The first World Baseball Classic kicked off March 2 with the opening games of the tournament. The WBC has been formed as a result of the Olympics repealing baseball from its games and reactions from baseball fans eager to see a universal tournament of baseball.
The tournament will consist of three rounds including the semifinals and championship to be held March 20. Sixteen of the best baseball nations in the world have entered into the tournament including Cuba, Mexico, South Africa, Dominican Republic, and the United States.
“This is a lot better then having the games in the Olympics because we can actually go to the games,” said junior Mike Senyo.
Among some of the biggest names in major league baseball that are participating in the Classic are Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic), Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico), Ichiro Suzuki (Japan) and Derek Jeter (United States). Yet, many consider the favorites to come out on top going into the tournament are the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
“I’d like to root for the U.S. to win it all,” said John Ausman, a freshman history major. “But, it is hard to pick them over teams like the Dominican Republic and teams in the Americas because they are deep in talented players.”
The Dominican Republic boasts a devastating line-up of sluggers especially through the middle of their order. Rounding out the infield for the Dominican club will be an all-star compilation of talent in David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, Miguel Tejada of the Baltimore Orioles, and Alfonso Soriano of the Washington Nationals.
Nevertheless, Venezuela may be able to match up with their pitching staff which features Johan Santana and Carlos Silva of the Minnesota Twins, Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs, Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels, and Freddy Garcia of the World Champion Chicago White Sox.
The tournament will head to several destinations for pool play with stops in Tokyo, Japan; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The WBC will be able to seen live and locally starting March 12 as games will be played at Angels Stadium in Anaheim and the semifinals in addition to the championship will be played at PETCO Park in San Diego.
Among several games televised today include Mexico versus Canada, Puerto Rico versus Cuba, and Italy versus the Dominican Republic. The tournament should exhibit some of best baseball players in the world, in addition to the competition between many nations that have not been able to participate on a national basis like the island nation of Cuba.
Many of these players will be representing their home countries for the first time ever and traveling around the world to compete and showcase some of the best baseball every play on an international level.
“I think it’s kind of cool actually with this tournament since the Olympics took out baseball,” said Alex Senyo, a freshman radio major. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all because you get to see some a lot of guys playing for their respective countries,” Senyo said.
Galo Pesantes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.