Daily Distractions: United States WBC roster announced, sexy players, tattoos, and more gossip.

The United States roster for the World Baseball Classic was announced today. Have a look:

United States World Baseball Classic roster

Obviously there are no Dodgers on the roster, but that could change. Think of this roster as a rough draft; teams must submit their final roster on Feb. 20, and all non-WBC players must report to spring training by then.

“Rough” is also a good way of describing the United States’ preliminary starting rotation. Beyond veterans R.A. Dickey and Ryan Vogelsong, who were both excellent in 2012 (and rarely so before 2010), Team USA would have to roll out Derek Holland and Kris Medlen if the tournament started today. Fortunately it doesn’t start today. It starts with three games in three days March 8, 9 and 10 – and possibly a fourth game on March 12 if they can place first or second in a four-team pool that includes Canada, Mexico and Italy. Can Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke sneak in one start? What about Justin Verlander, David Price, Jered Weaver or Matt Cain? Seems like the star power is falling short.

Of course, that didn’t stop the WBC from posting the headline “Stars Align on U.S. Roster for Classic” on its website today. Some feel that headline doesn’t tell the story. Count me in that group.

Some links, *some* of which actually relate to baseball …

Francona: The Red Sox Years• Drop by your local bookstore or Amazon.com on Jan. 22. That’s the scheduled release date for Francona: The Red Sox Years, co-authored by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe. Based on the excerpt in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated (also available online with a subscription to the mag), I’m expecting a more authentic version of the growing Josh Beckett chicken-and-beer-in-the-clubhouse legend. I’m eager to read the book for a bigger reason: It may serve as a cautionary tale to teams who attempt to serve their TV partners through baseball decisions. For the Red Sox, that meant NESN and ESPN, and paying heed to demographic reports that claim women “are interested in good-looking stars and sex symbols (Pedroia).” When those kind of scouting reports reach the GM’s desk, it’s a good sign your team is “Too Big To Succeed,” per SI’s clever headline. It’s a pitfall the most expensive team in baseball history would do well to avoid.

• Good thing Andre Ethier, one of the “Baseball Hotties: Studs We Love”, is under contract through 2017.

• One (actual) scout on the improved state of Dodgers ownership: “obviously they’re going from one extreme to the other.”

• Pictures of Matt Kemp circulated the blogosphere this week for a pair of decidedly non-baseball reasons. The first: A new, large tattoo. The second: He went to dinner with Rihanna. (Is this really news? I have days like that – they’re called Tuesdays.)

• I caught a glimpse of the new movie “42″ last weekend at the Professional Baseball Scouts’ Foundation dinner. In case you haven’t heard, Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson, Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, and according to IMDB the scope entails “the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.” Here is the official trailer:

• The most-covered song of all time is reputed to be “Yesterday” by the Beatles. I don’t know who keeps track of these things – that list must be a bear to fact-check – but my anecdotal evidence puts “Light My Fire” very close to #2. Here’s a captivating, soulful version by Tammi Lynn:

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