Archive for February, 2008

Vizquel and Vazquez preparing for 2009 WBC

Even there are still more than year away, some players are already talk about 2009 World Baseball Classic, include Omar Vizquel of Venezuela and Javier Vazquez for Puerto Rico.

Shortstop Omar Vizquel, who currently in spring traing site of San Francisco Giants, said he would consider a return to the second World Baseball Classic next spring. He wants to manage someday but said Luis Sojo should get the gig for Venezuela after doing such a good job last time.

As for pitcher Javier Vazquez, he said he will pitch in the 2009 World Baseball Classic if he’s selected to play for his native Puerto Rico.

Vazquez said he would change his routine. He had a 2.25 ERA in two starts for Puerto Rico in the 2006 Classic but struggled with a 4.84 ERA and an 11-12 record in his first year with the Sox.

“I might start [training] even a little earlier than last time,” Vazquez said. ” I might throw a few more batting practices in Puerto Rico than I did last time. I want to be more ready than the year before because the last time I started earlier. But just thinking about it, I could have started even earlier.”

2009 World Baseball Classic to feature same 16 teams

After further discussion, the 16-team field is set for the second World Baseball Classic, which is scheduled for March of next year. Though it is exactly the same as the inaugural edition in 2006, it may be the last time the governing bodies of the tournament restrict the competition to that few teams.

Under consideration for 2013 is an expansion of the field to 24 countries and territories with qualifying rounds as a preface to reach the main competition.

“As the level of baseball continues to rise worldwide, it is essential that the World Baseball Classic expand its field to give the growing number of formidable teams the opportunity to participate,” said Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of international business operations. “In accordance with the tournament’s goal of growing and enhancing interest in the game, the Steering Committee has strongly endorsed the expansion of the competition for the 2013 event.”

But that’s down the road. Next year’s field will again feature defending title winner Japan, runner-up Cuba, the U.S., Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela — all teams that qualified for the second round last time and thus received automatic berths for ’09. It was announced on Feb. 20th that Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, and South Africa were sent invitations.

Similar to the last time selection process, the Steering Committee determined the 16 teams for the 2009 World Baseball Classic based on criteria established to create the most highly-competitive international baseball event in the world. Some of the key factors involved in team evaluation and selection included: strength of native player base, number of professional players, international rankings, viability of domestic baseball programs, participant’s impact on baseball development in country/territory and diverse global representation.

“There has been significant improvement in the level of play internationally and indeed, Major League ranks include even more players from across the world,” said Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Players’ Association. “The 16 teams selected best represent the breadth of quality play around the globe, which meets a key tournament objective, showing the world how far baseball has come internationally. If you liked the tournament last time around, wait ’til you see her this time.”

The venues are expected to be announced next month with all four first-round competitions being played outside the U.S., which will host Round 2, the semi-finals and finals, as it did in 2006.

Toronto remains a “very strong candidate” to host one of the four groups in first-round play, a source with knowledge of the event’s planning told The Canadian Press. Canada is likely to be joined by the United States, a Latin American country and a non-traditional baseball country in the first round, with the games being held at the Rogers Centre, home of the Major League Team Toronto Blue Jays.

Attendance for the ’06 tournament at its seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold. The semi-finals and finals were sold out at San Diego’s 45,000-seat PETCO Park, undoubtedly a front-runner to host the Classic’s finale again in 2009.

It was the first time that all Major League players were allowed to represent their native lands in an international baseball tournament. The baseball competition in the Summer Olympics, which is slated for Beijing in August, includes non-25-man roster MLB players only.

“The intensity in the stands as well as the intensity on the playing field was absolutely remarkable, and I’m not sure that going into it you could have felt that,” Commissioner Bud Selig said at the time regarding the legacy of the Classic. “I’m very confident that this will be the platform we use to take this sport internationally to the dimension that I want to take it and believe that we will.”

About the World Baseball Classic Steering Committee
The World Baseball Classic Steering Committee consists of 12 members representing professional baseball leagues, Club owners, players, international baseball federations and other international organizations affiliated with the game of baseball (for a complete list of members, see below). The Steering Committee provides ongoing guidance regarding the development of the premier international baseball tournament, the World Baseball Classic. The focus of the committee is to ensure that the tournament continues to maximize its potential to develop the game of baseball worldwide.

Steering Committee Members
Major League Baseball (2)

Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business
Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Labor Relations

MLB Players Association (2)
Gene Orza, Chief Operating Officer
Michael Weiner, General Counsel

International BAseball Federation (2)
Harvey Schiller, President
Eduardo de Bello, Panama

Nippon Professional Baseball (1)
Kazuo Hasegawa, Executive Secretary

Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Toru Matsubara, Executive Director

Korean Baseball Organization (1)
Il-Sung Ha, Secretary General

Korean Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Jin-kyun Na, Secretary General

Members-at-large (2)
Gyo Ishiguro, Chief Officer, Culture & Sports Projects, Yomiuri Shimbun
Roland Betts, President & Founder, Chelsea Piers, L.P.

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event, which was sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. The next tournament is scheduled for March 2009 and will be held every four years thereafter.

Canada may host some WBC games

Although there are at least one year away, the World Baseball Classic is preparing to show up again.

First, decide which field to play is quite important, according to the source told the Canadian Press, Canada is a “strong possibility” to host one of the four groups in first-round play at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The group, which would include the powerhouse United States, will play its games at the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays (Due to the weather condition I think). And the other three groups could be Tokyo, Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico, which could let the first round to be all-international.

The second and final rounds would revert back to the United States, where most of the inaugural Classic back in 2006 was played. Currently site running include Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Minute Maid Park in Houston, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Chase Field in Phoenix and 2006 WBC final game host, Petco Park in San Diego.

An official announcement is likely to come in March.

Last time in World Baseball Classic, Canada posted a thrilling 8-6 upset of the Americans at Chase Field on March 8, 2006, which is one of the biggest wins in Canada National team history – but due to 9-1 lost to Mexico in the third game, it let Canada, America, Mexico tied at 2-1, but due to the tie-breaking formula, Canada did not advance to the second round.

In the 2009 tournament, Canada and the America are likely to be joined by a Latin American country and a non-traditional baseball country. That would once again leave the Canadian in tough to advance, although their team this time around has the potential to be much stronger than the ’06 club.

All-star catcher Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., and pitchers Rich Harden of Victoria, Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., and Eric Gagne of Mascouche, Que. and starters Jeff Francis of North Delta, B.C., and Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C., all took a miss last time because of injury or team issues.

2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., and two-time all-star Jason Bay of Trail, B.C. and Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., have all advanced in their careers and are much stronger now, which could be the nightmare for any teams within their group.

I can’t wait for World Baseball Classic 2009.


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