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March 20, 2013 8:00 am

Overthinking It: The Undefeated Dominicans

4

Ben Lindbergh

The Dominican Republic defeats Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Watching a championship game between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico without having seen most of the previous contests between the two rival countries is a little like starting a show in its fourth-season finale. There are story arcs, plot points, and dramatic payoffs you’re only vaguely aware of, and you missed the episode where they introduced the first baseman. Fortunately, most baseball games are bottle episodes, and most of the actors have faces you’ve seen before. And from the first pitch of last night’s WBC final on, it was clear to anyone watching that both teams really, really wanted to win.

In Puerto Rico, many people were able to watch the game for free in movie theaters and public squares. In the mainland US, many people weren't able to watch the game at all, depending on their cable providers. So in case you couldn’t or didn’t see most of the tournament but clicked here to find out how it ended, let me briefly set the scene. Previously on the WBC, the Dominicans went 3-0 in the first round, 3-0 in the second round (in which the bullpen threw 12 2/3 shutout innings), and defeated the Netherlands 4-1 on Monday night to advance to the finals (with four more scoreless innings in relief). They entered the game as the tournament’s only remaining undefeated team. Puerto Rico knocked off two-time WBC winners Japan on Sunday and reached the final with a 5-3 record (but an 0-2 tally against the DR). Due to their dominance in earlier rounds, the Dominican got last licks on Tuesday.

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March 19, 2013 5:00 am

Punk Hits: Not Just Another Night at the Yard

6

Ian Miller

On the ground at the WBC.

I’ve become slightly obsessed with the World Baseball Classic. When I learned the semifinals and finals of the 2013 Classic would be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco, I made sure to purchase our regular-season seats for all three games. I’m regretting that decision a little now that they’re flogging $5 bleacher seats for the second semifinal game, but the buyer’s remorse is minimal; after all, it’s not every day that an international baseball event is held in one’s own backyard.

The first semifinal game took place on Sunday night and pitted Japan, the two-time defending WBC champ, against a plucky Puerto Rico team that really had no business making it out of pool play. They faced elimination twice and beat Italy and the United States to guarantee a semifinal berth, ultimately losing to the Dominican Republic in what amounted to a seeding game. Had they won, they would have had an additional day off in which to travel to San Francisco from Miami, and they’d face the Netherlands. But they lost to the D.R., meaning they had to fly west immediately after their Saturday game in order to face Japan on Sunday on a short turnaround and as a heavy underdog.

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