Every two years, the best university students in the world compete in the Universiade or the University Olympics. Both summer and winter editions are contested, and baseball has featured in four Games, including the current Universiade in Taiwan and the 2015 edition in Korea.
This year, Japan won the Universiade baseball gold medal after beating the USA in the final, the second consecutive win for Japan (2015). Japan is one of only three nations to ever win the Universiade (jointly with Taiwan in 2015), with Cuba winning in 1993 and 1995. Japan has now won 11 consecutive games at the Universiade and has three medals in four games, second-best in the world.
Meanwhile, Korea won its fourth baseball medal, best-ever, though it has yet to win a gold at the University Games (two silver, two bronze). The silver medal is a huge result for USA (via the University of Iowa, who competed as Team USA) after finishing in fourth place in back-to-back tournaments.
It was also a great showing for European baseball: The Czech Republic was fourth, up from a tie for fifth, Russia was No. 6, and France finished seventh, up one spot. France, in particular, was much better than its result, beating No. 4 Taiwan and No. 6 Mexico, though the Czechs were victorious against No. 3 Korea.
On the other hand, it was a very disappointing tournament for Mexico, who finished eighth after losing to France, a nation ranked 20 spaces behind in the WBSC rankings (No. 6 and No. 26). Host nation Taiwan was also hoping for better, but started by losing on a walkoff error and finished fifth after tying for gold in 2015. They lost only two games.
19:00 Group A France 4 – Taiwan 3
19:00 Group B Japan 19 – Russia 0
02:30 Group B USA 3 – Mexico 2
02:30 Group A Czech Republic 4 – Korea 3
19:00 Group A Korea 12 – France 0
19:00 Group B Japan 7 – Mexico 2
02:30 Group A Taiwan 11 – Czech Republic 0
02:30 Group B USA 13 – Russia 3
19:00 Group B Japan 11 – USA 5
19:00 Group A Czech Republic 12 – France 7
02:30 Group B Mexico 15 – Russia 0
03:15 Group A Korea 6 – Taiwan 3
Group A Standings
Czech Republic 2-1
Group B Standings
19:00 Super Round Japan 2 – Korea 1
19:00 Consolation Round Taiwan 11 – Mexico 1
02:30 Super Round USA 8 – Czech Republic 0
02:30 Consolation Round France 11 – Russia 7
19:00 Super Round USA 6 – Korea 4
19:00 Consolation Round Taiwan 11 – Mexico 1
02:30 Super Round Japan 8 – Czech Republic 1
02:30 Consolation Round Mexico 8 – France 5
Super Round Standings
Czech Republic 0-2
Consolation Round Standings
27 August (continued)
19:00 Consolation Semifinals Taiwan 10 – Mexico 0
04:30 Consolation Semifinals Russia 8 – France 1
19:00 Super Round Semifinals USA 8 – Czech Republic 4
19:00 7th & 8th Place Game France 11 – Mexico 5
02:30 Super Round Semifinals Japan 4 – Korea 0
02:30 5th & 6th Place Game Taiwan 5 – Russia 1
20:00 Bronze Medal Game Korea 6 – Czech Republic 2
02:30 Gold Medal Game Japan 10 – USA 0
Note: All times GMT.
Final Standings All-Time Universiade Medal Table
You’re beginning to read like Donald Trump….. “Every two years, THE BEST UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN THE WORLD compete in the  University Olympics.” Because you say so?
Come on, man, that isn’t close to the truth.
The University of Iowa ranks 90th to 100th (RPI) among US Division-I teams every year. They’re mediocre — well coached, but mediocre among Division I teams.
Not only are they not among the best college teams in the US…NOT ONE IOWA PLAYER ranks among the top 100 players in US college baseball….much lest best in the world.
This summer, as every year, the 350 best American college players are on Team USA (a recruited all-star team — not the Hawkeyes) and in the Cape Cod League. Team USA has never chosen to join the Taipei tournament. By that time of the summer, the players are tired and want to go home for 2 week’ rest before the Fall semester begins.
Look, the truth is quality US college players just aren’t interested in the Taipei tournament, nor in the WBSC rankings. So, the WBSC has been pestering college ball to send someone for years. Three or four years ago, USA Baseball asked the California junior colleges (2-year schools) to send a team. The Coaches’ Association put one together a very competitive group, then the Taiwan organizer didn’t want them. Another year in which the US sent no one, as I recall.
Given that college baseball produces two-thirds of players who last 5+ years in MLB, it is clear that a second-level US college team did not participate against the “best university students in the world”. With, perhaps 2-3 exceptions, the best players were playing summer ball in the US.
As to European teams’ performance (the top recruited national and foreign players on each team let’s recall), it is more realistic to say the tournament competition was down to Europe’s level — not that European baseball showed any great strength.
European baseball will never become competitive by wishing it were — and then claiming the wish is reality.
This is not to take away from Japan, a LEGITIMATE world power in baseball. They walked through the tournament because they deserved it — they do not need to pretend.
