Pool B of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) will take place in Tokyo. In addition to host Japan, teams from South Korea, Australia, China, and the Czech Republic will compete for the chance to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Zionist’s Guide has always had a soft spot for the Japanese in the World Cup. Mostly, that is a attributable to the overall lack of better options. However, given that the field at the WBC is so much more appealing, we can afford to be a little more discriminating in deciding whether or not to cheer for Japan. The Japanese were on the wrong side of the Second World War, and conditions in the wartime Shanghai Ghetto were none to pleasant for its Jewish inhabitants. Also, because of its dependence on imported petroleum, Japan spent several decades favoring the other side in the Arab-Israeli conflict and participating in boycotts of Israel . On the other hand, the Japanese get credit for Chiune Sugihara and the merit he earned by saving at least 6,000 Lithuanian Jews from the Shoah. The late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pair to state visits to Israel and did much to encourage Israeli-Japanese trade and increase the ties between the two countries. All things considered, Japan gets a thumbs up.
The ZGWBC’s assessment of South Korea is similar to that of Japan. Typically highly favored in the World Cup context, the Zionist Guide can take the opportunity to point out that, beginning with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, South Korea did participate in the Arab boycott of Israel. For a while, the Koreans even shuttered their embassy in Tel Aviv. However, thankfully, that has all changed, and there exists a brisk and active trade relationship between the two states. South Korea is hereby endorsed by the ZGWBC.
Of the four pools in the tournament, Pool B is by far the weakest in terms of baseball prowess. Japan and South Korea are heavily favored to advance to the second round. As for the remaining three teams in Pool B, WBC power ratings list Australia, the Czech Republic, and China as the three weakest squads in the entire tournament. As such, the ZGWBC is compelled to point out that cheering for any of these teams may not make a whit of difference in their ultimate fate.
Australia is always a strong favorite of the Zionist’s Guide, and this pattern holds true for the WBC. Even though there have been occasional hiccups in bilateral relations–including the new Labour government’s reversal of the previous government’s recognition of “West Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel–there exists a strong foundation of comity.
For a Central European country, the Czech Republic has a solid record on both its historical treatment of the Jews and its relationships with the State of Israel. The Czechs deserve our full-throated support. It’s just a pity they don’t have much of a pitching staff, and they probably will not be long for the tournament.
Finally, there is the People’s Republic of China–the lowest ranked team in the power ratings. Apparently, Chinese baseball teams are still under COVID lockdown at home and have not played any actual games in several years. The ZGWBC feels sorry for the players in this regard. The ZGWBC, however, does not feel anything but disdain for the regime those players represent. The Chinese government is terrible, and the baseball team which bears its name should be rooted against accordingly.
Play in Pool B opens with South Korea against Australia on Shushan Purim, March 8.