Matthew Shugart has the goods on the most recent example of the World Baseball Classic’s most glaring weakness (besides the lack of live English-language television coverage for most of the games)—the horrible officiating.
Incidentally, for all the discussion of how embarrasing it would be for the U.S. to not win this tournament, consider that (a) the British invented virtually every individual and international team sport, and they now suck at almost all of them (the English Premier League in soccer is the world’s best club league, but the English national team is just one of a half-dozen elite teams in European soccer; the cricket and rugby teams routinely get their butts whipped; British people never win Wimbledon), and (b) it’d probably be more embarrasing for Japan to not make the semi-finals than it would be for the U.S.—baseball is pretty much the only major sport Japan is good at on the international stage.
Speaking of soccer, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the U.S. win a World Cup within 30 years. I think the current world #5 ranking is probably a bit high, but the ascent to the U.S. team from nowhere to the top dozen in the world in the past 20 years has got to be one of the most meteoric rises in the history of the sport. Consider that in the 1986 World Cup, North America (CONCACAF) was represented by the host team Mexico, who did not have to qualify, and Canada; the latter team was a motley collection of indoor-league and ex-NASL players. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that the U.S. will win a World Cup before England’s next win.