With just eight days remaining until Opening Day, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Storybook ending to the WBC
Last night’s World Baseball Classic final proved to be an instant classic as Team Japan beat Team USA 3-2. Japan, undefeated during the tournament, jumped out to an early lead. Trea Turner’s WBC-record fifth home run and an eighth-inning bomb from Kyle Schwarber following a 10-pitch at bat against Yu Darvish made it a one-run game headed into the ninth, when Shohei Ohtani took the mound to close out the game. After a leadoff walk to Jeff McNeil, Ohtani induced a double play from Mookie Betts to bring his Angels teammate and fellow superstar Mike Trout to the plate as both the potential final out and tying run. Trout and Ohtani battled to a full count before Trout ultimately struck out swinging on a slider, giving Japan their third WBC championship.
Trout and Ohtani are both planning to play in the WBC again when it returns in 2026. “I already told [Team USA] I’m doing the next one, so I’m already in,” Trout said on FS1’s pregame show last night. “If I’m DHing, playing left field, whatever they want, I’m in, I’m in.” Ohtani, the WBC MVP, called last night’s win “the best moment in my life” and said he would “love to enter [the WBC] again.”
2. Tweaks to new rules incoming
Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters, including The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli, that adjustments to the new rules being implemented for the 2023 season were on the way ahead of Opening Day. These adjustments, which are being made at the behest of the MLBPA, are expected to be fairly minor. Even minor changes would have to be implemented very soon, as with barely a week left before Opening Day, teams and players will want as much time as possible to acclimate to any changes made. Manfred notes that the changes will be announced in the coming days, so clubs could be informed as soon as today.
3. MLBTR chats today
MLBTR’s Anthony Franco is hosting a pair of live chats with readers today. First up, at 10am CT, is a Braves-centric chat in conjunction with the Braves edition of MLBTR’s Offseason in Review series. You can click here to submit a question in advance, and that same link allows you to follow along when the chat goes live or read the transcript when it’s completed. Later today, at 5pm CT, Anthony will also be hosting his weekly live chat with an MLB-wide focus. You can click here to leave a question, participate live, or read the transcript of that chat.
Last second rule changes will go over quite well considering the magnitude of the pre planned ones already implemented. Can’t wait for everyone to be perfectly satisfied and for the arguments to cease.
What an epic WBC! Congrats Samurai Japan on a great tourney!
That final Ohtani vs. Trout showdown was epic. 102 MPH FB. Watching Ohtani shuffle back and forth between the dugout and bullpen in the later innings was an eye-opener. It was a winnable game for the U.S. but they couldn’t get it done with so many RISP opportunities. Congrats to Japan!
The Japan/Mexico game was a classic because both teams were at their best. Yesterday”s game wasn’t a classic. Team USA was not at their best. Goldschmidt, Arenado, Betts and Trout were kept quiet by Japan’s superior pitching staff. I wanted the USA to win, but they were just flat.
I def enjoyed the Japan-Mexico more.
The Phillies showed up. No one else did. Still a great game. I love the 1-game playoff format for the WBC. I’d hate it for MLB.
I mean where else is one going to see Darvish be a set-up man and Ohtani a closer? Still hate the one-game elimination in the MLB playoffs.
Congratulations team Japan! Great ending for this year’s WBC. I’m a big fan of Japanese baseball,they way they do the fundamentals on offense and defense. But i still think it’s highly unlikely that anyone beats team US in a 7 game series. Especially if the US had it’s best players at every position including starters and relievers. Japan was missing a couple key players too, but for the most part they had their very best players on this year’s team. That was great team US and they played admirably, but I don’t think anyone would argue that was the very best the US has to offer.
“… but I don’t think anyone would argue that was the very best the US has to offer.”
The typical American sore loser attitude… “We woulda coulda won if only our best had been there”. Pathetic.
If a lineup of Betts, Trout, Goldschmidt, Arenado, Schwarber and Turner is held to two runs by predominantly NPB pitchers in front of a home crowd, one better reassesses one’s bloated self-image.
I don’t really think that’s a sore loser argument or an American exceptionalism argument at all. I agree japans team was amazing and I love the WBC but if the US had the highest quality American players (as japans team absolutely did) the US probably wins it. It’s ok to admit that I think right? The pitching staff was not up to snuff, simple as that. If Logan Webb, DeGrom, Scherzer, Verlander and Strider all played on the US squad aren’t we having a different conversation?
The U.S. was definitely lacking pitching. They fell behind the count plenty of times.
I think the waldfee makes a good point. US didn’t really lose because of a lack of pitching. The explosive lineup, which was the best US had to offer, was shutdown. Credit where it’s due. Had US lost 8-5 because of terrine pitching I’d understand the idea that they didn’t offer their best.
