World Baseball Classic: Group B

The United States of America
Size: 3,718,143 square miles, or about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; almost two and a half times the size of the European Union.
Population: 295 million.
Most Famous For in VFLOAB eyes: Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, Baseball, American Football, Las Vegas, New York City, the Midwest, The American Dream and Great American Novel, the US Constitution, World Domination, The Largest Economy Ever
Best player: Alex Rodriguez… that is until the semis when it will be Derek Jeter
Best Pitcher: Dontrelle Willis
Why they’ll win their group: Well they’ll have home field advantage for starters, most of the crowd will be rooting for them. They’re the deepest team in a very average group. They have a great bullpen and will score runs.
Best Part of the Team: Have you seen this infield? A-Rod, Jeter, Utley, and Derrek Lee. That’s just sick.
Rooting Interest: Ummm, besides the fact that I’m an American? They should be a lot of fun to watch. U-S-A!
Overall Tournament Outlook: Probably the favorites because they’re so deep. They don’t have great starting pitching, but they have enough and considering the rules that will limit the number of pitches thrown, which shouldn’t hurt them too much. They’re pen is outstanding and I think as this team starts winning people will get behind them. If they reach the final, they should have a huge home crowd cheering them on. But put it in pen that they’ll reach the semis and should probably to win it all.
Final Random Thoughts: I’m not thrilled with this team. While the infield is fantastic, too many guys pulled out for my liking. If there was no limit on pitches in the tourney, this team would be in a lot more trouble that it is. I think this team makes it to the final with ease, but it’s not a home run that they’ll beat either Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. There are names on this team that I’m really surprised made the team, which goes to show how many people pulled out. Luckily, the US is so deep that it shouldn’t be a huge problem. But I’m still unhappy at the make up of this team once you move beyond the infield… and it also puts us in the weird position of rooting for three Yankees plus Roger Clemens. But I think I’ll be okay.

Size: 3,851,734 square miles, or somewhat larger than the U.S.
Population: 32 Million
Most Famous For in VFLOAB eyes: Maple Leafs, Hockey, Toronto, Having to languages, Oil in Alberta, British Columbia being really pretty, provinces, snow, The Habs, Montreal, having funny actors/comedians, a kick ass national anthem, the Tragically Hip, over all natural beauty
Best Player: Jason Bay of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Best Pitcher: Erik Bedard who’s with the O’s
Why they’ll win their group: Either they or Mexico gets lucky against the US and then they beat Mexico on top of it.
Why they’ll finish second: Not having Rich Harden or Eric Gagne hurts, but they should have enough pitching and be able to score more runs than team Mexico.
Best Part of the Team: Probably their outfield, but their bullpen shouldn’t be that bad.
Rooting Interest: Our default back up team/country to root for! Too bad they’re in our group. No matter, how anyone can’t like Canadians is beyond me. So there, eh?
Overall Tournament Outlook: Without Rich Harden things will be tough beyond the first round. They should make it to group play, but Japan probably has a better team. They might get lucky and move on to the semis, but they’ll finish third to Japan and just miss out.
Final Random Thoughts: They’d be a decent team with Harden and Gagne, but without those two they’re nothing special. Canada produces some good baseball players, but I think where they lack is the average, or solid guys. Bay, Harden, and Gagne are all stars and Bedard’s got talent. But they don’t have those average guys which hurts them in filling out a team like this. They have too many minor leaguers to really make a lot of noise, and losing Harden, probably one of the top ten starters, maybe even five, in baseball really, really hurts.

Size: 756,061 square miles, or slightly less than three times the size of Texas
Population: 106 million
Most Famous For in VFLOAB eyes: the Aztecs, Mexico City, PRI and PAN, Vicente Fox, Great food, a fierce soccer rivalry, Catholics, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mayans, a nice flag, great food, south of the boarder, and just being Mexico
Best Player: Jorge Cantu – Tampa Bay and who I fell in love with last year.
Best Pitcher: Oliver Perez – Pittsburgh Pirates
Why they’ll win their group: Either they or Canada gets lucky against the US and then they beat Canada on top of it.
Why they’ll finish third: I just don’t think they have enough offense to beat the Canadians… their pitching might be slightly better, but it’s not a ton better.
Best Part of the Team: Pitching, they’ve got some good arms.
Rooting Interest: We like Mexico, we spent a lot of time roofing with Mexicans back in the day, and they’re good people. Fun people too. They play the fun neighbor role to the Canadians ‘are they making fun of me?’ and they’re sort of weird neighbor roll. Sure they don’t always have sugar when you ask for it, but they’ll give you a beer instead. So yeah, we’d root for them over most other teams in this.
Overall Tournament Outlook: I’m not too high on this team. They’ll need to be Canada, which they can do, and then they’ll move on. I just don’t think they will.
Final Random Thoughts: I saw their uniforms the other day… they look fantastic. I mean I want the Mexico hat… just a great hat. And they’ve got great beer, Modelo will always hold a place in this heart… anyway the team. Mexico hasn’t produced the number or quality of players that Canada has. This team seems to be pretty much at full strength and I’m still not a fan. You’ve got to wonder when, if ever, baseball will become something more than a fringe sport there.

South Africa
476,217 square miles, or slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Population: 44 million
Most Famous For in VFLOAB eyes: Nelson Mandela, Zulus, Boers, apartheid, my uncle’s friend who lives there and owns a bar, being in Africa, the Boer War, Diamonds, Gold, a nasty history, being really diverse, the Cape of Good Hope
Best Player: Moegamat-Zaid Hendricks… I like his name
Best Pitcher: Donavon Hendricks rumor has it he’s in the Braves system
Why they’ll win their group: Mexico, Canada, and the US all decided it would be more fun to field a team of 10 year old soccer/hockey/basketball players respectively.
Why they’ll finish fourth: Because I could play on this team?
Best Part of the Team: The fact that they’ve got two minor league pitchers?
Rooting Interest: Unfortunately, we like the three other teams a lot more. We do like South Africa and would like to check it out sometime, but they’re not getting any love from us.
Overall Tournament Outlook: Like China, if they play a nine inning game we’d be surprised.
Final Random Thoughts: Hey look! It’s a filler team! And they’re from Africa! And they’ve got the best economy in Africa! And they held the Cricket World Cup three years ago! And they’re holding the Fifa World Cup in 2010! And they play rugby! Actually, South Africa has a small and developing baseball community… they could probably beat most European teams.

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