Holding Court: How To Fix The World Baseball Classic

WorldBaseballClassic2013

Welcome to a new feature on Nats101.com, “Holding Court.”  Written by Court Swift (@RCourtSwift) one of the most knowledgeable Nationals (and everything) fans I know.  He’ll be writing a columns for us that not only get you up to speed on some baseball things, but also offering his sage like opinion on those same topics.

The World Baseball Classic:  What is it. What’s wrong with it. And how to fix it.

Baseball’s World Cup

Sixteen Teams. Five Continents. One Cup. For All the Marbles(-ish). And I don’t even know if there is an actual cup…

When the World Baseball Classic began in 2006, I was pretty intrigued by the idea of a new World-Cup style baseball tournament. The Olympics had just dropped baseball – which only featured amateurs anyway – so MLB, in partnership with the MLBPA, decided to allow professionals to compete internationally for the first time ever. The WBC began in Spring Training of 2006 with 16 hand-picked countries, spanning 6 continents. Japan won that year, and again in 2009 with all the same countries competing.

For the 2013 edition, the tournament was opened to qualifiers. Winning a WBC game now qualifies you for the next tournament. The 12 countries that won a game in 2009 (Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United States, and Venezuela) automatically qualified.  The four teams that did not win (Canada, Taiwan, Panama and South Africa) were part of a qualifying group of sixteen teams that played for the final four spots.  Ultimately Canada and Taiwan returned to the 2013 WBC with Spain and Brazil being the two new teams to earn their way in.

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Episode S2E3: Almost, Not Quite Baseball Season Yet

Episode S2E3

We’ve got a Natsfest review, a World Baseball Classic preview, go through the Gio-gate nonsense and talk about some of the fun things happening on the blog.

Oh! And join us for Sweater Vest Night!

The Basecs: Tell Me About PEDs

Since last week’s revelation that a Florida health clinic being investigated by MLB may have been supplying players with PEDs broke, not much has happened.  Jonah Keri wrote the article about PEDs I wish I could’ve written.  MLB has asked the Miami New Times for the documents it has, but nothing has been done about that yet.  A “Round 2” of names came out, thanks to a Yahoo! Sports article by Jeff Passan-citing last year’s steroidal suspect Ryan Bruan as the headlining name.

Strangely, Ryan Bruan’s fairly plausible denial only seemed to bolster Passan’s opinion…

which I went out of my way to argue with…

But that is slightly besides the point. I just wanted to point out again that Jeff Passan kind of drives me nuts.

Anyway, given that most of the world is still in Speculation City with regards to the status of these players, I thought we could spend a little time discussing the basics of PED use.

So, at the top, what is a PED?

A Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) is anything that, just like it sounds, enhances the performance of the player. Anything. A cup of coffee is the vehicle for my daily morning PED, aka caffeine. A muscle relaxor, a cortisone shot-anything that helps you perform is a PED.

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Opinion: Nature Abhors A Vacuum

 

Dr. Bosch the focus of a current PED investigation.  Gio Gonzalez has been linked to the investigation.

Dr. Bosch the focus of a current PED investigation. Gio Gonzalez has been linked to the investigation.

I am going to apologize at the outset for the mildly personal nature of this post. 

This morning’s report from The Miami New Times, detailing an ongoing investigation into an anti-aging clinic in Florida selling performance enhancing drugs, possibly to Major League Baseball players, has rocked the baseball world. This includes seizmic shocks through the heart of Natstown’s very own K street.  Gio Gonzalez’s name was found in these records, albeit on a page that seems to include a bunch of legal substances, and the doubt machine has been rolling in full effect all day.  Dan Kolko has been doing an excellent job of updating his article as more information comes out (and you should keep that bookmarked for a bit), but even now not much is known about the situation. 

MLB has stated they are in the midst of an investigation (aka no comment), Gio Gonzalez has categorically denied using PEDs (not that he’s been officially accused of anything yet) and his father has backed him up.  Most of Twitter went on its head this morning, and Nats fans are somewhere between a state of panic and zealous defense of the beloved left hander.  It’s understandable, too.  Gonzalez, by all accounts, is a fan favorite as much for his personality as his performance.  The one time I met Gio (and his father, actually) I was nothing but charmed with what a great guy he was (both were).  It’d be hard for me to recnocile that meeting with the possibility of his involvement in something so scanalous.

This post, however, is not to go through my opinion on whether Gio Gonzalez did something he shouldn’t have, or not.  It isn’t to weigh up what it means to use PEDs, etc., or what it means for the ball club, or whether I think he “did it.”  Indeed, what is pushing me to write is that these are, currently, fruitless questions with even less fruitful answers.  Nature abhors a vacuum and so do we.  It is up to us to fight against our nature and hazard too many guesses or opinions about things that, frankly, we know nothing about. Continue reading