The World Baseball Classic is in action, with qualifying rounds and several pool games already completed. Much is yet to be determined, but some of the best baseball in this year’s contest will take place over the next few days, beginning tonight with two powerhouses meeting in the Venezuela/Dominican Rep. matchup.
It goes without saying there are a few teams that stand out against the others, but anything can happen in the WBC as evidenced by back-to-back wins by Japan. This year, with more players opting to leave spring training and participate with their national team, the World Baseball Classic features several must-see games for even the casual baseball fan.
The extension of MLB spring training has made it possible for more players to consider joining the tournament without risking losing valuable training time with their respective clubs. If the WBC continues to gain popularity in the United States, there could be talk of moving the tournament to a different part of the year in order to accommodate for the overlap.
Conceivably, the tournament could begin directly after the World Series, and end soon enough not to interfere with Winter Meetings. The problem this poses is that players will have just endured an entire season and will be grizzled and worn.
The other option is to bump the Classic up to early February, and only the players on teams deep in the tournament might miss the first few days, or first week of spring training.
For the time being, the WBC will stay right where it is, and if the caliber of players in this year’s Classic is any indication what the tournament will look like in the future, there’s no need to move it anywhere. It’s fine just where it is. Baseball fans would be hard pressed to fix something that isn’t broken.
Perhaps this weekend’s most intriguing matchup is tonight at 6:30 PM EDT, when the aforementioned game between Venezuela and Dominican Republic begins at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The action starts tonight and continues throughout the weekend, with the United States playing three games, two against their geographical neighbors.
Elvis Andrus SS
Martin Prado LF
Jose Reyes SS
Erick Aybar DH
Nelson Cruz RF
The rest of this weekend features several notable games.
Thu, Mar 7, 6:30 PM Venezuela @ Dominican Rep.
Fri, Mar 8, 2:00 PM Canada @ Italy
Fri, Mar 8, 9:00 PM Mexico @ United States
Sat, Mar 9, 2:30 PM Canada @ Mexico
Sat, Mar 9, 9:00 PM United States @ Italy
Sun, Mar 10, 4:00 PM United States @ Canada