World Baseball Classic Starts This Weekend; Japanese Consider Creating a Character for 'Three-Peat'

Published on 25-Feb-2013 by Z. Coletti

MLB    MLB Daily Update

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World Baseball Classic Starts This Weekend; Japanese Consider Creating a Character for 'Three-Peat'

Cutting to the chase: the World Baseball Classic is Bud Selig's dream and baseball's revenge.

Still a car dealer at heart, Selig has plied those skills for most of his adult life to, among other things, transform the Seattle Pilots into the Milwaukee Brewers, cancel a World Series and try to gloss over it by ignoring steroids, and expand baseball's showroom to the world stage.

The International Olympic Committee banished baseball from its circles, ostensibly because the game isn't played by enough countries, but actually because MLB wouldn't suspend its season -- like the NHL does for the Winter Olympics -- so its biggest stars could compete. The IOC kowtows to soccer by declaring its Summer Games tourney as a U20 event; why it won't make a similar concession to baseball is a function of the relative disparity between FIFA's clout vis-à-vis the International Baseball Federation's.

So Selig took his game and staged it so top stars could compete, if they so desired. The fact that many of them haven't bought into it yet is being downplayed in favor of how other nations are joining the party. The event has become Selig's vehicle for blowing a raspberry at the IOC, which is a fairly quaint lobbying tactic for getting baseball back into the Games.

And so the third version of the WBC is on the cusp. The two main storylines seem to be:

  1. Japan really takes this thing seriously, and
  2. What's the over/under on Cuban defections?

It should make for interesting viewing on and off the field over in Japan in Pool A.

Here's the schedule for all pool play:

Pool A - Fukuoka, Japan     Pool B - Taichung, Taiwan  
Japan vs Brazil 02 Mar   Australia vs Chinese Taipei 02 Mar
Cuba vs Brazil 03 Mar   Korea vs Netherlands 02 Mar
China vs Japan 03 Mar   Netherlands vs Chinese Taipei 03 Mar
China vs Cuba 04 Mar   Korea vs Australia 04 Mar
Brazil vs China 05 Mar   Australia vs Netherlands 05 Mar
Japan vs Cuba 06 Mar   Chinese Taipei vs Korea 06 Mar
Pool C - San Juan, Puerto Rico     Pool D - Phoenix, Arizona  
Venezuela vs Dominican Republic 07 Mar   Italy vs Mexico 07 Mar
Spain vs Puerto Rico 08 Mar   Canada vs Italy 08 Mar
Dominican Republic vs Spain 09 Mar   Mexico vs United States 08 Mar
Puerto Rico vs Venezuela 09 Mar   Canada vs Mexico 09 Mar
Spain vs Venezuela 10 Mar   United States vs Italy 09 Mar
Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico 10 Mar   United States vs Canada 10 Mar

The opening segment will be a round-robin format with four pools of four teams.  The winners and runner-ups of each pool move on to a double-elimination format. Four teams will move on from there to play in a final four single-elimination round.