World Baseball Classic Final Four
ESPN have put their best team behind the mikes - Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Thank goodness Rick Sutcliffe has the day off. Maybe they've got a word count in place, 2000 words and you've got to take 5 days of rest.
The US did not advance past the 2nd round, which was a surprise especially considering that the tournament was set up pretty much to make sure the US made it into the semis. How did they do that? By structuring the brackets so that all of the Latin American teams had to play each other in the second elimination pool. You could make a case that a random draw, or a draw in which teams from each of the first round pools would have played against each other in the second round might have seen a final four that included Puerto Rico and Venezuela. But those two teams had to play against Dominicana and Cuba in the second round, and only two could advance.
The US, despite having a 10th man on the field in the form of umpire Bruce Davidson, was unable to come up with the big hit at the right time. A lot of people seem to think that the US did not execute the fundamentals, but in the 2-1 loss to Mexico there were equal fundamental flaws. Jeff Francouer got picked off 2nd base in a sacrifice situation, but Jorge Cantu for Mexico was inexplicably bunting with one on in the first and popped into a double play which killed a potential inning. It takes a whole different approach when pretty much every game is the 7th game of the World Series, and every run is critical.
Next time (in 2009, so there's no wait'll next year) there's a lot of opportunity to get it right. I'll post my thoughts later about how to learn from World Cup Soccer in making this a better tournament.
Bad news - Bruce Davidson's name just got called as the home plate umpire. Let's hope he stays out of the headlines. That missed homerun in the Mexico - US game should go down in history as one of the worst calls ever.