While March Madness ruled the weekend as we watched teams get one step closer to the Final Four, in another sport a Final Four was set.  The World Baseball Classic (which has actually been doing quite well in the rating compared to previous WBC’s) final four teams are set to battle it out this week in Los Angeles.  It’s actually been a pretty fun time watching some of these games.  You get a weird passion and flare that you don’t see in the MLB and even the United States team, which is usually like soft vanilla ice cream, is showing some fire and emotion.  Honestly props to the PR people for making it kind of big this time around.  Hopefully they can build on it for 2021.

In this four week long event, there have been some pretty neat and interesting story lines and I’m here to fill you in a little bit before we take a little preview of the final.  So here are a few things that have been happening in the WBC.

Cuba Sucks Now:

Cuba has always been a baseball power.  First of all, they have absolutely ELECTRIC uniforms.  Red pants not only is a great look, but it’s intimidating as hell.  This year though, they scratched by in the first round, barely making it to the second and then went winless in the second round which consisted of a pool of Japan (always a power), the Netherlands (good team) and Israel (Israel!?).

I don’t mean to be “that guy” but Cuba has been not just good, but great at baseball for like 70 years.  Then Fidel Castro dies and all of the sudden they can’t win and are losing to the Jews?  Hmm.

Fidel
Israel Was America’s Sweetheart

Ah, the Jews.  Team Israel was made up of a bunch Quad A journeymen.  Ryan Lvarnway was their best player.  Ryan Lavarnway.  Last time I saw him I think he was playing double A ball for the Orioles maybe?  Sam Fuld was their best player on paper.  Ike Davis was their starting first baseman.  Ike Davis – the guy that lost his job to Lucas fucking Duda was one of the best players for Team Israel.  Truly, they were a team of misfit toys.  They went 3-0 in their first pool and beat South Korea (who’s always very good) and the Netherlands who are now in the Final Four.  Then they went onto to beat Cuba in the first game of the second round.  Unreal.  Not only that, but they had an awesome mascot with Mensch on the Bench:Mensch Bench

Fire hats:

Israel Hat

And ELECTRIC warmups:

But alas, Team Israel couldn’t make it over the Japanese hump as they couldn’t quite find their way out of Pool E and into the Final Four.

The Netherlands and Puerto Rico are Really Fucking Good

It’s kind of a shame that these two teams have to meet in the semis because both teams are super duper good and have well known MLB players.  Puerto Rico is, in my opinion, the better team but the Netherlands are going to give them a good game.  Puerto Rico has been rolling.  They haven’t lost yet and smoked defending champ Dominican Republic twice. They’re a scary, scary team to play.

Since Team Israel has been eliminated, an argument could be made that the Netherlands are now the darlings of the tournament.  Here’s the thing though, they’re only the darlings by name.  When people hear “The Netherlands” they’re thinking of the clog wearing speed skaters from, well, the Netherlands.  But that’s simply not the case.  This is Team Curacao from the Little League World Series.  The Netherlands are stacked with young MLB talent and it’s really no surprise they’ve made it as far as they have.

Team USA Finally is Doing Something!

The USA has never made it out of the second round and now here they are in the Final Four  I think you could debate that this may be the least talented USA roster pound for pound since the WBC began, but they’ve played actually pretty well.  It’s crazy to think that they almost lost to Colombia in their first game.  Watching it, I was thinking “here we go again, the US is going to under perform yet again.”  But after they pulled that one out, they put themselves in pretty good position to advance to the second round, which they did.

Splitting their first games with a win and loss against Venezuela and Puerto Rico respectively, they had to beat the Dominican Republic in a do-or-die game.  The DR has owned the USA in recent WBC past and even beat them in the first round.  But thanks to Giancarlo Stanton hitting a baseball about a million miles per hour

and Adam Jones robbing that asshole Manny Machado’s homer with legitimately one of the best catches I’ve ever seen, Team USA has made their first Final Four in tournament history AND have a pretty good shot of winning it all!  USA! USA! USA!

 

Venezuela, What Happened?

I actually threw some money on Venezuela before the tournament started because talk about stacked roster.  Miguel Cabrera, Jose Atuve, Rougned Odor, CarGo, King Felix, Salvy Perez, Victor Martinez, Martin Prado and of course the best player of all, Sandy Leon and other really good MLB players all represented Venezuela.  Yet Venezuela could not even get a win in the second round.  They were certainly lacking on the pitching end as other than King Felix, they didn’t have much and even he didn’t pitch all that great.  It was just kind of sad to see a team with so much MLB fire power not make it that far.

Graphite Away Unis All the Rage

I guess all the teams away uniforms were that mat, graphite grey color like the D-Backs use.  Personally I love them.  They’re cool looking especially with a bright or even neon color piping.  I know a lot of people hate them, but I’m the guy that when I play The Show or other video games, I try to make the coolest looking uniforms by mixing and matching.  Other than the classics (Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers etc) I hope some more MLB teams start using them as away alternates.  Colorado has already gone in that direction.

Final Four Preview:

Game 1 is Netherlands vs Puerto Rico.  As I said before, I think this is going to be a great game.  The Netherlands are throwing Rick Van Den Hurk while Puero Rico is sending Jorge Lopez to the mound.  Both offenses can score runs and both teams play very solid defense.  The Puerto Rico bullpen is much deeper than the Netherlands’ and since there’s still a pitch count rule, the bullpens are going to be in play.  Because of that, I will take Puerto Rico in this one.

The second semi is between Japan and the USA.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen much of Japan since all their games are on at like 5:00 am, but Japan is always good.  They’re always really fundamental and can pitch and play defense.  The US is more like a Latino team in the sense that they are more of a power team.  They’ll have Tanner Roark start this game.  The USA’s big win over the DR might propel them a bit and they could be the Team of Destiny, so I’ll pick with my heart and my head here and go with the USA.

That’ll set up a great final between Puerto Rico and the USA.  Puerto Rico won the last time these teams met and like I said, they are RED hot, but USA could be the team to stop it.  USA! USA! USA!

 

@WhatAKetchWCS