Dice-K DL stint proof that WBC is a bad idea

The Red Sox placed starter Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday due to arm fatigue. Dice-K was brutal in his first two starts, yielding 14 total hits and nine runs in just 6.1 innings of work. He still struck out five, but he gave up three dingers and posted an ERA of 12.79.

Dice-K competed for Japan in the World Baseball Classic and while he only through 14.2 innings, it was obviously enough for him to suffer some arm fatigue. I know the WBC has rules so that pitchers don’t get overworked playing in the tournament, but clearly that isn’t enough because now the Red Sox will be without one of their best pitchers for two weeks.

The WBC is a fun tournament and it’s interesting to watch MLB players compete against each other for their countries. But it isn’t supposed to get in the way of the MLB regular season and clearly it has considering it had some affect on Matsuzaka’s arm.

Bud Selig has to figure out a better format if he wants to continue this tournament going forward. One idea is to put it at the end of the MLB season, since all of the games are being played indoors anyway. It makes no sense for some of these pro ballplayers to be playing in a competitive tournament when they should be getting ready for spring training.

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Team USA falls to Japan in WBC

Team USA’s run in 2009 World Baseball Classic is over following their 9-4 loss to Japan.

Japan used a five-run fourth inning keyed by a critical error by USA second baseman Brian Roberts, and Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 4 2/3 effective innings to guide Japan to a 9-4 win over the United States in front of 43,630 at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. It was the second-largest crowd in Classic history and the biggest on U.S. soil.

Now, Japan is set to face Korea for the fifth time in the tournament, but this time it’s for the championship on Monday night at 9 ET.

Japan actually found itself down, 2-1, entering the bottom of the fourth inning after Roberts led off the game with a home run and David Wright hit an RBI double in the third.

But Japan’s Atsunori Inaba led off the fourth with a single just past the glove of Roberts, and Michihiro Ogasawara followed with a single to center field.

And then Kosuke Fukudome hit what appeared to be a double-play ground ball to second base, but Roberts muffed the play and everyone was safe.

Kenji Johjima then hit a sacrifice fly before Akinori Iwamura tripled home a run. Japan’s Munenori Kawasaki followed with an RBI single and scored on a double by Hiroyuki Nakajima.

United States starter Roy Oswalt was removed after Nakajima’s double, but the damage was already done. Oswalt lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits.

Even though it would have been nice to see them go all the way, it was a nice run for the red, white and blue. Now bring on Opening Day, damn it.

Team USA heading to WBC semis

Thanks to David Wright and Kevin Youkilis, Team USA is heading to the semis of the World Baseball Classic.

David Wright delivered a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth to propel Team USA past Puerto Rico and into the semis of the World Baseball Classic.

Talent won out in the end, even though Team USA has constantly stepped on its own feet by trying to get everyone into the game and still not play matchups at all. Down 5-3 in the ninth, Team USA got back-to-back singles from Shane Victorino and Brian Roberts against J.C. Romero. Derek Jeter then grounded out, advancing only the lead runner. However, Roberts stole second base and Jimmy Rollins walked to load them, resulting in Romero’s departure. After Fernando Cabrera came in, Kevin Youkilis, who homered earlier, walked to force in a run, and Wright dumped a ball into right field to score two runs. It was his third hit of the game.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think that USA’s pitching staff would carry them this far. And really, the pitching hasn’t been that great (USA’s team ERA is 6.10) but guys like Wright, Roberts, Victorino, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn and Jimmy Rollins have been killing the ball. Hopefully the bats stay alive and we can all see a Team USA gold medal.

The World Baseball Classic is a bad idea

Gil LeBreton of the Star-Telegram.com is down on the World Baseball Classic:

The Classic’s inception three years ago was supposed to put baseball on the world map. Tired of sending the planet acid rain and Barney Miller reruns, America will again don its “USA” suits and dare the world to take down our pants.

How do we know this? Because the line of U.S. major league stars who have already begged out of the tournament now stretches around the ballpark block.

Grady Sizemore, Nick Markakis, Chase Utley, Joe Mauer, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan — all have declined invitations, citing everything from groin surgery to wanting to be at the birth of their first child.

Clearly, the patriotism factor is tepid at best. But that’s just one of the things working against the World Baseball Classic, which begins Thursday.

Some nations are sending a veritable Who’s Who to represent their countries. Team USA, meanwhile, appears overstocked in relative Who’s Thats.

Take Tuesday’s exhibition against the Yankees, for example. Roy Oswalt was scheduled to start for the U.S. team, followed by Jonathan Broxton, Matt Lindstrom, Brad Ziegler, Matt Thornton and LaTroy Hawkins.

Three years ago at the inaugural Classic, the Americans were snuffed out and embarrassed in the second round. This time, then, it won’t be a surprise when the bullpen coughs up a bronze medal against the Koreans or Cubans.

Spring is the time for baseball players to get ready for the long season.

Spring isn’t the time for players to try to muster a patriotic fever.

It’s a case — a classic case — of a wrong idea at the wrong time.

The WBC is a nice idea in theory, but I completely agree – the timing of it is awful. You’re asking major league players to essentially play in an extended tournament before the start of the regular season. Pitchers break down enough throughout the course of a 162 game season – now you want them to pitch even more? It doesn’t make sense.

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