Konichiwa, annyong, bienvenidos and 'sup? This and many weekday mornings throughout the rest of March, let's rise and shine together with the latest news from spring training and the World Baseball Classic, where negotiations and mediation go out the window and countries play out their disagreements on the diamond.
Replacing the Missiles of October with the Baseballs of March, the United States and Cuba again find themselves on the brink of elimination. At least it's not elimination from the world, itself, like in '62.
Game of the Day: Japan 6, Cuba 0
Bow, Wow!: You know how there's always that one Internet commenter who's got to ruin it for everyone by saying, when the WBC is mentioned, "Who cares?" Daisuke Matsuzaka is not that guy. The Dice Man improved to 5-0 for his career in the Classic by helping the Nippon HamFighters shut out the Cuba Libres in San Diego. Looking fierce, but feeling smiley, Matsuzaka tossed six innings to put the Cubans one loss from returning to Havana.
South Korea hit three homers in spanking Mexico 8-2, also putting the Mexicans one loss from heading home. At least it would be a short sprint from Petco Park.
So, Cuba plays Mexico tonight in an elimination. Each side might flee to nearby Tijuana, for different reasons, afterward. And why not? It's the happiest place on Earth.
They hate us in Holland, too: Miami was near the starting point of World War III in 1962 and it was the site of an international incident Sunday evening that could affect Flemish-U.S. relations for some time. Marlins right-hander Matt Lindstrom, playing for the U.S., threw behind the back of Vince Rooi, who came up after Bryan Engelhardt hit (and apparently stared at too long) a home run. Well, let's just say some anti-American feelings were dredged up for a moment.
Randall Simon took off his shoe and screamed "We will bury you!" just like the Soviet premier did back in the day. He then hacked a bratwurst to death. No, he did neither. But the U.S. ended the Netherlands' underdog run and stayed in the tournament with a 9-3 victory. Jimmy Rollins kissed good-bye a two-run home run in the second inning but didn't stare at it long enough for the Netherlands pitcher to buzz someone's tower. Puerto Rico plays Venezuela tonight
in an elimination game in the winners bracket. The U.S. resumes play later in the week.
Feelin' Rundown (the weekend's other news)
• Manny's hamstring is still holding out
• Utley's hip goes 0-for-2 in spring debut
• Posada, Pettitte are coming around
• Chipper ain't feeling himself
• Magglio/Chavez is the ticket for '09
• Contreras healthy as healthy horse
• Lester wealthier than you, me put together 6 million times
Words of Mouth
"Viva Magglio, and all our patriots!" — Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela