The Olympic Baseball Tournament starts up this evening/early Saturday morning with a great game between Japan and Cuba that begins at 7 am Eastern time. The United States will open against South Korea, while the Canadian squad will play China, and Chinese Taipei will play the Netherlands. All the Games will be available online by clicking here. My brief preview of the Tournament is available below. I will be providing a daily recap of the day’s action throughout the tournament.
The Canadian squad will be battling with the United States for the bronze medal position at the Olympics. The top player on the Canadian squad is Chris Reitsma who has been in MLB for a few years now.
The Chinese squad recieved the automatic spot in the tournament as the host country. They are led by head coach Jim Lefebvre who has recieved some backing from MLB in developing the Chinese national team. They are not expected to be a medal contender and to win a game would be a major improvement.
The Chinese Taipei baseball organization is known for winning LLWS back in the 80′s and 90′s but fail to live up to expecations on the Senior national team level. They could sneak into the Bronze medal spot with some minor upsets.
The Japanese federation has sent the top two pro players from each Japanase Professional team to the Olympics. They have the strongest squad with the best pros in Japan coming over. They are clearly the Olympic favorites.
The Netherlands are the best team in Europe by far but that is not saying much. They shouldn’t be in the hunt for any medals and needs some upsets to get in the fray.
The South Korean squad should be in the mix for the Bronze medal and possibly make the Gold Medal game with an upset over Cuba or Japan. They are young and well-coached so it is very possible something could happen with this dangerous squad.
The United States are sending some of the best minor league players to the Olympics leaving their MLB players at home. They should still be able to get into a medal game and with an upset like they did in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney could come away with a Gold Medal.