Monday, December 26, 2005

World Baseball Classic

Call me a fanboy but I am admittedly super excited about this upcoming baseball tournament. When baseball got the boot from the Olympics, I couldn't have cared less. The idiotic way they decided which countries played made the whole thing pretty meaningless anyway. The WBC should be a million times better. Here's a quick look at some of the key players from 12 of the sixteen teams involved (the Asian teams haven't announced rosters yet) More complete rosters here for reference.

Australia- Glenn Williams is a Twins farmhand. And thats all I know about him. What happened to Lloyd Graham? Wasn't he an Aussie?

Canada- Jason Bay, Eric Gagne, Justin Morneua, Jesse Crain, Corey Koskie, Rheal Cormier, Paul Quantrill...thats not the makings of a bad team actually. Of course, most notably absent is probably the greatest (and most famously Canadian) Canadian baseballer of all time, Larry Walker. (No, it isn't Feguson Jenkins) Of course, as out of the loop as I am right now, he might actually be retired as of this writing. Which I guess is a good excuse.

Dominican Republic- When your batting order can go Vlad Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, it doesn't matter if the the other 21 guys on the team are me and 20 third rate clones of me. You're gonna be in contention to win. Unlucky for everyone else I did not make the cut, and the field will be filled out instead with the likes of Miguel Tejada, Alfonso Soriano, Placido Polanco and Adrian Beltre. And thats before we get to the Pedro Martinez led pitching staff, that also includes Bartolo Colon and Felix Rodriguez. Ouch.

Italy- I'm not quite sure how the eligibility thingy works, but it sure seems like there's a surprising number of guys who can play for this team. Mike Piazza is the most famous of course, though with Doug Mirabelli, Frank Cattalanto and David Delucci along as well I guess they won't be danger of embaressing themselves by falling over on the field or wearing their gloves on their head.

Mexico- Mexico has not contributed nearly as many top players to the major leagues as some of its smaller Latin American neighbors. Which is why Vinny Castilla pretty much heads up this list. I remember reading an article in a baseball magazine about ten years ago positing a theoretical competition much like this, and even then Castilla was basically Mexicos headliner. Esteban Loaiza, Karim Garcia? Whatever. I predict an early exit for thee.

Netherlands- Awww. Unlike Italy, which has several current or former major leaguers representing it, Andruw Jones is the only "known" guy to carry the standard for Holland. And he's from Curacao! I'd like to think Burt Blyleven will be involved some how. At this rate he could probably come down and pitch.

Panama- No Mariano Rivera? Boo. Boo Yankees boo.

Oops. Dad and I are going to go see Narnia. Finish this up later.
CONTINUED: Narnia was sold out. Saw King Kong instead. More on that later.

Puerto Rico- Included are Mike Lowell and Bernie Williams, two guys I wouldn't normally associate with P.R. but who were both born in San Juan. Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Ivan Rodriguez among others as well. Should be a pretty decent team but I doubt they'll be top 3.

United States- USA! USA! USA! Good to see Barry Bonds will be playing. A bunch of other old guys too, like Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio. No Randy Johnson I see (boo, Yankees, boo!) I guess Derek Jeter is the sop from Yankee Nation. Ken Griffey Jr and Dontrelle Willis will both be there. I remember hearing that Griffey has wanted to do something like this for a while, and Willis I think was the first guy to publicly say he wanted to play for the US. A bunch of other big name veterans should make the US the team to beat. Joe Mauer is the only Twins rep so far. Wither Torii Hunter?

Venenzula- Should be another threat to win. Hey, they've got Johan Santana. That alone makes them dangerous. Bobby Abreu is in there too, along with Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Zambrano, so they should be alright.

Japan and South Korea should have good to decent teams. I imagine Japan should be a credible top 3 threat. No idea about China or Taiwan. Here's my guess for order of finish-

1. USA
2. Dominican Republic
3- Japan
4- Venenzula
5- Puerto Rico

Well, I'm no Peter Gammons.

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