Posts Tagged ‘2008 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team’

Olympic Baseball Schedule: Four Games Left

The United States defeated Japan on Wednesday, 4-2 in 11 innings*, to lock up the number three seed in this weekend’s elimination round.  The schedule for the next three days is as follows:

Thursday, August 21
10:30 PM EST: Semifinal – South Korea (1) vs. Japan (4)

Friday, August 22
6:00 AM EST: Semifinal – Cuba (2) vs. United States (3)
10:30 PM EST: Bronze-Medal Game

Saturday, August 23
6:00 AM EST: Gold-Medal Game

San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg will start for the United States against Cuba, the defending Olympic champions, and manager Davey Johnson suggested that injured players Jayson Nix and Matt LaPorta could benefit from Thursday’s off-day and return in time for Friday’s semifinal.  Also, Trevor Cahill, who started against Japan, was pulled after three innings in case he is needed out of the bullpen.

*I didn’t mention this when it was first introduced, but is there a stupider rule in any sport than the new extra innings rule that was put in place for these Olympics?  If you’re unfamiliar with the particulars, here they are:

Beginning in the 11th inning, runners go to first and second and teams can start at any point in their batting order.

I always thought that a homerun-hitting contest would be the worst idea I ever heard for resolving tie games that dragged deep into extra innings.  I was wrong.  Call me a traditionalist, but I hate this rule.  Two runners on and the opportunity to lead off the inning with your best hitter?  Why not start off every batter with a 2-0 count as well?  Let’s just get totally wild and crazy.

Your Olympic Baseball Update

Man, now that Michael Phelps is out of the water and into the record books, these Olympics just seem to be flying by, don’t they?  It feels like baseball just started a couple of days ago…now we’re nearing the end of preliminary play and getting ready to move on to the medal rounds.  By Saturday, it’ll be all over.

The good news is that with a 4-2 record entering Wednesday’s 7:00 AM (EST) game against Japan, the United States will be one of the four teams that advances to the next round.  The bad news?  Their draw is still uncertain, and will be for another twelve hours or so.  Cuba, currently in second place with a 5-1 record, is finishing its preliminary schedule right now against China (1-5); they are scoreless in the first inning.  South Korea (6-0) plays The Netherlands (1-5) at 11:30 EST.  Win or lose, the South Koreans should be guaranteed the top spot (they beat Cuba head-to-head), but the articles I’ve perused seem to indicate that Cuba has a chance at being the top seed.  Maybe if the team they lost to comes into play – Cuba’s lone defeat would have been to a team with a better record than South Korea’s.  Anyway, we’ll know the answer to that question in just a few short hours.

The three and four seeds are actually easier to figure out.  The United States and Japan are both 4-2.  As noted above, they play each other tomorrow morning.  The winner gets the third seed, the loser gets the fourth.  Thursday is an off day, with the medal round starting on Friday

The 1-4 game will be played at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, and 2-3 will be at 6 p.m. that night. The losers of those two games will play for the bronze medal starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, and the two winners of those semifinals will meet at 6 p.m. to decide who gets the gold and who gets the silver. It’s all getting much clearer now.

Win or lose, the United States has three games left: tomorrow against Japan, the first elimination game against Cuba or South Korea, and the medal round game.  On the bright side, they will have San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg, who allowed one hit in seven innings in his only appearance thus far, on the hill for at least one of those contests – it’s just a question of throwing him on Friday or holding him back for the medal game on Saturday.  Trevor Cahill – 5 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 K in his only start – is scheduled to go against Japan, leaving Brandon Knight, Brett Anderson or Jake Arrieta as the likely candidates to get the call in the remaining game.  Knight started on Tuesday against Chinese Taipei and is probably out.  

On the gloomy side, the American offense is nicked up: second baseman Jayson Nix fouled a bunt attempt off his eye in a loss to Cuba and is expected to miss the rest of the tournament, Matt LaPorta has a mild concussion and is 1-for-15 overall (he also ran over China’s catcher, a minor leaguer in the Mariners’ system, and tore the guy’s ACL – just an overall awesome week), and Mike Hessman doesn’t seem to have recovered from a heel injury.  Still, our guys have to win just one of their remaining games to take home a medal, and they’ve played every opponent tough so far.  If they can get past that Cuba/South Korea road block on Friday, the gold is certainly not out of the question.

(Random question here: Jayson Nix is Laynce Nix’s brother.  Why did their parents feel the need to drop random Ys into their names?  This has me very confused.)

UPDATE: Cuba is beating the crap out of China, 10-0, in the third inning.  South Korea and The Netherlands are just underway, with the South Koreans taking an early 2-0 lead.

MORE UPDATE: Make that 14-0 and 2-0.  I’m gonna go all Brokaw on this and call it South Korea #1, Cuba #2.

FINAL UPDATE: 17-1 and 10-0, respectively.  South Korea gets the top seed and will play the loser of the USA-Japan game that starts in about 3 1/2 hours.  Cuba is the second seed and will, of course, play the winner.

