World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Brooklyn (Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, Pakistan)

The final spot in next year’s main WBC tournament is up for grabs this week in Brooklyn, in an eclectic pool of four countries that lack major baseball facilities and thus sort of have been thrown into Brooklyn in hopes that New York’s diverse population will come out to see the games. While Brazil and the American-heavy Israeli team should be considered the favorites, GB shouldn’t be totally counted out. The biggest mystery (and likely last-place finisher) is Pakistan, a newcomer to the WBC that has rarely participated outside of the regional level. You can see the rosters (which have since changed slightly due to call-ups and injuries) here.

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2016 WBC Qualifier Preview: Panama City (Panama, Spain, France, Colombia)

Like the Mexicali pool, this is a pool that will pit Latin America and Europe. However, in some ways the only European team will be France, as Spain weighs heavily on imported talent. This should be the most competitive WBC qualifier bracket so far, with only France being a team that I can say has no chance.

Go below the jump for more:

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World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Mexicali (Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua)

Another round of WBC qualifiers starts on Thursday, with two pools going. One of them, in Mexicali, is a odd mix of two Latin American countries mixed with two European nations. While Mexico is most definitely the favorite, it’s not inconceivable that a shocking upset will take place… just very unlikely. You can see the rosters here.

Go below the jump for more:

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World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Sydney (Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa)

The first qualifier for the World Baseball Classic will feature an eclectic group of three “Commonwealth” nations in addition to the Philippines, and while it’s likely that the host Australians will come out on top, it will be interesting to see how the others do, especially New Zealand, which arguably has the fastest-growing baseball program in the world.

Go below the jump for the more:

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Random Video: English baseball player gets hat and sunglasses knocked off by a bad throw… but nothing else

We go the North of England, where the Sheffield Bladerunners of the British Baseball Federation are playing catch between innings:

Didn’t see it? Let’s look at the slo-mo version:

That’s Josh Taylor of the Bladerunners getting his cap and his sunglasses knocked off by a throw…. and nothing else. You’d think you’d at least break your nose or something, but the pitcher (Nestor Martinez) was able to somehow accidentally “William Tell” him and take off everything on his head without actually hitting or hurting Taylor.

What were the odds of that?

OOTP International Baseball Competition Part 10: Weeks 9, 10 and 11

Throughout the year, I’ll be posting updates of a simulated league from Out Of The Park Baseball 2016 made up of national “dream teams” to determine what the greatest baseball country on Earth is… or something like that. Previous installments can be found here. This is a long post, so there is a JUMP after the first day. A glossary of storyline characters can be looked at here. Also, hit any picture to make it bigger and more readable.

Due to the lateness of this installment and how far behind I am on this, this time it’ll be a bit different: instead of a day-by-day coverage, it’s going week by week, encompassing Week 9 (May 25 to May 31), Week 10 (June 1 to June 7) and Week 11 (June 8 to June 14), with highlights from each.

So, let’s get going:

Week 9 (May 25 to May 31):

Monday was a simple ending of the previous week’s final series. But Tuesday brought whole new series, including prime matchups like Dominican vs. Japan and a Netherlands/Canada match-up that had major implications on the race for the final spots in the playoffs, even this early in the season.

The first game of the Japan/DR series certainly lived up to the hype, with Japan winning 5-3, with Albert Pujols striking out to end the game to end a last-ditch DR rally. The Netherlands-Canada game also was quite evenly matched, with the Canadians winning 2-1 thanks to a 2-run rally in the 8th. That would allow them to tie Mexico for the 8th and final spot. Sure, it was still a long way until the playoffs, but every game counts. Elsewhere, Team USA somehow lost to Team Rest-Of-World 3-2, and Venezuela creamed Italy, 18-4.

The next day- Wednesday the 27th, saw Japan again defeat the Dominican, 5-4 in 10 innings on a walk-off single by Shinnosuke Abe. Meanwhile, the Netherlands evened their series with Canada with a 8-2 win.

To end their series on Thursday, the Dominican salvaged a game with a 8-2 win, while Canada won their series with a 9-2 victory.

The final three days of the week saw a series between Team USA and Team Cuba. Team USA would take the first game in a 15-4 rout. That wasn’t even the biggest rout of the day, though, as Venezuela beat Colombia 15-3 behind a cycle from Miguel Cabrera:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 2.08.27 PMThe next day, Team USA would win again, 8-3, and then finished the sweep the next day with a 3-1 win.

