Hi everyone. My name's Paulie and this is the first ever International Baseball Blog. Think World Baseball Classic, Baseball World Cup.
Okay, so first off, the most important thing in international is the tournaments. And the IBAF has come out and said the three world-wide tournaments are the 2011 Baseball World Cup, which will be held in Panama. That is the premiere tournament for they year. Could serve as qualifying for the next World Baseball Classic in 2013, and it will be either 16 or 24 of the best teams in the world.
The 2nd tournament is the AA 16U World Championships in Mexico. I have already watched some of the qualifying (granted, it was the Oceania bracket), and I don't know how the tournament will be. They usually are popular, and there are sure to be some future talent.
The third, and final, tournament is the 12U World Championships in Taiwan. (Not Chinese Taipei)
I really have no idea how this is going to be. Can you imagine that, the little kids int their big national team uniforms.
Of course, we will also have the highly-anticipated (at least here in the states anyway) 2011 Pan-Am Games, which I'm hoping will be televised on MLB Network. The qualifying had some pretty solid players. And also, in 2010 we had the European Championships, now in 2011, we will have the qualifying. And so just as an added bonus, I will give you my opinion on who will be seen facing off with the big guns in 2012.
European Championships Qualifying Preview
Poland Latvia Austria Slovakia Belgium
My Opinion: I'd have to say Belgium will have a pretty easy time. The only main threat is Austria, but I still think they'll pull away. Benjamin Dille is without a doubt the best player in the bracket for Belgium.
Romania Bulgaria Serbia Croatia Slovenia
My Opinion: Croatia will will 9 times out of 10. There isn't even a 2nd, although Bulgaria has a good pitcher in Dimitar Nassapov, who has pitched in Germany.'
Spain Finland Ireland Switzerland Hungary
My Opinion: Spain shouldn't even be qualifying. Seriously? This team is ranked 17th, higher than a lot of other teams that don't need to qualify. Could you imagine if they didn't qualify, to say, Switzerland. Spain will win though, that is as close to get as a guarantee.
Lithuania Israel Georgia United Kingdom
My Opinion: This is the most compelling group. Georgia won't do anything, but the remaining three can all do well. Lithuania's actually got some very god pitching, Israel is incredibly likable for whatever reason. I think it's the presence of The resident O-Dog, Oren Gal. And the UK has been receiving no government funding, so they basically need to start over. Israel or Great Britain are the two I'd most like to see.
Belarus Russia Ukraine Macedonia
My Opinion: Russia or Ukraine. I'm going to say Russia though because of it's experience. Ukraine is getting better though.
So there's that.
In other news, German National Teamer Markus Solbach has signed with the Minnesota Twins organization. He is just 20 years old and has actually only played on the Germany Junior National Team. He is the fourth German the Twins have signed in the past decade, joining Tim Henkenjohann, Rodney Gessmann, and Max Kepler-Rozycki.
In Book News, Julio Piernas has released a book. Piernas is the President of the Spain Baseball Federation and the book compiles the history of baseball in Spain. At least it's not another Peter Bjarkman bomb.
The Olympic Re-Instatement Committee (Actual name) met in San Marino. They are working diligently to bring baseball back to the Olympics, by the intended goal of 2020. The year not the show (USA show)
In league news, Spring Training has started. My Phillies beat the Yankees in the first game.
But what struck me was when you look at the lineups
Derek Jeter (USA- both WBC's)
Mark Texeira (USA - 06 WBC)
Jorge Posada (Puerto Rico)
Robinson Cano ( DR - 09 WBC)
Curtis Granderson (USA - 09 WBC)
Francisco Cervelli (Italy - 09 WBC)
Alright, I'll leave it at that. See you next week. Tell all your friends. Thanks to the IBAF.