2023 WBC Team Dominican Republic: The “ideal” roster

Here’s a fun fact: one of my most popular posts ever was an early projection of what Team Dominican Republic’s roster would look like for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. So now that I have finished my June update for Team USA, it is time to look at another tournament favorite: the Dominican Republic. It’s a topic that others have already brought up: reporter Hector Gomez tweeted out one possible lineup, while no less than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave his opinion back in April. Now, it’s my turn.

Much like the Team USA rosters, at this point this is a “pie-in-the-sky” roster. It assumes, probably wrongly, that every player I mention would be willing and able to play. That, needless to say, is highly unlikely. There are always injuries, spring training superstitions, or transaction considerations that cause players to back out. While this has not been as big of a problem in the past for the Dominican as it has been for some other countries, it still happens. So keep that in mind while reading this: it’s highly unlikely that the final roster will look like this.

That said, even with this being a pie-in-the-sky exercise, there are two rules I have in place while making this:

  • Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
  • The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.

Go below the jump for more:

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The “ideal” 2023 Team USA WBC roster 2.0

Last month, I speculated as to who would be on the Team USA World Baseball Classic roster next year. We’re now over a month later, so based on how the season is going, how much has changed?

Again, this is not the most likely (that will happen when I begin doing projections). Instead, it is what the best possible team would be if I could wave a magic wand and ensure that every player we’d want would be playing regardless of any injuries, off-season concerns, or spring training routine.

In other words, think of this as a sort-of rough draft or best-case-scenario. It will likely provide a bit of a skeleton for more-serious projections, but it’s unlikely to come to pass as it currently exists.

That said, even with this being a pie-in-the-sky exercise, there are two rules I have in place while making this:

  • Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
  • The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.

Go below the jump for more:

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BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE 2.0: “Mr. Go” is about a GORILLA PLAYING BASEBALL IN KOREA

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball In Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0, I take an updated look at some of the more unusual places that I previously covered where baseball has reared its head in pop culture and fiction. In the process, I clean up some mistakes of mine and add some more perspective.

NOTE: The original form of this post ran here. It has some grammatical mistakes and out-of-date information that has been corrected in this post but remains up for posterity. In addition, I have added some extra stuff.

In 2019, the Bong Joon-ho film Parasite took the world by storm. The tale of a poor Korean family that integrates its way into the life of a wealthy family, it became the first film not in the English language to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It spurred a greater appreciation and interest in Korean cinema amongst cinephiles and even general audiences.

This post is not about that film. No, this is about the exact opposite of the award-winning works of Bong Joon-Ho. This is a post about the 2013 film Mr. Go, a Korean-Chinese co-production (more on that later) about a gorilla trained to play baseball.

This was a film much beloved by people throughout the baseball internet at one point for the sheer curiosity factor of its existence. Places like the now-defunct Big League Stew did posts about it, but few actually saw it. I, however, was able to procure a copy of the film in 2014. It was in the form of a DVD from Hong Kong, acquired from a Canadian seller on eBay. All for you, the readership of the Baseball Continuum (and anybody who found this link). Times have changed since 2014, though. Now, you can watch it streaming for free (with advertisements) on the Amazon FreeVee service and on Tubi.

So, buckle up. Below the jump, we dive deep into Mr. Go. Prepare yourself, because gorilla baseball, MLB cameos, banana-shaped thunderstix, pizza commercials, a bullpen-cart chase, and other madness awaits you:

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While we slept, Roki Sasaki nearly did it again

Today was going to be about former team names, but I’m (to use a football term) calling an audible.

Just days after Roki Sasaki threw perhaps the greatest perfect game in the history of professional baseball, he almost did it again. Striking out 14, the 20-year-old only stopped because he was pulled from the tied game after eight perfect innings. The Chiba Lotte Marines would end up losing in 10, but that doesn’t change the fact that Sasaki may well be in the best hot streak in the history of professional baseball pitching. You can see some highlights below:

With his performance today, Sasaki has now had 17 straight perfect innings and has retired 52 hitters in a row. Just to give an example of how remarkable that is, the MLB record for consecutive hitters faced without a walk, hit, or error is 46 by Yusmeiro Petit.

In other words, Roki Sasaki is amazing, and is doing things nobody else has ever done. It’s entirely possible even more history will be made when he makes his next start.

While we slept, a 20-year-old in Japan may have pitched the greatest game in history

While we all slept, history was made in Japan, as Roki Sasaki of the Chiba Lotte Marines threw the first NPB perfect game since 1994. What’s more, the 20-year-old struck out 19 while doing it. Oh, and his catcher was a rookie named Ko (or Koh) Matsukawa… who is only 18.

To declare anything the greatest game ever pitched regardless of level is likely a fool’s errand, but there is a thing called Game Score. The highest game score in a 9-inning game in MLB history was Kerry Wood‘s famous 20 strikeout game in 1998, which scored a 105. The second-highest was Max Scherzer‘s 17-K no-hitter in 2015, which was 104.

Now, I’m not great at math, but it appears that Sasaki’s game score is 106. The only game I can think of off the top of my head that has that beat is Ron Necciai‘s Class-D 27 strikeout no-hitter back in 1952, which had a 112 game score (the maximum 114 minus a walk and a HBP).

Regardless of era, league, level, or country, however, Sasaki’s performance against the Orix Buffaloes will no doubt stand for all time as one of the greatest pitching performances ever.

With new CBA, speculation on the next World Baseball Classic

With Spring Training in full swing and Opening Day fast approaching, it’s time to look to the future. To be specific, the future of the World Baseball Classic. The new collective bargaining agreement included some stuff about the WBC, and while some of it has been revealed, other parts are left to speculation.

Here, I do a bit of both after the jump.

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Famous for Something Else: Shohei “Giant” Baba, Japanese Pro Wrestler

Way back during the 2016 Blogathon (which I’ve never been able to do again due to “life”), I did a post on how the grandfather of John Cena, Tony Lupien, played in the big leagues during the 1940s. We’ve also covered “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s minor league career. Today we’re going back to the world of professional wrestling, albeit in Japan.

The player-turned-wrestler in question is Shohei Baba, better known as Giant Baba. While he had some stints in the USA, in Japan he is one of the most famous wrestlers ever and is remembered as the co-founder of the All-Japan Pro Wrestling organization.

Standing anywhere between 6’6″ and 6’10” depending on the source, Baba is believed to have been one of the tallest people to ever play baseball professionally in Japan. According to Wikipedia (which sources Japanese articles), Baba was known for his height from the beginning: in high school he was known as “Sanjo High School’s giant pitcher.” He had the talent to get signed by the Yomiuri Giants, and proceeded to do very well in the minor leagues in Japan, at one point even being named best pitcher in the minor league he was in. However, health injuries (including a brain tumor!) and injuries meant he never made it to the top level very often. He only pitched in three games for the top club, although he did do well in that limited action, holding a 1.29 ERA:

YearAgeAgeDifTmLgLevWLW-L%ERARA9GGSGFCGSHOIPHRERHRBBIBBSOHBPBKWPBFWHIPH9HR9BB9SO9
195719-4.4YomiuriJPCLFgn01.0001.291.29312007.05110003000260.7146.40.00.03.9
AllAllAllAll01.0001.291.29312007.05110003000260.7146.40.00.03.9

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/22/2022.

A few years later, he’d give up baseball and step into the ring. The rest is history.

The Little League World Series was not as good without the world

The Little League World Series is over, only this year it just wasn’t the same, because the world couldn’t come. It’s obvious why: COVID-19. After cancelling the entire tournament last year for the first time ever, this year Little League Baseball returned the World Series to Williamsport, but only with American-based teams due to COVID concerns.

And while it did prove to be an excellent tournament, it still lacked much of what has made the tournament special: the international teams.

You see, part of the fun of the event is in seeing kids from so many places have fun with each other. It doesn’t matter if they are from Ohio or Osaka, it’s good to see people from different cultures bonding over a shared love for baseball.

However, there is also the fact that it also just wasn’t as fun to watch. Different countries bring different styles of play, which can be interesting. Plus, there are a clearer way of determining underdogs: you may not be able to tell who the favorite in a game between Texas and California is, but when it’s Japan vs. Australia or Curacao vs. Italy, you are instantly pulled in. Sure, the favorite almost always wins, but it is fascinating to get pulled in by the drama of seeing how long the underdogs can keep pace. And regardless of what happens, the kids don’t care: they are still having fun.

But, alas, some of that didn’t happen this year. Hopefully it’ll be back next year.

Possible international sites for MLB games

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Previously, I discussed some possible neutral-field games in the USA or Canada. Today, it’s time to look beyond the borders and muse about possible neutral-field games internationally going forward.

Go below the jump for more.

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