Alan Schwarz

U.S. Comeback Falls Short Against Canada

Alan Schwarz -

Make no mistake, Chase Utley posed. When the Team USA second baseman launched a shot deep into the Phoenix evening, he joined the rest of Chase Field in assuming that his imminent three-run home run would complete a stunning comeback and save Team USA from one of the most shocking upsets in international baseball history. Utley flipped his bat and began his trot, figuring that the world had regained its order.

International | #2006#International Affairs#World Baseball Classic

Wildly Effective, Loewen Kick-Starts Canadian Upset

Alan Schwarz -

After never having pitched above Class A, lefthander Adam Loewen (Orioles) threw 3 2/3 shutout innings to kick-start Canada's 8-6 shocking upset of the United States. On a day when outpitching 22-game winner Dontrelle Willis wasn't saying much—Willis was battered for six hits and five earned runs before getting yanked in the third—Loewen's 91-mph fastball, while not well-commanded, kept the powerful U.S. lineup in check and underscored why he is considered one of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in baseball.

International | #2006#International Affairs#World Baseball Classic

Memo For MLB

Alan Schwarz -

Lost in the hoopla, forgotten in the waning skepticism and mounting excitement of each of its 39 games, was the fact that the inaugural World Baseball Classic was just that—the first attempt at what will surely be an even better event in 2009 and beyond. It was a dry run, a hastily planned experiment that as much as anything became a learning experience for all. Here are the Top 10 things everyone involved — the players, the organizers, the press and the fans — learned from the first World Baseball Classic.

International | #2006#International Affairs#World Baseball Classic

Sifting Through Round Table Reactions

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Baseball America's debate between two scouts and two statistics analysts, the second installment of which begins in issue 0503, could be seen to concern high school pitchers, Double-A hitting prospects, the modern confusion between DIPS and dip. But that is only a smokescreen. It is about humility. Constructiveness. Debate. These are the fibers that, braided together, will lift these two groups from the muck of obstinacy and contempt into an air more healthy and breathable—and, ultimately, sharable.

Majors | #2005#Column

A Different Kind Of ‘next Year’ In Boston

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

No doubt, the Red Sox' 2004 championship came along just when New England—as well as the thousands of fans across the country who now wear their B hats in public—was about to blow. No professional sports franchise, for so long, so determined the mental state of its populace, whose release from psychological bondage required memoirs to confirm the separation, just before they started eating each other's limbs.

Majors | #2005#Column

Going Deep: Barry Zito

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Barry Zito's career is at a crossroads. Two years after his 23-5 record for the Athletics won him the American League Cy Young Award at age 24, Zito spent last season devolving into an average starter with an 11-11, 4.48 record. And as he prepares for 2005, with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder traded, Zito finds himself the sole remaining member of the A's vaunted Big Three, an old man on a rotation rebuilt with youngsters Rich Harden, Joe Blanton and Dan Meyer. In this first installment of Going Deep—Alan Schwarz' new column in which he will regularly sit down with a baseball newsmaker for a one-on-one interview—Zito discusses his fall from stardom, his approach to 2005, and being "a prisoner of my own mind."

Majors | #2005#Column

Going Deep: Mark Prior

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Considered a possible (if not probable) Cy Young Award winner coming off his 18-6 breakthrough performance in 2003, Mark Prior spent the season's first two months on the disabled list with a mysterious Achilles strain and then balky elbow. Even when he returned, the once picture-perfect pitcher looked anything but, his suddenly sketchy control leaving him oddly hittable and with a final 6-4, 4.02 record. The most promising pitcher in years had lost a lot of his luster. Prior enters 2005 comparatively under the radar, trying to reassert himself on a Cubs team that enters the post-Sammy Sosa era relying on their rotation more than ever before.

Majors | #2005#Column

James Adds Insight As Insider

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

When the Red Sox hired Bill James as a consultant several years ago, some complained that allowing an outside stathead influence over player moves would run the club into the ground. They don't seem to be complaining anymore. James' moving from the outside to the inside has had other effects, though—including a recent essay that repudiates some of his theories.

Majors | #2005#Column

Alderson Returns To His Roots

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

It was a good day for San Diego, a bad day for baseball as a whole. Sandy Alderson's exit from Major League Baseball in early May, to return to his club roots as president of the Padres, comes after seven exemplary years of getting baseball's house in order: fixing the umpire mess and the strike zone, restoring some order to the amateur draft, speeding up game action and more. The longtime Athletics executive, Alderson brought intelligence and pragmatism to MLB's central office and substantially improved the modern game. On one of his final days with MLB, Alderson sat down to discuss the Padres, the work he did (and couldn't do), and what lies ahead at MLB.

Majors | #2005#Column

The World Baseball Classic Comes To Life

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

We've waited so long for the World Baseball Classic—the world-cup style tournament featuring major leaguers playing for their home countries, just announced for next March—that it seems sadistic to waste much time here. Let's instead jump right in with Tim Brosnan and Paul Archey, MLB International's two prime architects for the event, as they discuss the road to now, Cuba's prognosis and just how in the world they're going to get this thing done.

Majors | #2005#Column

Varitek Becomes New Face Of The BoSox

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

One decade ago, Jason Varitek was all but a baseball pariah, a player who turned down the Twins as a first-round pick, held out for another 10 months before signing with the Mariners, and began his professional career with most scouts and executives wondering whether he had the heart to be a pro. They're not wondering anymore. Varitek has evolved into one of the most respected players in the game, the linchpin of the defending World Series champion Red Sox, and a player whose only questions surrounding him resemble, "How can he get even better at age 33?" Varitek sat down at Yankee Stadium to discuss his storied preparation, his evolving relationship with the Red Sox and if he's ever wanted to tell baseball, "I told you so!"

Majors | #2005#Column

Meet The Mets Dynamic Duo

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

All last winter, New York buzzed about the new Mets—Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran and more. But now they're talking more and more about the young Mets, namely David Wright and Jose Reyes. Discerning eyes are recognizing that it's Wright and Reyes, both 22, who are the foundation of this rapidly improving franchise. In his first full season, Wright was hitting .305-10-34, with power and discipline. And Reyes, after a year of persistent injuries, was batting .270 out of the leadoff spot while setting basepaths ablaze with seven triples and 16 steals. All this while forming one of the youngest left sides of the infield in major league history. Wright and Reyes sat down together at Shea Stadium to talk about growing up in the spotlight, following the Mets' draft and being all-star luggage-carriers.

Majors | #2005#Column