This year's World Baseball Classic features China and Japan as two of the host countries, which means that hardcore fans of the event should set their alarms accordingly. Usual hibernators will become early risers as some of the games played in those two countries will be the ones most fun to watch.
The fact that two national teams in Brazil and Spain are making their first WBC appearances this year adds to the drama, and seeing how they match up with the big boys is plenty of reason to rise early and catch the action.
That said, set your alarms accordingly, baseball fans. These are games that are certainly not to be missed.
Japan vs. Brazil: Saturday, March 2, 5 a.m. EST
Defending champion Japan will kick off its WBC with a game against Brazil, a team making its debut in this fine tournament. Granted, Japan is likely going to shellac their inexperienced opponent, but fans should tune in solely because of which players they'll get to see.
Former MLB infielder Kazuo Matsui will be representing Japan, as will fine talents in outfielder Hisayoshi Chono and veteran infielder Hirokazu Ibata. Usual guys like Ichiro Suzuki and phenom pitcher Yu Darvish may not be playing, but Japan has still put out a decent roster.
At the same time, do not count out Brazil just yet. A small handful of the team's players are playing for minor league affiliates of MLB teams, while others are playing in Japan.
The fact is that some of the Brazilian squad know the Japanese team's game very well, which could turn this game from a potential blowout to one that is closer than anyone could have anticipated.
Korea vs. the Netherlands: Saturday, March 2, 6:30 a.m. EST
The Korean team was the runner-up in the 2009 WBC, and they have solid talent headlined by former MLB prospect and right-handed pitcher Jae Weong Seo. Their first game is against the Netherlands and while this may seem like a blowout, it's surprising how close it might actually be.
Team Netherlands has former MLB All-Star in Andruw Jones manning the outfield, and also a fine outfielder in the Washington Nationals' Roger Bernadina. Infielder Xander Bogaerts is also a fine infield prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization.
That said, the talent on both sides is pretty balanced. If you want a chance to see two teams you probably otherwise wouldn't get a chance to watch, definitely get up early and tune in!
Japan vs. Cuba: Wednesday, March 6, 5 a.m. EST
Two of baseball's titans face off in this game. Japan has the balanced attack focused on both athleticism and speed, while Cuba plays good old-fashioned blue-collar baseball.
That said, fans should expect a close battle from start to finish. These two teams field some of the best players in the world for a reason, and watching them clash in the WBC will only further establish which nation has the better men.