Thursday, January 26, 2006

The World Cup of Baseball?

So I'm having a little trouble getting behind the whole World Baseball Classic. I like the idea, but I think the timing is a little off. I'd love to see an event like this at the end of the MLB season instead of the beginning.

There are 16 teams participating in four pools. The set-up is similar to the World Cup for soccer, but since there are no qualifying games to get into the tournament. Are there really any more countries in the world that even play baseball? Here are the four pools:

Pool A: China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea

Pool B: Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United States

Pool C: Cuba, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico

Pool D: Australia, Italy, Dominican Republic, Venezuela

Here are a couple Q and A parts of the site that I found a little interesting:

Q: How were the pools determined?
A: Teams were divided into their respective pools based on geography and competitive balance. (So why are Australia and Italy playing in the same group as the DR and Venezuela? And don't South Africa and the Netherlands look out of place in their grouping?)

Q: What is the format of the World Baseball Classic?

A: The World Baseball Classic will feature 16 teams in a four-round tournament. The 16 teams will be divided into four pools of four teams for Round 1. Round 1 pool play will be held in a round-robin format as all teams within each pool will match up one time (total of six games per pool). The top two teams by record* from each of the four Round 1 pools will advance to Round 2. These eight qualifying teams will be split into two pools for Round 2 and will again play one another in a round-robin format of games (total of six games per pool). The top two teams in each pool by record* will then advance to the two single-elimination Semi-Final games. The winners of the Semi-Final games will advance to the tournament's single-elimination Final. In total, 39 games will be played. (*Tiebreaking methods for Rounds 1 and 2 will be announced prior to the start of the tournament.)

Ticket prices are pretty reasonable in Arizona, they range from $10-$50 and in Orlando from $14 to $25.

I wonder what network will be covering this? Please don't subject me to Chris Berman for this, it will ruin this event before it can even get started.

What do you think? Will you watch? Are you concerned that you're favorite player could get injured and not make it for the MLB season? Is MLB's attempt to export baseball around the world a failed exercise? Let's hear it...

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