3rd Annual World Baseball Classic
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The World Baseball Classic is back for its third installment this month.
The international baseball tournament will feature 16 national baseball teams from around the world and will run from March 2-19. The teams will play their rounds in various stadiums in the host countries of Japan, Puerto Rico, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), and the U. S.
Notable players on the U. S. roster this year include 2012 Cy Young award winner R. A. Dickey from the Toronto Blue Jays and 2012 World Series Champion Ryan Vogelsong and Ryan Braun from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 2013 U. S. team features all Major League Baseball players, compared to the Olympics which featured a mixture of MLB, Minor League, and college players. This creates a level conflict with MLB managers and coaches, as the WBC takes place during the majority of the Spring Training season, all the way up to a week before the start of the regular season. Some fear that players, especially pitchers, are at risk for injury by playing. However, to combat this there is a pitch limit number in place depending on the round and the designated hitter is effective to hit for pitchers in all games.
Players usually play for the national team of their birth country, although a few players born in the U. S. are allowed to play for the team of their nationality if they or one parent are a citizen of that country or if at least one of their parents was born in that country.
This year is different in terms of qualification for the tournament, as the first two had the participating teams preselected, usually based on the world ranking of the team and whether or not they participated in the Olympics. The 12 teams that won at least one game in the 2009 classic were automatically given a spot in this year’s tournament. The other four teams selected won their respective qualification game held this past fall.
The WBC began as a response by the International Olympic Committee decision in 2005 to remove baseball as an Olympic sport for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
It was created by the MLB, the MLB Players Association, and other professional baseball leagues and their players associations around the world. It is sanctioned for play by the International Baseball Federation.
The inaugural tournament took place in March 2006. The Japanese National Baseball team came out victorious, defeating Cuba in the Championship game. Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka won the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament.
The 2009 tournament had a similar outcome, this time with Japan defeating South Korea to win the gold medal. Matsuzaka again won the MVP award.
Since the ‘09 contest, the IBF has sanctioned the Classic to be held every four years, same as the Olympic format.
The MLB Network will broadcast every single game of the Classic live. ESPN Radio also has rights to broadcast games.