You’re concerned this morning that 12-seeded Arizona could mess up your NCAA tournament bracket.
We’re puzzled why someone playing spring training baseball in Arizona couldn’t have been recruited by Team USA to take a one-hour flight to Dodger Stadium and play in the World Baseball Classic semifinal contest Sunday night to help mess up Japan’s chances to eventually win the whole thing on Monday night.
Mark DeRosa, playing first base? For real? James Loney wasn’t free to come over from Glendale, Ariz., and reclaim his little corner of Dodger Stadium to scoop up at least one wild Derek Jeter throw and save the U.S. team some runs? At least he understands the footwork needed to play the position.
Who were those relief pitchers that the U.S. trotted out? The Double-A guys playing for the U.S. Olympic team back in Beijing had more name recognition.
What else did we seem to learn, or yearn for, after watching Japan win a 10-inning finale against Korea (or, is it South Korea as the broadcasters kept saying?) that spilled into the late-night “SportsCenter” on the East Coast?
== If the Dodgers ever fielded a team of all Japanese or Korean players, they might sell out every game. You see now the importance of having an Hideo Nomo, Kaz Ishii, Takashi Saito or Hiroki Kuroda on the staff? It’s not just for sushi sales. That’s a demographic that needs to still be cultivated in the U.S. financial markets by businesses trying to stay ahead of the red ink.
== Whatever happened to Saito? After 81 saves in 180 games during his three-year Dodger career, the 39-year-old isn’t good enough for the Japanese pitching staff? On Monday, Saito was pitching a scoreless inning of relief for the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., wrapping up a 7-6 win over Edwin Jackson and Detroit in which Brad Penny started and pitched three hitless innings for the Red Sox. Oh, and Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youklis, who had to leave the U.S. team because of “injury,” played four innings in the field and was 0-for-1 with a walk. What’s wrong with all that?
== Whatever happened to Hee-seop Choi (link here)? He was with the Korean team in the ’06 Classic hit a three-run pinch-hit home run against Team USA. When last seen on the baseball radar, he was in the Korean minor leagues trying to get his groove back.
== You, Yu Darvish, are one bad-ass. And what an interesting story. The 22-year-old is 6-foot-5, which he must get from his Iranian father, Farzad Darvishsefad. His dad met his mother, Ikuyo, who is Japanese, when they went to Eckard College in St. Petersburg, Fla. Japanese law requires a person holding dual citizenship choose a single nationality before reaching the age of 22, so instead of Iranian, he picked Japanese so he could play for the country in the ’08 Beijing Olympics. He claims he has no desire to play U.S. baseball. Check to see if he got on the plane with the rest of his Japanese teammates when they left L.A. this morning. His wicked speedball moves more than Nomar Garciaparra’s pre-pitch ritual. But as you can see, he can be his own worst enemy, trying to strike everyone out to a point where he ends up walking too many in tight situations. It came back to haunt him in the ninth inning. Somehow, he allowed a batter to fly out in between strikeouts to end the game in the 10th.
What we also like about him: In 2007, he started the Yu Darvish Water Fund, to help build wells and rain water storage systems in developing countries. He donates 100,000 Japanese Yen for every win to the project. “When I thought what I could do to help the society and the world through baseball, I just thought of starting something small,” he said. “I wish this fund and hope of mine will eventually lead to help and encourage many people.”
== Does Korean strategy include going brain dead at critical parts of the game. You gotta walk Ichiro with a base open in the 10th inning. Otherwise, he tires the pitcher out — even fouling away a pitch that bounced before it reached the plate — before he gets something to volley up the middle and bring in the go-ahead runs. You couldn’t see that coming? Even Joe Morgan knew that was the right move.
== You notice that even the Netherlands didn’t want Andruw Jones playing for its team?
== You also notice how many non-U.S. teams wore advertising logos on their helmets and uniform sleves? Will that be the next place MLB allows sponsorship to spread? Regretably, it makes sense. In a time when all leagues are looking for more revenue — even the NFL is considering whether to allow hard liquor and state lotterys to advertise on their games and in their stadiums — those vices are what keep this country running strong and help is prosper. Next, legalize prostitution and watch the backstop rolling advertisement billboard start posting excursions to Las Vegas’ more famous brothels.
== By the way, if you tuned into ESPN at the dinner hour just before the first pitch of the Japan-Korea final, you may have seen this commercial:
It starts with a shot of a bald eagle and the American flag in the background:
“To help America cope with these tough economic times we put forth our own stimulus package. …”
There’s a box of Trojan condom “pleasure pack” of 32 premium lubricated latex condoms.
“The Trojan Pleasure Pack … Because we believe we should ride out these hard times together.”
Now, scan the Daily News sports section and see if you can find the adult entertainment ad that says: “We put the ‘wood’ in Hollywood.”
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