not that myworld has any influence, but it might be wise for the WBC to push their event back to 2022.

The World is Closed Because of Corona Virus

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

It appears every sport organization has cancelled their events for the spring. Makes me wonder if it is safe to go out. If one can’t be at a sporting event then a super market or restaurant is just as bad. So my world will have to wait until sanity prevails. We’ll hunker in our basement and live on bread and toilet paper.

The college baseball World Series has been cancelled since most colleges have cancelled all sporting events, including baseball. That will have a huge revenue impact on Nebraska. It also leaves scouts with a lot of down time since there will not be any high school or college ball games to watch for a long time, like next year. Wonder how that will impact the draft?

The NCAA has already put an end to March madness by cancelling their basketball tournament. What will the work force do without any basketball pools to join. Oh. There is no work force since everyone has been forced home to work at home or quarantine.

Myworld wonders how I’m going to eat if all the restaurants close or shut down because no one is leaving their house. Could have to stock up on beans and spam, or whatever is left at the grocery stores. I did go to the store to buy some Haagen-Das ice cream and noticed a lot of empty shelves, especially where the toilet paper should be.

The America’s Olympic qualifier was postponed. If they want to get six teams to Tokyo they can not postpone it for too long. The second and third place team still has to travel to Taiwan in June for the last qualifier. Perhaps they will just pull the last two teams from out of a hat.

The World Baseball Classic has also been postponed. Since the event was going to start tomorrow many teams had already flown from Europe and Asia to participate in the event. Tucson was expecting three weeks of activity, but the reality of the World Baseball Classic qualifiers and the Olympic qualifiers is that attendance is usually sparse. If held to a 250 crowd standard they could have gotten most of their games in, or played without fans in attendance.

So myworld will wait until the world opens again. We’ll find some things to write about, but with nothing going on it will seem pretty empty.

Final Olympic Qualifier Postponed Until June

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

The corona virus has forced the postponement of the final Olympic qualifier for baseball from April until June 17-21. The teams expected to play in that are Taiwan, Australia, China, the Netherlands the second and third place finisher from the Americas Baseball qualifier in Surprise and Tempe Arizona on March 22-26.

The winner of this final qualifier would be the sixth and last team to qualify for the Olympics in baseball. The four countries that have qualified include the host Japan, Israel, Korea and Mexico.

As far as their baseball season myworld has not heard about any postponements or special conditions concerning their exhibition seasons. Japan is playing their exhibition season in empty stadiums while Korea has cancelled it exhibition season.

2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Major league baseball did announce that they would be holding the World Baseball Classic in 2021. That is one year after the Olympics, where two remaining teams are still undecided to be one of the six competitors for the Olympics. One of those Olympic qualifiers is to be scheduled in Arizona from March 22-26.

It could be a busy time for baseball in Arizona in March. With spring training and the Olympic qualifiers and now also the two World Baseball Classic qualifiers to be held in Arizona. Where will they find all the fields?

Baseball Reference.com shows that there will be two World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Arizona. The first will be held from March 12-17 and the second from March 18-26. Below are the teams that will be participating in those qualifiers.

March 12-17

Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Philippines and South Africa

March 18-26

Czech Republic, France, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Panama and Spain.

The top two teams from each of these pools will advance to the World Baseball Classic for 2021.

What got me interested in this was an article appearing in baseballasia.org that talked about the rise in baseball in the Philippines. The Philippine Amateur Baseball Association President talked about participating in the WBC qualifiers in March 18-25, which are different dates from what the Philippines appears to be scheduled in according to Baseball Reference.com. They also talk about adding Tim Tebow, who was born in the Philippines to their roster. Tim Tebow has recently been invited to the New York Mets spring training tryouts and they train in Florida.

So there is not a lot of publicity being issued on these qualifiers but they appear to be happening some time in March. That could be a good time to travel to Arizona to watch some International baseball. Poor Nicaragua appears to be scheduled to play in both the Olympic Qualifiers in Arizona and the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Arizona. Good way to save on travel costs, provided the tournaments are not scheduled during the same week.

WBSC America’s Qualifier Pool

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

The United States failed to qualify for the Olympics in the Premier 12. Their Southern neighbor Mexico qualified, as well as Korea. This leaves four of six countries qualified for the Olympics, Japan (host), Israel (European/Africa qualifier), Korea and Mexico (both from Premier 12). The Americas qualifier is the next to last opportunity countries have to qualify for the Olympics. The second and third place finishers become eligible for the final qualifier in Taiwan, to be held in April..

