It’s time again for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). The WBC is an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and operates as a joint venture between the MLB and the Players Association.
The WBC is baseball’s version of the World Cup. The WBC began in 2006 as a response to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to discontinue baseball and softball as an Olympic sport in 2005. This happened because the Olympics were held during Major League Baseball’s regular season, so many of the world's best players were not allowed to participate in the Olympics. The WBC is purposely held every four years during the month of March, because MLB’s regular season does not start until April. This allows some of the baseball’s best players to not only represent their country, but to also play with some of their closest friends.
What separates the WBC from the MLB is the enthusiasm that every game brings to the table. Each game feels like it is a playoff game. Fans are bringing instruments to the stadium and singing at the top of their lungs. The atmosphere feels more like a soccer game rather than a baseball game. Even some of the soccer traditions carry over to the WBC. Fans purchase and wave scarves with their country’s flag stitched on it, similar to behavior seen within soccer culture.
The 2017 WBC will go from March 6-22, and games will be played all over the world, including: Seoul, Tokyo, Miami, Jalisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. There are 16 countries that have qualified, a few of these countries include: The United States, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Team Canada, Israel, and Puerto Rico.
The front-runner for this WBC is previous champion the Dominican Republic, a team that hasn’t lost a WBC matchup game since 2009. Their lineup is stacked with some of the best players to ever play the game of baseball. Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Jose Reyes, and Adrian Beltre are just a few players on this incredible team.
Team USA will also look to make a run this year and they have the team to do it. Their team includes: Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Andrew Miller. Puerto Rico and Venezuela also have stacked lineups this year.
USA and the Dominican Republic are among the more talked about teams, but don’t sleep on Team Israel or Team Canada. They are underdogs that are looking to make some upsets.
Overall, this year’s WBC will be one to remember. So if you have some free time, go to MLB Network’s homepage and stream a few games. It will be unlike any baseball you have ever seen.