Preseason Baseball

You're flipping through the channels one Saturday in March. Just the usual-cartoons, some college basketball, maybe a movie. Then you come across something interesting. Crazy fans waving their country's flag? All-Star baseball players making outstanding plays and getting clutch hits? What is going on?

No, you haven't come stumbled across some new channel that only shows World Cup soccer matches and baseball highlights. You've found the World Baseball Classic.

The World Baseball Classic invites the most talented baseball players in the world to play for teams representing their native countries. These teams then play each other in a three-week tournament to see which nation has the best baseball players on Earth!

Think that's an easy victory for the United States? Baseball is America's National Pastime, so Team USA should clean up, right? Not exactly. In 2006, in the first-ever World Baseball Classic, Japan surprised everybody by winning the championship. Although if you look at some of the players who have come from Japan, you shouldn't be that shocked. Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, Ichiro from the Mariners and Daisuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka of the Red Sox are all very good Japanese players playing in the Major Leagues.

No, a gold medal for the United States is no guarantee in the World Baseball Classic. And that's what makes it so great. Baseball is an international sport, with countries from all around the world sending players to the big leagues. Some of the biggest names in baseball, like David Ortiz, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, all represented the Dominican Republic in the WBC. Other star players, like Bobby Abreu of the Angels and Detroit Tiger Magglio Ordonez, play for Venezuela. It's surprising to see that just about every team in the World Baseball Classic has a couple of big league stars.

Another reason to watch the World Baseball Classic is that you get to see players on rival Major League teams sharing the same dugout. Just look at Team USA. You have Derek Jeter, a shortstop for the Yankees, turning double plays with second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Jeter's enemy from the Red Sox. You have the Mets third baseman, David Wright, playing the same infield as shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies. During the regular baseball season the Mets and Phillies don't really get along!

The World Baseball Classic provides an opportunity for athletes from all over the world to get together in a tournament that celebrates sportsmanship, goodwill and athletic achievements.

Plus, it means you don't have to wait until April to watch your favorite players in action!

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