Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

2009 World Baseball Classic to feature same 16 teams

After further discussion, the 16-team field is set for the second World Baseball Classic, which is scheduled for March of next year. Though it is exactly the same as the inaugural edition in 2006, it may be the last time the governing bodies of the tournament restrict the competition to that few teams.

Under consideration for 2013 is an expansion of the field to 24 countries and territories with qualifying rounds as a preface to reach the main competition.

“As the level of baseball continues to rise worldwide, it is essential that the World Baseball Classic expand its field to give the growing number of formidable teams the opportunity to participate,” said Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of international business operations. “In accordance with the tournament’s goal of growing and enhancing interest in the game, the Steering Committee has strongly endorsed the expansion of the competition for the 2013 event.”

But that’s down the road. Next year’s field will again feature defending title winner Japan, runner-up Cuba, the U.S., Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela — all teams that qualified for the second round last time and thus received automatic berths for ’09. It was announced on Feb. 20th that Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, and South Africa were sent invitations.

Similar to the last time selection process, the Steering Committee determined the 16 teams for the 2009 World Baseball Classic based on criteria established to create the most highly-competitive international baseball event in the world. Some of the key factors involved in team evaluation and selection included: strength of native player base, number of professional players, international rankings, viability of domestic baseball programs, participant’s impact on baseball development in country/territory and diverse global representation.

“There has been significant improvement in the level of play internationally and indeed, Major League ranks include even more players from across the world,” said Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Players’ Association. “The 16 teams selected best represent the breadth of quality play around the globe, which meets a key tournament objective, showing the world how far baseball has come internationally. If you liked the tournament last time around, wait ’til you see her this time.”

The venues are expected to be announced next month with all four first-round competitions being played outside the U.S., which will host Round 2, the semi-finals and finals, as it did in 2006.

Toronto remains a “very strong candidate” to host one of the four groups in first-round play, a source with knowledge of the event’s planning told The Canadian Press. Canada is likely to be joined by the United States, a Latin American country and a non-traditional baseball country in the first round, with the games being held at the Rogers Centre, home of the Major League Team Toronto Blue Jays.

Attendance for the ’06 tournament at its seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold. The semi-finals and finals were sold out at San Diego’s 45,000-seat PETCO Park, undoubtedly a front-runner to host the Classic’s finale again in 2009.

It was the first time that all Major League players were allowed to represent their native lands in an international baseball tournament. The baseball competition in the Summer Olympics, which is slated for Beijing in August, includes non-25-man roster MLB players only.

“The intensity in the stands as well as the intensity on the playing field was absolutely remarkable, and I’m not sure that going into it you could have felt that,” Commissioner Bud Selig said at the time regarding the legacy of the Classic. “I’m very confident that this will be the platform we use to take this sport internationally to the dimension that I want to take it and believe that we will.”

About the World Baseball Classic Steering Committee
The World Baseball Classic Steering Committee consists of 12 members representing professional baseball leagues, Club owners, players, international baseball federations and other international organizations affiliated with the game of baseball (for a complete list of members, see below). The Steering Committee provides ongoing guidance regarding the development of the premier international baseball tournament, the World Baseball Classic. The focus of the committee is to ensure that the tournament continues to maximize its potential to develop the game of baseball worldwide.

Steering Committee Members
Major League Baseball (2)

Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business
Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Labor Relations

MLB Players Association (2)
Gene Orza, Chief Operating Officer
Michael Weiner, General Counsel

International BAseball Federation (2)
Harvey Schiller, President
Eduardo de Bello, Panama

Nippon Professional Baseball (1)
Kazuo Hasegawa, Executive Secretary

Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Toru Matsubara, Executive Director

Korean Baseball Organization (1)
Il-Sung Ha, Secretary General

Korean Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Jin-kyun Na, Secretary General

Members-at-large (2)
Gyo Ishiguro, Chief Officer, Culture & Sports Projects, Yomiuri Shimbun
Roland Betts, President & Founder, Chelsea Piers, L.P.

