World Baseball Classic: Early Thrills and a Huge Shocker

danny perezContributor IMarch 8, 2009

Sourpusses take note, man up, and enjoy the show; big things are happening in the World Baseball Classic. As the Debbie Downers continue to frown upon this great event, the World Baseball Classic continues to excite. It's back, it's here, and it’s electric.


Fans here don't need to see hits, home runs, strikeouts, or anything on the field to get them hopping. Just the mere thrill of this tournament is enough to get these fans dancing in the stands.


In the Far East, where the Classic got under way, Japan as expected has already advanced to round two with convincing victories over China and South Korea who both beat Taiwan.


Being that baseball is the national sport of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the surprise here is China as it’s only been a few years since they have been training baseball players.


China eliminated Taiwan, the first casualty of the tourney. China will now play South Korea to see who will be the final team to advance from Pool A. Winner plays Japan on Monday to decide the top seed.


On this side of the world, in the Pool D opener played in Puerto Rico, interesting and shocking baseball has already taken place. The mighty Dominican Republic was upset by a Netherlands team anchored by Sidney Ponson.


With only three hits for the game, the Netherlands jumped out to an early three-run, first-inning lead and barely held on with a 3-2 victory.


In fairness to D.R., and starter Edinson Volquez, two of the runs allowed in the first inning were unearned, both scoring on an errant throw by Hanley Ramirez. Of course, Reyes would've had it in the bag had he been playing.


Ponson spearheaded the victory with enough to win. However, nothing near the lights out performance Pedro Martinez displayed for D.R. Coming in relief, Pedro kept the D.R. within reach, throwing three masterful innings and facing the minimum nine batters.


Looking like the Pedro of old, it was thrilling watching him mow 'em down, striking out four of his final five batters in true Pedro fashion.


Omar, I hope you're watching! We're still in need of a fifth starter and our potentials haven't impressed anyone yet this spring so far. Let’s hope Omar was also watching Puerto Rico.


Like Pedro, still looking for a job and using the Classic to showcase his skills, Ivan Rodriguez (aka Pudge) went 4-for-4 with two home runs, three runs scored, and four RBI in Puerto Rico’s 7-0 win over Panama in a Pool C matchup.


Pudge would certainly be an upgrade over any of the Mets catchers at the moment, but that’s a conversation for another post. Carlos Delgado also went yard in the win.


Results from Pool C, being played in Canada, the U.S. squeaked by the Canadians in their first game, but really shouldn’t have going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring positions.


Kevin Youklis, Adam Dunn, and Brian McCann all went deep for Team USA and new Mets reliever J.J. Putz closed it out in the ninth though gave up one run in the process. Venezuela easily took care of Italy, winning 7-0 with help from Bobby Abreu, Endy Chavez, and Melvin Mora.


Pool B will get their chance to shine tomorrow. South Africa will take on Cuba and Mexico vs. Australia.


This is a fast-moving tournament, so it's vital for teams not to blink, just ask the Team USA what happened in 2006. One bad game can seal your deal here. The D.R. is on the brink, though not done yet.


The World Baseball Classic has just barely gotten under way but the thrill is evident and will continue to heighten as we get to the meat of the tournament. Soon the not so great teams will be eliminated and the powerhouses will go at it.


Wait, Netherlands is part of the not so great category and they upset mega D.R., but can they be the World Baseball Classic Cinderella?


Finally, baseball games in March that mean something!


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