The World Baseball Classic is the best
And, an in-depth look at a medical condition known as having a heart like a truck
Spring Training baseball in theory is a great thing. And if you go to Arizona or (god forbid) Florida and take it in in person it is pretty cool. It’s usually warm and most of us who are down there are from places where it’s not. It’s a leisurely activity at a time and place where you’re happy to leise.
But as a TV spectacle, spring training isn’t much. The novelty wears off a few innings into that first game and then it’s just, meaningless, practice baseball. Which makes sense that Marquee Sports Network shows all of it. If there’s one thing they are into it’s meaninglessness.
Did you see the weird fake golf thing they are showing where Ian Happ (who is on that network nearly as often as Prevagen commercials and he’s equally charismatic as the guy plugging the FDA non-approved brain vitamin who can’t remember exactly how long he’s been taking it) and Cole Wright hit golf balls at Sloan Park at buckets against Cliff Floyd and
Fucker Barnyard Tucker Barnhart?
This year, at least spring games have had some novelty to them as we see the new rules in action. The pitch clock, the bigger bases, the ban on defensive shifts, Dansby Swanson being limited to one hit per month…all that stuff. While I’m all for the new rules, especially the pitch clock, I could probably wait until next Thursday when the games count to really dig into them.
You probably heard that they are going to have a rules committee meeting before the end of the spring where the players want to discuss making changes to the pitch clock. They claim hitters don’t have enough time, but the thing they are especially complaining about is that the time from one at bat to the other is too short and…get this…there’s not enough time for their walk up music. Sure, spring games are 36 minutes shorter than last year, but how’s JT Realmuto supposed to hit if Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” doesn’t get all the way through the chorus?
But the thing that made spring games especially dull this year was the World Baseball Classic. Because it was awesome. And the games had great atmospheres and the games themselves were largely great, and you’d go from watching that to seeing Keegan Thompson struggle to throw 89 MPH while a few thousand Cubs fans napped on the berm beyond the outfield fence and you also struggled to stay awake.
I’ve always enjoyed the WBC, and maybe it was the especially long wait because Covid cancelled the one scheduled for 2021, but this year just seemed more fun.
The eligibility rules are little odd. Marcus Stroman was the tournament MVP in 2017 for the US, but pitched for Puerto Rico this year. Lars Nootbaar played for Japan, apparently to get a free ticket to visit the country for the first time in his life. Randy Arozarena was born in Cuba but he plays for Mexico because that’s where the raft he rode to freedom landed (actually that’s an awesome reason for him to play for Mexico).
There were huge upsets, too. Italy beat Cuba. Colombia beat Mexico, and then somehow Great Britain beat Colombia. The US struggled to score six runs against Britain and then got pounded by Mexico. Venezuela went undefeated in their pool which included Puerto Rico and the Dominican, and then they had the US beaten in the quarterfinals only to suffer at the hands of an eighth inning Trea Turner grand slam.
Japan and Mexico played one of the best games you’ll ever see, with Arozarena stealing homers and signing autographs during the game, but then Japan walked it off in stunning fashion.
The championship game pitted the tournament’s two best teams with Japan winning over the US, and they deserved to because they were the better team. Why were they better? Because they didn’t send a bunch of fourth starters and middle relievers.
They saved Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani for the last two innings of the title game, for chrissakes.
The US had Merrill Kelly and Kyle Freeland trying to soak up six innings.
One of the few problems with the tournament was Fox’s approach to broadcasting it. Frankly, there was just way too much John Smoltz. The grumpiest man on TV just wouldn’t shut up. He made the same four points in literally every game:
The US pitchers weren’t ready because they don’t pitch winter ball.
The Phillies offense is going to be awesome with the addition of Trea Turner.
Every offensive player’s stats are going to go through the roof without the shift this year in Major League Baseball.
Mark DeRosa’s doing a great job of managing that pitching staff even though it doesn’t look like he is because big league teams have put limitations on how those pitchers can be used and Smoltz knows what they are but he won’t tell us so we just have to trust that DeRosa’s not a fucking moron.
Jason Benetti parachuted in for a couple of games to relieve Joe Davis, which was great because Jason’s the best, but he had to leave to do NCAA Tournament games on the radio (Len Kasper must be so proud) so Kenny Albert did the quarterfinals? I mean, Kenny was fine, but what the hell’s going on?
Davis was back for the final three games of the tournament, and he kept talking about how everybody was calling the US the “Dream Team.”
