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Cuba tops world's baseball programs, IBAF says

January 14, 2009 | 10:15 am

Cuban fans display a flag of revolutionary hero Che Guevara when Cuba played China in the men's preliminary round of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Cuba has the world's best national baseball program, according to rankings released this week by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF).

Using a formula the IBAF developed in conjunction with Scott Goode, a sports information director at Harding University in Arkansas, countries were given up to 50 points based on their performances in IBAF-sanctioned events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup over the last four years.

And when the points were totaled, Cuba, runner-up in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2007 World Cup, was No. 1, followed by Olympic champion South Korea and the U.S., the bronze medalist in Beijing and the reigning World Cup champion.

Asia placed two other teams in the top five with Japan, winner of the inaugural World Baseball Classic, in fourth, a spot ahead of Taiwan. The Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Panama and Australia round out the top 10. Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic finished in the top 20.

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: Cuban fans display a flag of revolutionary hero Che Guevara when Cuba played China in the men's preliminary round of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Cuba defeated China 17-0. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images

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