Team USA built to win this time around
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TEAM USA BUILT BETTER
By Rick Sutcliffe, ESPNExperience seems to be paying off so far at the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, which avoided elimination with a 9-3 win Sunday against the Netherlands. First off, there is a difference between the makeup of Team USA between 2006 and 2009. I think the organizers were smart to think more about the chemistry in the clubhouse and balance on the roster.
BEST OF THE BLOGSEach day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. Buster Olney examines the deep loyalty shown by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf: I was a teenage nerd who spent way too much time playing baseball board games, looking at baseball cards and thinking about the upcoming baseball season. Part of my nerd-dom was that I couldn't go an hour without wearing the baseball cap of the team I worshipped as a kid, the Los Angeles Dodgers. I had Dodgers T-shirts. I had Dodgers plastic batting helmets. I had Dodgers stickers, Dodgers souvenir bats and posters of Dodgers. But mostly I had the Dodgers cap, with the interlocking L and A, my proudest possession, something I had bought from a vendor outside Fenway Park on one of those days when my parents released me from bale-stacking and cow-milking responsibilities. I wore the cap in our hay fields, in our barn and in the woods. And, of course, I wore it to school. I had it on when I came through the front door at school one day when I was 15 years old, and it caught the eye of a gentleman -- he must've been in his 40s at the time -- who was sitting in the lobby. It was the fall of 1979. "Are you a Dodger fan?" he asked. "I grew up a Dodger fan. I loved the Brooklyn Dodgers." Whatever class I was supposed to attend immediately became of secondary concern to me. If you're from a town of 400 people in central Vermont, there aren't a whole lot of opportunities to talk with someone who might've seen your heroes. The man was waiting for his son to come down the hall, and he fought to keep up with my questions. Did you see Pee Wee Reese? Did you see Sandy Koufax pitch in Brooklyn? Did you see Jackie Robinson? What was Ebbets Field like? He patiently and cheerily waded through all the questions. It was a conversation across generational lines that covered several prior generations, a conversation for which baseball is particularly well suited. In retrospect, it is clear that the man was as big a baseball geek as I when he was a boy, the kind of person who would wear his Dodgers cap everywhere he was allowed to wear it. We must've talked about 20 to 30 minutes before I finally headed off to class. I had never met him before, I had never heard of him before, but it turned out that he was more involved in baseball than I knew. His name was Jerry Reinsdorf, and he's now the owner of the White Sox. For the rest of this entry from Buster Olney's blog, click here.
BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY
|3:30 p.m. ET
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Analyst: Carlos Baerga
|10 p.m. ET
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Analyst: Carlos Baerga
BREAKING DOWN TEAM USA'S WIN
BASEBALL TONIGHT MAILBAG
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WBC HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: U.S. WINS
SUNDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• Daisuke Matsuzaka can't lose at the World Baseball Classic. No, really, he can't. The Red Sox right-hander, pitching for Team Japan, improved his WBC record to 5-0 after combining with three relievers for a shutout in a 6-0 win against Cuba on Sunday in San Diego. "I knew Cuba was a good team, but particularly there was nothing I was too worried about," Matsuzaka said through a translator.||WORST|
|• On Sunday, you had a choice among the injuries: Dustin Pedroia downplayed his. Manny Ramirez suffered his. And Chipper Jones (right) admitted he had aggravated his. All in all, it wasn't a good day for some of baseball's more recognizable names.|
BREAKING DOWN JAPAN'S WIN
NUMBERS TO KNOW
The world champion Philadelphia Phillies lost left fielder Pat Burrell to free agency in the offseason, but replaced him with Raul Ibanez. While Ibanez (22 homers in 2008) doesn't have the power numbers of Burrell (33), he hits for a better average and drives in more runs.Some might think that replacing the right-handed bat of Burrell with the left-handed bat of Ibanez could mean the Phillies would be vulnerable to left-handed pitching. Philadelphia's other two stars in the middle of the lineup -- Ryan Howard and Chase Utley -- are also left-handed. But Ibanez hit lefties better than Burrell did last season. He also hit first pitches and off-speed pitches better.
|vs. first pitch||.467||.294|
JAPAN DOWNS CUBA 6-0
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