It’s been five years since Team USA defeated Team Puerto Rico 8-0 to win their first World Baseball Classic title. And for the first time since then, the tournament has returned.
The fifth edition pool game, originally scheduled for 2021 but canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, begins on Wednesday.
Powered by MLB, the WBC was introduced in 2006 and taken over by then-commissioner Bud Selig as a way to grow the game on the international stage.
This year’s tournament features an expanded field of teams, from 16 to 20, ranging from perennial powerhouses such as the United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Japan and South Korea, to first-time entrants Great Britain, Nicaragua and the Czech Republic. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the timings?
The tournament begins on March 8 (although the first match, which will be played in Taiwan, will start at 11 PM EST on March 7) and the finals will take place on March 21.
What teams do you play?
The stadium consists of 20 teams playing in four swimming pools. We will introduce them to you as the pool game progresses.
Where are the games held?
For the first round, Pool A will play in Taichung, Taiwan, at Intercontinental Baseball. Billiards B is played in the Tokyo Dome, Japan. Pool C is at Chase Field in Phoenix, while Pool D is on loan at Depot Park in Miami.
The second round matches (quarterfinals) will be played in Tokyo Dome (for the top two teams from pools A and B) and Depot Park (for the top two teams from pools C and D), and the semifinals and finals will be in Miami.
How can I watch? What is the schedule?
In the US, the games will be available on Fox, FS1, FS2, FOX Deportes, Tubi, and the Fox Sports app.
Here’s what the first round schedule looks like:
Tuesday, March 7th
Cuba vs. the Netherlands (11 p.m. ET)
Wednesday, March 8th
Panama vs. Chinese Taipei (6 a.m. ET)
Australia vs Korea (10pm ET)
Panama vs. the Netherlands (11 p.m. ET)
Thursday, March 9th
China vs. Japan (5 a.m. ET)
Italy – Cuba (6 a.m. ET)
Czech Republic – China (10pm ET)
Cuba vs. Panama (11:30 p.m. ET)
Friday, March 10th
Korea vs. Japan (5 a.m. ET)
Italy vs. Chinese Taipei (6 a.m. ET)
China – Australia (10pm ET)
Panama vs. Italy (11 p.m. ET)
Saturday, March 11th
Czech Republic vs. Japan (5 a.m. ET)
Netherlands vs. Chinese Taipei (6 a.m. ET)
Nicaragua – Puerto Rico (12 p.m. ET)
Colombia vs. Mexico (2:30 p.m. ET)
Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela (7 p.m. ET)
Great Britain vs. the United States (9 p.m. ET)
Czech Republic – Korea (10pm ET)
Chinese Taipei vs Cuba (11 p.m. ET)
Sunday, March 12th
Japan vs. Australia (6 a.m. ET)
Netherlands vs Italy (7 a.m. ET)
Nicaragua – Israel (12 p.m. ET)
Great Britain vs. Canada (3pm ET)
Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico (7 p.m. ET)
Mexico – United States (10 pm ET)
Australia – Czech Republic (11pm ET)
Monday, March 13th
Korea vs. China (6 a.m. ET)
Dominican Republic vs. Nicaragua (12 p.m. ET)
Columbia vs. Great Britain (3 p.m. ET)
Israel vs. Puerto Rico (7 p.m. ET)
Canada – United States (10 pm ET)
Tuesday 14 March
Nicaragua – Venezuela (12 p.m. ET)
Canada – Colombia (3pm ET)
Israel vs. Dominican Republic (7 p.m. ET)
Great Britain vs. Mexico (10 p.m. ET)
Wednesday, March 15th
(Quarterfinals) Runner-up in Group B vs. Winner of Group A (6am ET)
Venezuela vs. Israel (12 p.m. ET)
Mexico vs. Canada (3 p.m. ET)
Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic (7 p.m. ET)
United States vs. Colombia (10 p.m. ET)
full schedule They can be found here.
What is the shape?
Each team meets once in the first round. The top two teams from each group by winning percentage, eight in all, move on to the quarter-finals, which is sudden death (this is a change from 2017 when the quarter-finals also followed a round-robin format). The four quarter-finalists head on to the semi-finals, and you know what happens next.
Who’s playing? What names will I recognize them?
definitely. Many of the big names from the MLB and international leagues will be representing different countries. Here are some examples:
- The entire Team USA roster
- Pretty much the entire Dominican Republic roster (think Sandy Alcantara, Julio Rodriguez, Manny Machado, and Juan Soto)
- Shuhei Ohtani, Yu Darvish, Masataka Yoshida, Lars Nutbar, Ruki Sasaki, NPB MVP Munetaka Murakami (Japan)
- Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Edwin Diaz, Marcus Stroman, Jose Berrios (Puerto Rico)
- Freddie Freeman, Tyler O’Neal, Cal Quantrill (Canada)
- KBO MVP Lee Jung-hoo, Ha-seong Kim, Tommy Edman (Korea)
- Ronald Acuña Jr. (Venezuela), Randy Arrozarena, Julio Urillas (Mexico), Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands)
What are the rules?
The official rulebook, so to speak, here For those of you who would like to study it. The tournament will use the MLB 2022 rules, with some additions. Here are some highlights:
- Each team has what is called a designated pitcher pool, 10 pitchers who are not on the official roster but are eligible to pitch in one or more consecutive innings if necessary
- Field limits affect how pitchers are used (eg: if a pitcher throws 50 pitches on an outing, they cannot pitch again until at least four days have passed)
- Center players cannot field pitches unless they have permission from the Game Operations Technical Committee, which monitors pitcher use
- There is a mercy rule in the first round: games end if 10 or more runs lead after the seventh inning and 15 runs after the fifth inning.
- Ghost runner goes global – Extra innings will start with a player at second base
- As these are the 2022 rules, the pitch clock, larger rules and change restrictions will not be used
Why [player name here] play for [country name here]?
There are seven rules that determine a player’s eligibility to play for a particular team. To keep things simple, a player can represent a country if:
- They are citizens or legal permanent residents of that country
- They were born in that country
- One of their parents is a citizen of that country
- One of their parents was born in that country
- They are eligible to obtain the citizenship or passport of a country
- They previously appeared in that country’s final WBC roster (qualifier or tournament).
How long has this tournament been around?
This is the fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic. Japan were the tournament’s first-ever winners, beating Cuba in the final to win the title in 2006, and winning again in 2009. In 2013, the Dominican Republic—the only team to do so in the tournament’s relatively short history—ar the way to his first WBC title. And the last time I played it, in 2017, Team USA won for the first time.
any thing else?
For updated stories throughout the tournament, visit our WBC home base.
Follow all the action by checking out our live blog.
And to set the tone for the next two weeks, here’s a playlist featuring artists representing every country at WBC 2023 – we hope you enjoy it.
(Top photo by Shuhei Ohtani: Kenta Harada/Getty Images)
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