Remember the World Baseball Classic? Yeah, that meaningless tournament that Daisuke Matsuzaka prioritized ahead of being a member of the Red Sox. Well it's back.
The WBC will be held in 2013, but the Qualifying rounds have already started. Spain won a round-robin tournament to advance, and so did Canada. Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua, and Columbia will vie for another spot. And Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Chinese Taipei will compete for another.
Johnny Damon will compete on the Thai team. Apparently his mother is Thai.
The automatically qualified teams are:
Japan, China, Cuba (to play first round games in Japan)
South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia (to play in Taiwan)
Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic (to play in Puerto Rico)
USA, Mexico, Italy (to play in Arizona)
It'd be a nice tournament if the games weren't played during Spring Training. Major League players are at their worst shape of the year and their training routines are strictly monitored by their MLB clubs. Except Daisuke's. The Red Sox just let him do what he wanted.
So on paper it's an interesting event. In actuality, expect Cuba to win because their players are terrified of their government, and this competitions is the biggest event of the year for them.