Though South Korea’s upset victory over Cuba to claim Olympic gold will rightfully receive more attention this evening, the USA’s 8-2 defeat of Japan — featuring major contributions from P Brett Anderson (above) and former Longhorns C Taylor Teagarden — not only earned the Americans a hard-fought bronze medal, but also resulted in a memorable press conference attended by’s Mark Newman :

Manager Senichi Hoshino and outfielder Norichika Aoki appeared and faced the music in front of the usual swollen media crush from their homeland. Aoki, who had hit the three-run homer in the top of the third to stake Japan to a 4-1 lead, was close to tears when he responded to a question about what he would say to the Japanese people.

“I really would like to say sorry to them,” Aoki said. “This is not how it’s supposed to end. We came here for the gold medal. It was a great pity. This doesn’t mean anything if there is no medal, but I sensed the fun, and I’d like to say this is a great game.”

The news conference moderator was in the process of announcing the end of questions and comments, when suddenly Hoshino interjected one last thing:

“I’d also like to say sorry — but this is because the team as a whole was not in good shape, and in the future we will show you better baseball.”

There’s no truth to the rumor Hank Steinbrenner plans to either hire Hoshnio to replace Joe Girardi, or sue Japan’s skipper for stealing his best lines.

Yankees 2B Robinson Cano was 1 for 4 tonight in New York’s 5-3 win over Baltimore —- the first victory for starter Carl Pavano in 31 months, the New York Times’ Jack Curry suggests (seriously) that Cano’s poor ’08 production can be traced to the lack of Larry Bowa’s verbal abuse.

Bowa said he used œtough love to get through to Cano, who he called a good kid and a good player. But Bowa emphasized that the key to coaching Cano was to not tell him only what he wanted to hear. Bowa said he told Cano when he was good and when he was bad, an honest approach that eventually worked.

Still, Bowa had some trying times with Cano. He explained how Cano once stopped at third base while Bowa was waving him home. When Bowa confronted Cano, Cano told him the outfielder had a good arm. Bowa was furious and told Cano he could play second base and coach third, too. The two did not speak for a week.

And to think, after all this time we’d been led to believe the Yankees were sorely missing Jorge Posada and Chien-Ming Wang rather than their 3rd base coach. I’m a little curious, however. What do you think would happen if a player —- rookie or veteran — chose to speak to a reporter about the results of an obstensibly private conversation with a coach or manager?