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event, which was sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. The next tournament is scheduled for March 2009 and will be held every four years thereafter.

USA in! USA in!

Finally, USA got the final second-round of World Baseball Classic.

Pool B:
United States 17, South Africa 0

USA             - 466 10  --  17
SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 00  --   0

It took a wakeup call from Team Canada and an offensive explosion by Mexico. But on Friday, Team USA finally helped itself. Ripping off four runs against South Africa before fans settled in their seats at Scottsdale Stadium, the U.S. secured the final second-round berth of the eight available in the inaugural World Baseball Classic with a 17-0, five-inning victory that was stopped because of the tournament’s mercy rule.

South Africa didn’t come away from its World Baseball Classic appearance with a win. But the overmatched squad, which includes several 17-year-olds, did gain the other nation’s respect as well as memories that will last a lifetime. “I’m proud of those guys. I’m proud of that country for coming over and competing and trying to get better at baseball.” Team USA’s Johnny Damon said.

Pool C:
Netherlands 10, Panama 0

NETHERLANDS     - 501 130 0  --  10
PANAMA          - 000 000 0  --   0

The Netherlands saved the best for last, closing out its World Baseball Classic experience on the highest of high notes. Shairon Martis threw a seven-inning no-hitter in the 65-pitch effort, while the Dutch offense exploded for 10 runs on 17 hits, as the Netherlands rolled to a 10-0 mercy-rule victory. The no-hitter was the first of the World Baseball Classic, as the 18-year-old right-hander stamped his name in the record books.

Panama came this close to victories against Puerto Rico and Cuba in its first two games of Pool C action in the World Baseball Classic. But Friday’s 10-0, seven-inning loss to the Netherlands just might show how far away the club really is from capturing the top prize in an international baseball competition. Martis, the Giants prospect made his professional debut for the Rookie League Arizona Giants in 2005, but looked like a seasoned veteran against Panama.

Puerto Rico 12, Cuba 2

PUERTO RICO     - 020 550 0  --  12
CUBA            - 010 000 1  --   2

The Puerto Rico-Cuba game was supposed to be the marquee matchup of the World Baseball Classic’s Pool C. Instead, the final game of the first round turned into a hometown party at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, as Puerto Rico walloped Cuba, 12-2, in a one-sided affair. The game was called after seven innings, as Puerto Rico’s 10-run lead kicked the mercy rule into effect.

The loss was the worst for Cuba since an 11-2 loss to Japan in the finals of the International Cup in 1997, and the first against a team from Puerto Rico since 1984. It was just the second time Cuba has ever been beaten by the mercy rule, the other coming in 1983 against Taiwan.

Pool D:
Dominican Republic 6, Australia 4

AUSTRALIA       - 100 001 002   --   4
DOMINICAN REP   - 031 101 00x   --   6

Having already clinched a top spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic still put forth a full effort on Friday in its 6-4 win over Australia in the final game of the Pool D version at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

Rebounding from the opening-game shutout loss delivered by Italy, the Australians proved this with respectable performances against much stronger competition provided by Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. There were no wins to show for the effort provided by the Australians in the inaugural WBC, but they can certainly go home proud of the way their pitchers performed against the powerful Latin nations.

USA beated by Canada.

Lots of surprise happened again. USA lost, Cuba won in the extra innings, still not sure who will advance to the second round.

Pool B:
Canada 8, United States 6

CANADA          - 113 210 000   --   8
USA             - 000 060 000   --   6

Less than 24 hours after nearly falling to an unheralded South Africa team, Canada made some serious waves in the World Baseball Classic’s Pool B by beating Team USA, 8-6, on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. Canada now controls its own destiny to advance to the tournament’s next round entering its Thursday meeting with Mexico.

Team USA’s road to the second round of the World Baseball Classic just got a little rougher. After Wednesday’s stunning 8-6 loss to Canada at Chase Field, there is one fact that stands alone: The United States does not control its fate.

