Tag Archives: Bobby Valentine

The greatest exhibition

Because it’s a departure from MLB’s primary product, the World Baseball Classic comes with a ready-made supply of detractors, often those who want to keep things the way they were when they were young, and who are liable to see enforcing the rules against fielders obstructing the basepaths without the ball as an affront.

Robert Whiting expressed some valid takes in his recent Substack post “WBC title is great for Japan, but NPB needs to concentrate on enhancing its product going forward.”

His points, as I understand them, are:

  • The lively individualistic approach exhibited by Japan in the WBC will not loosen Japan’s embrace of paint-by-numbers solutions to baseball situations.
  • The WBC is fun, but it’s just an exhibition and doesn’t prove which team is the best.
  • Japanese pro baseball could be so much better than it is, and that should be its focus to be better at marketing and building its product, and that the DeNA signing of Trevor Bauer is a step in the right direction.

In my last post, I addressed his principle point, that Japan’s baseball establishment needs to move forward from the WBC and not just celebrate. This time, I want to take on the question of whether or not the tournament is an exhibition.

“Just a series of exhibitions”

“It (the WBC) is just a series of exhibition games that in the end are just a series of exhibition games.”

–Robert Whiting on Substack, March 22, 2023

This is an “it’s not my idea of a real competition, therefore it isn’t one” argument. I have to believe what he means by this is that the WBC games are nothing little more than preseason exhibitions ahead of the regular season.

However, the main attribute of an exhibition game is that its outcome is less important than the training value the players take from it or the value derived from the game’s contribution to a charitable cause.

Kyle Schwarber and Tim Anderson were asked about the nature of the competition. You tell me if they think it’s an exhibition.

“You’re not really tiptoeing your way through a spring training at-bat. You’re coming in, and it’s competing, it’s time to win. It’s kind of like that regular season where you know what? You’re getting your work done in the cage and you’re competing in the game. This is straight competition, go out there, compete, and the best man wins.”

–Team USA’s Kyle Schwarber prior to the 2023 WBC final against Japan.
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WBC Jeopardy

Today I’m going to run you through a simulated game of “Jeopardy,” although you’ll have to forgive me if I get parts of it wrong. It used to be one of my favorite American TV shows, but I have only seen a handful of episodes since moving to Japan in 1984, including those in which a friend and former Daily Yomiuri coworker played and won a considerable sum of cash.

I suspect some of this will be new to some of you. I hope you enjoy it, although there’s no cash involved and no home version as a consolation prize.


WBC controversies

  • An umpire who cost Japan a chance to bring in MLB closer Akira Otsuka with a late lead in the first game of the 2006 Anaheim quarterfinal round by overturning the correct safe call on an appeal play in favor of the USA.
  • An umpire who cost Mexico a home run in the final game of the 2006 Anaheim quarterfinal round against the USA, when he ruled a ball hit off the foul pole to be a ground rule double.
  • A country that was eliminated from a playoff to advance to the quarterfinals in 2017 after MLB announced it would play in the tie-breaker playoff.
  • A country whose players union threatened to boycott the first three WBCs.
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