Let's be honest for a minute: nobody seems to be excited about the World Baseball Classic
That is, nobody except me. Where else can you see a bunch of foreign teams trying to topple the US and Latin American juggernauts? Certainly not the Summer Games - at least not anymore (which sucks for Australia
, who won the Silver the last time Baseball will be played as an Olympic sport).
I'm excited for the WBC for a few reasons. Most notably, however, is for Japan
. Sure, it's Taguchi-less (he was robbed, I know), but seriously - with the ever-increasing number of J-Ball players making their way into the majors, it has to at least pique your interest. Take, for instance, Kenji Johjima
, who recently agreed to play for the Seattle Mariners.
Johjima was an all-star for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
(yeah, you may want to fire up your web translator - that page is unreadable... unless you know Japanese). Now we get to see him try to handle a pitching staff through broken Engrish
. That should be fun, right?
Japan should be a real tough opponent in Pool A play. Japan manager Sadaharu Oh virtually guarantees that Japan will emerge from Pool play with a perfect record, as they charge forward to meet the winners of Pool B in Round 2 play.
"Japan's the strongest team in Asia, in my opinion, and I want to finish as the top team," Oh said on Tuesday at a Tokyo hotel. "We have many stylistic variations. We are speedy and play thrilling defense. Maybe we don't have power like the Americans, but we have ways to cope."
If you aren't scared of the Japanese team yet, check this out: Munenori Kawasaki
, Japan's hottest hitter, bats in the 9 spot. In WBC exhibition play, he's batting a whopping .777 (7 of 9). He also has three walks and a sac fly in addition.
Holy crap, he's good - and so is Japan's team. I am confident that they will roll through Pool play and make it into the Finals against one of the global "favorites." Keep your eyes open when watching the games -- you may just see the next Ichiro, Johjima or Taguchi come thundering in from nowhere, lighting up douchebags like Roger Clemens and Brad Lidge like Tokyo at night