2023 World Baseball Classic Pool B Preview: Tokyo

We continue our WBC Pool previews with Pool B: Tokyo.

About the Venue: The Tokyo Dome is the largest baseball stadium in the largest metropolitan area in the world and the go-to place for MLB events in Japan. Holding over 45 thousand fans for baseball, the air-supported dome is normally home to the Yomiuri Giants, the most successful team in Japanese baseball. The “Big Egg” has symmetrical dimensions (329 to the corners, 375 to the alleys, 400 to center) and has over the years also played host to concerts, boxing (including Mike Tyson‘s infamous defeat at the hands of Buster Douglas), professional wrestling, NFL exhibition games, and mixed martial arts. It is also the location of Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame.

About The Pool: It’s not quite accurate to call this the “Pacific pool”, since the Czech Republic is there, but it’s pretty close: four of the five teams are on the Pacific Ocean. Japan and Korea are definitely the big names here, but Australia is always scrappy and could pull an upset. China and the Czech Republic will likely prove canon fodder to the larger teams but should still be interesting to watch given how rarely we see their players against top competition.

Go below the jump for the full preview.

Continue reading

World Baseball Classic Update 8/21/2022: Venezuela, Argentina, Pakistan, and more

A roundup of some additional WBC news from the past week or so that I missed in yesterday’s post:

  • Add Astros pitcher Luis Garcia to the list of Venezuelans who have committed to the tournament. You can add Rockies pitcher German Marquez to that list as well.
  • Rolando Arnedo, the manager of the Diamondbacks’ Arizona Complex League team, will skipper Argentina in the qualifiers. In fact, Argentina has revealed a lot more about its qualifier team in an article released on Aug. 18. Among other information: Astros Arizona Complex League manager Marcelo Alfonsin will be the pitching coach, Gabriel Sanso will be the bench/hitting coach, Eduardo Capdevilla will be outfield/third base coach, Nicolas Solari will be infield/first base coach, and Federico Bisbal will be on quality control and analytics. Player-wise, Argentina is hoping for participation from players of Argentine descent like Miami’s Daniel Castano, the Baltimore organization’s Yennier Cano, and CPBL player An Ko Lin. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to get Castano given scheduling and the concussion and Cano’s participation would likely depend on whether he’s on the big league club by that time as well, though.
  • Pakistan has introduced three of the coaches involved in the qualifying team: Brian Furches, pitching coach Randall Arms, and Naser Peter.
  • Australia and Japan will play a series in November as preparation for the WBC.
  • Broadcasting announcement: Tyler Maun and former Australian big-leaguer Ryan Rowland-Smith will be on the call for the WBC qualifiers.

World Baseball Classic Update 8/20/2022: DeRosa to manage, Ohtani can play, more commits, and more

In the week since our last update, more World Baseball Classic News has come out. Here’s some of it (I may get some stragglers tomorrow):

Team USA gets a manager

It’s been announced that Mark DeRosa will be the skipper for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. It’s a bit of a surprise pick, as I and others assumed it’d be a retired manager like Mike Scioscia. However, instead USA Baseball is going young. While DeRosa has never managed professionally, he’s been thrown about in the past as a potential future candidate and is well-liked around the game. Plus, his day job as an analyst and host at MLB Network means he’s well-acquainted with most of the MLB players in the tournament. DeRosa played for Team USA in the 2009 WBC and had a long career in the majors as a super-utility man.

Ohtani can play

Shohei Ohtani didn’t play in the last WBC due to injury, but if he wants to he can in this one. The Angels have granted him permission to take part. Technically, he could have played anyway as WBC rules only allow teams to deny permission under certain circumstances like if they were on the injured list, but players- especially pitchers- generally will take team requests to heart and so if the Angels didn’t want him to play it’s likely he wouldn’t.

This needless to say is a huge get for both Samurai Japan and the tournament in general. The Japanese uniforms for Ohtani will sell extremely well, and the tournament instantly gets another marketable star to slap on some billboards and commercials.

