World Baseball Classic Day builds hype at the ‘Home of Béisbol’

MIAMI — Anticipation continues to build for the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which will return in March after a six-year hiatus. To add to that excitement, the Marlins held World Baseball Classic Day during Saturday night’s matchup against the Nationals. It began with a mural unveiling and culminated with a postgame concert on the Skyline Terrace with GioBeta, a Marc Anthony Tribute Band. 

loanDepot park will become the first venue in tournament history to host games in all three rounds of a World Baseball Classic in the same year. In 2017, South Florida served as the backdrop for the electric contest between the United States and the Dominican Republic.

Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who will serve as the D.R.’s general manager this time around, knocked the go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning of that game. He has seen interest in the Classic grow among fans and players over time. Cruz, an 18-year big league veteran, equated it to the thrill of the World Series.

“I don’t think it’s pressure,” Cruz said. “I don’t have to play. If I’m playing, definitely you have to prepare and all that. We have so much talent. The hardest part is to pick who’s going to represent us. At the same time, it’s easier because we have so much talent.”

  1. Adam Jones saves the day
    March 18, 2017

One of the most iconic moments in World Baseball Classic history came in the 2017 iteration of the WBC. With the U.S. clinging to a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning of its winner-take-all second round game against the Dominican Republic, Manny Machado drove a ball deep off Tyler Clippard. What followed next was a moment burned into the brain of every American baseball fan.

Adam Jones, the former O’s centerfielder who was a clubhouse leader for Team USA, robbed Machado at the last second, his backside slamming into the WBC logo as he stuck his glove out to take a homer away. As Jones skipped into the infield in celebration, Machado raised his helmet in praise of the catch. The U.S. would go on to win 6-3 en route to its first championship.

  1. Nelson Cruz brings the excitement
    March 11, 2017

When Nelson Cruz stepped into the batter’s box against Andrew Miller in the Dominican Republic’s first round matchup against the United States, he had one thing on his mind. With the Dominicans trailing 5-3, Cruz smoked an 0-2 slider from Miller out of Marlins park, giving the DR a one-run lead in the eighth inning.

The homer’s meaning was immediately evident, as Cruz was mobbed at home plate after the blast – despite the game not being over. The Dominicans would go on to win 6-5 in what ended up being the game of the tournament.

  1. The Dominican Republic runs the table
    March 19, 2013

The Dominican Republic’s run through the 2013 World Baseball Classic is the stuff of legends. Despite facing off against teams filled with major leaguers, the DR went 8-0 through the WBC, culminating with a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico in the championship game.

Then-New York Yankee Robinson Canó earned MVP, batting .469 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs, becoming the fourth player in MLB history to win a WBC Championship and a World Series. One-time Minnesota Twin Samuel Deduno put up five scoreless innings in the championship game and finished the tournament with 17 strikeouts in 13 innings to lead the DR’s pitching staff.

  1. The United States finds its glory
    March 22, 2017

Prior to 2017, the U.S. had failed to advance past the World Baseball Classic semifinal. That all changed in 2017, as the veteran-heavy American squad finished on first, avenging their earlier loss to Puerto Rico by defeating the then-undefeated Puerto Rican squad 8-0 in the tournament’s championship game.

Marcus Stroman continued his strong tournament performance by silencing Puerto Rico’s bats with six scoreless innings in the championship game. Stroman finished the tournament with a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings across three starts. Brandon Crawford and Eric Hosmer both finished with a team-high 10 hits and .385 batting average for the Americans.

  1. Javier Báez is magic
    March 15, 2017

Coming into the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico stood out as tournament favorites, and their second round matchup did nothing to quell that thinking. In Puerto Rico’s 3-1 second round win over the DR, Báez turned in one of the plays of the tournament, slapping one of his trademark no-look tags on Nelson Cruz.

But it wasn’t just any no-look tag; it was one that came while he was celebrating the throw. Before the ball had even hit Báez’s glove, he started pointing at Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina in celebration. El Mago indeed.

  1. Dice-K goes back to back
    March 23, 2009

While Daisuke Matsuzaka never lived up to the hype stateside, his dominance on the world stage can’t be unnoticed. For two straight WBCs, Matsuzaka was unhittable, and in turn helped lead Japan to two straight tournament championships. In 2006, Matsuzaka went 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA over 13 innings in a performance that shot up his MLB stock.

Three years later, he picked up where he left off, earning the tournament’s MVP award with a 3-0 record and 2.45 ERA over 14 2/3 innings on a Japan team that defeated South Korea 5-3 in the championship . With the championship win, Matsuzaka became the first player to win a World Series and World Baseball Championship.

  1. Canada and Mexico come to blows
    March 9, 2013

With national bragging rights on the line, it’s only natural that tensions sometimes end up boiling over in the World Baseball Classic. Canada and Mexico’s pool play game in 2013 is no exception.

Despite Canada holding a 9-3 lead going into the ninth inning, Canadian catcher Chris Robinson led the final frame off with a bunt single, a move done in large part due to the tournament’s tiebreaker being run differential. In response, Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon plunked Canada’s Rene Tosoni, setting off a bench-clearing brawl that saw seven players ejected.

  1. José Bautista breaks Colombia’s heart
    March 12, 2017

There are some players that are just known for having a flair for the dramatic. José Bautista is one of them. In the first round of the 2017 WBC, Bautista and the Dominicans found themselves tied 3-3 in the ninth against upstart Colombia, who needed to win to advance out of pool play.

For a split second, it looked as if the Colombians might shock the world, as Reynaldo Rodriguez lifted a fly ball to left in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on third. Bautista had other ideas however, letting loose a missile to home plate that cut down Oscar Mercado before he could touch home plate. The call immediately set off a frenzy in the Colombian dugout, with several players ejected in the ensuing scrum. The DR would go on to win 10-3 in 11 innings.