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Team USA manager Davey Johnson admits players who should be in spring training right now are not fully up to speed.
Over the weekend in Toronto at the World Baseball Classic tournament opener for Team USA, starting pitcher Jake Peavy allowed Team Canada two runs on two hits and three walks. He needed 58 pitches to get through three innings. Then, the San Diego Padres ace was done for the day.
Wait, aren’t the Major League Baseball players participating in the WBC claiming even the early rounds are like playoff games? Washington Nationals’ Adam Dunn: “In the ninth inning, if your blood wasn't boiling and your heart wasn't pounding, you don't have a heartbeat. This is the best experience I have ever had in baseball.”
Team USA manager Davey Johnson admits players who should be in spring training right now are not fully up to speed. Johnson: “This time of year, you know, everybody is not at their best…The hitting was there. The pitching was almost there.”
Johnson and other managers are hampered in the WBC by pitchers like Peavy who aren’t allowed—by their MLB clubs—to be overused. That detracts from the games, and undermines the tournament’s legitimacy.
Petco Park will host WBC Round 2 games (March 15-19). Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to says the tournament games held here last year were an international smorgasbord—deliciously exciting. But if this is such a big deal, why not hold it when Jake Peavy can pitch at least seven innings, or, if he’s tossing a no-hitter, try to finish it? What’s wrong with hosting this thing at warm-weather sites after the World Series is over?
To put baseball on a world stage and have premier players at half-mast is a travesty. If the WBC must be played in March, I have a suggestion that’ll put the best players on the field at full-speed. Any nobody’ll get hurt. Get the managers of the national teams together at a Best Buys. And have ’em play each other on Nintendo.
Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.