Altuve in for Venezuela, Lopez to manage

Jose Altuve has confirmed he’s planning to play for Venezuela in 2023. Altuve previously played in the WBC in 2017. Managing Altuve will be someone familiar to him: Houston first-base coach Omar Lopez.

Alonso becomes latest position player to confirm for Team USA

The Polar Bear himself, Pete Alonso, has confirmed he’s in for Team USA. One of the best sluggers in the lead, the Mets first-baseman joins Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Story, and Paul Goldschmidt as played who have signed up for Team USA. Notably, there still have yet to be any pitchers to announce their interest, but at least as far as position players the USA is looking good so far for defending its WBC title.

More WBC News and Reports:

Look for more WBC updates in the coming days!

World Baseball Classic Update for 8/5/2022: Machado and Guerrero, Colombia’s manager, and more

Still catching up on some of the WBC news from the past few days….

World Baseball Classic Update 7/19/2022: Ohtani interested, Cabrera doesn’t want to take the spot of a younger player, and a note about some upcoming WBC stuff

Some more WBC news that emerged from yesterday’s All-Star Game media availability:

  • Shohei Ohtani hopes to play in the WBC next year, although he does admit that his unique situation as a two-way player may make it a bit complicated.
  • Miguel Cabrera, who has previously said he wants to play for his native Venezuela next year, has hedged it a bit. In essence, while he wants to play a role, he also doesn’t want to take the spot of a more worthy younger player.
  • Finally, a programming note: Over the next ten days, I’ll have new versions of roster projections for Team USA and the Dominican. I might also have the long-gestating Venezuela projections.

World Baseball Classic Update (July 9, 2022): Korea prepares for Japan (and vice-versa)

The ultimate rivalry of the World Baseball Classic is likely that of Japan and Korea. Fueled by historic grievance, geography, a similar style of play, and the way that international tournaments often end up being scheduled, any match-up of the two is must-see TV.

So it’s not surprising, then, that people involved with baseball in the two countries are already talking. At least, that’s what the Google translated articles I’ve found say.

In a talk with Korea’s Yonhap News Agency (translated to English by Google here), the KBO President agreed that the match-up with Japan is extremely important and that they will have to “prepare thoroughly” for it. The KBO has seen bumps in domestic popularity after previous success by Korea in the WBC, but the team has had a rough patch lately. That’s especially true when it comes to the Japan rivalry: Korea hasn’t beaten Japan in a major tournament since the 2015 Premier 12. The Koreans will be forming a committee shortly to begin the process of building the WBC team. The article says that while Hyun-Jin Ryu won’t take part due to his Tommy John surgery, it is possible that the Korean team may include players like Tommy Edman and Dane Dunning, who both have mothers from Korea.

Meanwhile, Japanese manager Hideki Kuriyama has been quoted as saying that the Japan-Korea games have always been fierce battles. That’s caught the attention of various Korean outlets, like this one.

Sticking with Japan for a second, some there are already speculating on what MLB players may play for Samurai Japan in 2023. A reporter for the Sanspo newspaper, for example, feels like Shohei Ohtani may be in an iffy position due to his two-way nature and the fact that 2023 will be the last year of his contract. However, he does believe that Seiya Suzuki of the Cubs would likely be able to participate if he wants to, and that Yu Darvish will likely have a big role in the rotation.

Finally, in other WBC news: Taiwan reportedly will be putting together a selection and training committee soon to pick a coach and begin selecting players for the tournament.

Stay tuned to the Baseball Continuum for more World Baseball Classic news as I find it.

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC UPDATE (July 8, 2022): Stuff I missed

Yesterday in my World Baseball Classic update, I mentioned that there had been some WBC news over the past few weeks that I had neglected to share. Consider this a catch-up post on those things.



I’ll have more WBC news as it becomes available and as I find it.

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.

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:


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.

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.

Continue reading