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Matsuzaka: WBC should change schedule format

Kyodo

Daisuke Matsuzaka on Monday voiced what many World Baseball Classic viewers have wanted to say about the tournament aimed at spurring global interest in the game.

“We have to change the rules. The brackets should be decided by lot,” Matsuzaka told reporters Monday at PETCO Park when he was asked to comment on the same matchups observed repeatedly in the WBC.

Japan and South Korea played each other three times in 2006, when the then-Seibu Lions right-hander was named the tournament MVP.

The two Asian teams are set to meet Tuesday for the third time already in the second WBC and possibly two more times if both teams advance to the final round in Los Angeles.

“The double-elimination format is good, but the winner and runnerup of each group should be separated into different groups in the next round,” Matsuzaka said.

Under the new format aimed at preventing a complicated tiebreaker that caused confusion in the 2006 WBC, teams are eliminated with two losses before they win twice in each round.

Japan won a controversial three-way tiebreaker over the United States and Mexico in the second round based on runs allowed and went on to capture the inaugural title.

Oh: WBC improved

SAN DIEGO (Kyodo) Sadaharu Oh believes that the level of competition has improved in the World Baseball Classic from three years ago.

“Japan won the inaugural WBC, and South Korea played great baseball, too. North and South American countries now think it’s their turn to win the championship,” Oh told a news conference Sunday at PETCO Park, where he celebrated Japan’s 2006 title victory.

The 68-year-old ended his managing career last year and is now serving as special adviser to incumbent WBC Japan manager Tatsunori Hara.

“I’m glad to be back here. It’s been three years since we captured the championship. Time has passed so quickly. I remember that I answered questions with joy on the day we won the final,” Oh said.

“I’m sure that people’s interest in baseball in Asia has grown since then. The WBC’s ultimate goal is to spur global interest in the game. I believe we played a part through our 2006 performance.”

The former Fukuoka Softbank Hawks manager also talked about the features of the WBC.

“In a tournament like this, the team that wins isn’t necessarily the best team. Japan won the inaugural WBC, but we had some luck, too. I just hope that this tournament will grow and have more participating countries in the future,” Oh said.