Saturday, January 12, 2013

Escaping the Carnage of the World Baseball Classic?

According to's Extra Bases blog, the Red Sox may send just two of their major leaguers to the World Baseball Classic this year, with the possibility that both Alfredo Aceves (Mexico), and Shane Victorino (USA) will participate. This is a striking change for the Red Sox, who sent a much larger array of players to the 2006 and 2009 WBC.

The 2009 tournament particularly affected the Red Sox, because after Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched Team Japan to its second WBC title (and himself to its MVP), he was on and off the disabled list for the entire MLB season. The Red Sox did get some amusement out of that year's WBC, as Kevin Youkilis restyled his famous goatee:

And we all had some mixed feelings about the brand new bromance between Red Sox second baseman and all around dirt dog Dustin Pedroia and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter - I mean, I know the tournament is supposed to be about forging connection, but come on!

And for what? The USA finished fourth in the 2009 WBC, because most US players feel their first allegiance is to the team that pays them (and MLB), while in Japan, playing for the national team is a huge honor.

And so I predict that this year, like every World Baseball Classic thus far, Japan will take home the first place, and Daisuke Matsuzaka might even claim his third MVP (though the rosters haven't been announced yet, so no guarantee he's playing). But for the Red Sox, the effect the tournament has on spring training and the 2013 season should be (thankfully) minimized.

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