The sport’s actual world championship event unfolds not in October in New York, Boston or Los Angeles, but rather at scattered locations across Europe in early September. The MLB “Fall Classic” of course has nothing at all to do with “world” or “international” competitions but rather merely decides a North American “corporate” baseball champion. And the novel World Baseball Classic now staged every fourth year in March is only a small step closer to a true international event, given that (with the exception of Cuba’s entry) that affair is restricted to but a handful of countries boasting MLB-owned ballplayers.
For the crowning of a true WORLD champion one must turn to the alternate-year IBAF-sponsored Baseball World Cup tournament, now about to open in Europe for its 38th edition. This year’s event will be staged at multiple venues for the first time, with first-round games (involving 20 nations) commencing in Spain, Germany, Croatia, Sweden and the Czech Republic on September 9-10. Round two action (including Italy and Holland which own first-round byes) will move to venues in The Netherlands and Italy, with the title match slatted for September 27th in Nettuno, Italy.
Those interested in following this event (admittedly from a Cuban perspective) can do so on our website at www.baseballdecuba.com. I will be trailing the Cuban team to their round one and two venues in Barcelona and Holland, and then on to the finals in Italy. Our detailed World Cup page contains not only my daily English-language reports but also numerous Spanish and English tournament news items, history, schedules, standings, detailed statistics, photos, and even radio and television feeds for all Team Cuba games. This promises to be the most detailed World Cup page found anywhere on the internet.
The World Cup website homepage can be found at the following link:
For a detailed story on the recently released Team Cuba roster, the reader is also directed to the following link:
And for information on the Team USA roster, as well as the prospects for the American entry, the reader is directed to the following USA BASEBALL website link:
Cuba has captured the world championship (the event was known as the IBAF Amateur World Series until its renaming in 1988) in 25 of the 29 years that it has entered, including a recent string of nine straight titles between 1982 and 2007. Team USA (led by Evan Longoria) claimed its first-ever crown with a 6-3 gold medal win over the Cubans in Taipei back in November 2007. (The USA did win two similar alternate events staged outside the IBAF framework in 1973 and 1974.) Will the Americans be up to the challenge of protecting their new-found championship status this time around, or will the juggernaunt Cubans return to a long-accostumed position of domination? Stay tuned to www.baseballdecuba.com for all the daily reports and live tournament action.
With baseball’s true “World Series” only three weeks away, Cuba has expanded its lead over runner-up Korea in the IBAF world baseball rankings, Cuba’s gap over Asian powers Korea and Japan expanded with a gold medal triumph at the recent Rotterdam World Port Tournament. The latest poll is the third since the IBAF began its world rankings on the heels of last summer’s Beijing Olympics. The latest IBAF poll also accompanied news that once again the International Olympic Committee has voted down both baseball and softball was medal sports for the 2016 Games that will likely be held in either Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, or Chicago.
This month’s IBAF rankings also included women’s baseball for the first tie, with Japan, the USA and Canada filling the top three slots. The top twenty in the men’s rankings were as follows:
1. Cuba (1209.68 points)
2. Korea (984.82 points)
3. Japan (947.00 points
4. USA (889.32 points)
5. Chinese Taipei (591.82 points)
6. Holland (412.57 points)
7. Mexico (302.75 points)
8. Canada (280.19 points)
9. Venezuela (233.18 points)
10. Puerto Rico (215.39 points)
11. Australia (214.11 points)
12. Panama (212.32 points)
13. Dominican Republic (135.68 points)
14. Nicaragua (131.25 points)
15. Italy (130.88 points)
16. China (125.00 points)
17. Thailand (58.50 points)
18. Spain (54.50 points)
19. Philippines (50.83 points)
20. Brasil (41.50 points)
With Olympic baseball having fallen by the wayside for the foreseeable future, next month’s IBAF World Cup takes on added significance as the one true measure of baseball’s legitimate “world championship” status. More will be written about the upcoming IBAF tournament on this page in coming days. But an early indication of this year’s favorite might be gleened from the fact that defending champion Team USA (which captured its first-ever crown in Taiwan in November 2007) has yet to even name an official roster. At the same time the Cubans are immersed in a month-long highly competitive domestic all-star series to winnow down their national team roster from its current size of 56 candidates. The Americans will begin World Cup warmups with a brief four-game exhibition series (versus Canada’s entry) in Cary, North Carolina on September 3-6. On those same dates 2007 runner-up Cuba (winner of 25 previous World Cup crowns) competes in the Italian Baseball Week (with Italy, Venezuela and Chinese Taipei). World Cup first-round action opens up in five European locations on Serptember 9, with Cuba playing in Barcelona and Team USA slotted for Germany.