Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cary-based USA Baseball team loses finale to Cuba... and a silly rule

The USA Collegiate Baseball team, which trains in Cary, finished its summer league play with a 10th-inning loss to Cuba in the Gold Medal game of the World University Baseball Championships in Toyko.

Cuba's Alfredo Despaigne hit a three-tun homer in the bottom of the 10th to give Cuba a 4-3 victory. Under a rather silly International Baseball Federation's tie-break rule, base runners are placed at first and second with no outs from the 10th inning on. (The batting order also changes.) The USA scraped a pair of runs across in the top of the 10th before the three-run blast with one out.

Proponents of the rules say that delays from extra inning contests cause scheduling and logistical nightmares that include security, transportation, drug testing, broadcasts and entertainment. Yeah, well, too bad - play baseball or don't play baseball but don't make junk up. An entire summer of play came down to this and it was decided by some stilted rule of expediency. Yes, both teams played by the same rules but, come on, that wasn't baseball.

Cuban accounts of the game indicate that Japanese fans, who saw their team lose 4-2 to the Americans in the semis, supported the Cubans in the finals. Maybe Japanese players should go play in the Cuban league instead of the American or National leagues, right?

The USA finished the season with a 16-3 mark including seven consecutive victories before the Gold Medal loss.

The only ACC team represented on the US squad was Clemson whose Brad Miller had the team's highest batting average at .441 in 14 games played, including seven started. (As an aside, the team's press officer was East Carolina's Malcolm Gray.)

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