Below are the pools:

Pool A

United States, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua

Pool B

Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and Colombia

The United States has been fielding a team of minor league prospects. While these players have been competitive they have yet to qualify the United States team for the Olympics. The same prospect heave team is expected for the Americas qualifying round to be held from March 22-26.

The final qualifier will be held in Taiwan from April 1-5.

Baseball America’s Qualifier

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

The America’s is another opportunity for the United States to qualify for the Olympics in Japan in 2020. The next to last qualifier will be played in Arizona from March 22 -26. The last qualifier will be played in Taiwan. The second and third place teams from the America’s qualifying round will be eligible to participate in Taiwan. Below are the pools from that group.

Group A

United States, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua

Group B

Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and Colombia

The United States would be the favored team in this group.

Premier 12 All Tournament Team

Monday, November 18th, 2019

The United States may have finished in fourth place but they had the most players on the All Tournament team. Japan had the MVP in outfielder Seiya Suzuki and possible future major leaguer second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi. Below is the All World team.

Starting Pitcher - Chang Yi (Taiwan)
Relief Pitcher - Brandon Dickson (United States)
Catcher - Erik Kratz (United States)
First Base - Bobby Dalbec (United States)
Second Base - Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan)
Third Base - Wang Wei-chen (Taiwan)
Shortstop - Kim Ha-seong (Korea)
Outfield - Seiya Suzuki (Japan), Jonathan Jones (Mexico), Lee Jung-ho (Korea)
Designated Hitter - Brent Rooker (United States)

Mexico and Korea Qualify for Olympics

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

The fate of Korea had already been known the day before when they made it to the gold medal match. Mexico’s case was determined yesterday when they continued to be a thorn in the United States side, eliminating them from qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12 and winning the bronze match in extra innings 3-2 to earn the fourth Olympic bid. The United States still has two more tournaments they can play in to qualify for the Olympics, but there are now only two spots left, with Israel, Mexico, Japan and Korea qualifying for Tokyo next year. A second Olympics could happen without the United States participating in baseball and both times it could be Mexico eliminating them from that opportunity.

Mexico 3 United States 2

The United States jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Jordan Adell hit a one out solo homerun in the first inning. It became a pitcher’s duel after that. Cody Ponce and Arturo Reyes each pitched five innings of shutout ball after that.

The United States went to their bullpen in the sixth and Matthew Clark got the big hits for Mexico to keep their hopes alive. In the sixth he hit a two out infield single with the bases loaded to tie the game. After the United States recaptured the lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Robert Dalbec, Clark came through again. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a homerun off United States closer Brandon Dickson to tie the game at 2-2.

In the extra inning both teams employed the same boring strategy that international teams use when placing runners on first and second with no outs. They bunt the runners over and the other team intentionally walks the next batter to load the bases. In the United States case Alec Bohm struck out and Jacob Cronenworth flew out to leave the United States scoreless. Efren Navarro hit his single up the middle to give Mexico the walk off hit and qualification in the Olympics.

Japan 5 Korea 3

Korea won the first Premier 12. Japan wrested the championship away from them this time. It was asking too much for the United States minor leaguers to finish in the finals against two teams using their professional players. The two best teams played in the finals.

Korea scored all their runs early. Ha-Seong Kim hit a two run homerun and Hyun-Soo Kim a solo shot in the first inning to give Korea an early 3-0 lead. Both homeruns were hit off Shun Yamaguchi, who did not come out for the second inning.

Japan was not deterred. Seiya Suzuki drove in his tournament leading 13th RBI with a double in the bottom of the first to pull Japan to within two. In the second Tetsuto Yamada smashed a pitch into the left field bleachers for a three run homer to give Japan the lead. Hyeon-jong Yang pitched three innings, giving up the four runs.

Six different Japanese pitchers held Korea to three hits and no runs through the remaining eight innings to secure the championship. Japanese closer Yasuaki Yamasaki continued his mastery throwing a scoreless ninth. In his five appearances he has only allowed one hit, no walks and struck out seven, picking up three saves.

Japan scored an insurance run in the seventh on a Hideto Asamura single. That seemed to knock the wind out of Korea. They went six up and six down in the final two innings, three of them by strikeouts.

The championship goes to Japan, but Korea and Mexico get the big rewards by qualifying for the Olympics. The United States must hope for another tournament, competing with Taiwan, Netherlands, Cuba and Canada for the last two Olympic spots.

