Posted March. 05, 2009 09:24,
March 2006 was a great time for Korean baseball fans.
At that time, Korea beat Japan, which had touted itself as Asias best, at Tokyo Dome. This allowed Korea to advance to the quarterfinals of the first World Baseball Classic in Anaheim, California, by winning all three qualifiers.
Korea then beat the U.S. team full of Major League stars before defeating Japan in the semifinals and finishing third in the inaugural tournament.
This year the national team is hoping to bring the title home amid the economic crisis, but two key players are out. Slugger Lee Seung-yeop (Yomiuri Giants) and pitcher Park Chan-ho (Philadelphia Phillies) opted not to play to focus on their pro teams` seasons.
Choo Shin-soo (Cleveland Indians) is the only Major Leaguer to play for Korea in this tournament.
Japan won the first World Baseball Classic but lost to eventual gold medalist Korea in the Beijing Olympics last year.
The Korean team has nothing to lose in its first game versus struggling Taiwan Friday. The players are younger in this event but full of confidence that they can win.
Korea surprised the world by winning the gold in Beijing, and many from that team will play in this tournament.
The Asian round will open with a game between Japan and China today. If Korea beats Taiwan, chances are high of a Korea-Japan clash Saturday.