Italy - Otto Greule Jr
The regular season is meaningful baseball. The postseason is, as far as I'm concerned, theoretical baseball. Spring training means completely pointless irrelevant baseball. It's for this reason that I look forward to the World Baseball Classic, because while the WBC isn't as important as regular-season baseball, it's more important than the baseball that goes on while it's going on. There's a certain degree of emotion, there's a certain degree of drama, and the pure randomness of the tournament leads to occasional phenomena like everyone rushing out to buy orange Team Netherlands caps. The Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic! Twice! The WBC is flawed but enjoyable, and there's a WBC this year, and some Mariners are going to play in it if nothing terrible happens to them between now and then. Or something deeply amazing. I shouldn't always be so negative.
Felix Hernandez is going to play for Venezuela. Felix Hernandez has played for Venezuela before.
Mariners fans might be surprised to learn that Venezuela plans to start Carlos Silva rather than Felix Hernandez in its first game of the final round. Venezuela manager Luis Sojo, however, says that Silva "has been the best pitcher I have."
We all get super protective when Felix is involved and people are going to be concerned about the effects this might have on Felix's season with the Mariners, but the last time Felix participated in the WBC, he went on to have his 2009, in which he finished second in the Cy Young voting. 2009 was the year that Felix finally became Felix. Therefore, based on terrible science, Felix is going to get even better? Wow, I didn't see that coming. Felix won't pitch with Silva this time, but he will pitch with Carlos Zambrano, which is sort of the same thing, and I don't mean that in a racist way. Maybe it would look better if I didn't acknowledge that there could be a racist way.
Michael Saunders is going to play for Canada. He'll share a roster with both Tyson Gillies and Phillippe Aumont, and he'll also share a roster with Adam Loewen, who I confuse with Adam Eaton, who I confuse with the other Adam Eaton. One of Canada's coaches is Larry Walker, and I wouldn't mind if Saunders never played and instead just picked Walker's brain for advice. Not literally because that seems like it would be criminal. My assumption is that Michael Saunders could become as good as Larry Walker by talking to Larry Walker a lot. If that isn't true then it seems like it's Larry Walker's fault.
Oliver Perez is going to play for Mexico. At present, according to the official roster, Mexico's outfield is Karim Garcia. This is a fairly recent picture of Karim Garcia.
The last time Perez pitched for Mexico, in 2009, Mets fans didn't even hate him yet. That's how long we've gone in between World Baseball Classics.
And Alex Liddi is going to play for Italy. As an actual Italian, and not as some sort of Rube Goldberg Italian like Chris Denorfia. The roster has both true Italians and family Italians, and there are enough true Italians for them to band together and feel superior and make a bunch of inside jokes in Italian with one another. All this while the family Italians do most of the work and the team gets blown out and eliminated. At least they got there! Which is more than you can say for Seychelles. Stupid piece of crap Seychelles.
Some Mariners minor leaguers will participate, including Luiz Gohara for Brazil. This will be most interesting if Gohara pitches in a stadium equipped with PITCHf/x. Then we can examine his repertoire and try to figure out what he might become when he isn't 16 years old. And then there's Australia, featuring beloved former Mariner Ryan Rowland-Smith and could-have-been-beloved former Mariner Chris Snelling. Not only is Chris Snelling participating as an Australian outfielder -- based on name recognition alone, he might be participating as the best Australian outfielder. Not bad for a guy who was supposedly playing beer-league softball, and also I think assistant coaching at a high school. More recently, Snelling has gotten into the Australian Baseball League, so it's not like they picked him off the street. Unless he's homeless?
Felix gets to leave spring training and go all the way to Puerto Rico. Saunders, Perez, and Liddi get to leave spring training and go all the way to staying in Phoenix, Arizona. If their teams advance, they go to Miami, then San Francisco. The players will leave spring training after the start of spring training, and they'll return to spring training before the end of spring training. This is a complicated and annoying way of saying that their regular-season preparations shouldn't be interrupted or inhibited. You can worry about what the WBC might do to these players, but we don't have solid evidence of any negative consequences in the past. Except for the completely obliterated Dominican pride. In their defense, I also would have played against the Netherlands as if I were playing against my own four-year-old son.
If something does happen to Felix, though, I swear to God, I'm doing nothing but something that makes Venezuelan people really mad. I'll look something up. If something bad has to happen, let it happen to Venezuelan teammate Elvis Andrus. Suck it up, Andrus, take one for the equipo.