Friday, March 13, 2009

WBC Roundup: Friday

I know I didn’t post on the seeding games over the past couple days, but I’ve decided to do a preview on Round 2 of the WBC, which starts tomorrow. Alas, I’ll be at work 10-5 tomorrow, so I will miss the Venezuelan boys take on the Dutch, but barring extreme chaos at the pharmacy, I should be home in time for the second game.

Pool 1
This’ll mostly be a bunch of late games, since they’re being held in San Diego, and I start school again on Monday (requiring a waking time of 6 AM in the process), so I have no guarantees as to how much of this I’ll actually watch. At any rate, play in Pool 1 starts Sunday, with Japan against Cuba, followed by Mexico against Korea. Mexico’s offense has done a good job, but they’ve already had two or three injuries and their pitching has been up and down (they were pretty good against South Africa and okay in the rematch against Australia, but the pitching their first game against Australia and the seeding game against Cuba was terrible). Korea’s pitching has been fairly steady with the exception of one game where they gave up fourteen runs to Japan. With Shin-Soo Choo apparently gone, I don’t know any of the Koreans (perhaps that’s not all bad, since the broadcasters in Japan could not pronounce Choo’s name correctly to save their lives). Meanwhile, Team Cuba probably doesn’t want to face either of the Asian teams. Japan beat them last time in the World Baseball Classic, and Korea beat them last year in the Olympics. By the way, as much as I think going to a baseball game in Puerto Rico would be lots of fun, I would NOT want to go to a game in Mexico, because as far as I can tell, the fans are allowed to smoke wherever they want to, and I like salsa better than mariachi anyways.

Pool 2
This is the pool that I’m much more interested in. First up tomorrow, Venezuela will be up against the Netherlands, and obviously I’ll be rooting for Venezuela. It’ll be an interesting matchup, mostly because Venezuela’s lineup is hitting, while the Domincan lineup was not, for the most part. You’d argue in favor of Venezuela, but Puerto Rico’s offense is also doing well, and it took all they had just to beat the Netherlands in their first game against them (granted, they had a much easier time of it in the seeding game). Speaking of Puerto Rico, they take on Team USA in the second game. Both teams have potent offenses, but I think Team USA has the edge, pitching-wise, at least on paper (In reality, I believe Puerto Rico has the better team ERA right now). It also brings me a dilemma in that I don’t know which team to root for. I mean, I know I *should* root for Team USA, both because I’m American and the lone Tiger is this game is playing for Team USA, but damn it, I want to root for Puerto Rico just as badly. As an aside, I was watching videos online of press conferences (or, more specifically, highlights of press conferences), but when I got to the Puerto Rico press conference, to my chagrin, I discovered it was entirely in Spanish. Now, I was an all-A student in Spanish, but I only took three semesters and I’m not fluent. Out of a two-and-a-half minute clip that featured three different people (Jose Oquendo, Pudge Rodriguez, and Bernie Williams), I was able to understand two sentences. Jose Oquendo said that the game was “not only physical, but mental,” while Pudge, at one point, said that “we are a different team this year” (plus, he went on to say “this year” about ten more times, but I wasn’t able to put it into any sort of context). By the way, this press conference was the first time I had seen a lot of Pudge since last July (outside of a couple photos and about three seconds of the first Puerto Rico-Netherlands game). He must’ve spent those intervening months working out nonstop, cuz all of a sudden, he’s built like a brick. He was never that big when he was with the Tigers. He looks more like he did when he was with the Marlins, only with less hair. I know it’s probably not a smart move for me to point this out, but there you go.

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