2023 World Baseball Classic

 

 

 

2021 World Baseball Classic canceled; event may not return until 2023, report says.

The 2021 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international professional baseball tournament scheduled to be the fifth iteration of the WBC. The 2021 edition was canceled in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is unlikely to be played until 2023. The tournament had been expanded to accommodate 20 national teams from 16 teams of the 2017 edition.

The WBC is a collectively bargained event that requires approval from MLB and the MLBPA. Because the MLB season is the priority, and because the current collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021, Rojas reports the WBC may not return until 2023. There are more pressing matters to handle first. Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that the event will be pushed to 2023 pending board approval.

In January 2020, the WBC announced the 16 national teams which participated at the 2017 World Baseball Classic will automatically qualify for the tournament.

A qualifying tournament was scheduled for March 2020 in Tucson, Arizona, United States to determine the last four teams. Twelve teams were split into two pools, and the top two teams in each pool will qualify. On March 12, 2020, Major League Baseball announced that the qualifying tournaments were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

History

Modeled after the FIFA World Cup and organized in large part as a response to the International Olympic Committee's decision to remove baseball as an Olympic sport in 2005, the WBC has grown into a major sporting event worldwide, though to a lesser extent in the United States. In fact, the final series in 2006 and 2009 rank among the highest-rated sporting events in Japanese television history.

The 16-team field for the inaugural 2006 tournament was pre-selected, featuring the countries judged to be the "best baseball-playing nations" in the world; no qualifying competition was held. The tournament format featured round-robin group play in the first and second rounds, followed by single-elimination semifinals and finals. The first game in WBC history saw South Korea defeat Chinese Taipei 2-0 before a crowd of 5,193 at the Tokyo Dome on March 3, 2006. South Korea went on to advance to the semifinals with a 6–0 record but lost to Japan (a team South Korea had beaten twice in the earlier rounds) for a berth in the final game. Meanwhile, Cuba defeated the Dominican Republic in the other semifinal. Japan then defeated Cuba 10–6 to be crowned the first champion of the World Baseball Classic.

The 2009 tournament featured the same 16 teams as 2006, but the controversial round-robin format from 2006 was replaced by a modified double-elimination format for the first two rounds (the semifinals and final game remained single-elimination). The eight teams advancing from the first round were the same as in 2006, except for a "Cinderella" performance by the Netherlands, which twice defeated the Dominican Republic to reach the second round. In the semifinals, South Korea defeated Venezuela while Japan defeated the United States. Japan then emerged victorious for the second straight Classic, winning the final game over South Korea 5–3 in 10 innings.

The buildup to the 2013 tournament included a qualifying round for the first time, with the four lowest finishers from 2009 having to re-qualify against 12 additional teams. This resulted in two new nations making their first appearances in the WBC, as Brazil and Spain respectively replaced Panama and South Africa. The round-robin format was revived for the tournament's first-round, while the second-round remained double-elimination. Italy was the biggest surprise in the early stages of the tournament, making it to the second round with wins over Canada and Mexico. The tournament ended in an all-Caribbean championship game, with the Dominican Republic defeating Puerto Rico, which had upset two-time champion Japan in the semifinals. The Dominican Republic also became the first (and to date, only) team to go undefeated (8-0) through the tournament.

The 2017 tournament returned to the format used in 2006, where both the first and second rounds were round-robin, though with the addition of tiebreaker games if needed. Colombia and Israel qualified for the first time, with Israel, using a roster mostly of Jewish American players, able to reach the second round in its WBC debut. Defending champion Dominican Republic extended its WBC winning streak to 11 games, dating to the 2013 tournament, before also being eliminated in the second round. The United States won its first WBC championship, defeating Japan and Puerto Rico in the semifinals and finals, respectively. Puerto Rico had been undefeated in the tournament before losing in the final, in game where its most important pitchers were not allowed to play due to WBC rules. In semifinals, Puerto Rico defeated Netherlands in a historic 4+ hour-game, while USA defeated Japan in an unusually short game.

 

 

2017 World Baseball Classic Results

Semifinals

Date Local Time Road Team Score Home Team Inn. Venue Game Time Attendance Boxscore
Mar 20, 2017 18:00 Netherlands  3–4  Puerto Rico 11 Dodger Stadium 4:19 24,865 Boxscore
Mar 21, 2017 18:00 United States United States 2–1  Japan Dodger Stadium 3:12 33,462 Boxscore

Final

Date Local Time Road Team Score Home Team Inn. Venue Game Time Attendance Boxscore
Mar 22, 2017 18:00 United States United States 8–0  Puerto Rico   Dodger Stadium 3:30 51,565 Boxscore

 

Past Winner

Edition Year Champions Score and venue Runners-up Third place Fourth place No. of teams
1 2006
Japan
10–6
Petco Park, San Diego

Cuba

South Korea

Dominican Republic
16
2 2009
Japan
5–3
(F/10)
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

South Korea

Venezuela
United States
United States
16
3 2013
Dominican Republic
3–0
AT&T Park, San Francisco

Puerto Rico

Japan

Netherlands
16
4 2017 United States
United States
8–0
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

Puerto Rico

Japan

Netherlands
16
5 TBD
TBA
20

 

Next World Baseball Classic 2023