Team Canada fell 7-6 to the Cubans in an exciting, dinger-filled see-saw affair this morning that will produce a torrent of criticism of JP Ricciardi from local haters Richard Griffin, Bob Elliot and Bob McCown because, sad to say it, this was a game the Canadians might have won had they trotted Scott Richmond out as originally planned.
(A bit of a warning, the box scores at CBC are pretty shitty. There's no record of who had extra base hits, walked, stole bases, errors, etc., not to mention who scored the runs. BUT the game recap article goes into great depth if you're not averse to actually reading instead of looking at numbers. If you want a proper box score, go to the official site.)
Canada started Brooks McNiven, a 27-year-old career minor leaguer with shitty peripherals out of Terrace, BC who was originally selected by Gord Ash in the very late rounds of the 1999 amateur draft, and he gave up two ER in 2 IP of work. He was followed by Jon Lockwood, a 26-year-old Torontonian who never advanced beyond A+ ball and now appears to be out of the game professionally, and he gave up 3 ER through 3. Former major leaguer Chris Reitsma gave up one earned in his inning of work, but otherwise the bullpen was solid.
It's pretty hard to argue that Richmond wouldn't have put up a much stronger effort than the 5 IP cobbled together from McNiven and Lockwood, though I mention this without malice. There's no question that a big league team has to put its own interests, not to mention use of players that it's paying, above those of a national team, even if you're talking about the only ML club in the country. I'm still kind of disappointed about the way that all played out, but I won't shit on JP for it. Still, don't expect Team Canada Manager Terry Puhl to do JP any favours by smuggling Cuban shortstop Eduardo Paret out of the country in a duffle bag at the conclusion of the tournament.
On the offensive side, promising Indians prospect Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, ON stole the show, socking a pair of dingers and going 4 for 4 with 3 runs and 3 RBI. Mariners farmhand Mike Saunders of Victoria, who homered in Canada's opener against China, launched another 2-run dinger. Stubby Clapp, who actually did get a 25-AB cup of coffee with the Cards in 2001, got a pair of hits and drew a walk, while my personal favourite Londoner (after Rachel McAdams) Adam Stern went 0 for 5 out of the leadoff spot.
Elsewhere, the US shut the Neederlanders out 7-0, China surprisingly held Korea to a 0-0 tie through 6 when the game was called due to rain, and Japan took it to Taiwan 6-1.
Canada continues onward and upward with two games tomorrow (EST), Korea (6 a.m.) in the morning and USA (10:30 p.m.) in the evening. Full sched here, though mind the 12-hour time difference.
Jeff Blair has kind of been forgotten since he went over to Red China a few weeks back, but he did sneak in time for a (long) commentary piece on baseball at the Olypmics the other day. Short version, he doesn't think it's ever coming back because (Eurotrash) IOC members don't appreciate the game and the MLB has nothing to gain financially by releasing players for the Olympics, especially when it has it's own potential money-maker in the World Baseball Classic.
You can respond to this either one of two ways. A) I never really cared about Olympic baseball, so I'm going to continue to ignore it; or B) This is the last crack, I'm going to start following Team Canada now even though I had little or no interest in the past. Since a good portion of my shit is in boxes and I've got precious few diversions to keep me occupied until the move at the end of the month, I'm going to go with B. If you're not feeling it I've got absolutely nothing against you or your point of view.
Live blog tomorrow night against Team USA, all are welcome to chug PBRs, swear, and carry on in an inappropriate manner.
* Our highly esteemed colleagues over at The Mockingbird and Ghostrunner on First have joined us on the Dave Purcey Express. Welcome aboard fellas, there's room for everyone! If there is one Eternal Truth about Big D, it's that the Detroit Tigers cannot put bat on ball when he's on the mound. Through 10.1 innings over 2 starts they've only managed 4 hits against him (drawing 10 walks which I will now conveniently overlook) and scored only 1 run. Give 'em shit, buddy!
Purcey still needs a nickname and I'm really unsatisfied with "Bigfoot" as suggested at Batter's Box the other day. Did you know that Dave Winfield's (6' 6") nickname when he played in Mexico was "El Gigante Negro"? I don't speak Spanish, but I'm going to guess that means "the big negro" anyway. "Big Whitey" for Purcey? No? Something better?
* In unsurprising news, Scott Downs "is likely headed to the disabled list after spraining his ankle on Wednesday night" according to Rotoworld.
* MLB to introduce instant replay at the end of August? Why not 5 years ago?
-- Johnny Was