Baseball players don't want to finish last in a tough group at the WBC in Japan

Baseball players don't want to finish last in a tough group at the WBC in Japan

Baseballisté don't want to finish last in the heavy group at the WBC in Japan

Press conference on the departure of the Czech baseball team to Tokyo for the World Baseball Classic tournament, February 28, 2023, Prague. From the left, captain Petr Zýma, player William Escala, head coach of the national team Pavel Chadim and players Lukáš Ercoli and Marek Minařík.

Prague – Czech baseball players will fly to Japan on Wednesday for the World Baseball Classic (WBC), where they will try to surprise the world's twenty best teams during the premiere. At the press conference, coach Pavel Chadim's team set itself the goal of not finishing last in the basic group B in the company of the home team, South Korea, China and Australia, and thus securing participation in the next year. The Czechs will enter the prestigious tournament, which is considered an unofficial world championship, on March 10 against China.

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Baseballisté don't want to finish last in the heavy group at the WBC in Japan

Baseballisté don't want to end up in the heavy group at the WBC in Japan

Baseballisté don't want to end up in a heavy group at the WBC in Japan

“I have three goals. The first is for us to get more fans thanks to this tournament. Second, I would like more children to start playing baseball. And on the field, my personal goal is for the Czech Republic to receive an invitation even in four years, which means not stopping last in the group,” Chadim said today.

The Czech representatives secured a historic promotion thanks to the successful autumn qualification in Regensburg, where they defeated Spain in the decisive match. Looking at the Olympic winners from Japan and the third team in the world ranking, Korea, Chadim saw the matches with China and Australia as key. to the World Youth Cup. Plus we'll be playing them in the first game, which is a bit of a disadvantage. We're a team that plays better towards the end of tournaments. Then we have Australia, so simply put, we'll have the best chance at the beginning and at the end to achieve our goal, ” remarked Chadim.

Group B is played at the Tokyo Dome, which can hold up to 45,000 fans. “I had a chance to play in Taiwan where there were eight to ten thousand people. I liked their style of cheering because you don't know who they are cheering for. It will be the same here and I believe it will help us. We will not see any booing or booing Japanese culture respects and appreciates every action that we succeed,” captain Petr Zýma believed.

After the winter training in the gyms, the Czechs finished their training a week ago in Valencia. They played three preliminary matches there. Another four are still waiting for them in Miyazaki. “Obviously, we would prefer if our batsmen had fifty starts, so they would be ready for this level, but that just wasn't possible in March,” said Chadim.

The regular season starts for the players in April. “In Valencia, we wanted to acclimatize to the away games and we succeeded. We brought a little cold and cough, but I believe that everything will be fine by the first training session. Our midfielder Arnošt Dubový was injured, but according to the latest reports, he should start in the third preparatory match,” added the coach.

Also in the nomination are American natives with Czech roots Jeff Barto, Jake Rabinowitz, Eric Sogard or William Escala. The main star will be the thirty-six-year-old Sogard, who has worked in the MLB since 2010.

“I was with him in Washington a year ago, right when Putin attacked Ukraine. It was quite sensitive because his mother was with him, who was running away from the Russians in 1968. Eric perceives the reality of Czech baseball and what we have achieved. He was surprised how seriously we take baseball. Although we are amateurs who go to work, we have a professional approach to it, we just don't take money for it. Our team concept is also close to Eric,” said Chadim.

S Escala, who is the son of a Czech mother and a Cuban father, agrees with this. “It's an honor to be a part of this story. When you talk to the guys, you can feel their passion. They have to go to work and sacrifice time at the expense of their families to go and train. I'm glad I can help them,” Escala recounted. He called participation in the WBC the biggest success in his career. “My dream came true. Mom sometimes joked that I might play for the Czech Republic one day, but we took it more as a joke. I'm glad it finally worked out,” added the infielder.

World Baseball Classic, which will take place from March 8 to 21, will be the first highlight of the season for the national team. In September, the Czechs will host the European Championship. “We've had probably the most intense preparation I've ever experienced. We found every free minute to improve and prepare. Our goal now will be to find our best form in Japan,” added Zýma.