Sure, Japan may have won the first World Baseball Classic, but find me a bigger winner in the tournament than Peter Moylan, a 27-year-old pharmaceutical salesman from Australia who hasn't pitched professionally in seven years -- and who promptly signed with the Braves for $30,000 after the WBC.
Moylan's story is made-for-Disney stuff. The guy signs with the Twins in 1996 but after two years in rookie ball is run out of baseball, in 1999, with an 88-mph fastball and immaturity issues. He goes home to Australia, gets a job, gets married, undergoes two back surgeries and plays for a local club team. Six months ago, while tossing a baseball in the outfield, he tries throwing sidearm and -- voilā! -- suddenly he is throwing 96 mph, a development for which he has no possible explanation.
Fast-forward to the WBC: He whiffs Magglio Ordoņez, Bobby Abreu and Ramon Hernandez of Venezuela, and suddenly the scouts are scrambling to sign the guy. Fast-forward to October and ... well, picture a guy with glasses, a goatee, sideburns and tattoos -- his Australian manager called him "Wild Thing" after the Charlie Sheen character in Major League -- on the mound in a tight playoff game for the Braves. At this cinematic rate, why not?
"He's got real good stuff,'' said former major leaguer Pat Kelly, a coach for Australia and a scout for the Seattle Mariners. "He's a real character, but the key is if this time he really works at it and stays focused. He's got a shot if he does.''
OK, maybe Moylan isn't exactly what Bud Selig had in mind when he starting selling the WBC, but just try to find me a better story out of the tournament. While Moylan can't be topped, here are the other winners and losers to come out of what was a three-week spectacular showcase for all of baseball -- not just major league baseball.
Bartolo Colon The Angels were rightfully concerned about their Cy Young Award winner getting game-ready in early March after leaving his last postseason start last year with shoulder trouble. But Colon looked terrific (0.64 ERA), dominating Cuba in the semifinals until he was forced out of the game by the pitch-count rule and a blister.
Koji Uehara Japan's pitching staff faced 267 batters in the tournament and walked only 11. How good was Uehara's control in shutting out Korea for seven innings in the semifinal? The right-hander threw only 18 balls to 24 batters -- and he's not even rated as highly as his teammate ...
Daisuke Matsuzaka The right-hander hit 95 mph with his fastball and showed he is a major league ace of the near future, perhaps as soon as next year with the Yankees. Matsuzaka, not yet a free agent, would have to go through the posting process, in which a team will have to bid likely more than $20 million just to earn the rights to negotiate a contract with him. And the early word is he is being advised by Scott Boras.