United States Makes it to Bronze Medal Game Versus Mexico

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

The winner of the bronze medal game between the United States and Mexico will qualify for the Olympics. Mexico has beaten the United States in a game earlier in the tournament. Korea has qualified because they are in the gold medal match and Japan has already qualified for being the host. Because the top two teams from the Premier 12 qualify and Japan has already qualified, the winner of the bronze medal game becomes the second team to qualify for the Olympics.

The United States has to thank Taiwan for getting them to the bronze medal game. They beat Australia yesterday. If Australia had won they would have played in the bronze medal game versus Mexico.

Taiwan 5 Australia 1

In international competition Australia has always had trouble scoring runs. That came back to haunt them again as Taiwan pitchers held their hitters to five hits. The only run Australia scored was on a solo shot in the sixth by Logan Wade that tied the game 1-1.

Taiwan put the game away in the eighth when they scored four runs. The first was driven in on a Wei-Chen Wang single. The last three scored when Che-Hsuan Lin deposited a ball into the left field bleachers for a three run homer. For Lin it was his first homer and first three runs driven in for the tournament.

Chih-Wei Hu pitched well for Taiwan, hurling five shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Stephen Kent shut down the Taiwan bats after they scored a run in the third, throwing four shutout innings and allowing just two hits. Hu did not allow a run in his two appearances, working 8.2 innings. Kent has the most innings pitched of any reliever, four appearances with 11.1 innings and a 1.59 ERA.

Australia did get opportunities to score, advancing a runner to second in four of the nine innings they batted.

Japan 10 Korea 8

This game did not really count for anything except bragging rights. Today they play again for the gold medal. Japan erupted for six in the third to win this game. Korea bounced back for five in the fifth but they never could capture the lead.

Neither team felt a need to use their starters, or if they did they were replaced after a couple innings. Seiya Suzuki did get one RBI to increase his tournament RBI lead by five (12 RBIs). Korea’s young superstar Baek-Ho Kang got his first start in the tournament and drove in three runs.

United States Survives Premier 12 Scare

Friday, November 15th, 2019

No one said this would be easy, especially with players on the major league roster prohibited from playing in the Premier 12. The United States overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat Taiwan 3-2 to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the last two spots in the Olympcis. Korea bounced Mexico 7-3, tacking on a second straight loss to the once undefeated team.

United States 3 Taiwan 2

The United States trailed 2-1 until Brent Rooker slugged a two run homer to give the United States a 3-2 lead and keep their slim hopes of qualifying for the Olympics. Taiwan saw all their hopes dashed with the two run bomb.

Sheng-Feng Wu had stymied the United States bats after they had scored an early run in the first inning on an Andrew Vaughn RBI single. After the single by Vaughn Wu did not allow a runner to reach second, striking out six and limiting the United States bats to one hit through the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh veteran Erik Kratz singled. After Wu struck out Robert Dalbec for the second out he gave Rooker too good a pitch to hit and he mashed it into the left field bleachers.

Taiwan had tied the game in the top of the third after a walk and single put runners on first and third with no outs. A ground out double play allowed a run to score to tie the game. Taiwan went ahead in the top of the sixth on a Chin-Lung Hu solo shot.

The United States bullpen of Noah Song and Brandon Dickson retired the next six hitters to nail down the victory, each pitcher working an inning each. The United States must now hope that Taiwan defeats Australia to get an opportunity at the fourth place match. If Australia wins they would win the head to head tie breaker. Taiwan has been the lone team eliminated.

Korea 7 Mexico 3

The Mexican pitching staff has been excellent throughout the Premier 12. They had a hiccup in the fifth inning when they gave up seven runs. It was all Korea needed to hold down the victory.

Mexico had just taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth on a Jonathan Jones two run homer. For Jones it is his third homerun of the tournament. He is now tied with Seiya Suzuki for the lead in runs scored with eight. If he was not batting in the leadoff spot some of those homeruns may have resulted in more runs batted in. He currently has six, five behind the leader Suzuki.

Mexico had gone to their bullpen after one out in the fourth inning. In the fifth Korea sent 11 hitters to the plate to score seven runs. Hyun-soo Kim closed out the scoring with a three run double.

Mexico was able to score another run in the sixth on a Roman Solis double. That would be the extent of their offense. The Korean bullpen shut them down for the final three innings to clinch a spot in the Olympics. Mexico will have to settle for a bronze medal game either against Australia or the United States. If they can win that game they will have qualified for the Olympics.

Japan and Korea will play a meaningless game, since both teams have clinched a spot for the gold.