Classic Baseball

“You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”  Jim Bouton, Ball Four

March 20, 2013

The third Spring World Baseball Classic finished last night in San Francisco’s AT&T park just as the MLB annual Fall Classic concluded last October – in a cold, persistent rain that couldn’t cool off a hot team.  The Dominican Republic nearly equaled SFO’s 4 game sweep of the Tigers by beating Puerto Rico for the third consecutive time in the championship game.  Both DR and SFO ended their title runs on seven game winning streaks.

The DR may not have been the underdog in the 2013 WBC that the Giants were in the 2012 World Series, but just about everything went right for both teams on the way to their respective championships.    In the WBC title game, timely hitting got the Dominicans a lead in the first inning that was preserved through nine innings by solid starting pitching and dominant relief work.

Yes, the classic formula for winning baseball championships remains the same even when the calendar reads March, not October. It was great fun for me to sit in front of our family TV watching a meaningful baseball game in the month of March with two of my kids showing interest in the outcome and asking me many questions about sport’s greatest game.  I’d call that classic family entertainment, wouldn’t you?

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The winner of our first WBC competition is first-time B.A.B.E.S. participant Walter Stone, a globe-trotting Aggie petroleum engineer who was in Kuwait for the entire month.  No word on whether he got to watch any of the games, but he claims he didn’t study the teams and mostly just followed the betting line.  With a total of 32 points (a .667 batting average), Walter may have taught us all something about Aggie engineering.   Congratulations, Walter, on winning a coveted “Rocky” in your very first try.

Runner-up was our youngest member, Jack Rose, who at only 11 years-old adds yet another meaning to our name B.A.B.E.S.  (that would be the third definition we have ascribed).  Jack amassed 30 points in his first competition and immediately proved himself to be superior to his father in baseball predictions.  (If he had only gone with Cuba instead of China in the First Round he would have tied Walter for the title.)  Well done, son!

I did manage to finish 3rd with 23 points, and was the only one of us to pick 3 of the 4 finalists.  That gives me hope for a better showing in the upcoming MLB season.  Of course, that shouldn’t be too hard since I was next to last in last year’s standings.

So, all of you guys who finished ahead of me last year better be thinking hard.  Eleven days to go before your picks are due and play begins with TEX @ HOU.  The Astros announced today that Bud Norris will be their starter who will throw the first pitch of the 2013 MLB season and the first American League game in Houston’s history.  Now, if Ron Washington will only repeat on Opening Night what he did last week in a Spring Training game – bat Lance Berkman lead-off.  What a classic moment that would be.

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