Mexico 10, South Africa 4

SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 300 100   --   4
MEXICO          - 212 031 10x   --  10

One thing has become clear about South Africa’s entry in the World Baseball Classic. It may be a bit short on talent, but it has an excess of heart. South Africa battled hard Wednesday night, but couldn’t hold off a relentless Team Mexico offense and fell, 9-4, in a World Baseball Classic game in front of a boisterous crowd of 7,937 at Scottsdale Stadium.

After being shut out in their first World Baseball Classic game, Mexico scored at least once in six of the first seven innings. The predominately Mexico-backed crowd, wearing mostly red and green clothing, hooted, hollered and sang throughout the game, perhaps sensing that their team was putting itself right back in the thick of Pool B play in the tournament and possible trip to Anaheim this weekend for the second round.

Pool C:
Cuba 8, Panama 6

CUBA            - 002 000 202 02  --   8
PANAMA          - 010 003 002 00  --   6

Just when Team Panama appeared to have momentum on its side, Cuba showed the crowd at Hiram Bithorn Stadium why it shouldn’t be counted out of the World Baseball Classic despite its lack of established Major Leaguers. Cuba dealt Panama a crushing 8-6 loss in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon, mounting a two-out rally to win its first game of the event.

Cuba second baseman Yulieski Gourriel and his teammates reminded the 6,129 in attendance at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and anyone who was paying attention the reason for the season — and the tournament. It’s about baseball and pride, not to mention a healthy competition between countries.

Puerto Rico 8, Netherlands 3

PUERTO RICO     - 101 102 201   --   8
NETHERLANDS     - 000 120 000   --   3

Behind three home runs from three of the country’s biggest stars, Puerto Rico powered past the Netherlands, 8-3, in front of 15,570 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Wednesday, and continues to inch toward securing a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, also to be held in the stadium.

The Netherlands made a game of it for five innings, carrying a tie score into the sixth, but Puerto Rico came out swinging that inning and never looked back, taking victory in the nightcap of the Pool C day-night doubleheader. The Netherlands was actually the home team in the tilt, though the crowd was squarely behind Puerto Rico, which was dressed in its road grey uniforms.

Pool D:
Venezuela 6, Italy 0

ITALY           - 000 000 000   --   0
VENEZUELA       - 101 110 20x   --   6

One night after exacting the mercy rule (winning by 10 runs) on Australia, Team Italy managed just two hits against a strong Venezuela pitching staff to drop a 6-0. A capacity crowd of 10,101 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex was firmly in the corner of the Venezuelans, whose pitching staff had few problems.

Miguel Cabrera homered for the second straight game and drove in two runs as Venezuela rebounded from a loss in its World Baseball Classic opener. Freddy Garcia struck out seven and allowed one hit in 3 1/3 innings for Venezuela, three other pitchers combined on a two-hitter and struck out 11. Carlos Silva gave up a hit in 3 2/3 innings, and Rafael Betancourt and Francisco Rodriguez each pitched a hitless inning for Venezuela.

World Baseball Classic all over begins!

David Ortiz - Hits game-winning HR, 12th inning, Game 4, 2004 ALCS ©Photofile
Pool B, C, D of the 2006 World Baseball Classic started to fight today, there are five intense games to play, the biggest suprise is Italy; who gets the help from Major Leaguers and itself, shutout the 2004 Athens Olympic Silver Winner Australia. Other winners are United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Dominican Republic.

March 7 Result:
Pool B:
United States 2, Mexico 0

MEXICO          - 000 000 000   --   0
USA             - 000 100 10x   --   2

Jake Peavy and a parade of relievers combined on a four-hitter against a lineup loaded with major-leaguers Tuesday, leading the United States to a 2-0 victory over Mexico in its World Baseball Classic debut. Home runs by Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones were all that was necessary on offense.

“I never would have said this yesterday,” Lee said after the World Baseball Classic opener for both teams, “but today, being on the field, I think this means more. It’s like Jake Peavy said, ‘You’re not playing for your city, you’re playing for your country.’ When you have your country behind you, there’s a lot of responsibility. There’s no monetary motivation for this. Guys came to this team to play for their country. It’s as simple as that.”

