Fungoes: Part Deux
Congrats, Japan: The Japanese successfully defended their World Baseball Classic crown last night in a thrilling, extra-inning victory, 5-3. Ichiro Suzuki's two-run single in the 10th off of Chang Yong Lim gave Team Japan the lead and once again put the game in the hands of Yu Darvish, the uber-phenom who has no interest in coming to America, who had entered in the ninth and given up the tying run.
Darvish showed uncharacteristic wildness in the tenth, walking two guys before finally closing the deal. The final out set off an explosion of unbridled joy from the players and their extremely raucous fans.
Considering some of the great contests this WBC gave us, I'd consider it a success. That said, almost everyone agrees that some tweaking couldn't hurt. Here's my idea: Play the Classic entirely without the U.S., with the victor facing the winner of the fall classic for a three-game set -- a true World Series.
Lyon Crowned: Chase Wright, everything is forgiven. As it turns out, even all-star closers are susceptible to the wrath of the Red Sox.
Brandon Lyon found that out the hard way last night, when he gave up consecutive home runs to Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Chris Carter and Ivan Ochoa.
Because it's an exhibition game it obviously won't count in the record books, but it's the second time in two years (and the third time in history) that a team has hit four in a row. Amazingly, Mike Lowell was involved in the last one, too, joining Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek in tagging Wright at Fenway Park on April 17, 2007.
Said Lyon: "These are good hitters. You're facing good hitters every day. There's outings like this that humble you a little bit, get you back to a different mind-set. Maybe you start focusing a little more."
For the sake of Tigers fans everywhere, I certainly hope so.
Boswell says Say No to Strasburg: Today's Washington Post has a column from the esteemed Thomas Boswell saying basically that, unless he lowers his demands, the Nats should pass on San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the near-unanimous top prospect for June's First-Year Player Draft.
It's an interesting thought, for sure, but one I think is wrong.
Boswell points out that the draft has a very poor history when it comes to producing top-flight pitchers from the No. 1 slot. He's right, a lot of the great pitchers today have come from lower spots, or through international free agency.
That said, past track record is no reason not to gamble on a stud like Strasburg, who is striking out 19.24 men per nine innings this season. He's fanned 74 in 34.1 innings . Let me repeat: he's fanned 74 in 34.1 innings.
His fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph. His curveball is already top-flight. Scouts say he could be effective in the major leagues right now.
Of course, Boswell doesn't say the Nats should totally forget the idea of signing Strasburg, just the idea of signing him at his purported demands of a 6-year/$50M contract. Of course, Scott Boras is his agent, er, adviser, so that figure is more than likely just a high starting point designed to get the Nats to "settle" for what Strasburg is actually seeking.
Bottom line: The Nats cannot afford to pass on Strasburg, no matter the price.
The Schill is Gone, The Schill has gone away: Curt Schilling announced his retirement earlier this week, making the news official on his blog, 38pitches.com. He exits the game with a 216-146 record and the second-best postseason ERA of all time, behind Christy Mathewson.
He's a borderline hall of famer, but I think that bloody sock game in 2004 (Wow, it's nearly been five years) will put him over the hump with most voters, the same way the World Series-winning blast in 1960 did for Bill Mazeroski.