Less Than One Hundred Days to 5th World Baseball Classic

Matthew Tallarini, Chief Correspondent, WORLD BASEBALL NETWORK

11/29/2022

Less Than One Hundred Days to 5th World Baseball Classic

Matthew Tallarini, Chief Correspondent, WORLD BASEBALL NETWORK

11/29/2022

The World Baseball Classic is labeled as the World Cup of Baseball, the premier baseball tournament of countries around the world, with the first edition played in 2006.  The tournament was previously sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) from 2006-2013, now known as the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), founded in April 2013 after the third World Baseball Classic was held. 

This year’s World Baseball Classic was supposed to be held in March 2021 and was pushed back because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The World Baseball Classic Qualifiers were also pushed back during the start of the pandemic, and were just recently finished in two venues, Regensburg, Germany, and Panama City, Panama, during the later months of 2022.

Pool play games for the 2023 World Baseball Classic are Taichung, Taiwan; Tokyo, Japan; Phoenix, Arizona; and Miami, Florida, from March 8-15. The quarterfinals will be held in Tokyo and Miami from March 15-18, followed by the semifinals and championship game held in Miami at Loan Depot Park March 19-21. This will be the first time in the World Baseball Classic that one of the venues will host pool round games near the date of the championship game.

Listed below are the pool assignments of all the participating countries’ federations, with five teams in each pool and the labeled qualifiers denoted by a “(Q)”. This will be the first time the World Baseball Classic will feature 20 teams.

Pool A- Taichung, Taiwan: March 8-13

Chinese Taipei

Netherlands

Cuba

Italy

Panama (Q)

Pool B- Tokyo, Japan: March 9-13

Japan

South Korea

Australia

China

Czech Republic (Q)

Pool C- Phoenix, Arizona: March 11-15

USA

Mexico

Colombia

Canada

Great Britain (Q)

Pool D- Miami, Florida: March 11-15

Dominican Republic

Puerto Rico

Venezuela

Israel

Nicaragua (Q)

Japan won the first World Baseball Classic in March 2006, defeating Cuba 10-6 in the first-ever World Baseball Classic final game. The Japanese team consisted primarily of major leaguers and players from the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the nation’s top baseball league. Cuba had brought players from their country that played in their countries league Serie Nacional.

Cuba’s international success dates to the 1970s, when the Cubans dominated Intercontinental Cups, Baseball World Cups, the Pan American Games, and more recently, in the Olympics. The island nation was one of the few countries that had built a lasting dynasty in international play, with high-caliber amateurs going up against collegiate and home-country league players until 2000, when professional minor league prospects were allowed to participate in international events.

This year, Cuban Major League players are committing to participate in the upcoming World Baseball Classic for the first time. Key notable players such as Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada have expressed interest in playing for Cuba during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. 

Worldwide, players such as Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Javier Baez, and a long list of others have recognized this tournament as important, playing for national pride on the world’s grand stage.

Japan has won two WBC titles, the most of any nation, and beat South Korea in the Championship game during the 2009 tournament. The Dominican Republic took the third World Baseball Classic in 2013, beating Puerto Rico in the Finals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. The United States won the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, beating Puerto Rico in the final game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. 

With the WBC field expanded to 20 teams, baseball can sow great interest internationally, with more countries having a chance to play on international baseball’s biggest stage.