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Saturday February 16th, 2013
By Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder): Follow @Jhacohen
Going into the 3rd edition of the World Baseball Classic, the #1 question that I get asked on a daily basis is: “Which country will win it all?” A fair question, as all sports fans (not just baseball ones) love to predict champions before the first game is even played. Given that Japan has won the first two WBC titles (2006 and 2009), they have to be the favorites going into this year’s tournament. But as every new WBC edition begins, every country begins to get hungrier and hungrier. We had a qualifier tournament recently, the inaugural one for a WBC. 16 countries battled it out to win the 4 coveted spots into the tournament. Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Canada and Spain will field teams next month.
Canada and Chinese Taipei were two of the four countries that did not receive automatic entries and were required to qualify. Brazil and Spain were the newcomers that got their first taste of the WBC…and evidently loved it. So who will be it folks? Japan beat Korea in 2009 and Cuba back in 2006. Ironically, Cuba lost to Japan twice back in the 2nd round of 2009. If not for Japan, Cuba would have at least WBC title under their belts. Maybe two. So who does Cuba get in their group as part of the 1st Round of the 2013 WBC? Japan, of course. This time around, things will be different. Cuba is ready to knock the Japanese gorilla off their backs and take the 2013 World Baseball Classic.