Yesterday's game was a gut punch for the Dominican team. The Dominicans put up a "picket fence" from innings 2-8, after scoring two runs in the opening frame. They were up 7-2 going into the 7th inning, when the wheels fell off. The Venezuelans overpowered the Dominicans in the late innings. A three-run double by Luis Rodriguez and a two-run shot by Japanese League standout Alex Cabrera tied the game at 7 in the 7th inning. The Dominicans took the lead again in the bottom of the inning, only for the Venezuelans to tie it again in the top of the 8th.
The Dominicans took their final lead of the night on a home run by noted power source, Jose Offerman(!?!) and went into the top of the ninth with the game in their hands...only to lose it to the newest Red Sock, Alex Gonzalez, jacking a three run shot.
In the bottom of the ninth, Venezuela stood behind the best closer in the tourney, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. D.R. had their chances--Miguel Tejada slammed a lighttower shot that just barely went foul, before being retired on Rodriguez's fastball, and outfielder Alexis Gomez, doubled before Rodriguez unleashed his hellacious slider--the one so good, you know it has to be grinding his arm and shoulder into hamburger--against Ronnie Belliard. Pigpen never stood a chance.
Talking about any other baseball news basically means talking about Johnny Damon's hair. All I'll say is that you'd think that after Giambi and A-Rod, newcomers to the Yanks would stop getting themselves blond highlights. This madness must end!
In the interest of self-promotion, there's another bit of my work up at Baseball Prospectus, on the Pirates, and their acquisitions of Joe Randa and Jeromy Burnitz (link here, last article on the page):
The meme when a young team like the Pirates makes moves for veteran mediocrities like these, and like the earlier acquisition of Sean Casey, is that the vets are needed to teach the young turks how to win. This is the type of idea we’ve dismissed out-of-hand in the past, but which probably deserves a little more respect than we’ve given it.
Nonetheless, the idea doesn’t hold here, because this crew of veterans that the Pirates have brought in is distinguished by their lack of winning, and their dearth of postseason experience. Between Burnitz, Randa and Casey, none has spent a whole season with a division-winning club. The only one of these guys to see a postseason plate appearance was Randa, who played in the Division Series last October after being a deadline acquisition by the Padres. He did a pretty nice job--four for eleven with a walk and a double…in a three game sweep by the Cardinals.
The 2005 Padres (final record 82-80) were only the second winning team Randa had ever been on. In ten full seasons in the Show, his teams have finished last in their division five times. In his eight full seasons, Casey’s Reds finished under .500 six times. After beginning his career with the 103-loss 1993 Mets, Burnitz almost made it to the playoffs in the 1996 season with the 99-win Cleveland Indians…before he was dealt away to the Brewers, at the August trade deadline, for Kevin Seitzer. All told, ten of Burnitz’s 12 full seasons have been spent on under-.500 teams.
This isn't meant to minimize these fellows’ achievements in the majors. One of the points we frequently raise here is that winning players aren’t better people than the guys that came up short. It’s just that if these guys are supposed to teach the youngsters to win, it should be pointed out that these veterans might find winning a novel experience, themselves.
After all, when the going gets tough this season, what’s the inspirational speech they’re supposed to give their young teammates? “When we were losing 100 games back in 2002, we could have given up…”
So, what does everybody think about this idea of bringing in veteran players to "mature" your club? Is there anything to the intangibles?