Thursday, March 7, 2013

Can the Dominican Republic Win the World Baseball Classic?

After a semi final loss in the first World Baseball Classic, and a national catastrophe first-round exit in 2009, the Dominican Republic has the pressure of the nation on them to win their first world title in the unilateral national sport. Even Dominican President Danilo Medina recently implored the Dominican team to 'lift up the country' with their World Baseball Classic performance.

Anything less than winning the whole thing will be a disappointment in the country with more MLB players per capita than any country in the world. There were 95 Dominican Baseball Players on MLB Rosters 2012, which was 11% of the league. Virtually everyone in the country has an opinion about baseball, known as 'pelota' or simply 'ball' in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican short stop Jose Reyes talked with USA Today. "The first two Classics were a bit disappointing for us. We had great teams and didn't do much," said Reyes. "This time we want to bring the crown back to the Dominican people."

Dominican native and MLB veteran Moises Alou has been a successful General Manager for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, and he is heading up the World Baseball Classic team as well. He has replaced the power laden lineup from 2009 with a lineup based on speed and contact. Dominican players like Reyes, Erick Aybar and Alejandro De Aza fit that mold. Even the power heavy players like Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana and Nelson Cruz are more rounded than power players like Jose Bautista and David Ortiz in previous years.

The bookies tend to agree with Alou and the Dominican public. The Dominican Republic is a 3-1 co-favorite to win the World Baseball Classic. The team has backed up this confidence from the public in their two exhibition games, beating the Phillies with 30 hits Tuesday and downing the Yankees 8-2 on Wedensday.

File:Tony Pena April 2012.jpg
Dominican Republic World Baseball
Classic manager, Tony Pena, is currently
bench coach for the Yankees.
The Dominicans, led by Yankee bench coach and former big league Dominican native Tony Pena, look to build on this chemistry. Their first game is Thursday evening in Pool C in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Team Dominican Republic could even add Adrian Beltre to the All-Star heavy lineup in the second round. "We take a lot of pride in trying to be the best we can. We have a lot of players that play in the big leagues, so we have quite a list of players," Beltre told ESPN. "Coming into the Classic the first time, we thought we'd do a better job than we did as a team. After that, we didn't meet our expectations, and I think the fans and the players were more into it because they know we can do better."

"Every three or four years, they expect us to do well. They look forward to it."

Tony Pena is a legend in the Dominican Republic. Expect him to bring together all the high priced talent and lead them to the final round. On paper they are certainly one of the top two teams, along with the USA. They should see Asian bracket winners Japan and Cuba in the final round.

Pool: C — San Juan, Puerto Rico
First Dominican Republic game: Thursday, March 7 — vs. Venezuela

1 comment:

  1. The Dominican Republic has an exciting team and they could certainly go far in the WBC. They've started with a big win and Reyes had four hits!


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