Speed Read: Japan Wins The WBC, Anyone Care?

Two days, two monumentally impressive Japanese victories. Less than 24 hours after eliminating the inventors of the game, the Japanese baseball team knocked off their Asian rivals, South Korea, 5-3, in extra innings, saved by Ichiro Suzuki, the Jesus of their baseball chapel himself.

ichiro wbc

If you actually watched the game, you know it was an October-worthy classic in March. Hitashi Iwakuma, the Japanese Greg Maddux, pitched into the eighth inning. Korean bats went into hibernation right up until the bottom of the ninth, when Bum Ho Lee (yes, that’s his actual name, how he missed out on the NAME OF THE YEAR brackets, we’ll never know), knocked in the tying run off starting pitcher-turned closer-turned scapegoat-toward title game winner Yu Darvish.

Naturally, Ichiro would find his way at the plate in the top of the 10th with two men in scoring position with two outs, and he’d knock them both in, never mind the fact that first base was open. If Joe Torre took that chance for the Dodgers, he would have been skewered for weeks. We’ll see if Korean manager In-Sik Kim faces similar criticism.

But, despite all the heroics and histrionics, there’s a bigger question worth asking here: Does anyone care? If a manufactured tournament that’s been met mostly with apathy in the U.S. breeds an incredibly compelling game, does it really matter? It’s hard to tell. Clearly, it mattered more than most military actions in the nations that played in it, with Korea’s Jamsil baseball stadium in downtown Seoul packed with fans. That’s on top of the rabid fans of both national squads that packed Dodger Stadium far past the reaches it filled with for the U.S.-Japan semifinal on Sunday.

japan wbc

At the end of the day, it’ll probably matter a lot more two decades from now, when the event is a more established part of the annual baseball calendar. For now, we’ll have to settle for Japan’s second straight WBC title as much more culturally relevant in far-flung locales than where the action actually went down.

Speaking of baseball where nobody cares what’s actually happening, the Marlins finally had their new stadium project approved last night, with the Miami-Dade County commissioners approving the club’s proposed site and specifications for a new retractable roof arena at the site of the old, demolished Orange Bowl.

new marlins stadium

That’s right folks, that’s what the Orange Bowl has become: a parcel of land on which the city of Miami can keep a sports franchise that absolutely no one cares about. (And just think! That retractable roof will come in handy for a team that hasn’t had a rainout in four years!) That’s because the upside isn’t really for the Marlins, or for the city of Miami. It’s for Major League Baseball.

If you read between the lines of the story, it’s the nonstop lobbying of major league officials that really broke through the latest stalemate in negotiations. And how, pray tell did MLB convince the city of Miami that they need baseball? By proving that South Florida is the league’s “Gateway to the Caribbean”.

Really, that’s why MLB is so invested in Miami. It knows that the Marlins are mere hours away from oceans of baseball talent, and that Major League Baseball has to be there to keep pressure on those countries to keep serving as the league’s talent cash cow.

At the end of nine and a half hours of negotiations, that argument finally won out, sweetened by one significant addendum: Miami will host the finals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Maybe by then people here will care.

Our very own Arizona correspondent, Tuffy, tripped across a true gem late yesterday, when he discovered that the Phoenix Coyotes are handing out free tickets to Smirnoff vodka drinkers on his most recent run to the beer and liquor barn adult beverage drive thru alcoholic beverages outpost.

smirnoff coyotes promo

That’s right, so few fans actually want to see the Coyotes that the team is willing to give tickets away. All you have to do is buy another product. How much of that vodka sale is actually going to the Coyotes? Probably a couple bucks, at best. Still, that’s a better pull than they’re getting from most of those empty seats. After all, when you lose over and over and over again, even the greatest face in the history of your sport can’t maintain relevancy forever.

anna rawson

Will you watch the WBC in 2013?

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Marlins In Hot Water With MLBPA Over Per Diems

We all know the Florida Marlins are well-known for their frugal nature, but it appears that the team is so cheap that they’re getting out of paying per diem money to rehabbing players because their spring training complex is so close to home.

Billy Marlin

(Pay for your own food, Billy)

Which then leads to this revelation: baseball players get per diem money? That’s right, even A-Rod, who pulls in a cool $27.5 million a year, gets an allowance on the road. I mean, you wouldn’t want these guys having to pay for their gentleman’s club outings on their own dime, right?

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