It makes sense if Japan gets shut out. I’m not saying that’s what would’ve happened but perhaps it would’ve been a lot closer.
Yeah, it would’ve been nice to see some Braves and nyy in the tournament.
I heard that they might be considering extending the pitch clock a few seconds after a pitcher has thrown 15 pitches. I actually think this is a good idea. Let the inning develop, when the tension mounts, slow down the game, and the the tension mount.
Just shows how embarrassingly self-aggrandizing that constant blather about U.S. sports teams becoming “world champions”, after winning worthless challenge trophies in their national franchise leagues, really is.
And this after all the condescending talk by U.S. Americans in regard to the Japanese league and foreign players in general. It’s been mainly NPB pitchers and hitters that dominated a stacked U.S. team on home soil.
I went to some games at the Tokyo Dome a few years back and the baseball culture in Japan is unrivaled in the US. They take it so seriously and still manage to have much more fun than most of us do. I will say however, if the best US pitchers played on Team USA I do believe this game isn’t necessarily a bloodbath but the US definitely wins it.
How is a game supposed to turn into a bloodbath after team USA was only able to score two runs?
I know, i know… had LeBron James and Mike Trout decided to play football, the U.S. would have won every single FIFA World Cup in recent years. Heard that silly argument from Americans ad nauseam, too. Well, it’s good for a hearty laugh anyway.
Painful argument. What if shohei sasaki togo and others sat out because they wanted to protect their MLB or potential MLB interests? If a team doesn’t have their best players, they simply aren’t their best incarnation of said team.
Enjoy your win. But don’t act like an obnoxious American fan while calling out obnoxious American fans. I felt like the whole thing was scripted. Seriously, the US threw out marginal pitching. No excuse for the lack of offense though.
But they wouldn’t sit it out to protect self
interest, Dan. They are Japanese. That’s the thing. It’s an interesting one.
America’s cultural tendency towards an inward focus is what stopped the best pitchers from participating. Some
American people, who just happen to own baseball teams, are what prevented you guys from putting a different team out there. I don’t think you can claim “would have” when the priorities of your sporting culture is what stopped the “would have”
from happening. As the attitude stands at the moment that is the best incarnation you got.
@ Foppert honestly I see a kernel of truth in what you’re saying and I’m not defending American pitchers sitting out the WBC to go play in spring training. Honestly I’d rather see them in the WBC myself.
Of course you would. Hopefully the success and excitement and patriotism on display this year changes a few perspectives for the next one. Loved what Trout said. Great stuff.
The difference in this tournament, to me, was the amount of passion shown by other teams compared to other teams. I think one reason is because the DR team were all Dominicans. The PR team were all Puerto Ricans. With the exception of Nootbar, Team Japan were all Japan. Team USA were from all different backgrounds. That’s the nature of this country. Everybody – whether it’s their parents, grand parents, etc. are from somewhere else. It’s hard to get the passion from Team USA than teams like Venezuela PR, Dr etc. I’m not saying Team USA didn’t have the passion. It just wasn’t the same as the other teams.
They’re too big and slow for football.
Are you saying that the American identity is so atomized that many Americans don’t even understand what it means to play for their own country? It troubles me even to reflect on that…
Ward. For some reason USA doesn’t take this as seriously as it should..
Look who pitched for USA. Not to mention Judge. Kudos to Japan. I don’t know if that was Japan’s best, but it wasn’t America’s best.
It wasn’t Japan’s best either, but close. Outside of Aaron Judge, I think USA put the best possible lineup out there. Pitching could’ve been better sure, but I’d sign up for only giving up 3 runs any day. USA’s lineup got shutdown.
I think USA fielded a great lineup. Japan is incredibly talented. They deserved it. I hope in the future USA sends its aces.
But everyone knows, this pitching staff was pretty low level. But that said, the great lineup only got two runs.
You mean the same foreign players that are paid and cheered as well as American players in the MLB? I’m not sure Merrill Kelly and Adam Wainwright even remotely represent the best American players. The Japan all-star team being good is nothing new having won 3 out the 4 competitions so far.
Many American fans just want there favorite players playing for a WS not the WBC.
They can choose to play in the WBC they cannot choose to play in the WS so yeah, I’d rather they close the WBC and try for the WS these are not mutually exclusive that’s a pretty wild take.
Wainwright was 2-0.
Wainwright was 2-0. I’d like to know what the pitching staff for Team USA was in 2017. It would be interesting to see how many top pitchers played pre-mega millions when owners probably let their top guys play.
Probably because all the best talent on all the WBC teams competedshere in MLB during the regular season.
I’m glad the WBC shows how much talent there is around the world.
And yes, Japan’s All Star team, led my multiple MLB players, was the best. But there’s absolutely no league in the world close to MLB.
True. Some. Japanese players want to play in MLB. I don’t know any top MLB player who aspires to play in Japan.
Well, would have been a different story if deGrom, Cole, Verlander, and all the other top guys were out there
I’m not taking anything away from the other teams, but the US still almost won the tournament going with Kelly, Bard, Freeland
Japan had all their top guys. Ohtani, Darvish
Now try saying this without crying.
Pot, meet kettle.
@wald, lmao, you’re the one crying
Waldfee clearly has some immense personal investment in defending the Japanese WBC team and that’s fine I guess? They were great but this whole argument is pretty circular and ridiculous. I loved watching Nootbaar and Shohei have fun together the whole time and there were numerous moments that were MLB playoff level. The excitement throughout was top shelf and the whole thing was great for baseball globally. However none of these things amount to a legitimate argument that the US didn’t field the best American players while the Japanese team did. It’s not exactly calculus, if you don’t have your beast pitching, you are far more likely to lose games regardless of the quality of your lineup (which was definitely an all time lineup).
For the record, I thought the Japan team was playing vastly superior baseball to the US, and I predicted them to win in the poll here
They were quicker and better on defense and also better hitters. Going the other way with pitches. Really perfecting the art of hitting, which has been a lost art in the US
Western baseball has become way too sloppy and power-centric. It’s inferior baseball to how it used to be in the 80s and before
The Japan team played classic baseball how it used to be. Going the other way with pitches, slapping the ball around, speed, quick hands and feet on defense
Yeah Japan was playing incredible baseball there’s no arguing against that. They were so fun to watch it was really something. Honestly I think the American players who sat out let the team down. I don’t see why spring training should take precedent over the WBC when the WBC may be the best baseball we see until the MLB playoffs.
MLB players know how to go the other way, hit for power, bunt and all the other things needed to score a run. That’s not exclusive to Japan. MLB players are also pretty quick on defense or they wouldn’t be in the majors. I think you’re caught up in the moment after watching Team Japan. Take in a few MLB games. You might change your mind.
@Camden A-Rod made similar comments. In general, these statements may be true of Japanese baseball, but they won because of solo homeruns. So in this particular game, those points don’t make sense to me.
What other kind of Americans are there than US Americans?
Thanks for the English class, sorry I didn’t grade out so well. I’ll try and make it up after work.
Who cares? I didn’t watch a minute of it. I’m American but could not care less how American teams perform in tournaments. I only follow the one Major League in the world, the league players from around the world aspire to join.
And I have no reason to be proud of this country anymore. It’s government is rotten to the core, and only serves the interests of the elites who control everything. We waste taxpayer money killing innocent people in the Middle East as a payback for false-flag terrorist acts. And waste more money on the fakery of NASA and their make-believe space missions. Sorry, rant over.
It’s just baseball man.
DanUgglasRing: My apologies. I forgot South Americans and Central Americans.
Why you gotta pick on NASA? Without them, the U.S. wouldn’t have been able to established world military and intelligence dominance. We also don’t have to worry about foreign missiles falling into our backyards. Plus they also do cool satellite, telescope, and Mars stuff.
Yankees Bleacher creature: Agree. The pictures being sent back to Earth are from before the Big Bang. Incredible
What a bunch of low quality bait. You sound just like the biased people who complain about. You guys must be a bunch of baby boomers to argue about this stuff like anyone cares
So very scripted.
People just want to be entertained. How about the lack of strong pitching on the Team USA? De Rosa rolls out Kelly & Freeland? In the biggest game this side of the World Series? The WBC is a Hollywood production people.
Well I hope MLB hires Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Chris Nolan, and Michael Bay for the next iteration bc it’s going to hard to top this one.
Absolutely. As scripted as the NFL.
Bard was the worst choice De Rosa made. First of all, who is he? Second, two wild pitches and breaks Altuve’s thumb. That’s what De Rosa was left with, I guess.
What an incredible WBC. Best tournament I e ever seen. So glad I made it to a couple games in Phoenix. I’m confident that USA lineup is the best I’ll see with my own eyes.
I’d rather see the MLB champion in a tournament with all the other league champions. The WBC is an exhibition just a small notch above the All Star games.
You’d argue that a Pirates/Reds game in late April is more worthwhile than a WBC game? Seems pretty dismissive. This was excellent baseball especially in the later rounds. Probably the best baseball we will see for a majority of the year.
