Diamonds and Ice

World Baseball Classic Fever ….. Catch It!!

China pitcher and Yankees prospect Liu Kai

China pitcher and Yankees prospect Liu Kai

If you didn’t realize it, the 2009 World Baseball Classic is a little over two weeks from starting. OK, we know you didn’t realize it.

China, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Korea are in a four-country pod that plays first-round games in Tokyo. In Mexico City, you have Mexico, Cuba, Australia and South Africa.

Toronto will host a four-country group that consists of Canada, the United States, Italy and Venezuela. San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be the site of games between Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands and Panama.

The top two teams in each pod will move on to the second round, which is March 15-19 in San Diego and Miami. The semifinals and finals are March 21-23 in Los Angeles.

ESPN and the MLB Network will broadcast the games. If you haven’t seen the newly created MLB Network, it’s pretty cool.

Now the big question is what will each country’s roster look like. MLB teams have put the kibosh on some of their players participating in the event. Some players have simply said no all on their own.

That’s the shame about the timing of the World Baseball Classic. MLB teams have millions and millions of dollars invested in players and want them ready for their season. That means going to spring training with them, not playing in the Classic.

All right, now for the predictions. I’m going out on a limb here and picking China to win it all. I hear a lot of good things about the 1-2 pitching punch of Bu Tao and Shi Dong. Shi’s brother, Chunhua Dong is an up-and-coming catcher, and outfielder Yi Feng has been tearing it up for the Guangdong Leopards this season.

In all seriousness, pitcher Liu Kai and catcher Zhang Zhenwang are in the New York Yankees farm system. Infielder Ray Chang played in the Midwest League with Fort Wayne a couple years back and is in the Pirates organization.


Here’s a link to the 2009 WBC game schedule:

Who do you think will win?


6 Comments so far
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Should be awesome…I’ll be at the games in Toronto. Really looking forward to US-Canada…

Comment by Jeremy

I look forward to the Classic. I hope to watch as many games as possible on the MLB Network at my favorite pub. Ah well, I just like baseball.

Comment by Jeff Dahn

I was once diagnosed as having Chunhua Dong but a visit to the clinic and a little penicillin cleared it up in a day or two.

Comment by Jorge Vino

If it weren’t for the pre-season schedule clash with MLB and a multitude of hugely productive DR players not playing in the WBC, I would pick the Dominicans to win. They have great cigars, too…I guess that makes them my sentimental favorite despite not being my actual pick.

Given the reality of the WBC right now, I will pick Japan. They have the first round advantage of playing at home, so they have no excuse to not be 1 of the 2 teams that move forward from the Tokyo pod and on to San Diego. From there, I think it is incredible depth of the Japan’s pitching staff that will set them apart from China and others. Yu Darvish – watch for this Japanese strikeout machine to make the Japanese team. He’s only 22, but already has several years of pro ball under his belt and has learned quickly how to go from being a battler on the mound to piling up more K’s than IP’s.

JJ, I have to question China’s pitching depth in this format since most reports seem to indicate they drop off dramatically beyond 2 potential MLB-caliber arms. Speaking of going out on a limb, I’ll make my own China-related prediction: they don’t make it out of the Tokyo pod. There is a fever in Japan to not disappoint on repeating and I think they will end up with a hugely talented and motivated team. Japan might actually be the difference maker that keeps China from advancing from round 1. Let’s also not forget that Taipei has previously put some massive beatdowns on China. Nothing breeds confidence like success.

Man, this should be fun to watch.

Comment by Mike Coleman

I like the WBC format, and J.J. has a valid point with all of the money invested in these players, MLB teams cannot afford injuries to their marquee players, but I would really like to see the best players in the world play.
I don’t know when a perfect time to hold the WBC would be, though. Any ideas?

Comment by pud'nhead

What a final game! That was time well spent to stay up a bit late and see some really sharp ball be played. I have to hand it to both Korea and Japan – they definitely proved themselves worthy of being in the championship game.

Comment by Mike Coleman

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