2017 World Baseball Classic Report (Day 13)
The second round is coming to an end with the semi-finals right around the corner and the teams heading to Los Angeles are looking very familiar.
With their win on Day 13, Puerto Rico clinched a spot in the semi-finals joining the Netherlands and Japan who clinched earlier and are awaiting the other two teams.
In 2013 the semi-finals were made up of the Netherlands, Japan, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
The Dominicans are still in the fight right now as they could find themselves in the Semi-Finals for the second tournament in a row at the end of the final day.
That would leave the World Baseball Classic with the exact same final four as four years ago leaving the tournament with an issue that has been seen by plenty of other international tournaments.
The issue is that the tournament is meant to help to grow the game in other parts fo the world but usually ends up rewarding only a small few.
There is little they can do to change that as the game needs to grow in other places through increased participation and increased attention.
The WBC allows for the increased attention but the fight for every sport is trying to get the best athletes from every country to choose baseball instead of another sport.
That is a legitimate issue in baseball right now and it is not limited to the countries that aren’t considered baseball powers.
The USA has had this issue for a number of years as they are always trying to attract the top athletes.
With competition from football and basketball along with hockey in some states, baseball is not always the first choice.
It is an issue that the league has been trying to figure out for a number of years now without much success.
So it is safe to say that the countries without a base in the sport are finding the same struggle although without the same competition.
Teams from around the world have a bit of a tougher challenge as baseball is far from their top sport with their best athletes all choosing far different sports.
That has been seen over the last few years as there have only been a few teams that have really had a chance at the title.
They won two of those titles and it wasn’t until the Dominicans got their best players to participate that they took the other title.
The Dutch had the same type of rise as they are headed to their second straight semi-finals after many of their best players, mostly from Curaçao, decided to participate.
Puerto Rico has quietly become a power now in their second straight semi-finals but the history of the country lends itself to the game.
Although the USA and the Dominican Republic still need to qualify either one remains a baseball power.
One of the two will make their way to the semi-finals and it won’t be much of a surprise as both were expected to do well.
That leaves the debate as to how the WBC can help grow the sport when the same teams are featured in the semi-finals.
It is based on performance only and many countries have a big head start as to the growth of the sport.
These countries that continue to make the semi-finals are the ones that don’t really need the help as it is a big sport for them regardless of how well they do.
The other countries are attempting to find their way to the bigger games but are reaching that point that many countries have reached in other sports.
They are good enough to qualify for the tournament but they can’t get much further than qualifying.
That leaves a lot of potential players wondering why they would participate in the sport if they can never win.
The mountain to climb might seem a little too big for athletes who might have chosen baseball over another sport.
That leaves them at the same level every time the tournament comes around and it makes it much harder to grow in that sport.
For now, though the top teams remain in the semi-finals for another tournament with one spot left on the final day of the tournament.
Once the attention moves to Los Angeles there will be no question that the best teams are fighting for the title making the tournament only get tougher in the end.
Puerto Rico 6-5 USA
– The Puerto Ricans took care of business in this game against the USA as the territory of America took a big win that ensured their spot in the semi-finals for another tournament with hopes of taking home the title
Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela (Saturday, March 18th; 3:30 pm ET)
– The Puerto Ricans are in the semi-finals while the Venezuelans are out leaving little to play for but Puerto Rico can still take first place and earn a date with the Dutch rather than potentially having to face Japan in the semis
USA vs. Dominican Republic (Saturday, March 18th; 10:00 pm ET)
– It is the rematch of the rematch as both teams are among the best in the world right now and the Dominicans have had the upper hand but with another game either team can take the win and the final spot in the semi-finals