Tagged: International Baseball

Daisuke Matsuzaka Derby

How good can this kid really be? Does anyone remember Kaz Mania? Or is quality pitching really in that short of supply?

Baseball people still see a good competition between the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Rangers, with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and one or two others still hoping for the chance to sign the best pitcher to come out of Japan yet. How good is he? Last season he went 17-5 with a 2.15 ERA, 200 strikeouts and 136 hits allowed in 186 innings, and some say that actually represented some slippage. Bidding could approach $20-30 as a "posting" fee for the right to win negotiating exclusivity with the star young right-hander, and with only a year to go before full-fledged free agency agent Scott Boras shows no inclination to settle below what he sees as fair value for a 26-year-old No. 1 pitcher. Including the posting price, which goes to Seibu, Matsuzaka could wind up a $100 million man.

Hot Stove storylines

— Michael Norton

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Perfect Match

Watched my first ever soccer match yesterday-two of them actually. Maddog on his site Maddog’s World Cup Reports has been very patient educating me about the world’s favorite sport. He also supplies context–who the teams are and what the storyline is (think someone from Mars watching a Yankees/Red Sox matchup). You really ought to join the party.

It is good, very good, for baseball to embrace the world. The World Baseball Classic was ingenious, but, like blogging, there is nothing like showing appreciation for another to attract a symbiotic response.

Baseball, much more than the other major sports, has the potential to acquire a world wide audience. The game was established in many nations in the aftermath of World War II, and hence has some history and an established comprehensibility to those of other nations. As I noted in an earlier blog ( A Whole New Ballgame), it is ideally suited to the Internet, which links the world. And, as I’ve said before, Baseball is America in many ways, and America must become global. Baseball fans would do well to learn to appreciate the primary sport of most other nations, soccer. It is like learning the language, it breaks down barriers. The World Cup presents that opportunity.

Thanks to Maddog and our bloggers around the world, we MLBloggers have a unique opportunity to lead the way here. Hope to see you over at Dave’s Maddog’s World Cup Reports!  — Michael Norton

In case you haven’t read it, check out Matt’s beautiful piece on horse racing, nostalgia and touching greatness.

Spring Training

What a great spring!

Some fans didn’t care for the World Baseball Classic, but I loved it.  It was delightful to see a ballpark filled with oriental characters.  Baseball and cherry blossoms are suited for one another.  Moreover, the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese play the game the way I like to see it played.  I am a huge fan of small ball.  It is the minutiae of the game which holds my attention. 

Those who think baseball is boring simply don’t understand the game.  A skilled batter is not simply attempting to hit the pitch.  He is attempting to hit the pitch with purpose.  Sometimes the intent is to hit into the gap, or behind a runner.  Occasionally the purpose is to wear the pitcher down. At other times the purpose is to probe weaknesses in the defense, or to discover what the pitcher will throw in a particular situation for future reference.  Often an at bat has multiple purposes, and varies depending on how the at bat unfolds, which is obviously dependent on what the pitcher, who also has his objectives, throws. 

Like the batter, the pitcher may be setting up his opponent for a future encounter.  I read once how Greg Maddux gave up a home run in a game which was out of reach simply to set up the batter for a situation down the road where the game was still in contest and he could do the unexpected.  Pitchers are sometimes tuning their control, finding out which pitches work for them.

So both the pitcher and the batter are pursuing subtle objectives with each at bat.  At no time is this more true than during spring training.  A pitcher might throw a dozen curve balls in a row, simply to work on his curve ball.  Competition is put aside for the sheer mechanics of the game.  And thanks to MLB, which has embraced the possibilities of the Internet better than any other sport in my humble opinion, everyone can now immerse themselves in the minutiae of the game that is the spring training experience.  –amn