So I just spent most of yesterday watching two World Baseball Classic games at Disney's Big AEdison Park of Los Angeheim Angel Stadium. It was an absolutely fantastic time; if there are any doubters about the WBC after this whole thing is over, I'd be surprised if any of them actually had made it to a game. The first game, USA-Japan, was surprisingly under-attended, with barely over 30,000 people in the park. I suspect part of the reason was because many people (including myself) bought tickets and made plans for the evening game, assuming those two teams would be the winners, rather than the runners-up, of their pools. I'm no fan of uber-nationalism, and the chants of "U-S-A" (by anyone above the age of 15) were a bit lame, but the crowd was great. While fans of Japan were in a serious minority (maybe 5%), everyone was friendly to each other, with very little booing. And maybe it was just the section I was in, but the people around me were among the most knowledgeable group of fans I've seen at a game. I sat next to a Yankees fan, who wasn't at all insufferable, and we actually agreed on most stuff. At one point I complained about Buck Martinez's "managing", and he actually defended the guy: "He's under a lot of pressure". I hadn't thought about it, but that's totally right: Varitek's probably being used so sparingly because the Red Sox are demanding it. So I'm going to keep my mouth shut about Buck's "managing" from here on out.
The game itself was all right. I wasn't really rooting for either team, and mostly cheered for two things: (1) good baseball on both sides, and (2) Yankees hitters failing miserably. A decent amount of the first: shaky pitchers making the pitches they needed to, some nice defense. And a lot of the 2nd (Jeter's DP, A-Rod's K with a guy on 3rd, Damon's pinch-hit strikeout)...until the end. Which sucked. It was a pretty amazing last half-inning, with the tension of a real MLB game. At A-Rod's at-bat everyone was making snarky comments about him being unable to get the big hit. "No pressure A-Rod, your whole country's depending on you!" After his hit a lot of people stood in wonder: "wow, he actually a hit when it mattered." (But of course, it didn't really.)
-The questionable call in the 5th made the 1-run win extra painful; the tag looked fine to me, and the lack of a live replay pretty much sealed it. And umpires changing their mind: shades of Doug Eddings. Sadly the runner could've waited an extra second before tagging because Winn's throw sucked so much.
- I was in the parking lot for Ichiro's leadoff HR. But it was pretty clear exactly what had happened. I was half-expecting he'd turn on his fabled power and get 3 more that day.
- Not sure how it looked on TV, but from where I was, after Lee's dive to catch a foul ball, we were sure he was hurt. Wonder how many Cubs fans had heart attacks?
- The force at 3rd on Young's bunt attempt: was he really out? As the guy next to me said, "That never works!"
- My new favorite player is Kosuke Fukudome. His stats are pretty amazing, but obviously it's his name I like. As in, "Mad Max 3: Beyond Fukudome".
- Nathan and Lidge: ugh. If I were a Twins or Astros fan, I would be pretty nervous.
Later today I'll post on the Mexico-Korea game.