Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: Cuba Exits With a Whimper

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL


JAPAN (3-0)
ISRAEL (1-2)
CUBA (0-3)


!Adios Cuba!  They'll have lots of explaining to do...

They exit with what I'll call a nationally disappointing 2-4 record, punctuated by a dismal 0-3 performance in Round Two, and leave behind many unanswered questions.

Chief among them: what happened?

Netherlands ended Cuba's participation in the WBC in a 14-1 rout, in which Cuba was limited to just five hits.

Talk about going out with a whimper ...

This was easily there poorest showing in four Classics.  Cuba played fundamentally poor in the field, particularly behind the plate.  Their pitching was not up to snuff.  And they failed to distinguish themselves at the plate.  In fact, Cuba matched their opponents with 55 hits both for and against, but were outscored by a considerable 23-40 margin through six games.  Their last game against Netherlands may have skewed the numbers somewhat, but Team Cuba as a whole nevertheless appeared flat throughout the tournament.

Next World Baseball Classic can't come soon enough for gamely Team Israel.

In a must win situation, Israel finally bows out of the World Baseball Classic after an 8-3 defeat against Japan.  

However, advancing into Round Two should not go under spoken.  This was a huge step forward for Israeli baseball.  They certainly enjoyed an impressive run.  I'm yet to hear one person call them a fluke, which indeed would be farthest from the truth.  Israel registered legitimate victories over such favorites as Korea, Cuba, and Netherlands, and over a much improved Taiwan.  Only after winning four straight did they fall to Netherlands in a rematch, then lose their second straight against still undefeated Japan.

I also previously watched them win all three of their WBC Qualifier games played last September in Brooklyn.

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