In just nine days, we will have the first real baseball of 2009. Yes, the World Baseball Classic makes its return to the forefront of the baseball universe, and I for one am excited to see how it plays out. Even with some odd rules and such, the tournament will be fun interlude between spring training and the start of the regular season.
Can you feel the excitement???
I'm somewhat worried about all the players not playing in the World Baseball Classic this time around. Between Francisco Liriano, Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, and Albert Pujols; the Classic will be missing some of its biggest stars and draws. The Classic needs all the names it can get to sustain credibility and I for one will watch the Classic just to watch the best players compete at the same level. It loses some of its luster if B and C level players are only competing.
So who are the favorites this time around? Well, if you bet on baseball, I would have to put my money down on Cuba and Japan. Those two countries hooked up in the final last season and seem to care more about this tournament than any of the other countries who have serious talent. For that reason alone, they are my two picks for the final.
My favorite part of the classic is seeing all the different countries play under one umbrella, especially since some of them I had no idea even knew what baseball was. Seriously, South Africa and the Netherlands! Head over to your favorite sportsbook to see all the matchups, analysis, and random teams that will be involved in the WBC.
And finally, the big question on everyone's mind is how will the US fare in the tournament? Well, I think we'll put up a respectable showing. I think our guys will win a few games in tournament, but ultimately be knocked out just like last season because once again, this tournament does not mean as much to us as it does to the rest of the world. In addition, the US no longer has the best baseball talent in the world. Both those reasons are good enough for me NOT to pick the United States to win the WBC.
(Note: Pray that no one gets hurt in this exhibition tournament. The last thing Bud Selig needs is for Derek Jeter, David Wright, or Ichiro Suzuki sustaining a major injury and not being able to play in the upcoming season. Stay healthy guys!)
So is anyone excited for the WBC? Thoughts?