The best players from across the globe played each other in the first round of the World Baseball classic this past week. The atmosphere has been electric but the baseball being played has been even better. The typical teams have continued their dominance throughout the first round of play, but a few surprise teams are starting to make some noise. Teams like Israel and the Netherlands have put up startling performances against some of the World’s best, while the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States have taken care of business as expected. If you like watching heart-racing and adrenaline pumping baseball, the World Baseball Classic is for you.
After a tumultuous performance in 2013, the United States seems poised to prove the world wrong, but can they get past the lineups of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as they advance to the second round of play? Judging by what I have seen and the rosters that have been constructed, I think that the Dominican Republic is the safest bet to take home the title. For the US fans out there, don’t lose hope. The United States has a roster that resembles that of an All-Star team and has the deepest pitching rotation in the tournament. They were also just 6 outs away from beating the potent lineup of the Dominican Republic, until the United States bullpen blew a 5 run lead.
In 2013 the Dominican Republic showed just how dominant they are, by sweeping the series, going 8-0 on their way to their first World Baseball Classic title. This year may be no different. Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz have combined for well over 1,000 career homeruns. The Dominican Republic also has some great young talent as well, with Starling Marte manning the outfield and Manny Machado completing the lineup. No matter what pitcher they face, they have the ability to put up a crooked number any night.
As for the United States, they have the same capabilities with a little less fire power throughout the lineup. The States have a well-rounded pitching rotation, with the World’s best closer, Andrew Miller looming in the bullpen. There is a better chance than not that the United States will get the chance to revenge their first round loss against the Dominican Republic later in this tournament. If this comes to fruition then you can guarantee a matchup for the record books. I don’t see shades of Herb Brooks but I do see a game that can match the intensity of a US vs. Soviet Union.
The World Baseball Classic has been in existence since 2005, but a new rivalry could be brewing. If both the United States and the Dominican Republic continue to dominate the competition, get your popcorn ready because you are in for a wild 9 innings.