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Instant Classic?

With the first pitch of the inaugural World Baseball Classic only two days away, the time is now to familiarize ourselves with the home team's roster and pool, as well as the format of this tournament.

First off, the U.S.A. roster looks pretty solid on paper. Per, the American's lineup and rotation projects to be as follows:
Projected lineup: Johnny Damon LF, Derek Jeter SS, Ken Griffey Jr. CF, Alex
Rodriguez 3B, Chipper Jones DH, Derrek Lee 1B, Jason Varitek C, Vernon Wells RF,
Michael Young 2B

Starting rotation: Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis and Roger Clemens
I would like to see the Phillies' Chase Utley get the nod at 2B, if only because Chris Kochansky has identified him as a future Hall-of-Famer, but you can't really argue with this lineup.

As far as the competition goes, it appears as though we've received a pretty nice draw in Pool B. Mexico's got some familiar Major League names, but not nearly the same lineup strength that the U.S. has. The Canadians have pesky Brave Pete Orr among some familiar names, but again the overall firepower isn't there. South Africa appears to be the weakest team in the pool.

The U.S.A.'s pool-play schedule is as follows:
  • Tues. March 7th, 4pm EST vs. Mexico
  • Wed. March 8th, 4pm EST vs. Canada
  • Fri. March 10th, 3pm EST vs. South Africa
Following pool-play, the top 2 teams from each of the 4 pools will advance to create 2 new pools in Round 2 of the Classic. Potential second round opponents include China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea.

I'm hoping this World Baseball Classic generates some interest and fills the void many sports fans felt was left from the Winter Olympics. Team U.S.A. has an exciting roster, but there are equally as impressive rosters (Dominican Republic) to be faced in the later rounds of play. To me, the wild-card in all of this is how our hitters adjust to some of the pitchers that they have never faced in Major League action. Although teams like Japan, Korea and Cuba have few, if any pitchers with MLB experience, I have a feeling they will have some quality arms that could give our lineup some problems. We'll see, starting Thursday.

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What happened to the Bobby Bennett photo of the week?

C'mon, you had it up there. Give Bobby some dap.
Bennett was going to be the man. But I think Ol' RF is bigger news and waiting a week to post his pic would've been too far behind the times.
Oh well, you sing Copacabana on AI, you take what you can get, I guess.
This Classic is dumb. Why would you hold this before the season starts? They scrap baseball from the Olympics and now we are stuck with this thing.

There will probably be at least 2 players that get injured in this and miss time throughout the season.

We should just give up on international competition while we are still regarded as the best, much like we should have in basketball which we can't even get a gold medal in anymore.
My thoughts on the injury aspect... it's not like they're holding a wrestling tournament or something, they're playing baseball! If they get hurt playing baseball, then who's to say they wouldn't have gotten hurt otherwise? There are pitch-counts on the pitchers to prohibit wear and tear and most rosters are deep with back-up position players to relieve starters from too many innings played. Also, there's a max on extra-innings (14). Any MLB team or player who complains about getting hurt during this thing must have a lousy perspective on what being an athlete is about.

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