My team, the Rockies, are not in contention for a playoff spots, so my mind has been wandering a bit.  I got to thinking about the 2013 World Baseball Classic (essentially, the World Cup for baseball).  I went online to check the schedule for the WBC.  To my surprise, the qualifying tournaments have already begun.  Israel picked up a 7-3 win against South Africa yesterday.

Since basball is no longer and Olympic sport, the WBC is now the only major international showcase for baseball.  The rules for player eligibility are fairly loose.  A nation may use a player whose ancestors came from that country, even that was several generations ago.  There is nothing (other than lack of talent) to prevent me from palying for the German team.  The Israeli team will use players of Jewish heritage, regardless of nationality.  Nations can also use players from their territories, which is why a number of players for The Netherlands in 2009 didn’t look very Dutch … they were from places like Curacao.

In 2009 and 2012, sixteen teams participated in the tournament.  The tournament was by invitation only.  This has changed for the 2013 WBC.  The eight teams who won at least one game in 2009 gained automatic bids to the 2013 WBC.  The other four teams were dropped into four qualifying tournaments, along with twelve new teams.  Thus, a total of 28 teams (12 automatic qualifers and 16 teams in the qualifying tournaments) have a chance to play in the WBC.

Here is the breakdown of teams :

Automatic qualifiers:

  • Japan (2004 and 2009 champion)
  • South Korea (2nd in 2009)
  • Venezuela (3rd)
  • USA (4th)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Cuba
  • Netherlands
  • Mexico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Italy
  • China
  • Australia

Qualifier 1 (Sept 19-23, 2012, Florida)

  • Israel
  • South Africa
  • France
  • Spain

South African was in the 2009 Classic, but they’ll have a tough row to hoe in order to get back.  The favorite in this group is Israel, which fields a team of players with significant experience in the minor leagues.  Very few of the players are actually from Israel, with most of the players being Jewish players from other nations.  Spain also has a decent team.

Qualifier 2 (Sept 20-24, 2012, Germany)

  • Great Britain
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany

Canada was 0-2 in 2009, but this is a good team.  They are ranked #5 in the International Baseball Federation rankings.  It will be an upset if the Canadians don’t win.

Qualifier 3 (Nov 15-17, 2012, Panama)

  • Brazil
  • Panama
  • Nicaragua
  • Colombia

Panama is was in the 2009 Classic, but they’ll be pushed by Colombia and Nicaragua.  I’d expect this to be the most competitive of the qualifiers.  I’ll give the nod to Panama, since the games will be played there.

Qualifier 4 (Nov 15-18. Taiwan)

  • Thailand
  • Phillippines
  • New Zealand
  • Chinese Tapei (Taiwan)

This is probably the least competitive group.  Chinese Tapei is the only team ranked in the world top 20 and should have a relatively easy path to victory.



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