Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Schelling: WBC promises to be classic tourney

While most Americans are fast asleep Thursday morning, I hope to be waking up at 3:30 a.m. to sit in front of my computer for three hours before going to class.

Why would I do that? Well, it’s not because I have a paper due that day. Instead, I’ll be waking up to watch baseball. Yes, baseball.

Thursday marks the opening day of the World Baseball Classic with Japan and China set to kick things off at the Tokyo Dome in the wee hours of the morning.


For those of you who might have missed the inaugural Classic in 2006, the WBC is a 19-day showcase of the top baseball talent from 16 countries, including the United States, Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Players from every MLB team will be participating in the WBC, with the Minnesota Twins organization’s 20 players marking the most from any one ballclub.

After taking a good look at the rosters and brackets over the last few days, as well as trying to figure out how to watch all 39 WBC games in 19 days alongside countless hours of NCAA basketball, I offer the following preview:

Pool A

Teams: Japan, Korea, China, Chinese Taipei

Team to beat: Japan

Why they’ll win the pool: The Japanese have consistently been among the top teams in the international field over the last decade, including a fourth-place finish in the 2008 Olympics and the 2006 WBC Championship.

Also advancing: Korea

Why they’ll advance: Korea defeated international powerhouse Cuba to secure the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Pool A MVP: Daisuke Matsuzaka

Star you’ve never heard of: Chin-lung Hu (Chinese Taipei)

Pool B

Teams: Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Australia

Team to beat: Cuba

Why they’ll win the pool: For many years, the Cuban team has been the baseball powerhouse internationally, and though they were defeated by Japan and Korea, the Cuban team reached the finals in both the 2006 WBC and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Also advancing: Mexico

Why they’ll advance: Led by a wealth of young pitching talent, the Mexican squad that eliminated the United States in 2006 has been picked by some as the darkhorse in this year’s tournament.

Pool B MVP: Yoandy Garlobo

Star you’ve never heard of: Osmany Urrutia (Cuba)

Pool C

Teams: Canada, Italy, USA, Venezuela

Team to beat: United States

Why they’ll win the pool: After finishing a disappointing eighth place in 2006, the USA team has one thing on its mind: redemption. Manager Davey Johnson tabbed his squad as the “team to beat” in the tournament, and he may very well be correct in that statement.

Also advancing: Venezuela

Why they’ll advance: Although their chances at the semifinals are in jeopardy with the loss of Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano, a lineup featuring the Tigers’ Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera will be too much for Italy and Canada.

Pool C MVP: David Wright

Star you’ve never heard of: Chris Denorfia (Italy)

Pool D

Teams: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Netherlands

Team to beat: Dominican Republic

Why they’ll win the pool: The Dominican lineup is one of the scariest in the tournament, with Hanley Ramirez, Robinson Cano, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez leading the way. On top of those four sluggers, the Dominican team has a strong pitching staff led by phenom Edinson Volquez and Pedro Martinez.

Also advancing: Puerto Rico

Why they’ll advance: With Alex Rios, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and Geovany Soto headlining its lineup, Puerto Rico should have enough firepower to advance alongside the Dominican team.

Pool D MVP: Hanley Ramirez

Star you’ve never heard of: Shairon Martis (Netherlands)

If Japan, Korea, Cuba and the United States — the top four teams in the 2008 Olympics — all advance to the second round, the 2009 WBC could be one of the most exciting international baseball tournaments ever held.

Add the powerful Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico lineups and the pitching of Mexico and this year’s tournament promises to be full of excitement and rivalry.

If the above predictions hold true, it looks like the championship could set up an intense rematch between USA and Cuba, who defeated the Americans 10-2 in the Beijing semifinals.

Regardless of the outcome of this year’s tournament, it promises to be what it says it is: a world baseball classic.

Jordan is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. Think the USA team is the team to beat in the WBC? He can be reached at [email protected].

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