Whilst I am glad in the current climate of alternative facts that readers are sensitive to misleading or counterfactual journalism, I hardly think this piece deserves the journalistic opprobrium of Trumpian rhetoric. For one thing, your obloquy was predicated on an opening statement which does not state that the baseball competition has the best players in the world, but that the Universiade as a whole does, a wholly defensible statement.
I have elsewhere criticised the US for not sending its national teams to this event and have, in all reporting, made clear that the ‘U.S.’ baseball team was actually the University of Iowa. Furthermore, I made no claims to European ascendancy and noted, merely, that they had exceeded expectations. In what might be perceived as an eagerness to criticise, you seem to have misconstrued a simple wrap-up as a willful exposition of a misinformed personal agenda. I assure you, I am well aware that Iowa is not the face of American university baseball and that the European squads, particularly Russia, would hardly rank among the best university players (though, with the notable exception of Canada or, perhaps, Australia, few countries play university baseball).
I appreciate, as always, your interest in international baseball and your desire to see it factually reported, but I hardly think I am deserving of the highly charged epithet of a sporting Donald Trump.
Gabriel, my friend,
I used the “Trumpian” jibe, not as an allegation that you were creating fake news, but because Trump claims everything he is associated with is the greatest or the most ______ ever.
My apology that I did not realize the thing in Taiwan involved more than baseball. And from that error, I regret the overall tone of my comment to you.
Gabriel, the USA will never send a representative team to any of these events. College baseball, in particular, just does not need them. They are meaningless to American baseball — except for MLB’s interest in promoting the p.r. fable that baseball is truly a worldwide game. USA Baseball’s participation in any of these events is, I believe, simply in service to MLB’s fable (MLB being a major sponsor of USA Baseball). From here, it does seem ironic that almost none of the countries represented in this tournament have college or university-affiliated teams & leagues.
If European baseball exceeded expectations, it is because the expectations were low. Look, these “international” groups (among them, the WBSC) are putting on events which diminish by the year. The real TEAM USA has not been to the Universiade. None of the Caribbean teams were represented (a Curacao & Aruba team would have easily been in the top 4). In part, we must blame the decline of Cuban baseball — largely MLB’s doing. But Team USA no longer joins any of the European tournaments And look at the level of competition over the past 4-6 years at World Port, Haarlem Baseball Week and Prague Baseball Week (where a pickup team of US guys playing in the European leagues has dominated for years). The product outside N.America, the Caribbean, Japan/Korea is declining. If baseball is a worldwide sport, so are cricket and jai ala.
Look, in the 14 games of this tournament, the European teams were outscored 119-35. Five of the games were by shutout. How much worse would it have been if the better countries were represented?
I really am a Europhile (no one living in American today, who has visited Europe, can help but be). And I VERY much want the game to be better in Europe! Not just claim to be better, but in reality. The real culprit in its failure to be is MLB. The MLB teams don’t give a damn about the game developing in Europe. They only want to encourage the elite athletes to hit home runs and throw 92+ mph. That leaves 99% of the game behind. Yes, this predatory policy will yield a Max Kepler every 100 years. But not much else. Because European baseball sorely lacks parity (except in Germany), kids are walking away from the game and returning to their soccer balls.
Anyway, bottom line: I apologize that I misapprehended your lead copy and thus overreacted to it!
Always a fan of your work,
I appreciate the apology, particularly as the worst thing I could possibly be would be a sporting Trump. This truly is the crowning university sport event, even if baseball lets down the side somewhat (at least other than Japan and Korea).
I have stated firmly in various places my feelings about US NTs, which is why I was so pleased that they took it fairly seriously with the WBC roster. I think we can fairly safely put a pin in that discussion, as we are both aware that MLB and USA (at the collegiate level) do what they want and has little interest in winning anything other than the WBC. You are also entirely correct on my reasoning for European teams exceeding expectations, but one of the purposes of my website is to spread the news of international baseball in places outside the centre of the baseball world. Drawing attention to places like Europe will, hopefully, bring investment. And, even if MLB has its priorities wrong, it paying attention to Europe and elsewhere can only help. It may only be Kepler, Neverauskas, and a few others, but that is a lot more than 20 years ago, and the more fans interested, the more investment, etc. Does European baseball have a long way to go? Yes, and much further than it thinks. But, there is a groundswell of momentum which is bigger on the ground in places like Britain (even as we lose in Italy) than it has ever been, and that can only be a good thing. And, there is no point in constantly criticising the level of play, though it might be fair to argue that more comparison to show the level would be beneficial.
Please do feel free to continue offering constructive thoughts. It is great to have dialogue on the topic, particularly with the goal of contributing to the improvement of international baseball.
I think, Gabriel, there is every reason to critique the level of play. My purpose is — and always has been — that European baseball cannot realistically hope to genuinely improve its quality of competition until it genuinely realizes where it is.
By greater investment, do you mean by MLB? If so, I think that’s a pipe dream. Before European baseball improves at the national plane, it must grow in numerous local competitions. A critical element of that is clubs gaining self respect by offering useful things in local communities which win friends. There will be no major handouts from Park Avenue. From this side of the pond, there is a growing recognition that there has already been too much.