Look, Joe. Nobody’s dream team has to play Tim Anderson at a position he’s never played before just to get an extra righthanded bat into the lineup, and it sure as hell doesn’t have Miles Mikolas and Brooks Raley on it. It also wouldn’t have had to start Adam Wainwright and his 82 MPH fastball twice, including once in the semifinals.
Maybe the US playing with that pitching handicap is a good thing for the tournament. They almost won it anyway. (I mean, how could Team USA not have at least one of the Cubs laundry list of great pitching prospects on it? Haven’t they ever heard of the pitch lab?)
Cubs fans go to see two of their all-time favorites go head to head, and our large adult son took Yu deep to bring the US within a run.
Must have been a proud moment for our pal Jed Hoyer. The guy he let go for nothing so he wouldn’t have to pay him $8 million in arbitration (he’s hit 78 homers in the two years since) homering off the ace pitcher he traded for four teenagers so he could save the Ricketts $43 million…and then turn around and pay Stroman $71 million to be nowhere near as good. Congrats, Jed. Well done.
And the final game ended in awesome fashion.
The two best players in the game, teammates (for now), facing off in a one run game with a full count and two outs. And the best player struck out the second best player to win it for Japan.
In fact, screw the highlight. Here’s the entire at bat.
In short (too late, I know), the WBC is a great event that’s getting better. Having actual competitive, loud, high stakes baseball in March is incredible. Seeing guys like Arozarena and Japan’s amazing Roki Sasaki steal the show was great. Baseball hasn’t done a lot right in a long time, but the growth of the WBC is something to hang their hats on.
Next time, they should see if their big TV partner can actually find an analyst who likes baseball.
If you watched as many games as I do, one of the big drawbacks is that you now have two commercials burned into your brains that you will never get out of there. One was the omnipresent USFL commercial that showed the same Birmingham Stallions touchdown pass over and over.
“I got a heart….LIKE A TRU-UH-UH-UCK!”
It’s a Dodge Ram commercial with what I assumed was a really bad jingle sung very loudly.
But it’s a real song.
Oh, and it’s got a video.
And you are going to watch it.
This thing is an epic. It stars the singer, Lainey Wilson and it’s not just a video, it’s a little movie.
She presumably plays herself, with a hat…actually a few different hats, and she just got a new job.
That job appears to be trying to throw a rug onto a horse.
I’m not kidding. Here’s a shot of her watching the other guy who has that same job try to do it.
There he is, failing miserably at it.
Then, we get a few shots of hatless Lainey (that’s the singer Lainey, not to be confused with the rug throwing, hat wearing Lainey) singing outside in the dark wearing a pair of those old Diamondbacks road pants that were just too dark gray.
At least she looks better in them than Paul Goldschmidt used to.
Anyway, then we get some shots of Lainey bonding with the horse without any trace of the rug she needs to throw onto it for some reason. She’s cleaning the saddle and walking near the horse with her mouth agape and her hands up like the horse is holding her at gunpoint.
So while we’re building up to the eventual attempt at some rug throwing, why don’t we take a second to examine the chorus of one of the truly dumbest songs ever written?
I got a heart like a truck
It's been drug through the mud
Runs on dreams and gasoline
And that ole highway holds the key
It's got a lead foot down when it's leaving
Lord knows it's taken a hell of a beating
A little bit of love is all that it's needing
But it's good as it is tough
I got a heart like a truck
Her heart runs on “dreams and gasoline?” Lainey, you need to see a cardiologist, stat. I’d be very concerned if my heart needed to have 88 octane poured directly into it to keep it going.
“Lord knows it’s taken a hell of a beating.”
No shit. You are either drinking or injecting gasoline into it. Call Elon Musk, maybe he’s got a battery for it. Wait, never mind, you’d just end up on fire in your driveway.
Anyway, let’s try throwing that rug on the horse again, now that your heart’s been topped off with some Shell Premium.
SHE DID IT!
I mean, OK, that’s clearly not the same rug. But it’s on there! Atta girl Lainey.
You know what? Put on a weird new hat to celebrate.
Looks great. So what’s left to do?
Hey, let’s teach the horse to swim in an inch of water!
You did it! Great job.
You know, I thought there’d be more truck in this video. Maybe the song used to be “I Got A Heart Like A Horse With A Rug On It?”
I’m sure the Dodge folks are glad that the truck you do drive in this video is…
Great job, everybody. Our work here is done.
I hope the 2023 Cubs run on dreams and gasoline, too. I have feeling we’ll all want to huff some by May.
Is that a word? It should be.
They just stole the line "My love for you is like a truck, Berserker", which is from a better song anyway.