I think you’re arguing with yourself on that straw man. I said I’d rather see the MLB champion vs the champions of the other leagues. You know, Houston Astros vs Orix Buffaloes vs Kiwoom Heroes…
You said it’s an exhibition just above the all star game. That’s your straw man, not mine.
What does that have to do withh Reds and Pirates spring training games? That’s the straw man you created. Yes, I did say the WBC is still an exhibition especially as far as US participation goes.
Sorry I meant a regular season game. Late April. In the regular season. I’m not going to argue semantics with you all day, your sentiment is garbage and your counterfactual of the Astros/Buffaloes is laughably off base as well. The WBC is an analog for what we missed with Olympic baseball, it’s international not interleague.
And it’s absolutely not an exhibition. It’s an international tourney with a championship. The exhibition status is arbitrarily attributed to it by arrogance and disregard for the international popularity and importance of the game.
I think one of the biggest points of the wbc is to spread the game around the world. Great Britain is a soccer nation, but they did win a WBC game which was very exciting for their burgeoning game. Who would have thought the Czech Republic would have a bb team? I know they had plumbers, accountants, whatever, on the Czech team, but they had the passion to learn the game and participate in a very high level tournament. Who knows what country will be there in 2026.
Hot take – Vatican City
It’s not that I dislike the WBC. I enjoy it. I would enjoy a true world championship tournament even more.
Sure and I’m only making the argument that the best players should feel a sense of duty to forego spring training and make the WBC the real international championship it deserves to be. We should be taking the WBC infinitely more seriously than spring training and to be frank, pretty much everything else except the MLB playoffs themselves.
Now Batting, God!
I’d love to see that. Before they became priests they might have played a game or two.
CardsFan57: They should do what they do in European soccer. The winner of the Champions League (the best team in Europe) plays I forget who for the World Team Championship. The winner of the WS should play the winner of the npb to determine the best team in the world.
That would also be cool.
The US could beat Japan in football.
Not if we sent the Cowboys…..
When are we going to have a Champions League for baseball, as they do in European football?
European teams play tournaments during the season.In England they not only play 38 regular games, there’s also the FA cup, the EPL cup, Carabao. up. For some tea s there’s s also the Champions League or the Europa Cup and the Europa Conference Cup all during the season. I seriously doubt MLB players would go for that.
Cut the number of regular season games. Do we really need to see Royals vs. A’s 7 game series this year?
The only reason the US didn’t have those top players is they chose not to play. Team USA didn’t miss out on anyone and there’s no merit to “well if we had better players” like that’s some earth shattering assessment. Any team that’s ever lost anything can say “well if we were just better then we wouldn’t have lost so it’s not really our fault”
As an American, the right team won the classic.
Storybook! Japan earned everything, they flat-out won. Rigged as in… how? Captain Trout took a nosedive? Incomprehensible.
This entire time, everyone was worried about the US’s pitching, when it was the hitting that couldn’t come up when it mattered the most. Yes, the team would have been much better if they had deGrom,. Verlander, Scherzer, etc. etc., but that was such a low-scoring game that I don’t know if it would have mattered in the end.
It would’ve mattered if Japan couldn’t score.
I don’t think you can blame the hitters. Trout, Goldschmidt, Betts, Arenado got the team to the title game. They were overmatched by Japan’s pitching and they had an off day. It doesn’t mean they weren’t good. I’d take that team any day and play them in the major league season. Maybe build up the pitching staff a bit.
It would have been better if Judge replaced Cedric Mullins and Corey Seagar or Marcus Semien had replaced Tim Anderson. No disrespect meant to Mullins or Anderson.
Doom & Bloom
Is it just me or is Mookie Betts regressing? He hit .260 the last two years and it’s doubtful he’ll maintain 30 homeruns every year, especially with a diminished Dodgers lineup this year.
But he really ruined that big rally with a big double play.
I’m sure I’ll get backlash for saying this.
MLB offense as a whole has regressed. Betts hit 134 OPS+ last year while his career is 136 OPS+. ’21 was a down year for him but there is no indication he is declining if that’s what you’re implying. Betts has also never been a consistent 30+ HR hitter so that really isn’t expected.
Yeah that was a big DP but credit goes to Ohtani for inducing it with Bobby Witt. Jr. on first. Those are two fast baserunners.
Doom & Bloom
I’m just saying the reason his WAR was so high in 2022 is because of honeruns. His average and OBP wasn’t fantastic.
That’s what makes Betts an elite player. They were both still way above league average. His homerun total did contribute to his WAR but he could’ve easily sacrificed some power for a higher batting avg.
Beldar J. Conehead
Send half of MLB’s teams to Japan and half of the JPL’s teams to MLB for a season and then figure out which league is better. One game doesn’t mean anything as far as determining where the best baseball in the world is played.