And thus ended Week 9… and take a look at South Korea!:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 2.26.59 PMThe Power Rankings, which show how much the Korean team is on the rise with their winning streak:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 2.29.07 PMThe Player of the Week for Week 9 was Carlos Beltran:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 2.30.36 PMAnd monthly awards for May were given out to Yasiel Puig and Max Scherzer:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 2.31.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 2.31.51 PMWeek 10 (June 1 to June 7):

Bad weather plagued much of the week, washing out three games in the Caribbean and South America on Monday alone, but in Nicaragua the weather was fine as South Korea won their 13th straight game. They’d win the next day two to make it 14, coming back late against Rest-Of-World to win 8-7 and then finishing off the sweep on Wednesday, 9-2, to make it 15 wins in a row.

However, once the Koreans returned to Korea, they ended up finally hitting that bad weather, and at the worst possible moment, as it cut short a game and made them fall to Cuba, 4-1 in 6 innings. The streak was over.

That wasn’t the biggest surprise that day. The biggest surprise that day was this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 9.50.36 PMWell, I guess it’s true: anything can happen.

The end of the winning streak, the shocking upset of the Dominican, and the rain delays were the main stories of the week- as was a shocking injury that put Nelson Cruz out of commission for the rest of the competition:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.01.45 PMSo, at the end of Week 10:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.08.16 PMPower Rankings:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.09.23 PMAnd MVP of Week 10, Matt Kemp:

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.10.59 PMWeek 11 (June 8 to June 14):

Injuries- both of people leaving the DL and going to the DL- were the story early in the week. Clayton Kershaw returned from the DL for Team USA, but elsewhere Yovani Gallardo was knocked off the Mexican roster for the rest of the season with a torn back muscle, Taiwan lost two players to the DL, Albert Pujols had a quad injury and would be out a few weeks, and the Dutch found out that they’d again be without Andrelton Simmons for about five weeks.

But the games went on, and Kershaw made his presence known late in the week:

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.02.39 PMSo, at the end of Week 11, the standings, where Team USA is rampaging:

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.05.21 PMThe power rankings:

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.06.08 PMThe week’s top player was Kennys Vargas:

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.06.51 PMAnd that concludes Part 10 of the International Baseball Competition. But next time: JOSE FERNANDEZ JOINS THE COMPETITION!


OOTP International Baseball Competition Part 9: Week 8 brings lots of runs, a near-no-hitter, etc.

Throughout the year, I’ll be posting updates of a simulated league from Out Of The Park Baseball 2016 made up of national “dream teams” to determine what the greatest baseball country on Earth is… or something like that. Previous installments can be found here. This is a long post, so there is a JUMP after the first day. A glossary of storyline characters can be looked at here. Also, hit any picture to make it bigger and more readable.

May 18

Week 8 of the IBC began in Australia between the Dutch and the Australians. The Dutch would end up winning 9-6, not long before a Takayuki Kajitani 3-run home run in the 7th in Japan put the home team up 3-0 against Venezuela, a lead they wouldn’t give up. Not long after that, the Taiwanese finished off the Puerto Ricans, 5-4.

And then… everybody waited until night-time on the East Coast of the USA.

The first game of the night, at 6 PM, was South Korea vs. Dominican Republic. It was a nice pitching match-up:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 7.25.02 PM(A reminder that injuries and such are, other than opening day injuries, entirely separate from actual reality, hence why Hyun-Jin Ryu is still playing despite being injured in the real world)

Bartolo Colon would prove to be the winner of the game, as the Dominican would be the first to get on the board, thanks to a Starling Marte double in the second. Robinson Cano and Adrian Beltre would add two more RBIs later in the game. Colon and the relievers (including Antonio Bastardo, who had to fill in after Joaquin got injured with two outs in the 9th) would hold the Koreans scoreless. Colon would strike out nine and give up six hits in the victory.

In Boston, Team USA once again demolished Italy, but “only” by the score of 13-1, as Trout, Stanton, Kemp and McCutchen all homered and Jon Lester went 8.2 IP allowing only 3 hits and striking out 15. However, the Ghost of the Bambino was not happy: “Only won by 12, Joe?”, he whispered in Joe Maddon’s ear. And, worse, Matt Kemp, who was hitting .373, hurt himself running the bases and would be out for 2 weeks.

In Havana, the biggest upset of the day took place, as Team Rest-Of-The-World defeated Cuba, 4-3, surviving a late 9th-inning rally. However, the Rest-Of-Worlders did not get out unscathed, as 1st baseman Rene Leveret, one of their few sort-of-kind-of-semi-power threats, was injured making a spectacular dive to record an out in the 9th, straining an oblique and being knocked out for three weeks.

Justin Morneau, Joey Votto and George Kottaras all homered as Canada beat Panama, 12-6.

Finally, Enrique Osorio went 5-5 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs as Mexico steamrolled Colombia, 15-5.


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