This is fun baseball to watch.
The United States finally made it to the final four in the World Baseball Classic. Good players are finally taking the WBC seriously enough to want to compete. Maybe this will get others to raise their hand as well in future WBC tournaments, if there is another. Rumor was this was going to be the last one, but since more then the usual audience of two dozen Americans tuned into this one, maybe it will continue.
Giancarlo Stanton, batting eighth at DH—his eventual position for the Marlins once the National League adopts the DH in the next collective bargaining agreement—broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the fourth with a monstrous two-run home run reminiscent of the blasts he hit last July in the Home Run Derby at this very same park in San Diego.
He is a dangerous hitter. Because he can take out walls.
Then, when the Dominican Republic, a team that sweep the last WBC undefeated, got close, Andrew McCutchen doubled in two more in the top of the eighth to put the nail in the coffin and send USA to Miami for the semi-finals Monday.
It occurred to me why so many of these games have been exciting. The pitch count rule. The same rule that allows major league teams a chance to come back late in games during the regular season once a totally dominating starter has been removed for no reason.
In the WBC, starters and reliever are limited to how many pitches they can throw. So, even more restrictive than the one hundred pitches a starter is legally allowed to throw in a major league game, in the WBC the starters have even stricter limits. So do relievers.
What that means is, batters are not facing the best pitching (they already aren’t because guys like Kershaw and Scherzer and Sale aren’t competing). And they are feasting on it. And it’s a game of offense. And it’s fun.
No game is over when the ninth reliever out of your bullpen is out there with the game on the line.
With all the talk this off-season about how to improve the pace of game and how to attract more fans, maybe this is it. Limit starters to 60 pitches. A reliever can throw 25. Then watch the offense take over, the games go back and forth, the ratings soar.
But if each starter can throw only sixty pitches a game, what are they going to blame Tommy John surgery on? So that will never work.
Oh well, Monday USA plays Japan while Puerto Rico plays Netherlands, with the winner meeting on Wednesday night for the championship game.
Bragging right in the entire practice baseball world are on the line. Then, we can get this out of the way and turn our attention to more mundane practice games.