THERE was apparently some confusion over the play signals and there was also the language barrier that somehow contributed to the early exit, but for a team that was formed just days before the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, the Philippines performed creditably against some of the best in the world, according to Philippine baseball officials.
“The team pretty much met the expectations,” said general manager Marty Eizmendi. “They could have done better but this was definitely a good start.”
The Philippines had a solid debut in the qualifiers when it defeated major leaguer Johnny Damon and his Thailand team, 8-2. However, the Filipinos ran into powerhouse teams and suffered two consecutive defeats.
The Philippines was handed by Chinese Taipei, ranked eighth in the world, a 0-16 defeat in its second game of the tournament. In the do-or-die match for a finals berth, the Filipinos lost to New Zealand, 10-6.
“This was a good learning curve because of the high level of competition brought by this tournament, a level we've never played in before. The strengths and weaknesses of the team was noticed more so in comparison to our competitors,” said Eizmendi.
The obvious weakness of the team was on defense as the Filipinos ran into a total of 12 errors in two losses including seven against New Zealand. Due to a series of errors, the Kiwis scored three runs in the third inning that led to the pullaway.
“You can’t give a good team (like New Zealand) extra outs because if you give those extra outs, they are going to capitalize on it and New Zealand did that especially in the third inning,” said Philippines manager Jim Ramos. “We gave them that three (runs) in the third inning. We actually gave them four extra outs so that’s seven-out inning.”
With Major League Baseball strongly supporting the WBC, the Philippines team was able to reinforce its team from the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association with several US minor league and collegiate players.
It was then tagged by baseball officials as the strongest team ever fielded in an international competition.
However, the unfamiliarity was a big factor in the tournament, Fil-American catcher Chad Nacapoy pointed out.
“I got a couple of passed balls, not a fan of it,” said Nacapoy, playing for Tampa Bay affiliate Princeton Rays.
Nacapoy admitted that there were times during their first game against Thailand that he had miscommunications with the pitchers.
“I would meet them between innings just to get signs down, get what they are comfortable with, and just kinda talk to them. There’s a little bit of a language barrier but we made up for it,” Nacapoy said after the Thailand game.
Eizmendi hopes that the campaign of the Philippines in the WBC, seen nationwide on a cable sports channel, will be the start of something big for the sport.
“This was a very positive experience and from here we can only grow and move forward developing the sport, as a whole,” said Eizmendi.
The national team, now without the minor league reinforcements, will return to Taiwan on November 28 for the Asian baseball championships where they will most likely face the same Chinese Taipei team in the tournament. Japan, Korea, and China will also field teams.