Maui Sports

Asia new ruler of baseball world

March 23, 2009, 2:18 PM HST
* Updated March 24, 8:55 AM
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Just because England invented the sport and is the home of the world’s greatest soccer league doesn’t mean England has the best players, are proven repeatedly in recent international competitions.

And just because the US invented the sport and is the home of world’s league doesn’t mean that US has the best players, as underscored by the Americans again falling short in the World Baseball Classic.

Americans like to call it our national pastime. Fans in the Caribbean call it their passion. But it certainly seems as if the real center of the baseball world is not located in either of those traditional regions.

Instead, that distinction could belong to Asia based on its dominance in recent international events.

In fact, Japan will be seeking to defend its World Baseball Classic championship today when it meets archrival and reigning Olympic gold medalist North Korea in today’s title game at Dodger Stadium.

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Daisuke Matsuzaka started and pitched effectively for 4.2 innings while receiving excellent offensive support as Japan eased to a 9-4 semifinal victory over the US.

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The Americans led 2-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning when Akinoi Iwamura’s RBI triple sparked a five-run outburst against US starter Roy Oswalt. And when the US closed the gap to 6-4, Japan tackled on three more runs in the bottom of the seven to seal the deal.

South Korea is coming off an impressive win of its own, having defeated Venezuela 10-2 in Saturday’s semifinal.

So the US and Venezuela joined the likes of the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada on the sidelines while two teams from the other side of the world are playing for the title in a sport the left-outs claim to be theirs. Maybe it isn’t, anymore.

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