Rounding out the rest of the field

Now that the tournament has started, myworld will not have the opportunity to break out the other rosters, but below is a summary of the rest of the teams.

Italy

Outlook - Italy is one of the better European teams, but they have yet to finish in a top three.  Prior to traveling to Panama they played four games in Vero Beach, Florida, finishing 2-2 against the instructional teams of the Washington Nationals and the Florida Marlins.  The highlight of this team is that one of their coaches will be Mike Piazza, who has hit more homeruns as a catcher than any player in baseball.  Jairo Ramos is their big slugger to watch.  They will be happy just to advance to the next round.

Record: 52-104

Top Three Finishes: None

Puerto Rico

Outlook: Puerto Ricans blame the major leagues for the decline of baseball in Puerto Rico.  Ever since the major leagues included Puerto Ricans in the draft, the level of play has declined.  Most high schools do not have baseball, so scouts can not watch players develop.  The major leagues can scout players from the Dominican Republic when they are 16, but Puerto Ricans have to wait until they are 18.  The last time Puerto Rico finished in a top three was in 1973, but Cuba was not playing in that event.  Reymond Fuentes is the player to watch on this team.  The Padres obtained him as one of three players in the trade for Adrian Gonzalez.

Record: 153-117

Third Place Finishes: Eight, one first place finish in 1951, four second place finishes (1947, 1948, 1973 and 1976) and three third place finishes (1952, 1965, 1970 and 1973).  They played in both tournaments in 1973, when one tournament was played without Cuba.

South Korea

Outlook: Like Japan, Korea is in the middle of their professional season so the players are usually university or minor league type players.  They finished in second place in 2005.  They actually won the event in 1982 and are the last team to win as Olympic champions.  In the World Baseball Classic they finished in second place, but both the Olympics and WBC were played with their professional players.  Not much to say about these players since myworld is unfamiliar with their names.

Record: 91-58

Third Place Finishes: Eight, one first place finish in 1982 and five second place finishes (1980, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2005) with two third place finishes (1978 and 1990)

Venezuela

Outlook: Before the arrival of the Asian teams and the increased competetiveness of the United States team, Venezuela was always the second best team just after Cuba.  Now that many of their top players are competing in the United States, they have not been as competetive.  Their last top three finish was in 1973, but that was a weakened event with two World Cups in that one year.  Not a lot of hope for a top three finish this year, though Luis Sojo is managing the team.

Record: 134 - 80

Third Place Finishes: Nine, three first place finishes in 1941, 1944 and 1945, two second place finishes in 1951 and 1953 and four third place finishes in 1942, 1950, 1961 and 1973

Nicaragua

Outlook: Another competetive team in days gone by, before soccer began replacing baseball in the passion of the young kids. They did take a second place finish in 1990. They have yet to win the World Cup, but they have had a lot of second place finishes. It will be an upset to see them finish in the top three this year.

Record: 160-124

Top Three Finishes: Nine, five second place finishes (1939, 1940, 1973, 1974 and 1990) and four third place finishes (1947, 1953, 1971 and 1972)

Greece

Outlook: They lost the opener to Panama. They would be happy just getting a win. Greece is managed by ex-major leaguer James Essian. They qualified for this tournament by surprising the European field and finishing fourth. This is their first appearance in a World Cup tournament.

Record: 0-0

Third Place Finishes: None

Taiwan

Outlook - Another Asian giant, but in this case because of gambling issues in their professional league, the best players may be those playing in the minor leagues in the United States or in colleges or industrial leagues. Many Taiwan youth are a little hesitant about playing in the Taiwan professional league because of the taint of the last two gambling scandals.  It has been since 2001 when they made their last top three finish.  They could be a surprise competitor in this world cup.  Their National team gave Cuba fits in the Honkball tournament, beating them for the championship, then just missing out in the championship match against Cuba in a Canadian tournament.  Myworld expects them to compete for that third spot.

Record: 91-72

Third Place Finishes: four, one second place finish in 1984 and three third place finishes in 1986, 1988 and 2001.

Dominican Republic

Outlook: This is another team that should be better than their roster, but the major leagues has most of their good players.  They do have a roster full of ex-major league veterans, so depending on their motivation and what kind of shape they are in, they should be competetive.  Their last taste of glory was in 1969, when they finished third.

Record: 120-87

Third Place Finishes: six, one first place finish in 1948, three second place finishes (1942, 1950 and 1952) and two third place finishes in 1943 and 1969.

Germany

Outlook: Germany is gaining on the two European strongholds Italy and Netherlands and is perhaps the third best European team.  Their roster is young, but it is talented, with Kai Gronauer and Max Kepler two of the talents to watch.  The German veteran to put them in their place is Dominik Wulf.  While their record would indicate a patsy, this is a team with much improved players that do not reflect their 2-33 overall World Cup record.

Record: 2-33

Third Place Finishes: None

Panama

Outlook: The host of the tournament.  They could be encouraged by the home town crowd to outperform their skills.  They did win their opener against Greece 8-3, but the schedule makers are kind.  They usually schedule the weakest team against the host in the opening game.  Time will tell whether their bats continue to sizzle.  They have had some recent success with a third place finish in 2005 and a second place finish in 2003. Myworld will predict that they will be the surprise team of the tournament, especially when you hear the enthusiasm of the crowd at the game.

Record: 130-112

Third Place Finishes: Three, one second place finish in 2003 and two third place finishes (1945 and 2005)

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