After baseball was removed from the Olympics in 2005, the International Baseball Federation and Major League Baseball joined forces to create the World Baseball Classic. 16 countries compete in the Classic featuring many MLB players from around the world.
The first WBC took place in San Diego in 2006, with Japan taking the title. Three years later in 2009, Japan again won in Los Angeles. A new rule was made to have the WBC occur every four years, and that brings us to the 2013 tournament.
|Photo by: Kevork Djansezian|
Because the qualifying rounds began in September, MLB players were unable to join their respective countries. Canada and Taiwan both dominated in their qualifiers, sending them to the WBC. Spain squeaked past Israel in Qualifier 1 and Brazil narrowly defeated Panama in Qualifier 3 to become the final two clubs in.
The 16 teams are divided into four pools of four teams. In the first round, each team plays the other three teams once. The top two teams then advance to round two. In round two, the two teams from Pools A and B (Pool 1) and from Pools C and D (Pool 2) compete in a double-elimination setting. The top two teams from Pool 1 and Pool 2 move to a single-elimination semifinals. The winner of Pool 1 will take on the runner-up of Pool 2 and vice versa. The winners of that will of course move to the finals.
Pool A and Pool B are the only ones who have completed the first round so far. Pool A consisted of Brazil, China, Cuba and Japan. Japan was the obvious favorite to win this year's Classic, but lost to Cuba in a shocking 6-3 defeat. Japan and Cuba moved on to round two and China qualified for the 2017 WBC.
Pool B consists of Australia, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands and South Korea. South Korea, who surprised many in the 2006 WBC, was eliminated, but still qualified for the 2017 tournament. The Netherlands and Chinese Taipei were the teams to move on. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico easily advanced in Pool C, but Spain and Venezuela are still battling it out for a qualifying spot in the 2017 Classic.
The United States have been a rather big disappointment to many. With what may seem as a stacked team, the U.S. devastatingly lost to Mexico 5-2, and now must win their remaining two games against Italy and Canada to advance. So far, Italy has clinched a spot in round two. Anything could still happen in Pool D.
Games will continue Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern). The United States will take on Canada at 4 p.m. (Eastern) with the winner advancing to round two.