Sydney's Games: A Bluffers Guide

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Cuba have been in a league of their own since baseball joined the Games program in 1992. But they'll face a tough test in Sydney, where professionals will compete for the first time. Australia's hopes of winning their first medal in baseball soared last year when they twice toppled Cuba-though the latter were without several star performers, including third baseman Omar Linares, widely regarded as the world's best player. Playing at home and spearheaded by star catcher and U.S. 1999 All Star Dave Nilsson, the Australians will take some beating. Japan, silver medalists in Atlanta, are capable of going one better this time, but Asian champions Korea will also present formidable competition. The U.S. squad, though made up of minor leaguers (the major league clubs wouldn't release their players for the Games), shouldn't be discounted. But Cuba remain favorites to retain their golden monopoly.


Final Sept. 27