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.
- 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.
- A country that caused the first WBC to be delayed a year until 2006 because its pro baseball establishment didn’t realize it had actually signed a binding contract to participate in 2005.
- A pitcher who later became a star World Series closer who surrendered the first home run in WBC history.
- The only MLB player to volunteer to play for this 2017 semifinalist was rejected despite all of that nation’s other MLB players refusing to play when asked.
- A pitcher who earned the save in a WBC final in the home park of his first MLB team.
- A pitcher who won an WBC final in relief at the home park of his second MLB team.
- A Mexico infielder who helped trigger a first-round brawl with Canada who later became teammate in Japan with Canadian pitcher Scott Mathieson.
- A player who hit the first home run in tournament history, and also took the same future MLB star closer deep in their 2000 Sydney Olympic qualifying game at cavernous Sapporo Dome.
WBC Countries and managers
- A country that won the WBC twice.
- A country that reached the final twice but has not yet one.
- A country that won six straight games and didn’t reach the 2006 final.
- This WBC-winning manager was not told by his country’s pro baseball establishment that he was allowed to reach out to his MLB stars and ask them to play for him.
- A manager, who — when asked why he left a struggling pitcher in so long after losing a WBC semifinal – said, “It’s spring training and he needed to get in his innings.”
- Who is Bob Davidson, who was available as a former MLB umpire at a time when MLB umpires did not agree to take part in 2006.
- Who is also Bob Davidson.
- What is Mexico, MLB had published news that the Mexicans had secured their spot in the playoff but then recalculated and deleted its social media and web posts.
- What is Japan. In 2006, the players were unhappy with the tournament conditions NPB had signed on for without notifying the players union, particularly the tourney being held in March instead of November as they preferred. In 2009 and 2013 it was largely about the fact that despite Japan companies paying contributing to well over half of the tournament’s total sponsorship pool, Japan’s team got nothing other than its assigned shares based on its finish in the tourney.
- What is also Japan. The guy who ran NPB’s negotiation is a walking encyclopedia of baseball with extraordinary English skills, but otherwise infamous for saying things that are not always true. He reportedly told his bosses that the agreement Japan signed to participate in the inaugural 2005 tourney was not a contract but an option to participate at some point. The tournament couldn’t start on time because Japan was unable to get its act together, and the owners needed some encouragement from the likes of Sadaharu Oh: “Business people sometimes don’t see that the long-term interests of growing baseball is good for business and important in the larger picture.”
Players in the WBC
- Who is Koji Uehara.
- Who is Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa was banished from the national team because of an owners’ agreement that he not be able to play for any NPB team after he refused to enter the NPB entry draft and instead signed as an amateur with the Boston Red Sox. He’d also wanted to play in 2013, and the excuse manager Koji Yamamoto gave me for not selecting him was “all the players come out of NPB, and that’s the way we roll.”
- Who is Akira Otsuka. At the time, Otsuka was pitching for the Texas Rangers. In the 2006 final at Petco Park, he was greeted by former teammate Trevor Hoffman’s walk-on theme, AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells.”
- Who is Yu Darvish. Darvish, then with the Nippon Ham Fighters, worked the final two innings, earning the win and locking down the final half inning after Ichiro Suzuki’s two-run 10th-inning tie-breaking single at Dodger Stadium.
- Who is Luis Cruz. After Canada bunted for a base hit with a big lead in their first-round game, Cruz indicated to Mexico’s young pitcher that he should brush back the next hitter. A hockey game ensued that ended with Canada’s Mathieson having a bottle of water dumped on him from the stands.
- Who is current China batting and battery coach, Wang Wei. Two big games against the future Red Sox closer and then the ace of the Yomiuri Giants and two big home runs.
WBC Countries and managers
- What is Japan.
- What is Puerto Rico.
- What is Puerto Rico.
- Who is Sadaharu Oh.
- Who is Davey Johnson. He uttered the response to a question after losing the USA’s 2009 semifinal to Japan.