There will be no ‘Weekly’ Hit Ground Ball column this Sunday, for the first time since the start of the 2006 MLB season, as Joe and I will be in Rotterdam watching some games from the World Port Tournament. The invitational international event began on Thursday and has already seen its share of drama.
From five teams to four
The first development saw the Team USA representatives pull out of the tournament just days before it started. Initially it was believed that the Team USA (Collegiate Level) side would be one of the five teams, alongside Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands and Taiwan. They had competed in the 2007 event and looked set to come back, but it was announced a couple of weeks ago that an all-star team from the Great South League would take their place.
The Great South League is a collegiate summer league that covers teams from Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida and Virginia. Obviously they would have been a step down in quality, but the same number of games would have been played and baseball fans would have had the opportunity to see some new players.
A news item was posted on their website last Saturday previewing the announcement of their WPT roster, yet that never materialised. We found out on Wednesday that the team had been pulled out of the tournament and could not be replaced at such short notice.
The other four teams agreed to play to a new format in which every team plays each other three times before there is a final between the top two. That was the best compromise they could reach and it means that only two days will no longer stage two games. Unfortunately those are two of the days when Joe and I will be there. It’s disappointing for us, but there we go.
Mister-Baseball has posted a short preview of the teams involved, including some useful comments by visitors to the site. One of the comments noted that Aroldis Chapman would be pitching for Cuba. You would have probably read about how talented the left-handed pitcher is over the last few days. He has hit the headlines because he walked out of his Rotterdam hotel and never came back, telling cubaencuentro.com that he plans to fly to Miami soon before signing with a Major League team. ESPN’s Buster Olney claims he will be the biggest free agent of the winter and he looks set to earn a lucrative contract.
Not a great start for us!
Not getting the chance to see such a star in the making is yet another blow for us. Throw in the rainy forecasts and the road trip appears to be doomed! Joe and I are still very much looking forward to it though and we will report back on our experiences after we get home at the end of next week.
You can follow the tournament at the official tournament website: http://www.worldporttournament.nl/ . If I get the chance to post any updates here then I will do so and I may send through some ‘tweets’ to my Twitter account as well.
(BGB technical note: If I don’t get a chance to log on before I’m back, some comments could be stuck in the moderation queue for a few days. Sorry about that).