2017 World Baseball Classic Report (Day 4)

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The first stage of the Classic is almost halfway over as the Pool stage wraps up as Day 4 marked the final games in Pool A while one game is left for Pool B.

As the first two pools begin to finish their first stage the other two pools are just about ready to get underway.

The Asian teams got a head start as they will eventually need to make the trip to Los Angeles where the final games will be played.

They get some extra time as the two teams that will head to Dodger Stadium will get some time to adjust to the time change.

So far the Classic has been a bit of a mix in Seoul and Tokyo as the Koreans have come close to selling out when Korea has played while the Japanese have done better coming close to sellout when Japan is playing while the other games have still seen big numbers if not as big.

Overall the Classic has always been big in Asia where baseball is a major sport that in many places eclipses every other sport.

The same can be said this year as the two pools have been watched and people in Asia are paying attention.

The problem for the MLB is that fact that the same focus has not translated the area that is supposed to be where baseball is the biggest.

In the Americas, and specifically the USA, the World Baseball Classic has never reached the same level of interest.

For the most part, there are a lot of people in the Americas who might not even know that the Classic is currently underway.

The strange times of games in the Asian pools are surely not doing any favours but the other two pools have much better times but the lead up has seen very little build up.

It has been the challenge of the tournament since its inception as the demand for international baseball in North America has never really been big.

The Olympic tournament was never that big of a draw and not many North American baseball fans could list the World Cup champions.

Unlike in other sports where a lot of fans want to see the best on best tournaments that international games can provide in baseball, there is little demand for that.

Yet the MLB wanted to take a crack at it and fill that void hoping that a tournament that featured the best in the world, including the MLB, would attract fans.

So far it hasn’t quite done that as Americans have not embraced the tournament like the MLB hopes they would.

For many North Americans, it is a thought that the games are not every competitive because there are only a handful of teams that actually provide any competition.

That isn’t the case though and when watching any of the games the competition is far closer than what most think.

Another argument for many North Americans is that the best players don’t play, which is somewhat true.

When it comes to the Americans their best players often don’t participate because they are busy getting ready for a new season.

In the middle of Spring Training, some players are dealing with injuries or just don’t want to risk injury in the tournament.baseball-sidebar

Some of it has to do with the fact that some of the players don’t take the tournament seriously.

They feel little connection to playing for their country in the tournament and without that connection, there is no motivation for them to play in the tournament.

It will only hurt the tournament further if the players don’t get on board and when the one country that the WBC wants to pay attention can’t get their players to pay attention.

The MLB is surely happy to see that the Asian teams are doing well in the first set of pool play but they will be watching closely for the next few days as the Americas begin their tournament.

This next step in the tournament will go a long way to determining just how successful the World baseball Classic is.

If the next two pools get more attention and see more talk about them and the games they the WBC could be headed to being successful.

If these games are largely ignored and nobody is paying attention to the teams that matter the most in the region then it might continue to be a forgotten tournament.

What is worse is that the MLB will not allow this to go on like this for a very long time and after four tournaments talk of the end of the tournament is sure to rise.

That would be a terrible thing for international baseball and for the spread of the game as the WBC has already produced international stars in the MLB.

Whether or not this tournament continues could be based on the recognition it gets in MLB’s biggest market which will be proven as Pool C and Pool D begin their tournament.

day-4

Day 4:
Israel 4-2 Netherlands
– The WBC officially has a Cinderella story as the Israelis have finished their pool play undefeated despite playing a very good Dutch team as they move on to the next stage playing perfect baseball

Korea 11-8 Chinese Taipei (10th)
– It wasn’t the tournament that the Korean fans expected but at least it ended on a positive note as the Koreans finally took their first win of the tournament after a ten inning fight with Chinese Taipei as they qualified for 2021

Australia 11-0 China
– The Aussies kept their hopes alive as they took a big win against the Chinese to stay in the hunt for a second round berth while the Chinese took a loss and will not be moving on to the next round this year

Day 5:
Canada vs. Dominican Republic (Thursday, March 9th; 6:00 pm ET)
– The Canadians open their tournament with their toughest game of the tournament as they take on the defending champions who are reloaded with plenty of talent looking to prove they are still the best team in the world

Mexico vs. Italy (Thursday, March 9th; 9:00 pm ET)
– In 2013 the Italians shocked everyone with a big opening win against the Mexicans who started off a disappointing tournament with a loss and are now back looking for some revenge four years in the making

Australia vs. Cuba (Thursday, March 9th; 10:00 pm ET)
– This is the most important game that both teams will play as a win puts that team into the next round while a loss drops them out as the Cubans try to match expectations and the Australians look to surprise everyone

China vs. Japan (Friday, March 10th; 5:00 am ET)
– There is not much to play for here as the Japanese are moving on and the Chinese have been eliminated but the two biggest countries in Asia will still battle for some regional pride in their final games of the tournament

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