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Down The Line

July 19, 2009|Bill Shaikin

Spanning the globe

for a real champion

Japan won the first World Baseball Classic, and the second, so isn't it time for a true World Series?

No longer should the inference that the World Series determines the best team in the world go unchallenged. Let's see the champion of the Japanese leagues against the champion of the major leagues every November.

"That's far down the road," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "I don't deny someday it will happen. I hope it will. I don't know if it will happen while I'm commissioner."

Selig has said he plans to retire when his contract expires in 2012.

The Japanese aren't waiting around. Their champion plays in the Asia Series each fall, against the champions of the leagues in China, Taiwan and South Korea. The series started in 2005; Japan has won every time.

"Right now, there's not that much interest," the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda said through an interpreter. "If a major league team comes in, it would drive the interest up."

Tom Lasorda, who toured Japan with a National League All-Star team in 1979 and with the Dodgers in 1993, said he long has wanted that true World Series.

"At the time, they weren't comparable to our major leagues," Lasorda said. "Now, they're comparable."

The art of winning,

except they're not

The Hollywood gossip about whether the movie version of "Moneyball" can be revived obscures what could be quite a marketing dilemma.

The full title of the book: "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game." The book was published in 2003, with General Manager Billy Beane and his revenue-challenged Oakland Athletics in the midst of four consecutive playoff appearances and eight consecutive winning seasons.

But publicists might have to hide the subtitle -- and the standings -- if Beane and the A's do not develop an offense by 2011, when the movie might hit theaters. The A's appear headed for their third consecutive losing season, and they're in last place in the American League West.

They rank last in the league in home runs, next-to-last in on-base percentage. The A's No. 3 hitters -- most often Jack Cust and Jason Giambi -- began the weekend batting .203.

In the last 35 years, the lowest batting average by a team's No. 3 hitters: .217, by the 1976 Montreal Expos. That team lost 107 games, with Mike Jorgensen, Larry Parrish and rookie Ellis Valentine most often batting third.

And while we're

talking Canada . . .

Baseball officials deserve credit for a stirring pregame show at the All-Star game, starring President Obama and community volunteers from across North America. It was disgraceful, however, that the Canadian national anthem was presented on tape and not performed live by a Canadian artist.

Our choice for next year's game in Anaheim would be Jim Cuddy, lead singer of the vastly underrated band Blue Rodeo. But few Americans have heard of him, so we nominate pop star Avril Lavigne.

She's popular on both sides of the border. She lives in Los Angeles much of the year, so no trouble getting her to Anaheim. And she still has the glove she used to play softball as a girl -- she showed it to us when she threw out the first pitch before an Angels game in Toronto.

Why you have to go and make things so complicated?

-- Bill Shaikin

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