Posted by: Jeremy | March 5, 2009

Ah yes, somewhat meaningful baseball is back…


The greatest moment of Ichiro's life

The greatest moment of Ichiro's life

And we’re off! The World Baseball Classic tipped off at 4:30 am (our time) today, as Japan began it’s title defence with a 4-0 win over China. Yeah, a lot of big names have decided to skip out this time around, but I’m still in favour of baseball with at least some sort of meaning that starts before April 1. Here’s a look at the four opening round pools and how I see things shaping up:

Pool A

  1. Japan: Ichiro, Dice-K, Akinori Iwamura and Kosuke Fukudome (excuse me) are all in the mix, though Hideki Matsui decided to stay home and watch his extensive porn collection.
  2. Korea: Fun fact — I speak fluent Korean and once sold religious art to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Hell of a nice guy. He had a face like a big apple pie.
  3. Chinese Taipei: I don’t mean to sound ignorant, but I never knew the difference between this country and China.
  4. China:  Looking for it’s first win in WBC competition.

Pool B

  1. Cuba: No familiar names, because, well, they wouldn’t be back playing for their country after defecting to the States.
  2. Mexico: They’ve actually got some major league notables, including Adrian Gonzalez, Joakim Soria and Oliver Perez, who four years ago I was hyping as the soon-to-be best in the game. Alright, I was a little off, but he’s still okay…
  3. Australia: Home of comedic genious Chris Lilley, which makes it good in my books.
  4. South Africa: I’m not even gonna pretend to know anything about this team.

Pool C

  1. United States: Loaded with major league talent, obviously. Will benefit from not having A-Rod this time around.
  2. Venezuela: No Johan Santana, though Felix Hernandez and Francisco Rodriguez shore out the pitching staff. Big bats in Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu and Carlos Guillen. Might be a sleeper to make some noise in the secound round.
  3. Canada: Nice bats, but no pitching. Got the short end of a three-way tie for first in 2006, but will be hard pressed to win two games this time.
  4. Italy: Nick Punto might have to play all nine positions at once for this team.

Pool D

  1. Dominican Republic: Lots of power (Big Papi, Miguel Tejada and possibly big-time juicer A-Rod) and tons of speed (Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Willy Tavares).
  2. Puerto Rico: The decision to choose Yadier over brothers Benji, Jose, Jesus, Hector, Felipe, Roberto and Ramon has caused considerable tension in the Molina household.
  3. Panama: Bruce Chen suits up for his 109th team in the past six years.
  4. Netherlands: Strangely, no sign of Andruw Jones this year.

So there you have it. The first round continues through Thursday with each team playing once against every other team in their pool.

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