Canada 11, South Africa 8

CANADA          - 000 030 404   --  11
SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 040 130   --   8

Canada narrowly avoided a startling loss in its World Baseball Classic debut, rallying for four runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat South Africa 11-8 Tuesday night.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel [worried] going into the ninth inning,” Canada third baseman Corey Koskie said. “But one of the great things about baseball is I knew we had a good chance.” “Everyone was putting out to the end. We were going after it.”

Pool C:
Puerto Rico 2, Panama 1

PANAMA          - 000 100 000   --   1
PUERTO RICO     - 000 020 00x   --   2

Puerto Rico’s first game in the World Baseball Classic was a tougher test than many expected. Bernie Williams hit a tiebreaking single, Alex Rios homered and Team Puerto Rico made its WBC debut with a 2-1 victory over Panama.

I felt like I was playing the World Series in March,” Williams said. “It was a great feeling. There is something very special about playing in my country, in my hometown. People chanting my name was a very special feeling for me. I will treasure that.”

Pool D:
Dominican Republic 11, Venezuela 5

DOMINICAN REP   - 020 040 005   --  11
VENEZUELA       - 000 121 100   --   5

2005 AL Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon vs. Johan Santana, the 2004 AL Cy Young winner, but hitters took the show. David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre each homered twice, leading a powerful Dominican team to an 11-5 victory over Venezuela in their World Baseball Classic opener.

The fans were seemingly split 50-50 between their allegiances to their native countries. Equally enthusiastic, Dominican and Venezuelan fans proudly waved their respective flags and cheered loudly throughout the contest, whether it was for home runs, groundouts or fly balls.

Italy 10, Australia 0

AUSTRALIA       - 000 000 0  --   0
ITALY           - 031 122 1  --  10

Mike Piazza doubled and scored a run and Jason Grilli was almost perfect in 4 2/3 innings of work, leading Italy to a 10-0 victory over Australia in the first round of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.

“This is what we talked about when we were in a group,” Italy manager Matt Galante said. “We want to show the world we can play. And how well we do, time will tell. But we feel we can compete, and if you can compete, you’ve got a chance. That’s what I keep saying.”

Barry Armitage play for South Africa

Choose Baseball over cricket and rugby, two most frequently played sports in South Africa; Barry Armitage could become one of the major factor for South Africa in World Baseball Classic next spring.

Armitage, Kansas City AA relief pitcher, due to his uncle and stepfather, Richard Pieterse, a fast pitch softball pitcher, learn to play baseball at 5, and did not change his mind when he go to high school.

Royals general manager Allard Baird and scout Luis Silverio found him in April 2000, took less than a day.

Armitage said. “They were traveling through South Africa going to the major cities to see what kind of players we had. I went down and tried out for them, and I met up with them later that day. We had a sit-down, kind of a question-answer-type thing, so they could see what kind of person I was. I signed the contract later that day.”

Like other foreign players, Armitage need to adjust not only baseball, but life.
“The first couple months when I came over, they were very difficult,” Armitage said. “I had left (South Africa) a few times, but I was always with people I know. When I first came over, the only person I knew was the rehab guy. I knew nobody else. For me the big adjustment wasn’t playing, it was adjusting to having to meet new people every day and realizing this is my life now.”

Armitage, 26, has represented South Africa in international games since 1997, though he missed the 2000 Olympics with an injury. He’ll pitch in next spring’s World Baseball Classic for South Africa in Pool B, which includes United States, Canada and Mexico.

Right now South Africa has produced several minor leaguers, but none have reached the majors. Armitage try to become the first one.

“When I signed in 2000, I didn’t even know it was possible to come over here and play baseball,” Armitage said. “With me being over here, and now in Double-A, improving my career, it shows a lot of youngsters back home that they can do it, too.”

And baseball in South Africa will become more popular when any of its natives reach the Major League.

Armitage shuns cricket, rugby for baseball


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