USA Baseball Schedule

OK, we’ve been very patient, waiting for our Bus League roster to finally take the field in Beijing. Wednesday is the day for their Olympic debut, and we’ll let you know when they’ll take to Wukesong Field:

Wednesday, August 13 – 6pm: USA vs Korea

Thursday, August 14 – 10:30am: Netherlands vs. USA

Friday, August 15 – 11:30am: USA vs. Cuba

Saturday, August 16 – 10:30am: USA vs. Canada

Monday, August 18 – 7pm: USA vs. China

Tuesday, August 19 – 7pm: USA vs. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)

Wednesday, August 20 – 7pm: Japan vs. USA

[Olympic Baseball Schedule]

The semis and finals happen on the 22nd and 23rd. The top four teams advance to the medal round, where the top team plays the fourth-ranked qualifier, and the 2nd and 3rd teams play one another to advance to the final. There is also a “consolation game” to decide the bronze, matching the losers of the first two games. If anyone can figure out the TV schedule, you are a better man than I.

We’ll be updating the results as we go, and help you keep track of Team USA’s chances to medal.

[Olympic Groundskeeper’s Blog]

Slight Tweaks to Olympic Roster

A couple weeks back, we announced our take on the 2008 Olympic Baseball roster. Since then, a few things have changed.

Colby Rasmus has withdrawn due to injury.

Geno Espineli was called up to San Francisco

Clayton Richard was called up to the White Sox

First guy on the list is probably extremely bummed. The other two are probably mostly ecstatic.

Anyway, on to the replacements.

Taking their place, including the 24th man left off the initial announcement, are second baseman Jayson Nix (Colorado Rockies organization), pitchers Jeremy Cummings (Tampa Bay Rays), Brian Duensing (Minnesota) and outfielder Nate Schierholtz (San Francisco Giants). Nix is the 24th man.

[NBC Olympics]

The article also points out that the dual call-up severely depleted the team’s supply of left-handed hurlers.

I recognize Schierholtz’s name from the Futures Game. The others I’ll have to learn more about. Congrats to the new additions, and to the callups. Colby… there’s always next year man. Keep ya head up.

U.S. Olympic Roster Announced

So, the Olympic roster has been announced. There are many familiar Bus League names on the list, but USA Baseball presents them in a very clinical way, as if these were guys they just found on the street with no other attachment to baseball. In fact, a player is one of four things on this roster: infielder, outfielder, catcher, or pitcher.

So, I’m going to re-announce the roster with all of the spaces colored in:

Brett Anderson, LHP, Midland Rockhounds (AA Texas League) – Oakland As

Jake Arrieta, RHP, Frederick Keys (Advanced A Carolina League) – Baltimore Orioles

Brian Barden, SS, Memphis Redbirds (AAA Pacific Coast League) – St. Louis Cardinals

Matthew Brown, 3B, Salt Lake Bees (AAA Pacific Coast League) – Anaheim Angels

Trevor Cahill, RHP, Midland Rock Hounds (AA Texas League) – Oakland As

Jason Donald, SS, Reading Phillies (AA Eastern League) – Philadelphia Phillies

Geno Espineli, LHP, Fresno Grizzlies (AAA Pacific Coast League) – San Francisco Giants

Dexter Fowler, CF, Tulsa Drillers (AA Texas League) – Colorado Rockies

John Gall, OF, Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA Pacific Coast League) – Florida Marlins

Mike Hessman, 3B, Toledo Mudhens (AAA International League) – Detroit Tigers

Kevin Jepsen, RHP, Salt Lake Bees (AAA Pacific Coast League) – Anaheim Angels  

Brandon Knight, RHP, New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA Pacific Coast League) – New York Mets

Mike Koplove, RHP, Las Vegas 51s (AAA Pacific Coast League) – L.A. Dodgers

Matt LaPorta, OF, Akron Aeros (AA Eastern League) – Cleveland Indians

Lou Marson, C, Reading Phillies (AA Eastern League) – Philadelphia Phillies

Blaine Neal, RHP, Toledo Mudhens (AAA International League) – Detroit Tigers

Colby Rasmus, LF, Memphis Redbirds (AAA Pacific Coast League) – St. Louis Cardinals

Clayton Richard, LHP, Charlotte Knights (AAA International League) – Chicago White Sox

Jeff Stevens, RHP, Buffalo Bisons (AAA International League) – Cleveland Indians

Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State Aztecs

Taylor Teagarden, C, Oklahoma RedHawks (AAA International League) – Texas Rangers

Terry Tiffee, OF, Las Vegas 51s (AAA Pacific Coast League) – L.A. Dodgers

Casey Weathers, RHP, Tulsa Drillers (AA Texas League) – Colorado Rockies

Two big surprises here. First, Stephen Strasburg, the lone college player to make the squad, did so on the strength of a 23-strikeout performance on April 11th of this year. Second, Geno Espineli does not look like a member of Tony Soprano’s crew. Perhaps his middle name – Macalalag – would have tipped me off, had I known it in advance.

Another thing that jumps out at me on first perusal is a utility-minded approach to the infield positions. I see two guys who are used to playing 3B in the minors, and two who generally play shortstop. We know that Matt LaPorta, listed here as an outfielder, also plays a great deal of first base, so that may be part of the answer. Otherwise, it looks like some tweaks and adjustments will have to be made in a short amount of time.

So there you have them, folks. Your Team USA, drawn almost exclusively from the Bus Leagues. Good luck in Beijing, gentlemen!

[USA Baseball]