Who's all excited for some awesome World Baseball Classic action? No? Wait, you don't even remember what this is? Oh...the first WBC was played in 2006 as MLB's answer to Olympic baseball. Japan won that year, despite just a 3-3 record in pool play and two losses to the South Korean team that they beat in the semifinals. That Japanese roster was largely unknown in America aside at the time from Ichiro Suzuki, but several other players would come over since, including Koji Uehara, Kosuke Fukudome, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Norichika Aoki.
The Japanese would win again in 2009, with a similar roster and one notable addition: a 22-year old named Yu Darvish. It was a tale of two teams with Japan and South Korea again, with Japan winning over their rivals in the final. The Korean team non-descript from an American point of view, with Shin-Soo Choo being the only major league player on the squad.
Now here we are again, for more WBC action. 12 teams are already qualified based on past performance. There will also be four qualifying pools to determine the other four teams, and our first game in those pools is tonight, when Israel takes on South Africa. The most recognizable Israeli star is Shawn Green, a former Blue Jay and Dodger who is now coming up in 40-years old and hasn't played in the majors since 2007. Green will be serving as a player-coach for the team, and he's joined by former major leaguers Brad Ausmus and Mark Loretta on the coaching staff. As for the South African team? Well, I don't recognize any players on the roster. They finished dead last in each of the two WBCs that have been held. So...there's that.
These early double elimination pool games really don't have much appeal on a broad scale. Only games from pool one (Israel, South Africa, France, and Spain) will be held in America, with the other pools held in Germany, Panama, and Taipei. The qualifying rounds will go on for two months (until mid-November), and the actual Classic won't begin until March. No rosters have been announced aside from the reams in the qualifying rounds.
It seems like this has flown totally under the radar so far, and for good reason. There's just no reason to care. With many organizations fearing injuries to their star players, are big names even going to compete? If there aren't any big names involved, is anyone going to watch?
I'm at least going to give it a whirl. There will *apparently* be streams on MLB.com, and that will help out a little bit. But this is probably going to end poorly, and if there's another bad overall reception, I think MLB pulls the plug.
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