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So it's off to the World Baseball Classic with us, both today and tomorrow - which I think will be the first time ever I've actually gone to games on back-to-back days. Though, to be brutally honest, does today's match-up really count? I mean, the finest baseball players that Canada and, er, South Africa have to offer? This one still promises to be a lot of fun, however: I'm breaking out my Montreal Canadiens shirt, which always seems to provoke conversations It's only a minor problem that I am a) not Canadian, and b) know more about jai-alai - a vastly-underrated sport, IMHO - than I do about hockey. So the conversations are kinda short.

It's at Scottsdale Stadium, which is conveniently located for us, so the plan is to get the decks cleared here early, then maybe head out for an early dinner with the visiting friends [who, it looks like, will be moving to Arizona - he has just got a job at Go Daddy too, continuing the secret master plan for a British takeover, bwah-hah-hah] before they head back to New York. Maybe at Pischke's Paradise in old town Scottsdale? And then stroll across to Scottsdale Stadium for the game: pictures and full report to follow. Weather forecast looks good, the antibiotics appear to be keeping the flu that loomed over the weekend at bay, and I've got three days off. All is right with the world, or at least my small corner of it.

Russ Ortiz, meanwhile, almost single-handedly incinerated our 100% record yesterday, allowing a seven-run second inning against the Rangers. But, naturally, he still "felt good about what he was throwing." According to the Banana, "I want the guys to swing the bat. I want them to hit the ball. As for strikeouts, if those come, those come... My change-up was better last outing. My curveball was a lot better this outing. And the fastball, I think, was just as good." It would appear that Mr. Ortiz inhabits some kind of parallel universe, where "good" is defined somewhat differently.

Koplove did okay, pitching two scoreless innings despite a pair of hits and a hit batter, with Chico and Heredia also keeping Texas off the board. But Valverde allowed three runs on three hits in one inning, and Grimsley two in the fourth, to put us in a 12-3 hole. Despite that, to our credit, our offense continues to roll, big-time: we came back, scoring five in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by Chris Carter's grand slam, and only went down 13-11. We pounded out nineteen hits, with DaVanon, Tracy, Clark, Carter, Hill and Andy Green (another error though!) all getting two each.

Rumblings surround Counsell. The Banana also reports he "has sought out a second and third opinion on the labrum tear in his right shoulder the past two days, leading to new speculation about his availability for the regular season." Talk of surgery is now being openly whispered, and this has probably put dampers on any trade talks involving Alex Cintron. That aside, there was one definite addition to the DL list after Monday's game though: third base coach Carlos Tosca didn't make it out of the first innings, having his right foot broken by a line-drive foul off the bat of Eric Byrnes. Ouch.

Slightly tempted to try and take in this afternoon's game vs. the Angels at Tempe Diablo - never been there, but have heard it's a nice venue. And Brandon Webb gets the start for us, so I trust there'll be no seven-run innings to be seen there. But I think that might border on overkill. And besides, I'll need to learn the words to O Canada. :-) All together now:

"O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command."