The World Baseball Classic

2013-World-Baseball-ClassicThe World Baseball Classic [WBC] was born after the Olympic Committee discontinued baseball in the Olympics in 2005. I was upset when Baseball was removed out of the Olympic games, now I look at it as a way to popularize the sport and to help it grow among young people looking to play the game of baseball.

The WBC has grown into a major sporting event, It still needs to catch on full force here in the United States, I think that’s due to most stars already playing in the MLB, viewers  are spoiled with baseball’s best. However, in Japan the 2006 and 2009 WBC rank among the highest viewed sporting events in Japanese television history. The last two WBC tournaments were three years apart, the committee has decided from now on the games will be every four years. With the birth of the WBC, baseball is now on its own stage for the world to see. I think it’s awesome to see so many nations coming to compete for our Nations pastime, pretty cool. It also is the first baseball tournament of its kind, allowing professional baseball players to compete to become a “World Champion.” In the Olympics, athletes were pulled from college and minor league teams, because the Olympics was during the MLB season and conflicted with scheduling. Having the Olympics mid season would also create a risk of injury for players and was frowned upon. The WBC is sanctioned be the International Baseball Federation, and was created by Major League Baseball, Major League Players Association, and many other professional baseball leagues around the world. Even though this competition is on such a high stage, star players still do opted out of playing for personal reasons. I would like to see the best of the best play each other, but how the game is today with long contracts and money to be made, many do to want to risk injury to play in the games.

In 2006 and 2009 the World Baseball Classic had pre-selected 16 teams that were invited to the games. This year the committee changed it up and for this years 2013 WBC. The 12 teams that won one game in 2009 will be granted a berth into the tournament. The four other teams that did not get the birth contested in late 2012 with 12 other teams invited by the International Baseball Federation. With Japan winning the first two World Baseball Classic events, they will be the team with the target on there backs, making them the team to beat.

The World Baseball Classic 2013

The World Baseball Classic is currently in action from March 2nd – March 16th 2013.

Eight stadiums will be used for this years tournament: Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka, Taichung international stadium in Taichung, Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Chase Field in Phoenix, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Marlins Park in Miami, and AT&T Park in San Fransisco.

2013 WBC Qualifiers are as follows: Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, the United Sates, and Venezuela. If you would like to view the World Baseball Classic Rosters, Click here.

The World Baseball Classic 2013 almost began without its previous 2x winner, Japan. In July 2012, the Japanese Professional Baseball Association voted to boycott this years games due to not having a larger share of advertising and sponsorship. After finally reaching a compromise with tournament organizers in September 2012, all parties agreed to share more of the advertising and licensing revenue.

This years games will be featuring 45 MLB All-Star players, Miguel Cabrera (Triple Crown Winner and MVP) will be lacing it up with Venezuela, World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, also suiting up for Venezuela, and R.A. Dickey the Cy Young award winner, just to name a few. The United States roster includes 28 players, all from Major League Baseball. The Dominican Republic only has one roster member not signed to a Major League Team in 2013. The next is Canada with only 12 MLB players, while the back to back champions Japan, who has not one MLB player being represented in the World Baseball Classic. To view schedules and times of the games click here.

The World Baseball Classic follow the MLB rules, with addition to these rules. Pitch counts were lowered for the 2013 games. Organizations do not want to lose there top players to injury, so pitch counts have been put into place to protect the arms of pitchers.

A pitcher cannot pitch until:

* a minimum of four days have passed since he last pitched, if he threw 50 or more pitches when he last pitched

* a minimum of one day has passed since he last pitched, if he threw 30 or more pitches when he last pitched

* a minimum of one day has passed since any second consecutive day on which the pitcher pitched

 A pitcher cannot pitch more than

* 65 pitches per game in Round 1 of the 2013 tournament (70 in 2009, 65 in 2006)

* 80 pitches per game in Round 2 of the 2013 tournament (85 in 2009, 80 in 2006)

* 95 pitches per game in the Finals of the 2013 tournament (100 in 2009, 95 in 2006)

A pitcher can still finish a batter’s plate appearance even if the limit is reached, but must come out after completing the plate appearance

 Mercy Rule

A game will be a called if the leading team is ahead by

* 10 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least seven innings

* 15 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least five innings

Mercy rules do not apply during the semi-finals and finals.

The Designated Hitter rule applies for all games.

I was not able to watch much of the last WBC, I hope catch more of the games this year and enjoy this unique tournament. I would be glad to see a Cinderella story happen, if it did it would definitely create more interest in the game of baseball world wide, and that would be an amazing thing. It would even be great to someday have our Annex wood bats being swung in the WBC by all nations. Will team U.S.A take the championship home this year? They may, but it’s going to be a tough battle. I think we will be seeing the Dominican Republic vs. Japan in the final game, with the Dominican Republic taking home the 3rd WBC Championship. If you would like to view the brackets for the WBC click here. What are your thoughts on the finalists for this years World Baseball Classic? Canada/Venezuela making it late into the rounds, or Italy making a Cinderella run?

– Matt Ingle

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