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March 16, 2006 12:00 am

Suspending Disbelief

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Jay Jaffe

Jay Jaffe checks in with a WBC report after taking in some exciting games in Puerto Rico.

But as the first round revealed, even the hardest heart is capable of being warmed once the games begin. The sudden presence of baseball in early March--not the lazy exhibition walkthroughs in front of somnolent audiences of sun-worshippers but tooth-and-nail battles between bitter rivals in front of frenzied fanatics--trumps all. Either find a way to enjoy the first (relatively) meaningful baseball in four and a half months, or fill out your bracket and kiss Andrew Jackson goodbye.

As of five weeks ago, I had been planning my own sun-worshipping Florida pilgrimage when my brother-in-law Adam upped the ante by suggesting a couple of second-round WBC games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Though mindful of my own reservations about the tourney, I've got enough experience in marquee event attendance to know that even the most pilloried events--such as the birthed-in-scandal 2002 Winter Olympics in my hometown of Salt Lake City--look much better when you're holding a fistful of ducats. As my wife, Andra, likes to say, we're "event people"; it doesn't take much arm-twisting to induce us to hunt big games. So with her blessing, we procured a quartet of tickets for the Pool D winner versus Pool C winner matchup on Monday, March 13 (Adam's girlfriend Nicole would also be accompanying us), and a boys-only pair for the previous night's matchup pairing the Pool D winner and the Pool C runner-up. With the Dominican Republic and Venezuela likely to come out of the D bracket and Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama vying for the C slots, we were virtually assured of a pair of high-end Latin-flavored ballgames.

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March 2, 2005 12:00 am

Translating Cuban Performance

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Clay Davenport

Most Cuban players coming to the major leagues have been disappointments. Now, we may know why.

What did we have to say about him? Scouting reports said he had power to all fields, and he hit .391 in Cuba one year. Pretty much everything we knew about him was in the Baseball America article announcing his signing.

As much as I love reading BA, though, that was a pretty unsatisfying answer. We're performance analysts, dangit, and we didn't have a performance record to analyze, because Cuban baseball has always been this gaping black hole. Players came out every once in a while, the scouting reports raved over them, and George Steinbrenner or some other sap wrote out the big checks for them, but no one really knew how they would perform. While the Brothers Hernandez did fine, it seemed that the greatest talent of Cuban players was to be little Barnums, making suckers of the U.S. baseball establishment. Fidel may have been upset at losing the players, but the sight of so many capitalists losing so much money to Cubans had to bring him at least a small chuckle.

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February 24, 2005 12:00 am

Prospectus Roundtable: Kendry Morales

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Baseball Prospectus

Listed in the "Honorable Mention" section of the Top 50 Prospects list, Kendry Morales was the subject of an interesting discussion as that list was being assembled.

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September 25, 2000 12:00 am

Olympic Prospectus

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Derek Zumsteg

Olympic Prospectus series

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September 22, 2000 12:00 am

Olympic Prospectus

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Derek Zumsteg

Olympic Prospectus series

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September 21, 2000 12:00 am

Olympic Prospectus

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Derek Zumsteg

Olympic Prospectus series

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August 31, 2000 12:00 am

Olympic Prospectus

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Derek Zumsteg

One of the things that I heard the Olympic Committee really wanted to get was "foot speed". I read that over and over, and it made me think that maybe they were going to go out of their way to get former major leaguers, like Vince Coleman, so they could steal some bases.

They didn't. I'm happy about that. The big speed threat is Brent Abernathy, who was 21-for-36 in steal attempts when I pulled his stats on selection day. Foot speed, apparently, has run out.

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