The World Baseball Classic will commence tomorrow at 4:30 am as the first pitch is thrown at Gocheok Sky Dome. The heavy underdog Israel will be taking on host Korea. Southpaw Won Jun Chang will be getting the start for Korea. He went 15-6 with a 3.32 ERA for Doosan in the Korean Baseball Organization. For Israel, Jason Marquis will be getting the call. Marquis, a journeyman pitcher currently in free agency, is used to pressure. He has played in 11 playoff games, getting three starts. He has the distinction of being one of the only players to play in both a Little League and Major League World Series.
Korea is hoping to avenge an early defeat in 2013’s WBC. They were in a tie for first in their pool with Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands, but lost the tiebreakers to both teams. As the top two teams in each pool advance, Korea was sent home much earlier than they would have liked.
Israel failed to qualify for 2013’s WBC, and are making their first appearance this year. To make it, they defeated Britain, Brazil and Pakistan. Israel is a tiny country without much popularity of baseball, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to be among the 16 countries represented in the WBC. However, the rules say otherwise. If a person fulfills the criteria for citizenship in a country, they can represent said country. In Israel, any Jew qualifies for a citizenship, so any player with Jewish heritage can play for Israel. For example, Kevin Youkilis would have played for Team Israel if they had qualified. This year, Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler could have worn the Star of David on their caps, but opted not to. Not including any players on an MLB 40-man roster, Team Israel is given 200-1 odds of winning the WBC by Bovada. That being said, everybody loves a Jamaican bobsled team.
photo courtesy of ESPN