Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The World Baseball Distraction...

                                  Well, this weekend is when actual Grapefruit league games will be played...and while I can't wait to see actual games, it's going to be a letdown, as usual. The first few weeks of Spring training usually feature dozens of triple and double A players, with little or no shot to play in the majors that year, playing against each other.  I mean sure, I'll still watch a 21 year old pitching to the 12th string catcher, facing a 40 year plus player, just trying to hang on one more year...Basically, it'll be a few weeks until the starters will be playing at least 5 innings per game, so we'll need something to tide us over til

                   Enter the World Baseball Classic: Debuting in 2007, the WBC is a well meaning tournament featuring 16 countries competing  against each other.  I guess MLB figured it would make up for losing baseball in the Olympics. The reality though, is that there will most likely be 2, maybe 3 teams who actually have a chance; and they're not the ones filled with Major Leaguers.  Japan has won both the 2006 and 2009 WBC championship (I don't know why it wasn't held last year instead of this year, but whatever )'s been four ye), beating Korea and Cuba (the other two teams that I think have a chance).  I mean, sure, Venezuela has a killer line-up, as do the usual suspects like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S.A and such. Those teams will surely kick the crap out of the Netherlands, Italy, Australia and Brazil ( Brazil?), but when in comes down to it, country pride wins over millionaires. (Side note, any of those last 5 teams are still better than the Houston Astros this year )

            Japan has won both times because they actually care...there's a couple of Major leaguers on the team, but they would rather blow out one of their starters arms ( Dice-K in 2010 ) than lose the tournament.  Korea is like a less talented, but just as hungry version of Japan, (baseball-wise, of course) while Cuba, who has no big leagers on their team, is entirely something different.  The Cuban team is filled with players who are, quite frankly, afraid to lose...Fidel and his brother take "beisbol" very seriously down there.  Also, there are at least a handful of Cuban players who are showing the "world" (well, actually, mostly America) that they're are ready to defect at a moments notice to play in the bigs.  So, while it's great to see some fairly competitive baseball, it's a safe bet that it'll be Cuba v.s Japan, with probably Japan winning...just as Abner Doubleday would have preferred...            

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