A two parter:
I: World Baseball Classic turns double Dutch rudder upside down, making it must-watch viewing in the greater Solvang area.
We won’t compare Willy Aybar with Bill Buckner, but we think we just did.
The first baseman for the Dominican Republic team couldn’t handle a ground ball. The winning run scored for the Netherlands in the bottom of the 11th, after an improbable lead-off, pinch-hit double off one of the toughest relievers on the planet, plus a bloop single to drive him in, then a wild pickoff throw to put that guy at third base.
This, after the scoreless game went into extra innings, and the Dominicans took what looked like a game-sealing 1-0 lead in the top of the 11th after a misplayed line drive to right field.
Little roller up along first, behind the back, it gets past Aybar, here comes Dutch guy and the Netherlands win!
DR, out. Guys with extra J’s and D’s in their name, move on.
If you happened to get caught up in the MLB Network coverage of this thing last night, consider yourself lucky. You won’t find many baseball David vs. Goliath matchups in the MLB like this one. Maybe during the Olympics. But they never end up this classic.
“This is just incredible,” said game analyst Jim Kaat, and considering all the games he’s seen in his life, you believe him.
The Dutch team, which was the equalivant of a Double-A squad with its experience (Randall Simon was the cleanup hitter, OK?) could have had pitching coach Bert Blyleven warming up in the pen had it gone to many more innings. The Dominicans were probably as strong as an American League All-Star squad, and that’s without A-Rod playing third base. David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, Pedro Martinez, Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and losing pitcher Carlos Marmol on a staff that hadn’t given up an earned run in more than 27 innings.
That was the only earned run given up, in the 11th, to the Dutch team that we believe is part of the European continent, showers itself with tulips after a victory and gathers holds its team pizza parties at the Amsterdam Van De Kamp bakery.
Actually, Netherlands is really like the New Orleans of Europe, but with more windmills. Wild prostitution. A sea-level place with all kinds of dikes preventing water from burying it alive. And lots of Hans Christian Andersen statues. Oh, sorry. That’s Denmark.
Today, the Netherlands aim to paint the town whatever color it wants after it beats the Puerto Rican team at 2 p.m. on ESPN2 to get out of Pool D.
II: The United Football League has a launch date. And Los Angeles is a targeted site.
Duck ‘n’ cover.
We only know this because the Versus network announced it would televise this thing starting in October. A game of the week deal. It beats a public-access cable channel. Although, in some homes, Versus isn’t that much different.
But let’s look at this league for a second.
It has a website (linked here although there seems to be more infomation at the Wikipedia entry here), so it must be legit. I haven’t checked if they Twitter info to their fans, but that’s gotta be on the agenda for the next meeting.
It says it’ll start Oct. 8, on a Thursday. It’ll end with a title game on Thanksgiving weekend in Vegas. It promises.
Today, they’re supposed to announce the four coaches of the four teams in the league — rumored to be Ted Cottrell, Jim Haslett, Denny Green and Jim Fassel — for the teams they have pigeonholed for Las Vegas, New York/Hartford, Orlando and San Francisco/Sacramento. They also plan to have a Vegas franchise game in … drum roll … L.A. Most likely at the Carson Home Depot Center, to make it look like a bigger crowd.
The other strong rumor connected to this: Michael Vick will be pursued as its marquee player. Maurice Clarett and Lawrence Phillips can’t be far behind for an all “Longest Yard” backfield.
Fassel, pictured here, is the coach linked to that LV/LA squad.
The Versus angle is interesting. It’s owned by Comcast, a cable company that has had its problems with the NFL Network and will probably drop the channel with its carriage contract ends next month, according to the Sports Business Journal.
This won’t be as crazy as NBC in cahoots to air the XFL with the Vince McMahon. It just looks that way now.
You can discuss the league’s merits at several UFL threads (linked here), but we think the league was definitely legitimized — and this could be added to its Wikipedia entry — when Sports Illustrated’s Peter King referred to it on the last of his six-page “Monday Morning Quarterback” column on Dec. 7, 2008 (linked here). There, he mentioned that field goals longer than 50 yards would count as four points, and there’d be female referees.
Bring on the sideline hot tub.
“He Hate Me” is probably too old to play in this league that advertises itself as “Where Future Stars Come to Play.” Maybe Petros Papadakis can revive his playing career. If only for something to get on his radio show.
How fan-friendly is this league? They’ll allow you to help pick the nicknames (linked here).
Someone nominate Xtreme (linked here). C’mon. We dare you.
Comment here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.