I gotta tell you with this being a World Cup year and me living in Europe, it’s hard to not get pretty psyched. All the footballers are putting in extra effort to impress their national team coaches and the buzz is increasing with the group draw coming Friday. Even if you’re not a soccer fan, there’s something about the World Cup and its World War-like intensity that brings out the nationalist fan in all of us.
Then there is the cheap baseball knock-off. With baseball being kicked out of the Olympics (surprisingly not for doping), Bud Selig sought to offset the loss by spearheading the World Baseball Classic which will be played in early March. The second WBC is scheduled for 2009, then every 4 years thereafter. I agree the WBC should not go head-to-head with the World Cup; even though they’re 3 months apart, World Cup hysteria starts a year prior to kickoff. I’m just not sure why Bud was in such a hurry to launch it this year.
Maybe it’s so we could see "Everyone Hates" Barry Bonds play before he deflates completely. He will be playing for the hometown favorites USA. Andruw Jones will be the Netherlands’ big hope, and Ichiro will be in the clubhouse of the rising sun. In a serious diss to Norristown, Mike Piazza will be playing for Italy while former Phillie minor league prospect, Nick Italiano was somehow left of the squad. Here are the Phillies that have agreed to participate and the draw:
Chase Utley, United States
Jimmy Rollins, United States
Bobby Abreu, Venezuela
Tomas Perez, Venezuela
Eude Brito, Dominican Republic
Robinson Tejeda, Dominican Republic
Rheal Cormier, Canada
Carlos Ruiz, Panama
Pool A (Japan) – China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea
Pool B (Arizona) – Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United States
Pool C (Puerto Rico) – Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, Netherlands
Pool D (Orlando) – Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia, Italy
I would like to think it will be a walk for the U.S. squad but Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic teams are pretty loaded. In the end, if the American pitching staff can hold up, they should be the difference. Finally America will have a chance to prove that all those losses to Cuba in the Olympics were a fluke. Though I’m not entirely enthralled with the Classic yet, I think the best part will be seeing Little League players grow up and continuing their rivalries – as long as they eventually learn there’s no crying in baseball.
P.S. If you’re hear looking for trade rumors coming out of Dallas: A.J. Burnett is likely going to St. Louis or Toronto…Boston is shopping Matt Clement…Oakland is shopping Zito but are asking too much…Cubs are shopping Kerry Wood, but his arm looks like a big question mark…Mets signed Paul LoDuca which means Ramon Hernandez and Benjie Molina are still available. All talk now, deals come later this week.