A quick tour thru the morning links today, after last night's WBC final went on so long they coulda fit a World Series game inside of it:
Yes, Japan wins the WBC, scoring four times in the first and four in the ninth to beat Cuba 10-6. I've become a believer in this thing, after an admittedly crabby start. How to make it better? Yesterday, Rich Griffin took his run at it, and here's my shortlist. First, the umpiring has to improve, after being a major sideshow. Second, drop the pitching limits, which serve only to reinforce the notion that this is essentially a major-league preseason series, and not a truly open, planet-baseball competition. The timing is fine, there's nothing wrong with March -- move it up a little bit, says Dominican manager Stan Javier, and that'd be fine with me too -- but what about putting some games in a northern city (or cities) with a dome? Like Toronto, just to offer an example -- you knew that was coming, didn't you? -- where the community is multicultural enough to go for it in a big way (and where this time of year is pretty much free of any serious sporting competition, outside of the races for 10th place)?
On the subject of baseball and the world, check out this link to a post on the 1956 Dodgers commemorating the victims of the Hiroshima bombing with a plaque that now sits alongside the hot dog condiments in Vero Beach: "We dedicate this visit in memory of those baseball fans and others who here died by atomic action on Aug. 6, 1945. May their souls rest in peace and with God's help and man's resolution peace will prevail forever, amen." (via Robot Wisdom)
In the NHL, Montreal and Atlanta win, and so the east is not quite so tight at the bottom of the playoff grid. No such thing out west, where Anaheim scores twice in the third period to beat Dallas and leapfrog into a playoff spot, at least for now.
Right after Terrell Owens signs with the Cowboys (and wasn't it strange and a little ominous that Bill Parcells was nowhere to be seen during all that hugging?), Paul Tagliabue announces he's retiring from the NFL commissioner job in July. Coincidence?
Sid Lowe, whose coverage of La Liga in the Guardian is always worth a look, has a good one on the strange saga of two Spanish soccer plays who failed drug tests, one of them nearly four years ago -- but their cases drag on:
Four different bodies, plus the government sports minister, and UEFA, have been involved without reaching a conclusion and the Competition Committee resigned en masse, complaining of outside pressures. The new committee announced Gurpegui's guilt the next day, only for it later to emerge that they had not had time to read the reports properly. And, amidst it all, the World Anti-Doping Agency, accepting that this was a grey area, removed 19-Nandrosterona from its list of banned substances. Four years on there is no solution in sight.