This event is supposed to be a quadrennial affair, but the pandemic played hell with that as it did with so much else. So, two years late, it begins March 8.
After a six-year wait, the World Baseball Classic has returned, and it’s bigger than ever. That’s not hyperbole, either: The tournament field has been expanded to 20 teams, with three first-time participants in Great Britain, the Czech Republic and Nicaragua [What took Nicaragua so long to enter? It failed to qualify in its previous three attempts. Panama is a returnee after missing the last two Classics.] hoping for a Cinderella run. But they’ll need to get past Japan (looking for its third title), the USA (hoping for a repeat), the Dominican Republic (the pre-tournament favorite) and Puerto Rico (trying to win it all following back-to-back second-place finishes).
Baseball is more of a global game than ever before, and that’s proven on the rosters: There are 67 MLB All-Stars, 186 players on 40-man rosters and 332 players under contract with big league teams. There are eight Major League MVPs in Paul Goldschmidt, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera. In fact, 16 of the top 18 finishers for the 2022 NL MVP and six of the top 10 finishers for the 2022 AL MVP are scheduled to participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, with the reigning Nippon Professional Baseball MVP Munetaka Murakami and Korea Baseball Organization MVP Jung-Hoo Lee joining in, too.
So how many Dodgers are playing and for whom? Funny you should ask.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Austin Barnes, C (MEX), Mookie Betts, OF (USA), Liam Doolan, RHP (AUS), Freddie Freeman, INF (CAN), Clayton Kershaw, LHP (USA), Adam Kolarek, LHP (ISR – DPP), Jose Ramos, OF (PAN), Miguel Rojas, INF (VEN), Will Smith, C (USA), Trayce Thompson, OF (GBR), Julio Urías, LHP (MEX).
One more connection: Mike Piazza is managing Italy’s team.
Why is the Dominican Republic the favorite? Well:
This lineup is a veritable Murderers’ Row, with Rafael Devers and Manny Machado battling for time at third base, Mariners sensation Julio Rodríguez joining an outfield with Eloy Jiménez and Juan Soto, and Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s freshly minted Gold Glove and powerful bat just added to the mix.
The rotation looks just as strong as the offense, with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara fronting a staff featuring World Series champion Cristian Javier, young Pirates fireballer Roansy Contreras and veteran hurler Johnny Cueto.
One more thing:
Note: Players marked “DPP” are members of their team’s Designated Pitcher Pool. Each WBC team may choose up to 10 players as part of their pool — these players are eligible to participate in one or more consecutive rounds of the WBC, but if replaced on their team’s roster will be unavailable for the rest of the tournament. Affiliated players in Designated Pitcher Pools who are not actively on their team’s WBC roster during a given round will report to Spring Training with their Major League clubs.
Adam Kolarek is part of Israel’s Designated Pitcher Pool.
Hitters need to adjust to the new pitch clock too.
Crossing the Finnish line… https://twitter.com/BaseballFinland/status/1628688571035967488?s=20
FYI, Disqus has “refreshed” its look and feel.
I think it’s being rolled out slowly. I just wanted to put a warning up.
Jim Bowden (yeah, yeah, I don’t like him much either) at The Athletic:
Mookie upped his weight after a visit to Driveline this offseason. Also,
Did you know that Dodger Stadium has on its grounds an accredited botanic garden?
From the LA Times March 3, 2022 edition:
There are some great pictures. You know those concrete “martini” planters (when installed in the 1960s somebody thought they looked like martini glasses)? There are 149 of them and most of them needed repairs. As of March of last year 70 of them had been fixed (by hand).
You can tour the gardens on Friday mornings for $25 ($20 for seniors 55+ and active military, $15 for ages 4-14, free for children 3 and younger).
Clayton will not participate in the WBC. https://www.truebluela.com/2023/2/17/23604561/clayton-kershaw-out-world-baseball-classic-insurance-dodgers
Apropos of nothing, why I hate the Chop, in any form, whether in Kansas City or Atlanta: https://ictnews.org/news/native-people-grapple-with-super-bowl-celebration?fbclid=IwAR0N9cmrscv-wyc6js09HGCn6xkN1T4P_sAlRaAqjw4ttGaw6gyZwREvJiA&fs=e&s=cl
Or Gainesville (FSU).
I’m not Native American. It doesn’t impinge on my culture, but offending people of another culture for something as unimportant as a sports cheer annoys me because it’s so unnecessary.
Only Gators in Gainesville. (Mom used to live there)
Florida’s the Gators, FSU the Seminoles, right?
Good profile of Kiké Hernandez in Boston.
Jack Harris of the LA Times says there are five things to watch as spring training begins:
1.Center field competition
2.Designated closer or by committee
3.How will Lux and Vargas do at 2nd and SS?
4.Who replaces JT as clubhouse leader?
5.How soon might Stone, Pepiot and Miller be ready to pitch in the bigs?
PECOTA has the Dodgers with 97 wins, best in the MLB.
Obviously, a huge step backwards from 2022.
Oh boy. The ghost runner wasn’t the only change. From The Athletic:
Kenley is concerned about adapting to the new changes, both to the clock and the disengagement rules. Says he need to work on this and will not join the Netherlands WBC team until and unless they make the semi-finals in Miami.
I’m sure there are a lot of pitchers whose knee-jerk reaction to these changes was “What? I can’t step off as often as I want?” and “Okay, we saw the clock coming but it’s still gonna be hard to adjust.”
Sure, but it’s not as if the batters won’t have to adjust as well.
Mike P. had a funny reaction to the rule changes, saying that it is was too bad that they included the shift ban with the pitching clock as we won’t get to see third basemen having to sprint over to short right field, when a lefthander comes to bat.
Ghost runner on second for extra inning games now permanent during the regular season, apparently. Terrible ruling, MLB!
Just saw this bit of news this morning. I don’t like it. And I don’t want it. https://www.google.ca/search?q=michael+scott+no+gif&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-ca&client=safari#imgrc=r4BZaxogEkD_iM
Exactly. (But I like you!)
Hey, WBBsAs, The Aparados da Serra National Park showed up as a background picture on my Win10 desktop today. In your South American travels have you made it there? It’s a spectacular-looking place.
No, I’ve spent fairly little time in Brazil. I’m presently in the Welsh-Argentine town of Trevelin, whose tourist office features a dragon on the roof.
From CBS Sports:
The Dodgers will add two more players to the Legends of Dodger Baseball exhibit in the centerfield plaza: Manny Mota and Orel Hershiser.
Hi’Ya Link. Good post.
I see the first game is on March 11th. What do the players do until then? Do they report to Spring Training as usual and workout with their own team? Or do they workout with the team they are playing for in the WBC?
I think they mostly play with their own teams, although pitchers need to work with their WBC catchers for a few days, and I suspect double-play combos should do the same.