With the first two World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in the books, there were a few things that stood out to me.
First of all, I love the idea. I’m glad they are incorporating more countries into the mix with the qualifiers. Part of the goal for the WBC should be, and I believe it is, to spread the game to other parts of the world. We know baseball is big in the US, Japan, Korea, and Mexico along with some other places. But I want to see the game grow in other parts of the world. Seeing the great facility in Germany was a great start. I was very excited to see the qualifier there, and really glad that Germany had a good showing. However, that leads me to the first thing I didn’t like.
To me Germany is the one place where I could see baseball expanding the easiest. They have one of the best leagues in Europe with a small but passionate built in fan base. Having them host a qualifier was a great idea and will only help the future of the game there. But….
Why was Canada playing in the Regensburg pool? I understand that they didn’t win a game in the last WBC, but they did win 2 in 2006 including a win over the USA. They have the best WBC record of anyone in the qualifiers and I would dare to say the strongest program set up. So shouldn’t they have the easiest route to qualification. Instead they had to travel a long way and play a pretty solid team from Germany.
I would have rather seen Canada playing in the qualifier in Florida and put Israel in the qualifier in Germany.
Another thing that surprised me is Spain. It didn’t surprise me that they won. They have shown in the past they have solid team and are one of the top teams in Europe. What surprised me was the lack of players actually born in Spain. I’m not against having players play with countries where they have family ties, but I thought there would be more home grown talent.
Baseball in Spain could expand, but will they get behind a team basically made up of players from other countries. I hope so. I know the Spanish League is good, but it has had its struggles. FC Barcelona dropped its team recently due to funding issues. I am not 100% sure if this was because the baseball team was just losing a ton of money, or if it stems from financial issues with the soccer club.
I am really looking forward to the qualifier in Panama. Of the four teams playing, only Panama has played in the tournament before. However, the other teams will compete. Colombia has a good system of players. It might not be at the same level as other Central and South American countries, but its not bad either. The same goes with Nicaragua. There is a history of baseball there that will help that country compete. The one wild card is Brazil who will be managed by Barry Larkin.
There is a lot to second guess with the WBC, but there is so much more to look forward to. I like where it is heading and it has really turned into the premier baseball tournament in the world.
What are you most excited about in the upcoming WBC? Is there anything you would change? I’d love to hear your thoughts.