Once Smit, Twice Shy

Imagine, if you will, that you are twenty-two years old.  If you actually are twenty-two, enjoy the relative ease of this assignment.

Now imagine that you’re twenty-two, and you’re a left-handed pitching prospect who’d been pitching for six years between Rookie, A, and A-Advanced leagues.  You’ve done pretty well for yourself – throwing 471.1 innings in that time, going 22-26 with 4 saves, 534 K to just 221 BB, a 3.49 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.  Nice, clean, crisp pitching line, and your best year is also your most recent one.

Now imagine that you get called by your home country to pitch in the World Baseball Classic.

Wow, what an honor!  What an exciting opportunity for someone who’s never played against anything beyond the Florida State League.

Now imagine that your first assignment, as a 22-year-old A-Advanced pitcher playing for your country, is to enter a game with a slim lead and two runners on base.

Your job?  Pitch to Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, and David Ortiz without allowing any of those two runs to score.  No pressure, right?

Alexander Smit.jpgAlexander Smit didn’t shut down the Dominican Republic.  In fact, he issued a walk, gave up a hit, and got just one out – on a sacrifice fly.  Still, my hat’s off to the kid for coming in against overwhelming odds and going right after some world-class hitters.

I’ve been on the fence about the World Baseball Classic, but watching Smit – who pitches in the Cincinnati Reds organization – take the ball with confidence, and exit with his team’s lead still intact despite overwhelming odds… that moment right there may have pushed me over the edge.

That is what the WBC is all about.

14 Comments

You know what – that really is what baseball is all about. On any given day, anyone can be the hero!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Agreed!

By the way, is anyone else having trouble leaving comments? Half of the ones I leave on other blogs aren’t displaying…

http://houston.mlblogs.com

The WBC. I really want to like it, I do. I am being obstinate. Maybe some Roy Oswalt pitching will help get me in the groove. Tomorrow night. http://stonebutch99.mlblogs.com/

I was just watching the Netherlands-Dominican Republic game casually because it happened to be on. I wasn’t paying too much attention until this kid came out. I don’t know; I was just rooting for him. A Single-A pitcher facing Cano, Ramirez, and Ortiz… and he just went after them. Like I said, he didn’t fare all that well, but it was great to watch.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

There were some great games and great matchups yesterday. It is fun seeing the experienced and inexperienced playing along side and against each other. Good stuff!
-Kathy

http://redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com

@soccer8595 id like to see a soccer plyaer hit an 90 mph slider or a 95 mph fastball also steroids exist in every sport where size matters: football plyaers, olympic athletes, etc; baseball just gets all the publicity even tho the steroid era lasted less than 10 years. lets be honest soccer is way easier to play than is baseball but then again you seem very biased so this argument seems kind of pointless

Looking forward to seeing the Wiz pitch tonight in the WBC. I got to see the DR team beat the Astros in an exhibition game in 2006. I almost didn’t mind that they won, since their fans outnumbered ours and they were totally into it. Great fans watching some great players.
What I’d rather see than the current format would be a late-fall true “World” Series, with the best team from every major baseball league playing each other. I think we’d see better baseball if we were watching championship teams who have trained together, rather than national/ethnic based teams made up of players who aren’t really yet in game form.
But this is fun too. Aren’t you glad the long winter is over and baseball is back!? GO ROY O!

The Netherlands huh?
http://thewrightway.mlblogs.com/

Stuff happens. Especially when you have a very small sample size. I don’t have a strong preference who wins (besides the US), but it’s hard not to get a kick out of a David vs Goliath upset.

The darkhorse in the WBC has got to be Cuba. We have no idea what to expect from them. I have to admit, I think I’m becoming very excited about the Classic.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

Beside the Netherlands upsetting the DR, the Australia spanking the Mexicans was another highlight of the weekend. 17-7…mercy rule, game stopped after the 8th inning.
What a humiliation. I knew the Australians were a better team than people were giving them credit for, but 17-7…unbelievable! That’s what the WBC is all about, no doubt. I can still hear MLB network commenters saying, ‘the Netherlands/Australia…no chance’. Well they proved everyone wrong. Was it luck? Maybe…or maybe not. You don’t spank the Mexican team with luck. Also, in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, the Netherlands defeated Cuba and Korea…yep you’re reading it right. So sure Australia, and the Netherlands are not playing at the same level (for now), however underestimating them proved to be a costly mistake. I’d like to mention that Italy, despite its loss against Venezuela, showed some very good baseball for the first 5 innings (their only pitchers with Major League experience blew it off for them after that which I find ironical). Bobby Abreu getting picked off at 3rd base put a big smile on my face. Italian best prospect, Maestri, is another example of a pitcher who did pretty well despite the pressure. If I’m not mistaking he’s in the Cubs organization; we could see him at some point sooner or later.

Yeah, this tournament has gotten very exciting. That Austalia game was a blast to watch, as was last night’s USA-Venezuela game. It got uncomfortable towards the end after Venezuela’s arms ran out, but the beginning was very fun, and then it just became nonsense.

As a friend of mine texted me in the seventh inning, “It’s like a worm fighting an eagle.”

Italy has a lot of power – even without Saccomanno. Not really sure why he’s not on the roster, but they are a definite darkhorse.

PLUS — Korea beat Japan this morning.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

Well, how about that…Italy defeats Canada. Let’s hope their second game against Venezuela will have a better ending for them. Also, you gotta love the Netherlands coming so close to win against PR. Their 19 year old pitcher striking out Pudge on 3 pitches, their right fielder gunning down a couple of runner at the plate… is that baseball or what? I love underdawgs! I’m surprised the Netherlands hasn’t penciled in Sidney de Jong yet; he batted for 454avg in the 2006 WBC, and he’s one of the best players in Europe.
The most impressive thing about the Netherlands is that they do it all with good pitching and defense (their offense hasn’t been very productive so far).

There we go: Dutch 2 DR 1…and against no less than Marmol, thanks in part by pinch hitter Sidney de Jong! (who said it first! :) The world has turned up side down! What a game it was! As far as I’m concerned, forget ST, let’s focus on the WBC. The Australians came so close to upset huge favorite Cuba. When that big Cuban hitter came to the plate, and the Australian pitcher kept throwing him curve balls, I knew the outcome was fixin’ to turn sour for the Australians…

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