Everything you ever needed to know about: the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic, baseball’s answer to the World Cup, is relatively new on the sports scene, so here is our guide to the WBC and what you should be on the watch for during the 2013 tournament.
What is it?
The first ever WBC tournament was held in 2006, largely as a response to the announcement that the Summer Olympics planned to drop baseball but to also promote baseball across the world and highlight talent otherwise unseen. The WBC was organized by the International Baseball Federation and Major League Baseball and has grown quite quickly from its first inception in 2006.
Japan took the inaugural title in 2006, beating Cuba in a dramatic 10-6 win at San Diego’s Petco park. The United States did not fare too well in the first tournament, but three years later, they upped their game and made it to the semifinals thanks to strong performances by stars Derek Jeter, Ryan Braun and David Wright. Japan won (again) in the end though, narrowly beating Korea 5-3 and proving their dominance in the baseball world.
The WBC ran every three years for the first two tournaments, but the format changed after 2009 and the WBC now runs every four years.
Who to look for:
The United States roster lacks a bit in star power this year, but there are still plenty of great players to watch for. Don’t forget to cheer on Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, David Wright of the New York Mets, Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, and R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays. The US players have all been getting their reps in from Spring Training and now it is time to play baseball.
The US will play its first game at 9 p.m. on March 8 against Mexico. You can catch the game on MLB Network.
Teams to watch out for:
Keep an eye on Japan, who already advanced to the second round after going 2-1 in the first round and outscoring opponents 13-11. Although Cuba beat them in the final game of the first round, Japan has proven it is a force in the tournament, as they’ve won the first two tournaments and feature a strong team this year with plenty of homegrown talent.
An interesting team to watch will also be the Netherlands. They went 2-1 in their first round of play and suffered a loss only to a strong Chinese Taipei squad. The Netherlands have a strong roster this year featuring star shortstop Xander Bogaerts from the Sox minor league system.
Now that you’ve got your guide to the 2013 WBC it’s time to open that box of cracker jacks and settle in for some good baseball. It’s nice to see some talent from across the world and realize that baseball may be America’s pastime but it is in no way restricted to the 50 states, it’s a great way for players across the world to match their best against each other and forge relationships that otherwise may never be made.