Running around to Give you the Reacharound


Handicapping the WBC

So who has the best chance to win this tournament nobody cares about? Glad you reverse order:

16. South Africa - It will be an accomplishment if they can avoid being mercy-ruled more than once. Thanks for playing.

15. Italy - They're the designated whipping boy in the U.S.-Canada-Venezuela pool. Not that that kind of thing matters when Frank Cattalonotto is your best player.

14. Netherlands - At least they get to keep Amsterdam. Suffice to say, if Andruw Jones skipping this year's tournament actually hurts your team, you probably weren't going very far in the first place. Hey, and look, it's a Randall Simon sighting, he of John Rocker's "fat monkey" taunts, and noted Italian Sausage assailant.

13. Taiwan (aka "Chinese Taipei?") - For what it's worth, I think these guys may be eliminated already. Hmm. Just checked...and yeah they are. Runaround Sue's, where good writing goes to die a death by bludgeoning.

12. China - Forgetting the whole "two cultures hating each other" problem, Taiwan may want to go ahead and hitch their wagon to this pony for the next few tournaments. In ten years, when China has 6"7 twelve-year-olds re-enacting the final scene from that terrible movie "The Scout," don't say I didn't warn ya.

11. Australia - You got to give these guys credit. Just like in basketball, they throw out a team of scrubs, yet they never quite hit an 'Angola '92' or 'South Africa '06' level of suck. If there's ever an (American) Football World Cup, I fully expect the Australian team to be filled with scrappy rugby players that nobody wants to play (for fear of losing an eyeball in a pileup).

10. Korea - These guys just got merci-ruled by Japan a few hours ago. They could be decent for all I know, but they ain't winning the whole kibosh.

9. Panama - Bruce Chen is their best starter. Mariano Rivera isn't playing. Next.

8. Canada - Alot to like here: A legitimately solid lineup featuring Russell Martin, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, Joey Votto, Matt Stairs and Pete Orr (ok, forget Orr, but still). "Home-field" advantage in the first round of the tourney. Unfortunately, their pitching staff prominently features the legendary Jesse Crain, and they drew the Pool of Death with the U.S. and Venezuela. Still, another upset of the U.S.A. in a few hours wouldn't surprise me in the least.

7. Mexico - The good: Oliver Perez and Adrian Gonzalez anchor their rotation and lineup. The bad: Oliver Perez and Adrian Gonzalez anchor their rotation and lineup.

6. Puerto Rico - Weak rotation (though with Javier Vazquez as their #2, I don't want to think what that says about the Braves' rotation), but they bring the bats with Beltran, Delgado, Felipe Lopez and the return of Bernie Williams. Quick question: How do you think they decided on Yadier Molina as this team's catcher over his brothers? Bengie must be pissed. Anyways, watch their Round 1 games if for no other reason than the insane crowd at their home field. It makes Yankees-Sox games look like some Baptist Church T-Ball Ish. I can't even describe it...or comprehend how baseball can create and sustain that level of excitement for four hours.

5. U.S.A. - Let's just say if this was a "playing for pride" rankings, they'd be in South Africa territory. How the hell do we end up with a pitching rotation of this? I watch hundreds of baseball games each year, play in two fantasy leagues and I've never even heard of some of those guys. Where are our big arms? Lincecum, Beckett, Doc Halladay, Kazmir, Hamels, Haren, Sabathia, etc? Just sign 'em up, and let them each pitch 1-2 innings per outing, all-star style. John Grabow, really? What the hell?

4. Venezuela - Pretty much the opposite of the U.S. on the "playing for pride" spectrum. Remember how insane these guys were going during the home run derby where the competition was divided up by countries? Of course you don' neither. Anyways, peep this rotation: Felix Hernandez, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Silva, Armando Galaragga, with K-Rod closing games. Now imagine if Johan Santana didn't have to sit this one out with an injury. Add that to a lineup of Miggy Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Magglio, JoLopez, Ramon HJernandez, Melvin Mora and others, and that's a nice well as half the Detroit Tigers' roster.

3. Japan - After another mercy rule win last night, these guys are quickly becoming USA-in-1990's-Olympic-Basketball good. Still though, I just don't trust that Tetsuya Yamaguchi. He'll be their undoing, just you watch.

2. Dominican Republic - Now that's a talented roster. It's also a front for "The Future of PED's - Where Do We Go From Here? 2009 Summit." Any guess on the over-under of shady trainers hanging out in the parking lot after each D.R. game? 16? 20? One-per-player?

1. Cuba - I don't know one player on their team. But anytime you match a bunch of exhibition-happy big leaguers against a team of world-class athletes making $11 per week who view the WBC as their World Cup, Olympics and World Series all rolled into one, I'm rolling with the migrants. Add in the "Win this One for Castro" and "Maybe if we get to the finals in L.A. I can claim political asylum" factors, and this one's a lock. Viva Coo-ba.

No comments: