Know Thine Enemy: World Baseball Classic Edition

This week sees the start of the World Baseball Classic, the triennial celebration of baseball's growing international appeal. Exhilarating as competitive baseball in March is, we here at Peanuts from Heaven know that it can also be a little confusing.

We are American, but our beloved team includes Australians, Canadians, Dominicans, Mexicans and Venezuelans. So who do we root for? As always, we at Peanuts From Heaven are happy to assist you as you determine who you ought to root for over the next three weeks. As with all our enemies posts, we're happy to break down each team with both a reason to root for and a reason to root against them:

Throw a shrimp on a barbi: The Twins scout heavily in Australia, and contribute four players to their squad. So an Aussie win would be bloody rippa! +44 Frenemy Points
Shoot that dingo before it eats your baby: On the other hand, having worked with and taught Australians, I know that they are a sarcastic, vindictive people who actually don't care at all about baseball, preferring cricket and kangaroo shooting (I'm serious, my boss loved to go kangaroo shooting). -38 Enemy Points

Pass the maple syrup, eh?: The Aussies have our farm boys, but the Canucks have our starters, including Mr. Morneau, Ze Ubermensch and good ol Corey "Show us what you Gots-ki" Koskie. +98 Frenemy Points
Shove that hockey puck, you hoser!: While our Canadians are great, the Blue Jays tend to be a near permanent thorn in our side. And there's that whole Quebequois, separatist, cheer for the Expos thing...-32 Enemy Points

The Great Wall is the new Green Monster: Delicious food, compelling culture, what's not to like? +19 Frenemy Points
Get out of the way of that tank, dummy!: Well, a repressive totalitarian regime for starters. And, to be honest, cheering for China, an ominous empire with slowly emerging aspirations for global domination would be a little like cheering for the Yankees to keep getting better. -67 Enemy Points

Chinese Taipei
Excellence (Made in Taiwan): Believe it or not, they actually have some pretty talented prospects and could be a really good team...eventually. +9 Frenemy Points
Choking Hazards (Also, Made in Taiwan): Eventually. Right now, they've got nothing. Except for one Yankee pitcher. -6 Enemy Points

Hasta La Victoria Siempre: Cuba's great, really great, really totally very great. And for all the problems with the country, there's something nice about the fact that in the central park everyone argues about baseball, not politcs, not America, baseball. +71 Frenemy Points
Hasta La Vista, socialist punks: Yet again, there's that whole pesky socialist dictatorship thing. And the capitalistic exploitation of Che, which is pretty lame. I mean, do we really want to root for a nation whose best players will strap themselves to drift wood for a chance to get away? -57 Enemy Points

Dominican Republic
It's not a game, it's a religion: A democratic country with all the same passion as Cuba and none of the disgusting exploitation, and it's home to our boys Carlos and Alexi +77 Frenemy Points
Hisssssssss-panola: Of course, unlike Cuba, the Dominican has made corruption in signing bonuses a staple of their game, and has a roster including noted Yankee/Vampire: Alex Rodriguez -66 Enemy Points

Asporto Azzurri!: The home of great opera, great food, and ancestral home of Nicky Punto. Heck yeah! +39 Frenemy Points
Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?: Nick Punto and the rest of the Italian squad are not the great Italian players of the 30's and 40's, and the actual Azzurri are a boringly dull team, not the kind of guys you like to root for. -23 Enemy Points

Here comes the Rising Sun: As my co-blogger will attest, Japan is cool, totally into baseball, and very good at it. Teaching Japanese students was as close as I came to baseball conversations in India...and come on, who wouldn't want to be a Nippon Ham Fighter? +76 Frenemy Points
Cowboy Be Bop Sumo Wrestler Fun Time Loser Boys: Japan is also the defending champions, and we here at Peanuts from Heaven do not approve of greed or dynastic control, nor of the fact that none of these very good Japanese players seem impressed by our offers of casseroles and small salaries. -68 Enemy Points

We've got Seoul, yes we do, we've got Seoul, how 'bout you?: I also taught more than a few Korean students. And the only thing they liked more than my classes was beating the Japanese at anything and everything. (Especially sports) Good ol' fashion trash talk is well worth +78 Frenemy Points
I'm so embarrassed about that last joke that no one should root for Korea: On a list of favorite Korean sports Baseball probably rates behind Dance Dance Revolution and World of Warcraft. Not so cool dudes. -44 Enemy Points

Speedy Gonzalez rules the basepaths: Our new buddy Luis Ayala, and our old buddy Dennys Reyes are pitching for Mexico where they play baseball on top of mountains. +31 Frenemy Points
Slow Poke Rodriguez...enough said: One of Mexico's premier teams is named Diablos Rojos del Mexico, or the Red Devils of Meixco--satanic imagery in your team...not cool. -26 Enemy Points

The Netherlands
Trade in your cleats for clogs: Bert Blyleven's a coach. +79 Frenemy Points
Don't tilt at windmills: Sidney Fatso-n is a pitcher. -52 Enemy Points

Dude...it's Panama...I've got nothing...+0 Frenemy Points, -0 Enemy Points 

Puerto Rico
My Heart's Devotion: One of the first nations to send great players to the majors, its produced more Hall of Famers than any other foreign nation. +23 Frenemy Points
Let it Sink Back in the Ocean: Dude, make up your mind, are you a state, are you a territory, are you a foriegn country, Taiwan's supposed to live in this nether region of the world...you're not! -20 Enemy Points

South Africa
Cheer for the ol' Bafana Bafana: I'm a fan of Africa, and a fan of emerging markets in baseball, and a big fan of the fact that the Twins are sending 16 year old Hein Robb to play for the South African squad. +56 Frenemy Points
Don't cheer for the last vestige of Apartheid: Baseball is still largely the domain of white South Africans more than the egalitarian pursuit it is around the rest of the globe. Class Warfare--not cool. -39 Enemy Points

United States
Stars and Stripes Forever: We invented this game*, we're home to most of the greatest players of all time**, and it's thanks to us that other countries even know that this game exists***. +100 Frenemy Points 
Jingoism Never: *Kinda, **We didn't let half of them in for half a century, ***Empire, as I've said before, not cool. -24 Enemy Points

We still love Johan: It is thanks to Venezuela that we had arguably the greatest pitcher this century in our uniform. +42 Frenemy Points
We still hate Hugo Chavez: Yet again, oppressive regimes lead to lower scores. -40 Enemy Points

Final Standings
USA +76 Frenemy
Canada +66 Frenemy
Korea +34 Frenemy
Netherlands +27 Frenemy
South Africa +17 Frenemy
Italy +16 Frenemy
Cuba +14 Frenemy
Dominican Republic +11 Frenemy
Japan +8 Frenemy
Australia +6 Frenemy
Mexico +5 Frenemy
Chinese Taipei/Puerto Rico +3 Frenemy
Venezuela +2 Frenemy
China -48 Enemy

So, with all the plusses and minuses sorted out it's best to be loyal to the USA, but not get too upset if Canada holds things up for us.

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