Chat with Tommy Lasorda
The WBC runs from March 5-23 and four different cities will host pool play - Tokyo, Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan. Two more cities - San Diego and Miami - host the second round games, before Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles hosts the semifinals and finals. The semifinals and finals will be seen on ESPN, while Rounds 1 and 2 will be seen on ESPN, ESPN2 and the MLB Network.
The field for the 2009 tournament will mirror that of the inaugural event with Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Africa, United States and Venezuela making up the 16 teams. For more information on the Classic, visit WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Send in your questions now and join Lasorda at 1 p.m. ET on Monday!
Buzzmaster (1:00 PM)
Tommy will be here shortly, everyone!
Tommy Lasorda (1:07 PM)
I'd like to say, I love coming to San Diego. I loved coming here to play against the Padres. I think it's a great city, and I can't wait until I get to the restaurants to have some good Italian food. If the Dodgers don't win, I'd like to see the Padres win. I'm looking forward to coming back on March 15th for the WBC. I spent a whole day here telling them to buy tickets the last time, because it's going to be bigger than any of them will believe. We sold 28,000 tickets that night. We know one thing--March the 15th, you'll have a baseball game being played. Adrian Gonzalez will be playing for his home country, and three minor leaguers who will play for our Italian team. Russell Martin will play for Canada. It's just great. The first time the WBC happened, everybody said it wouldn't work. We outdrew their expectations. We want to be better this year than we were last year. The first time we were in this thing, the U.S. team disappointed me, but I hope we get Jake Peavy this time around. Get your tickets now, and when it comes on the 15th, you'll have good seats. The semifinals and the finals will be at Dodger Stadium this year. Let's hope the U.S. wins, like we're supposed to! As I took the Olympic team to Australia, I told the team we would bring the gold back to where it belongs. When they raised that American flag and played the anthem, I cried, because I had given something back to my country. If you get the opportunity to be born here, you should play! Nobody should be able to beat us in baseball or basketball or track, because we have the greatest athletes.
Tommy, Who is going to be a sleeper country that might surprise some people?
Tommy Lasorda (1:10 PM)
I don't think you will have any surprises with the Dominican, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, but if, say, China were to win this thing, it would surprise me. I thought the Japanese had a chance to win last time, but we should have won it, because we had at least three guys who were Hall of Famers last time. We won only one game! What a shame, that's disgusting! These guys better make up their minds to play. They've got to want to win. Everyone wants to knock us off, but we cannot allow them to beat us!
Chad (Las Vegas)
Tommy, what is more gratifying World Series, Olympics, or WBC?
Tommy Lasorda (1:12 PM)
That's a very good question. I'll tell you, before I went to Australia, I told everyone that it was bigger than the world series, bigger than my years with the Dodgers, bigger than Major League baseball, and people thought I was wacky. When we win the World Series, the Dodger fans are happy, but no one else is. But when you win the World Series, everyone is happy. That to me meant more than anything. I did what I wanted to do. People felt sorry that I didn't get a medal, but I got one when they put the medal around the necks of my players, and when they played the National Anthem. When I went in the service, I loved it, because I wore the uniform of the greatest country of the world. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. Winning that gold medal meant more to me than the rings I got from championships.
Mr. Lasorda, First of all I want to say I am sorry for not saying please when asking you to sign a ball for me at spring training a couple of years ago. My real question is, how are teams (nations) like Italy, Australia, etc., coming along in growing baseball there?
Tommy Lasorda (1:13 PM)
How about that! If the Italian guys in baseball played for the Italian team, they would have a chance. But they want to play for their country. It's like A-Rod wanting to play for the Dominican. Do they send you your check? You play here in America, you should play for America.
Vin (Hartford, CT)
Who is the greatest player youve ever managed?
Tommy Lasorda (1:16 PM)
That's a tough question. I have so many of them. I have stars, pitchers in the Hall of Fame, great players like Lopes, Scioscia, Seay, and other players from great teams I managed. I though Reggie Smith had the most ability, but so did guys like Dusty Baker. It's very difficult for me to say which one I liked the best. I have too many of them. They were great people and great players.
Tim (Sacramento, CA)
Growing up watching the Dodgers win world series was amazing. With so much change in today's game, it looks like the Dodgers have returned to growing our own players again. How long do you see before we make our run to the World Series?
Tommy Lasorda (1:17 PM)
I think we have the ability to be in the World Series. We haven't been in since I retired in the 90s, and 88 was the last year we won. So it's been a long time in between being in it and winning it. We have great talent. Joe Torre did such a great job with our team last year. So many guys were on the DL last year, and he kept us competitive.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Do you feel the pressure of the WBC being sucessful so that it will once again become an Olympic sport?
Tommy Lasorda (1:19 PM)
If you want to define the word pressure, it's something that comes from within with the fear of failing. I don't ever believe I'm going to fail! When they kicked baseball and softball out, it was a disgrace to the Olympics. The park was full every time we played, and every time they played softball there. They have some kind of sports I haven't even heard of. I'm not trying to knock the other sports, but it's a disgrace.
Tommy Lasorda (1:22 PM)
I was honored to be able to speak to everyone, and I'm happy you asked good questions. Whatever city you're in, if you have a chance to see the WBC, I wish you would attend. We have to pull for the U.S. We cannot allow those teams to beat us! They said to me, nobody can beat the Cubans, and I said, well, they've lost before, and they'll lose again. I wanna say to all the people, who have been born here, we live in the greatest country of the world, and I want to say to the men and women who wear the uniform, we pray for you and believe in you. Take care of yourselves, we're going to come out victorious wherever we go. I don't care what your politics are, I don't care, we gotta all pull together, because the name of this country is United States. Therefore, we all got to be united. Thank you!