Good afternoon #SportsFans. A couple days ago Seamus went over the first two pools of the World Baseball Classic, baseball’s answer to the World Cup that deserves partial credit because I guess some people care? You know, like us addicts who miss baseball dearly and can’t wait for Opening Day in April to get a fix! He gave the format, but just to run it down again:
Round 1: 4 pools of 4 teams in round-robin play, top 2 advance (and holy shit, mazel Israel!)
Round 2: 2 pools of 4 teams in round-robin play (top 2 of Pools A/B, top 2 of Pools C/D), top 2 advance
Round 3: Last 4 teams play single-elimination knockout
Yeah, I agree, they could do double-elimination at Dodger Stadium, or at least make the championship round a 3-game series, but I guess it would take it too close to the regular season for the pitchers to make one more tune-up start for their teams or something? *shrug* Anyway, let’s begin!
Pool C: Marlins Park, Miami, FL (March 9-13)
(Teams are listed in alphabetical order)
Do I know any of these guys? John Axford? Ryan Dempster? Eric Gagne? No, seriously, Eric Gagne, who’s been retired for eight years, is pitching for Team Canada. As for position players, Freddie Freeman’s a star for the Braves, Justin Morneau robbed Jeter of an MVP one year (and yes, I’m still bitter), Dalton Pompey’s on the Jays making him the most Canadian of the Canadian players. And Russell Martin… is coaching and not catching even though he still has to get ready to play this season.
How will they do? Worse than last time, because that gave us this.
(The first tiebreaker is run differential, which is why you bunt for a base hit up 6 in the 9th inning. Yeah, it’s stupid. And why would you get into a brawl with the Canadians? They created a sport about fighting on skates!)
But I say they can replicate their third-place finish from last year, probably with a win over Colombia.
Do I know any of these guys? Well, they’re making their debut in the WBC, which is a bit surprising actually. They qualified by beating Panama, which is impressive. But the Colombians have White Sox (for now) ace Jose Quintana and Braves ace Julio Teheran (yes, neither of those teams are all that good, but they are the best pitchers on those teams!) I know Donovan Solano, he played a little bit last year with the Yanks when Castro went down. But that’s about it. Shout-out to Sugar Ray Marimón though for being referred to as Sugar Ray, so the rule is he can’t suck.
How will they do? Quintana and Teheran might be able to get them a win, but I think best-case they finish third, worst-case they bow out and have to go through the qualifiers again next time.
The defending champions, after beating Puerto Rico last year.
Do I know any of these guys? In short, yes. Most of them are name-brand Major Leaguers. Quoth Key & Peele, “This is the Major Leagues, we are all from the Dominican Republic.”
Let’s say the most notable are *checks roster* Johnny Cueto, Robinson Canó, Hanley Ramirez, José Bautista (fuck him, though), Nelson Cruz, and, of course, Bartolo Colón.
How will they do? If they don’t make it to Dodger Stadium and the championship rounds consider it an upset.
Do I know any of these guys? Yes. Most of them. If not all of them.
How will they do? If they don’t win it all there’ll be the strongest of taeks as there were in 2006, 2009, and 2013, but expect them to get to the second round, maybe they can get to Dodger Stadium. I expect them to finish second in the group.
Pool D: Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco, Jalisco, Mexico (March 9-13)
Do I know any of these guys? Believe it or not, yes! I’d say the most notable are catchers Francisco Cervelli and Drew Butera, but the most notable is the extra arm they have in the pen with switch pitcher (yes, pitcher) Pat Venditte, who has a rule named after him.
How will they do? They won’t surprise as many people as last time, where the Azzuri (is it still Azzuri for baseball, and shouldn’t I know this being half Italian?) made it to the second round of play. It’s definitely possible for them to repeat the feat, but I don’t think they’ll be as fortunate this time out.
Do I know any of these guys? Well, I’d imagine you know Adrian Gonzalez and Sergio Romo of the Dodgers (Giants fans must love Romo changing teams), and there’s Joakim “The Mexecutioner” Soria, who has a great nickname but hasn’t been the same since his Tommy John surgery in 2012.
How will they do? You know how I said Italy could find a way to manage to squeak their way in the top 2? I doubt it, Mexico is the home team for this pool and probably a little pissed after having their asses handed to them both on the field and in bench-clearing brawls last time out. They’ll make it to the second round in San Diego, Presidential Executive Orders be damned (I had to do one).
Do I know any of these guys? I don’t know as many as I expected, actually! Journeyman reliever J.C. Romero’s on the team, which is surprising since he’s 40, so not loving the pitching, but the offense looks pretty good at least, with Yadier Molina, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Beltrán among the position players.
How will they do? I don’t know if they can repeat their runner-up finish from 2013, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t have the pitching to keep up and falter in the first round.
Do I know any of these guys? Out of the pitchers, you know Felix Hernández. On offense, let’s see… Salvador Perez, Jose Altuve, Victor Martinez, Roughned Odor (most known for punching José Bautista), Carlos Gonzalez, and Miguel Cabrera. And Omar Vizquel’s the manager and could probably still be an above-league-average defensive shortstop today.
How will they do? They have the firepower and they have an ace, so they could be a dangerous out. Let’s put a theoretical gun to my head and give my pool predictions.
Pool C prediction
Pool D prediction
All right, that’ll do it. If you get MLB Network in the States, have fun watching, otherwise, well, have fun doing something else.