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WBC New and Notes: Who’s In, Who’s Out and Who to Watch
Friday, February 10, 2006
The first World Baseball Classic is just three weeks away, and the action is heating up already. Will A-Rod play? Can the U.S. top the D.R? Will there be any juicing controversy? Here are the highlights:

Just Say No: The International Baseball Federation announced that they will be testing for performance enhancing drugs during the WBC. They will be randomly testing eighty players before the competition begins, and will also randomly select players from each team after each game of the competition. The penalty for using will be a two-year ban from international competition, but major league players will not be penalized by the MLB.

Mistaken Identity: No matter what the roster may say, A’s pitcher Danny Haren will not be playing for the Netherlands in the WBC. As we all know, WBC rules dictate that a player must have familial ties to a country in order to represent their team, but despite the fact that Haren’s father is 100% Irish and his mother 100% Mexican, his name popped up on the Netherlands’ roster last week. Perhaps the Dutch were reaching a bit too far in trying to fill out their roster.

Dropping Like Flies! Barry Bonds has pulled out, saying he owes it to the Giants to be healthy and ready to roll in April. Injury-prone John Smoltz and Nomar Garciaparra have also decided to try to spare their respective teams any potential damage the WBC could cause, and though Andy Pettitte hasn’t officially pulled out, he has admitted that it is likely. The latest drop-out rumor, surprisingly, focuses on P.C.-friendly A-Rod. Personally, I’d be surprised if he backed out after all the “will he or won’t he” hoopla, but stranger things have happened.

Super Bowl Ad: I was not a fan of the superimposed flags on the players’ faces. Creepy.

National Pride: It appears that the WBC will likely come down to two teams, and bettors are giving the Dominican a slight edge over the U.S. If it does come down to those two, the games will be packed with talent and incredible to watch. I’d give the Dominican a slight edge myself, if only due to the fact that they have a history of strong national pride and identity. I foresee the U.S. team holding back slightly in order to stay in shape for the upcoming MLB season.

Keep An Eye on Japan: The Japanese team will be coming into the competition with some smoking hot pitching in Shunsuke Watanabe and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Watanabe went 15-4 with an 2.17 ERA last year, and is famous for his "submarine" syle delivery. Matsuzaka, who we may see in the MLB someday, averaged more than 144 pitches per outing last year (!) and pitched three shut-out games with Seibu last year. I expect to see them top China, Tapei and Korea easily in round one.


posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, February 10, 2006  
  • At 2:54 PM, Blogger Chachi said…

    Also, watch the x-factor of Cuba. Nobody in the U.S. knows anything about them and I believe they are the reigning champs of the World Championships.

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