Bud Selig's grand experiment starts tomorrow. Whether it will be as successful as Joe Paterno's remains to be seen, but I'm excited about the World Baseball Classic. For those of you unfamiliar with the format:
-It starts with four pools with 4 teams that each play each once.
-The top 2 from each pool advances to round 2 in which the teams from 2 of the pools are matched up.
-Two teams from each of those pools meet in the semifinals (which are single elimination and could be the most exciting part of the tournament)
-The winners of the semifinals advance to the championship.
Here is the full schedule.
Now, who's going to win? There are all sorts rules regarding pitch counts so it's hard to say. The USA looks to have the best bullpen and overall pitching depth. The Dominican Republic will have a nasty lineup even without Vladimir Guerrero. If I were to pick a team in a seven game series? I'd go with Venezuela. Look at that rotation. Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano would get to pitch twice, plus you've got Freddy Garcia. Support that with a lineup that includes Bobby Abreu and Miguel Cabrera, and I think they'd be tough to beat. Japan could be a tough out with some of their quirky pitchers and their off-speed madness. (Note: those rosters are provisional and haven't been updated at the time of this post.
I'd pick the USA, but A-Rod is playing for us and we all know he's been cursed since he left the M's. So...I'll go with Canada. Jason Bay's an absolute stud, and our neighbors to the north could use a lift after their poor hockey showing the in the Winter Olympics.