(Cuba’s national team notices the stadium gate has been left unguarded)

First off, at the risk of repeating myself more than Mel Tillis, there are two kinds of baseball fan reactions to the World Baseball Classic thus far ; those who’ve been entertained, thrilled, mildly blown away, etc. by the quality of play, level of drama, Jeff Brantley’s skill pronouncing foreign names, etc. And those who’ve been unable to see the games. The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir encounters the latter phenomena

(Korea’s Jong Beom Lee exhults in the the second humiliation of Ichiro in 10 days)

Yesterday, for example, ESPN Deportes carried the Cuba-Puerto Rico game at 7 p.m. Eastern, and the more crucial South Korea-Japan game, which could have eliminated the United States if Japan won while scoring relatively few runs, at 10 p.m.

The South Korea-Japan game should have been live on ESPN or ESPN2, each with about 90 million subscribers; instead, it was carried on tape at 1 a.m. Eastern on ESPN2. But there were reasons.

Negotiations to carry the Classic were completed well after schedules were cemented on ESPN and ESPN2.

Last night, in the time slots occupied by the two baseball games, ESPN showed the Vanderbilt-Notre Dame National Invitation Tournament basketball game followed by the Clippers-Suns N.B.A. game. On ESPN2, the Wake Forest-Minnesota N.I.T. game led into the Michigan-U.C.L.A. women’s softball game, a rematch of last season’s N.C.A.A. title game.

“We’d prefer that all games be on ESPN and ESPN2, but we have an embarrassment of riches,” said Len DeLuca, a senior vice president at ESPN. “So there was no place to put those World Baseball Classic games live.”

Brosnan said that he had asked ESPN to put games on ESPN Classic without success. (Despite its apt title, the World Baseball Classic did not meet rules to be carried live on ESPN Classic.) Brosnan sympathized with the task of finding room for 39 games on short notice.

“This has become one of those rare cases when demand outstrips supply,” he said.

Through Tuesday, four games rated from a 1.3 (1.2 million cable homes) to the 1.5 (1.3 million) the Canada-U.S.A. game drew on March 8 ” the same range as several N.B.A. and college basketball games on TNT and ESPN late last month. ESPN2’s Classic games have produced a slightly bigger audience among men 18 to 34 than the N.B.A. has this season.

“The ratings have exceeded our most optimistic expectations,” Brosnan said.

DeLuca added, “We’ve been astounded.”

Sandomir points out that all of the games have been available via MLB.com. Were it not for the fact that it is very hard to watch baseball on the laptop while driving, I would give that particular product very high marks.

The greatest living America, Roger Clemens will take the hill for Team USA tonight at 7pm, needing a victory against Mexico to clinch the red, white and boo-fucking-hoo side’s entry to the semi-finals. I’m sure I speak for all thoughtful persons when I say, “Let’s Go Mexico”.

P Francisco Cordero has joined the Dominican Republic team as a replacement for the injured Damaso Marte. It’s been a chair shot-tastic week and we’re not even at Friday, yet.