2017 World Baseball Classic Report (Day 8)

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The first round is almost entirely finished with one tiebreaker left to determine the final team to make the next pool.

In Asia, the semi-finalists are that much closer to being determined before they make the trek to Los Angeles for the final games.

As these teams prepare to continue playing there are a number of teams and players headed back home or to their MLB clubs to continue Spring Training.

Many of the teams that will not be playing in the tournament anymore there are a few that were just happy to be in the tournament.

For others, the result they are seeing is not something that they wanted to see as they were disappointed with their showing in the tournament.

These teams that expected to at least compete for the second round are going home having to re-evaluate their organisations as some are now looking to compete just to make it into the 2021 tournament.

For some of them, there is one constant complaint made by the managers and the executives of the national organisations.

That is that the lack of commitment from their best players is the reason they are not able to make a run at the second round.

Some will say that it shouldn’t matter because there are teams that lack the commitment and still find their way to being competitive.

The difference though is that for teams that lack the commitment like the USA there is more than enough talent to still make them competitive.

Americans have had a real issue with their best players making the commitment to play in the World Baseball Classic yet they will be playing in the second round.

That is because despite not having some of their best players their roster still reads like an all-star team.

They may not have players like Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw but they still have players like Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Archer.

Although the first two would be massive for the USA their replacements are still some of the best players in the world.

For a team like their neighbours to the north that depth simply doesn’t exist despite the fact that there is talent coming from Canada.

This year the Canadians finished in last place in their pool and for the first time will need to go through qualifying to make an appearance in 2021.

They are a team that had some MLB talent but much of their team depended on Freddie Freeman, who was playing for Canada for the first time to honour his late Canadian-born mother and Ryan Dempster who hadn’t pitched for years.

Yes, these are names that people know but they are not going to make a difference against rosters full of the best players in the league.

The Canadians might have had a better chance had stars like Michael Saunders, Russell Martin, Joey Votto, Brett Lawrie, John Axford, and Adam Loewen all committed to playing.

Some of these players are still dealing with injuries while others simply made the decision to remain with their MLB teams rather than play for their country.

According to Canadian manager, Ernie Whitt, the lack of commitment from some of these players was a big reason for their poor performance.baseball-sidebar

Whitt also puts that lack of commitment on notice for the future of baseball in Canada as the national team will never grow if these players don’t commit.

Without the stars to follow the younger crop of players will certainly feel less of an obligation and the national team is sure to struggle for it.

The Netherlands is the perfect example of that as they were a team that had a few stars but never had much of a commitment from their biggest players.

Then Andruw Jones committed to playing in the 2006 World baseball Classic and the younger players, mainly from Jones’ home of Curaçao, took notice.

In 2013 they got a commitment from a host of young players like Xander Bogaerts and Andrelton Simmonds and a team that was considered a walk over became finalists.

They may have come up short but the Dutch remain one of the best teams in the tournament with the best infield in this year’s Classic.

That is because the young players like Simmonds, Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius and Jurickson Profar have all fully committed to the national program.

That is what Canada and a number of other teams need if they want to help their national programs and help the WBC grow into a legitimately competitive tournament.

It is a challenge as many of the teams as their players are more committed to their MLB teams who have invested in them.

It makes sense for a lot of these players as teams are financially committed to players who have a responsibility to play for their MLB teams and perform at a certain level.

Yet there are still players like the Dominicans feel a responsibility to play for their country and won’t let anyone or anything keep them out, making them one of the best teams in the world.

Somewhere there is a solution but for now, there are a few teams going home disappointed because their biggest talent didn’t show up and until they do they will continue to struggle.


Day 8:
Dominican Republic 10-3 Colombia (11th)
– The Colombians were still alive but they needed to complete one of the biggest upsets of the tournament and they almost did it but the Dominicans were saved by a great throw and then a 7-run 11th inning to stay undefeated

Puerto Rico 9-3 Italy
– Italy had a chance to upset the pool and take a win against the Puerto Ricans but they couldn’t get it done leaving their fate up to the final pool game to see if they could move on or have to play in a tiebreaker

USA 8-0 Canada
– The Canadians had one last chance to at least qualify for 2021 but their offence once again disappeared while the Americans got to Ryan Dempster early and walked away with a win and a second round berth

Mexico 11-9 Venezuela
– The Mexicans have disappointed all tournament but they finally seemed to wake-up against the Venezuelans even if it was too little too late as their win forced a three-way tie but their performance forced them to the bottom of the pool

Netherlands 12-2 Israel
– The Israelis have been putting on surprise after surprise but their great run hit a speed bump in their second game against the Dutch who got out to an early lead and never looked back keeping their semi-final hopes alive with the win

Day 9:
Venezuela vs. Italy (Monday, March 13th; 9:00 pm ET)
– Despite the fact that Mexico forced this tiebreaker they won’t participate as the Italians and Venezuelans get one more crack at each other to move on to San Diego in the second round and a chance at the semi-finals

Cuba vs. Japan (Tuesday, March 14th; 6:00 am ET)
– Round 2 continues as the Cubans once again take on the Japanese looking to keep their hopes alive for the semi-finals as a loss for the Cubans could eliminate them while a win for the Japanese moves them closer to another semi-final berth

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