ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: WBC, Pascucci, MLB Standings, Bonds, Clemens, Pedroia, Bautista and Wild Cards
Monday September 3rd, 2012
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Jonathan Hacohen: I have some baseball thoughts on my mind. Ok…I have baseball thoughts seemingly always on my mind! Call it what you like. A gift. A curse. I am what I am. And I do love baseball a ton. So before we jump into your weekly questions, here are three topics that I wanted to throw out to the baseball world:
1) In my respectful opinion, the organizers of the World Baseball Classic should be ashamed of themselves. Yes, I said it. Two of the qualifying groups have their games being played this month before the end of the regular MLB season. How does that make any sense? Firstly, you lose MLB players who still have their games going, who otherwise would have been eligible and possibly participated. For a country like Canada, that is a huge blow which could mean to elimination before the tournament itself even begins next spring. Add to the fact that coverage of the tournament has been literally non-existent, and people need to ask themselves what exactly they are doing. If marketed right, the WBC should be big. Huge in fact. But it’s not. With the addition of 12 new eligible countries in the qualifiers, there should be a huge amount of hype going into the games. But now, people don’t know when these games are being played, where, rosters and even that these games even exist. If we are going to promote baseball to the world, let’s do it right. There is no baseball in the Olympics, so let’s get the WBC to be a bigger global stage. Until that happens, the WBC will not fulfill its potential. Ever. Groups 3 and 4 are playing their qualifiers in mid-November. Now that makes sense.
Quite frankly, I don’t care about excuses on timing, locations etc. There are thousands of ballparks around the world. The games could all have been played much after the World Series and had its own captive baseball audience to shine. I certainly hope that is considered in the 4th edition of this great tournament.
2) Valentino Pascucci: Big Val (@PoppaValentino) on Twitter, is a huge guy. 6’6″ and 255 lbs. to be exact. He recently passed the 250 home run mark in the minors. Pretty big stuff. In 14 minor league seasons (8 of them in AAA), he has a .269 AVG, with a .390 OBP and .484 SLG. After representing Italy in the 2009 WBC, I expect to see Val back there in 2013. Glad to see that he will get to represent Italy and play at one of the highest levels of the game in the world. Whenever I think of Val, I always wonder why the man never truly got his “shot”. He got into 32 games with the Expos in 2004 (Expos??!!) and 10 games with the Mets last year. Even hitting 34 home runs in 2007 (AAA Marlins) didn’t do the trick. Could Big Val had become the next Big Papi if given his shot? We will never know. You can never have too much offense in baseball. I wish teams could have seen that and had tried Valentino Pascucci on their team one year. Who knows what could have resulted – 20-30 bombs, 70+ walks. But rather than thriving in the show, Valentino Pascucci will likely one day retire as one of the top home run hitters in the history of the minors. I wanted to take a moment and salute a great hitter in this game. Mr. Pascucci, whether the 2013 WBC will be your last or you stay in the game for another season or two, thank you the home runs and having one of the greatest baseball names we will ever hear. Well done sir.
3) If you were sleeping under a rock and looked at the MLB standings today, your jaw will drop on the floor. Yankees in first place in the AL East, with the Orioles only 2 games back. In September! White Sox and Tigers in a dead heat in the Central. Rangers on top of the West, but the A’s only 3 games back. The NL picture is a little more certain though. The Nationals (is that possible) are on top, ahead of the Braves by 6.5 games. While most of us have accepted the Nationals dominance this season long ago, someone new to the picture would still be doing a double take. Let’s not forget that this was once a losing franchise not so long ago, that just recently put it all together. In the Central, the Reds are close to becoming champs with a stranglehold 9.5 games on the Cardinals. And that is significant considering St. Louis is 10 games over .500! In the West, it’s the Dodgers and Giants, with San Francisco enjoying a 4.5 game lead. Two wild cards per league? If the season ended today, Baltimore and Oakland would meet in the sudden game playoff. If you had bet that in Vegas during spring training, you would be a millionaire soon. But the Wild Card race in the AL is far from done, with the Rays, White Sox/Tigers and Angels all in shooting distance. With much baseball to be played, anything can still happen. In the NL, Atlanta and St.Louis have the Dodgers and Pirates to contend with to clinch their respective Wild Cards. Yes, it has been an unbelievable season thus far with lots more ball to be played. Care to make your predictions at this point? Watch out. As last year taught us, it ain’t over till it’s over.
For our Batting Stance Guy featured video of the week, we bring you Gar’s recent contest: Who Takes Most Steps Out of MLB Batter’s Box? This one is fun and damn funny:
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry