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07/13/2008 Archived Entry: "World Baseball Today (Sunday, 13 July 2008)"

by Bruce Baskin
Radio Miami International

Despite owning the best record in Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays are still struggling for respect. Just two Rays were initially picked to play in the upcoming All-Star Game at New York’s Yankee Stadium. Pitcher Scott Kazmir and catcher Dioner Navarro were both selected by American League manager Terry Francona of Boston after no Tampa Bay players were tabbed in fan voting for starters.
Rookie third baseman Evan Longoria made it a trio for Tampa Bay after getting the highest tally among Final Vote tabulations. This is the sixth year of Final Voting, in which fans name the final All-Star for both American and National League teams from among players neither voted in as starters nor picked as reserves by the managers.
The 22-year-old Longoria received the highest number of votes in Final Vote history, getting 9 million supporters to beat outfielder Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox, Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, and Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen. Longoria’s National League counterpart will be Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Longoria was hitting .281 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs after Tampa Bay’s series with the New York Yankees last week, which resulted in a disappointing sweep at the hands of the Yankee. Still, the Long Beach State product was happy about his All-Star selection: “I can’t lie. Today I was pretty pumped up coming here to see how it finished out.” Longoria received congratulatory calls from both Francona and Rays manager Joe Maddon. Maddon said, “I think he’s earned it.”
Longoria admitted voting for himself “like 20 times.” Maddon laughed when he heard about Longoria’s comment. “Good for him. You’ve just got to love the honesty.”

Florida Marlins second baseman Dag Uggla told manager Fredi Gonzalez, “I’m good to go,” after being out of the Fish lineup since June 28 with a sprained ankle. The 28-year-old All-Star has remained on Florida’s active roster since getting hurt, but had not been used until last Wednesday night, when Gonzalez penciled Uggla in as a pinch-hitter for the Marlins’ series finale in San Diego.
After walking up to Gonzalez during a media session to verify his availability, Uggla then told reporters who asked if he was ready to play, “I don’t see why not. I’m ready.” The Marlins could use his bat. At the time of his injury, Uggla was batting .289 with 23 homers and 58 RBIs. He was third in the National League in homers despite cooling his heels for over 10 games, two behind the 25 of Philadelphia’s Chase Utley.
Uggla was selected to this year’s Midsummer Classic by a vote of his peers, and he’ll be taking part in Monday night’s home run derby prior to Tuesday’s game.
Another Marlins infielder, Hanley Ramirez, showed why he’ll be the National League’s starting shortstop this week by going 5-for-5 at the plate last Thursday in Los Angeles, including a game-winning homer in the top of the 12th inning, his 23rd of the year.
The USA Baseball National Baseball Team is off to a roaring start at this year’s Haarlem Baseball Week tournament in The Netherlands. Team USA opened their schedule last weekend with a 5-2 win over Japan as starter Steve Strasburg threw seven solid innings. The USA then took a shocking 1-0 win against Cuba one day later as American closer Kendal Volz of Baylor snuck a 2-2 slider past watchful Cuban pinch-hitter Yoandy Urgelles with two runners on in the bottom of the ninth. The American win was surprising in that a team of college players was able to beat Cuba, one of the world’s best national teams with many longtime veterans of international baseball. The Red-White-Blues had an easier time of it Tuesday against the Dutch Antilles, winning 11-0 after scoring seven third inning runs while sending 12 batters to the plate.
With their 3-0 start, the USA clinched a berth in the semifinals of the Haarlem tournament. Japan is a half-game behind at 3-1, winning three straight after their opener loss. Cuba and Taiwan are tied for third at 1-1, the host Dutch hold fourth with a 1-2 record, and the Dutch Antilles are winless after four games. The Japanese beat The Netherlands 3-2 last Tuesday, scoring two runs in the ninth inning (including Ryoji Nakata’s game-tying solo homer.
This is the 24th year of the Haarlem tournament.

Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher Yu Darvish has been voted to the Pacific League All-Star team for the first time, as the final voting results for Japan’s midsummer showcase event was announced last week.
Darvish has posted a 9-3 record for the Fighters with six complete games and a 1.93 ERA (both league highs), and received over 273,000 votes. He won the Sawamura Award last year.
The leading vote-getter among players from both Pacific and Central Leagues was Seibu Lions outfielder Takahiko “G.G.” Sato, who got nearly 368,000 votes after batting .318 with 19 homers for the Pacific Leaguers. The most popular player among Central League players was Yakult outfielder Norichika Aoki, who got over 343,000 votes. Six players were picked by fans for the first time, and players voted for the first time. Seibu’s Sato received 476 votes from 809 of his peers in the Japanese majors and their minor league affiliates. No players were selected from Rakuten after eight Golden Eagles were picked last year.
The Japanese All-Star Series will be played July 31 at the Kyocera Dome and August 1 at Yokohama Stadium.

The Cebu Dolphins crushed the Antipolo Pilgrims 13-3 last Sunday in Manila’s historic Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium. The first round Baseball Philippines playoff win advanced the Dolphins to the semifinals this weekend.
The Dolphins bashed out 18 hits against Antipolo pitchers, including a three-run homer by Cebu star Miggy Corcuera. The wide-bodied Corcuera cranked his fifth homer of the season off Pilgrims starter Fernando Badrina in the second inning to break open what had been a narrow 3-2 Cebu lead. Corcuera finished 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs for the Dolphins. The win meant Cebu will face the Batangas Bulls in a best-of-3 semifinal series, while the other Final Four matchup pits the regular season champion Manila Sharks against the Dumaguete Uni-bikers.

Fortitudo Bolonga had three pitchers combine on a five-hit shutout last Sunday as Bologna whitewashed the luckless Rangers Redipuglia 8-0 in Italian Baseball League action. The win kept Bologna in first place with a 28-5 record, five games ahead of second-place Nettuno. Redipuglia extended their season in the wilderness by dropping to a 1-32 record. Matt D’Angelo tossed five innings of three-hit ball to take the win for Bologna, who got a 3-for-4 night with a homer from Claudia Liverziani.
Nettuno stretched their record to 23-10 after pounding Parma 13-2 last weekend. Carlos Richotti turned in six strong innings for Nettuno to go to 7-1 for the year, but a lot of credit has to go to a seven-run fourth inning outburst that included three Nettuno homers. Parma fell to 18-15 with the loss.
Elsewhere in the Italian League, 21-12 San Marino completed a three-game sweep of 16-17 Rimini by scoring two late runs last Sunday to take a 5-3 win. James Buccheri was 2-for-5 with a solo homer for San Marino as reliever Luca Matignoni three three scoreless innings to win his fifth game in six decisions. Grosseto beat Godo 11-7 last Sunday to stay even in the standings with San Marino at 21-12, while Godo fell to 4-29. Raul Marval was a perfect 5-for-5 for Grosseto, including a triple and 2 RBIs.

The Puerto Cruz Marlins took a pair of wins from the winless Astros last weekend to stretch their first-place record in the Spanish League standings to 20-4, but it wasn’t a gimme. After throttling the Astros 11-1 in the opener, they needed two late runs in the second game to pull away to a 5-2 win.
While Puerto Cruz seemingly has things well in hand, there is a terrific battle for second place going on behind them…but not that far behind. Barcelona moved into second at 17-5 with a pair of wins over 7-17 Viladicans, but the real action was in the Sant Boi-El Llano series. In that set, El Llano opened with a 2-0 pitchers duel win that featured just eight hits by the combined sides, followed by an 8-7 El Llano squeaker in which Sant Boi coughed up four errors en route to the loss and a 19-7 mark, dropping into third place. For their part, El Llano is now 18-8 and in fourth, one game behind Sant Boi and two behind Barcelona.

The European Championship Qualifier Tournament got going in a big way last Monday in Prague when the host Czech Republic beat Belarus 10-0, with four Czech pitchers combining on a no-hitter. Starter Martin Schneider went four innings with six strikeouts before turning it over to the bullpen.
In all, 23 national teams are splitting up into five tournaments across the European continent to battle for a spot in next year’s European Baseball Championship. The Czech Republic is one of the Qualifier favorites, along with Russia, Belgium, Croatia and Ukraine. The Qualifier runs through this weekend.

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ALL TIMES EASTERN: Sundays 10:30AM, Mondays 1:15AM, Tuesdays 8:30PM, Wednesdays 4:30AM

Replies: 1 Comment

Great stuff,Bruce. World baseball, you gotta love it.

Posted by Max Blue @ 07/14/2008 08:23 AM EST

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