Right about now, G-Mac and DevenDork are in their hotel room in Jacksonville and, even though it's not yet noon, Senior Gerry passed the bottle of whiskey to Freshman Eric and explained to his protege how it's going to go down.
"Korea allows Japan to get a 4-0 lead ... Japan allows Korea to score a run in the fifth and a run in the sixth, y'know, just for show ... then, Korea permits Japan to score two runs in the eighth, y'know, just for window-dressing ... and that's your final from The Big A in Anaheim: Japan 6, Korea 2 ... Team USA done! I've got $500 ridin' on it. You want some of the action, dawg?"
See, that's what's wrong with college b-ball ... kids boozin' and bookmakin' before noon.
I have a strict policy about anything other than gin before lunch.
On the other hand, I have great respect for G-Mac making book on an international level, rather than hookwinking his little buddy into a sucker bet.
"Hey, Eric ... if 60-plus buses were filled with my fans for the Scranton-to-Syracuse odyssey, how many jumbo jets does it take for my entourage to make the Scranton-to-Jacksonville pilgrimage? I got a C-note that sez no fewer than six completely-booked flights are filled with my peeps.
"You want in?"
Anyway, G-Mac's Japan-Korea conspiracy is the best safe-money bet on the table. I don't have the Japan-Korea diplomacy worksheet in front of me so that I can handicap alliances formed and then severed between those two Pacific Rim powers during the past 60 years since two hot-button issues which we call "WW II" and "the Korean Conflict."
However, two nations teaming against Team USA looks like the biggest no-brainer of '06.
And, we're at T-minus 12 hours from when they square off in Anaheim (Team USA plays Mexico tomorrow) ... and logic says that an anti-American pact is being orchestrated right now.
Exactly! As if Selig and Steinbrenner and their collective microscopic cajones can stop it.
That's a good one.
As we know, the tiebreaker is such that if Korea should beat Japan today and then Team USA defeats Mexico tomorrow, the Pool 1 standings for this second round would be: 1) Korea 3-0 ... 2) USA 2-1 ... 3) Japan 1-2 ... Mexico 0-3 ...
But, if Japan knocks off Korea (and the U.S. beats Mexico), the three-way tie at 2-1 is broken by the run-differential matrix.
Therefore, if Japan does NOT beat Korea by a margin of 7 runs or more, Korea and Japan will move onto Saturday's semifinals along with Pool 2's finest (Dominicana is already in with the winner of tonight's Puerto Rico/Cuba streetfight gettin' the other berth).
It's quite elementary. Korea is going to allow Japan to win by a score of 6-2 ... or 8-4 ... or 3-1 ... or 4-3 ...
No, I'm stickin' with 6-2, Japan (although when they squared off a little less than two weeks ago in the Tokyo Dome, Korea won, 3-2, thanks to that two-run jack by Seung Yeop Lee and that dandy diving catch by Jin Young Lee to take a 3-run double away from Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
HALT! Now isn't THAT a fine kettle of fish? Nishioka was the baserunner who was called out on Sunday for tagging up and leaving the bag too early (which he didn't) to give Japan a 4-3 lead.
There's an expression about payback being a motherF, but I can't remember how it goes right now.
This is standard human nature. What would motivate Korea to play its tail off tonight?
Pride? TV ratings? The semifinals at Pet Store Park in ShamuLand are set for Saturday ... so, anyone who's into March Madness isn't going to watch baseball anyway.
If Korea and Japan really put their heads together, they can completely bodyslam Team USA with some creative coreography. I envision it going something like:
Play a 0-0 game heading to the bottom of the ninth, then ... when Nishioka leads off the bottom of the ninth, have the Korean pitcher soft-toss a 36-MPH pitch which hits Nishioka on the hip.
Nishioka, who was 41 of 41 in stolen bases last year for the Chiba Lotte Marines, will then steal second (without drawing a throw). Then, Nishioka will steal third (without drawing a throw).
Then, the Korean pitcher will uncork a wild pitch that the Korean catcher Kab Yong Jin won't bother to catch ... and won't bother to retrieve.
Nishioka will trot halfway down the line between third and home, do two cartwheels, stomp on home plate and then gesture to the crowd, "Did I leave third too early THAT time?"
Japan wins, 1-0.
(Then, the Japanese players will congregate in the on-deck circle and take turns tossing Topps trading cards of Al Leiter into the trash-can fire they've started)
Personal note: Kab Yong Jin plays for the Samsung Lions ... and I've watched him play on a Samsung TV ... and I think I became totally anti-American while watching on that Samsung at 3:30 the other morning when Korea was beating the U.S. and, as Seung Yeop Lee was batting, the ESPN mikes clearly caught some voice yelling, "Heeeee! Seee-yoppp! Choyyyy! Let's go, Hee Seop!"
It was a completely-lame (and racist) heckle, given that Lee had already hit his 5th homer of the WBC in the first inning and then Hee Seop Choi put a dagger in the U.S. with that skyscraping fly ball which wrapped around the foul pole for a 3-run dinger.
I mean, if you're gonna be an ugly American while heckling, at least have the consideration to be a Creatively-Ugly American by tossing in some original epithets, such as "Hey, Hop Sing!" or "Let's go, Jet Li!" or "Dat Nguyen woulda hit that pitch!"
And, then, while driving your Daihatsu home to your Ugly American parents' condo in Hacienda Heights, cellphone your bookie and place a bet on Sorrycuse (a lacrosse school) vs. Texas A&M (formerly a football school) in that 5 vs. 12 showdown.
Before I run along, I was thinking about DevenDork's tatts (as I often do) and I wondered how many times white boys or white girls go into into tattoo parlors and request gettin' their bodies inked up with Japanese letters or symbols ... and I pondered how many times a white boy, who cannot speak or read Japanese, goes into the parlor thinking that he's getting branded with the Japanese lettering for "ultimate warrior" and instead gets a lost-in-translation marking on his bod which actual reads "total tool."
I'm just askin'.
See ya at spring training on Friday, Jeter ...