World Baseball Classic opens
Japan whalloped China 18-2, and Korea (South, presumably) edged China-Taipei (the country formerly known as "Taiwan," and the "Republic of China" before that) 2-0. Both games were at the Tokyo Dome. Attendance was nearly 16,000 for the first game, and barely 5,000 for the second. Not exactly a huge sensation. After concluding the six-game round robin on Sunday, the best two teams from "Pool A" will advance to the next round, facing "Pool B" (North America plus South Africa) in Angel Stadium, March 12-16. See the schedule at worldbaseballclassic.com. Somehow Nicaragua failed to qualify for a berth in the tournament, even though it has much more baseball talent and interest than Italy, Australia, or the Netherlands. It's probably the lack of money.
Guillen injures wrist; Nats S.O.L.
Jose Guillen, upon whose shoulders the Washington Nationals' hopes for this season rest to a very large degree, has torn some tendons in his left wrist, and will be on the disabled list for at least three months. The team doctor recommended surgery, but Guillen wants a second opinion. The high-spirited outfielder says he couldn't stand being out of action for so long. Having lost pitcher Brian Lawrence, and with Alfonso Soriano's future with the team highly uncertain, this is a devastating blow. The Nats have just about exhausted their payroll budget, they have few tradable reserve players, and their farm system has almost collapsed over the past few years. Time to punt... See MLB.com.
In today's Washington Post, Thomas Boswell laments that "the bloom is off the rose" for the Nationals. Observing the paltry attendance at Space Coast Stadium compared to last year, he gripes about the decline in fan enthusiasm for the Nats since the magical inaugural year. He blames the shortsighted, selfish MLB bosses and politicians in D.C. for putting the franchise in dire straits. Since there is no owner yet, the team is playing with an unfair handicap for the fourth consecutive year. He warns that resorting to arbitration over the stadium finance dispute would further disillusion D.C. area folks about their new team, which might cause attendance to drop, thereby lowering the value of the franchise, currently estimated at $450 million. Are you listening, Bud? How about you, Linda?