Baseball’s biggest tournament is set to start. Photo courtesy of MLB.com
By Raymond Castillo Sports Editor
Pack your bags, we are going on a road trip. That’s right, the ultimate party in all of the baseball world is back. The World Baseball Classic returns to play today, Mar. 8 for the first time since 2017. Games take place in the host cities of Taichung, Taiwan, Tokyo, Japan, Phoenix, Arizona, and Miami, Florida beginning Mar. 7 with the opening game between Cuba and Netherlands and run through the championship game in Miami on Mar. 21. While baseball itself is the same, there are still a lot of new quirks to this version.
What is it?:
The WBC is an international baseball tournament that runs every four years beginning in 2006 largely due to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to remove baseball from the Olympics in 2005. It was modeled after soccer’s World Cup where teams are broken up into pools and they compete initially and then qualify for the playoff rounds. 20 countries qualify from around the world to compete in the tournament for the ultimate crown of “World Champion.”
Who’s playing this year?:
For the first time in its history, the WBC has expanded competition from 16 countries to 20 countries with all participants of the last WBC receiving automatic bids.
Pool A: Taichung, Taiwan
Pool B: Tokyo, Japan
Pool C: Phoenix, Arizona
Pool D: Miami, Florida
Different Rules In Play:
The mercy rule comes into effect if a team is leading by 15 runs or more after five innings or 10 runs or more after seven innings.
-65 pitches per pitcher in round one
-80 pitches per pitcher in the quarterfinal round
-95 pitches per pitcher in the semifinal and championship rounds
-If a pitcher pitches on consecutive days, they must rest for one calendar day.
-If a pitcher throws 30 or more pitches, they must rest for one calendar day.
-If a pitcher throws 50 or more pitches, they must rest for four calendar days.
-No pitch clock
-Three batter minimum
Why should I care?:
The WBC is the ultimate showcase of the beautiful sport of baseball. In Major League Baseball, not every country is represented in the correct way it should. Some people are more closed off than others because of many things such as the pressure of having to be the best, living in a different country, language barriers, or just not even knowing anyone because they just arrived at the organization.
The beauty of the World Baseball Classic is that each player that plays, is able to represent something bigger than themselves. Having the country name across your chest and representing the people of that country, your homeland, is something that does not come around often and is really cherished by the people who do it.
With the loud horns, drums pounding all game, and the constant belching of a chant to cheer your country on, the WBC is unlike any other. For once, the best baseball is not being hogged by the big, bad United States, everyone has a chance to become “King of the Baseball World.”
Throughout the history of the WBC, there have been three different winners, the Dominican Republic, Japan, and the United States with Japan taking home the most titles with two. This year’s edition is considered a toss-up between the three previous winners as they all boast extremely strong teams.