The World Baseball Classic
Even though baseball will be back in the Olympics in 2020 – returning to the games after a 12-year hiatus since 2008 – baseball players have wanted a way to represent their country competing in the game they love. The World Baseball Classic, sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), takes place March 6-22 and will see 16 of the globe’s best teams compete for their country’s honor and personal pride.
Which countries are participating? When was the last time this competition took place? It’s time to play ball and learn about the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
A Winning Pedigree
This will be the fourth World Baseball Classic, with the prior three being held in 2006, 2009, and 2013. Japan has been the serial winner, claiming first place twice and making the semifinals in 2013, the only year they didn’t sweep it. Japan’s 2006 team beat Cuba 10-6 with three of their players appearing on the All-Tourney team: catcher Tomoya Satozaki, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. It wasn’t as easy for them in 2009, with Korea forcing extra innings in the eventual win for Japan 5-3. They had their all-star players, outfielder Norichika Aoki and pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hisashi Iwakuma, to thank.
The Dominican Republic is the only other winner of the competition so far, claiming the 2013 title after beating Puerto Rico 3-0 in the championship game. Five of the tournament’s 12 All-Tournament players hailed from this team: first baseman Edwin Encarnación, second baseman Robinson Canó, shortstop José Reyes, outfielder Nelson Cruz, and pitcher Fernando Rodney.
Contenders on Deck
Twelve of the 16 teams competing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic earned their spot by finishing in the top three of the pool in the first round of the last tournament. This includes Canada, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, United States, and Venezuela. Australia and Mexico qualified via play-ins to return to the tournament, and Colombia and Israel punched their tickets for the first appearance in the WBC.
This could be the year the United States finally makes a campaign to finish better than fourth in 2009, their best showing in the tournament to date. Oddsmakers have them favored, even though the Stars and Stripes have a .500 record in the WBC. If they do win it all, look for Chris Archer, Adam Jones, Buster Posey, and Nolan Arenado to help these dreams become a reality.
Whether you’re rooting for Colombia or Israel – making their first appearances in the World Baseball Classic – or hoping the U.S. finally brings home the gold, get your country’s colors from the best place to buy officially licensed sports merchandise and apparel, Fanatics.com.