Posted at 5:10 PM on March 21, 2006
by Ben Tesch
Japan won the WBC yesterday with a very solid presentation of both pitching and batting. Matsuzaka ended up doing quite well, even after giving up a solo shot to his first batter, right after getting 4 runs in the first. For alot of pitchers that could be a bad bellwether, but he got through it and dominated most of the very-good-hitting Cuba team.
Matsuzaka ended up being the tournament MVP, with Ichiro and Satozaki both being selected to the All-Tournament team. Gourriel, Garlobo, and Marti from the Cuban team were also selected.
I personally loved seeing the different styles of play shown by the various teams. I loved seeing the fire and passion displayed. I loved how the teams actually stood at the top of the dugouts and watched the actual game happening, and were even cheering along with the crowd. I especially loved really small things, like how the Cuban catcher fired the ball as fast as he could back to the pitcher every time. I swear he would have caused several errors if not for the pitcher's quick reaction. Anything that caught your eye?
I thought it was interesting that the teams that won played as teams, rather than as collections of individuals. A collection of superstars, such as the USA and the Dominican Republic had, always sounds good on paper, but it rarely wins a championship. A great team consists of guys with complementary skills, so that you have someone who can execute every skill you need. That's what the teams that won had.
I read a couple of interviews to the affect of playing as a team. The manager basically said if he could do it all over again, he would actually have the team meet beforehand and maybe greet each other and practice and play together. Instead it was just like the All-Star break where players just show up, and then expect to mesh and play well.
I agree with your complimentary skills idea though. I hate seeing all-star teams where every player is a masher. If you want to win, you also need the tough out, the bunter, the runner, and the hustler.