The World Baseball Classic is underway, with pool play from the Asia locations going on over the weekend.
Due to a Sunday afternoon nap that had the usual side effect (I stayed awake all night), I was up for the live broadcast of the China-Cuba and Korea-Australia games this morning.
I tuned in, hoping to see some former Rainiers (plus, what else are you going to watch on TV at 2:30 AM on a Monday?). Australia has a pair of them: Chris Snelling and Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Alas, Snelling was not in the lineup today (he did have a hit in Australia’s first game a couple of days ago), and Rowland-Smith did not pitch while I was watching.
One thing that was clear watching these games: this event isn’t likely to last much longer. There were literally fewer than 100 people in attendance at the China vs. Cuba game – which admittedly isn’t a good game (China is awful and Cuba mercy-ruled them), but Cuba is the most entertaining team in the tournament and nobody in Japan decided to go see them play.
The lede on Ben Badler’s game story for Baseball America says it all: “In a nearly empty stadium that had the energy of a library, Cuba trounced China…”
The Korea-Australia game had a few more spectators – they may have cracked four digits! – but still, it was essentially played in a giant, empty stadium in Taiwan. Australia lost, 6-0, and is on the brink of elimination.
I enjoyed watching Cuba on TV. Cuba plays with a style and flare that is fun to see. They successfully tricked a Chinese base runner into thinking that a fair ball was actually foul, and then tagged him out. Their manager wore batting gloves in the dugout and was eating a banana during the game.* All of their pitchers flipped nasty breaking pitches up there, toying with the Chinese hitters and getting a ton of strikeouts. You can’t help but wonder what some of the players are thinking – will they try to defect during the tournament, and jump to MLB?
Poor John McLaren. The former Mariners skipper is managing China. Close games are going to be hard to come by.
The Mariners have their first televised spring training game at noon today (ROOT).
Originally, both Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker were scheduled to pitch. However, Hultzen came down with a minor hip injury and is on the shelf for a week or so (more info in the links below). Still, this is an opportunity to see Walker and several potential Rainiers relievers who are on the pitching list today.
- Here is the word on Danny Hultzen’s hip flexor strain, with quotes from trainer Rick Griffin.
- One thing we know we’ll see in the Mariners game today: dingers! They’re going home run crazy.
- Larry Stone wonders if this spring training run by the Mariners is for real.
- Ryan Divish wrote about likely Rainiers starting pitcher James Paxton.
- He also has an excellent feature on Mariners infield prospect Brad Miller. Like Vladimir Guerrero and 2012 blog-crush Wil Myers, Miller does not wear batting gloves.
- Yet another feature from Divish, this one on catching prospect John Hicks who is opening eyes down in Peoria.
- The Mariners who are in the WBC play their first games on Thursday.
- There is turmoil in the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels organizations.
- Los Angeles Angels TV announcer Victor Rojas has an excellent blog post on the World Baseball Classic’s “missing team.”
- San Francisco columnist Bruce Jenkins has a story about player’s gloves.
Congratulations to the Gonzaga Bulldogs for their No. 1 ranking in the AP basketball poll – the first time a Washington school has ever been ranked No. 1.
* why doesn’t Daren Brown do that?