The World Baseball Classic Preview
Total Pro Sports – The 2009 World Baseball Classic is upon us. It comes at a good time in March, (before the madness) because god knows people only watch baseball when there is nothing else on. This event is designed to appeal to Baseball fans and develop the game in parts of the world where Baseball is still growing. Lets take a look at the groups.
The Asian Bracket of the tournament takes place in Japan, and like most of the other groups the outcome is going to be pretty predictable. Defending champions Japan and Korea should take first and second place respectively and the odds China get out of the group stage is about equal to their population, about one in a billion. The Chinese Taipei, or Taiwan if you were wondering who they are feature such players as Yen-Wen Kuo and Han Lin. Wait, I never heard of any of them either….(Yet?)
Mexico hosts Pool B, which is most likely the worst division that the WBC will ever see. I think we are lucky they have the 10 and 15 run mercy rule because these games are going to get ugly. The only game worth watching will probably be Cuba and Mexico, with the winner taking first place in the group. Rounding out the group is the bitter rivals the Republic of South Africa and Australian. Now if this was Cricket or Rugby, I am sure that it would have been one hell of a game that both nations would be rooted to the television watching, but its not; its baseball, and nobody cares about that sport in either of those countries. There is a better chance of a dingo eating your baby then Australia getting out of this group. Cuba is fielding a young (unless they fudged their documents), new team who will be playing some relaxed baseball since they don’t have to worry about Castro executing them if they don’t win it all, which is probably what happened to the 2006 team.
The great city of Toronto hosts Pool C, who I dub the Group of Death. I use this analogy because the ‘Group of Death’ is the only term that Italian fans can possibly relate to. I am sure the Azzuri Nation is going to be up at 2am this Saturday to watch a bunch of guys they never heard of get trounced by Venezuela in a sport which 99% of the country doesn’t care about. Italy aside, this division is going to be fiercely competitive as the United States, Venezuela and Canada all field star studded teams. Canada has the home field advantage, and I heard they are planning to keep the Dome open so the Venezuelans freeze their assess off. And since steroids users are banned in Canada the United States team only has Derek Jeter left on their roster. (I still like their odds)
The last time the Dutch were in Puerto Rico was probably around Colonial times. They eventually got kicked out violently, and this visit is going to be the same, if not worse. This is going to be a battle of Latinos wearing different colours swinging it out with heavy bats. Gang jokes aside, this group features tons of MLB Natural talent and Alex Rodriguez. Look for the Dominican Republic to move on and make a solid run for the Championship. Puerto Rico has way too many Mets on their team so look for them to choke in their do or die game against Panama.
The double elimination group stage leaves no margin for errors, and Managers decisions will have extra weight because pitchers are on strict counts, and they don’t have 150 games left in the season to make up for it if they fall behind. This is going to be a riveting week of top notch baseball that will hopefully bring Americas Pastime into televisions all around the world. Unfortunately, the people who want to watch the games probably do not own televisions, and those that do will either be asleep or watching something their country is actually good at.
Hey, at least it’s better than that crappy curling tournament last week, and it gives us something interesting to bet on until March Madness begins.