Before I get started on today's post, I'd like to put out a casual invite for all readers to join me and a few other bloggers and Twins fans at Buffalo Wild Wings in Roseville this Saturday at 1 pm, where we'll be taking in the USA/Canada WBC match-up. With Justin Morneau, Jesse Crain and Corey Koskie all potentially participating, the game should feature plenty of Twins-related goodness and also just presents a good opportunity to catch some live baseball in early March.
Now, I've mentioned in the past that I'm a fan of the World Baseball Classic and don't fully understand what there is not to like about it. In a chat held on his Web site last Wednesday, Aaron Gleeman (who may or may not be attending our little gathering), reiterated his disinterest in the tournament by noting, "Seems sort of silly if the best players aren't playing and I don't blame them for not playing." I don't disagree with Aaron terribly often (some will tell you never), but that seems like an odd take to me. The top three finishers in last year's AL MVP race -- Dustin Pedroia, Morneau and Kevin Youkilis -- all are participating. Of the five players Gleeman mentioned as his top five fantasy picks in the aforementioned chat -- Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, David Wright and Alex Rodriguez -- all but Pujols are participating. Elite players like Carlos Beltran, Jimmy Rollins, David Ortiz, Jason Bay, Felix Rodriguez and Carlos Zambrano are all expected to take part. While it's true that a number of top players have chosen to sit out the WBC for various reasons, the idea that this tournament will feature nothing but scrubs and second-tier players is certifiably false. Plenty of Major League Baseball's best and brightest will be representing their country in the event.
Furthermore, the WBC provides an opportunity to watch international players and minor-league players that the casual fan can rarely see in action. Aside from Twins farm-hands such as Luke Hughes and Carlos Gutierrez, I'll be interested in catching a glimpse of Yu Darvish, the 22-year-old Japanese phenom who went 16-4 with a 1.88 ERA and 208-to-53 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 200 2/3 innings for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters last year.
Whether or not you care about who wins, I see little reason for any baseball fan to be totally uninterested in catching at least a few games of the World Baseball Classic. If you're looking for a place to start, feel free to join us on Saturday.