The 2017 World Baseball Classic official rosters have been revealed, and there is no shortage of big names representing their countries and respective heritages. The Dominican Republic will be looking to defend their 2013 championship against 15 other countries from across the globe.
The first round of the WBC is a six-game round robin, featuring four pools. Pool A consists of Israel, Korea, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Taiwan. Games between the teams of Pool A will be played from March 6 through March 9 at the Gocheok Sky Dome, home of the Nexen Heroes, in Seoul, South Korea.
Pool B consists of Australia, Cuba, China, and Japan. Games between the teams of Pool B will be played from March 7 through 10 at the Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants, in Tokyo, Japan.
Pool C consists of Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Games between the teams of Pool C will be played from March 9 through March 12 at Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins, in Florida.
Pool D consists of Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Games between the teams of Pool D will be played from March 9 through March 12 at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco, home of the Charros de Jalisco, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The second round of the WBC is a six-game round robin featuring two pools. Pool E consists of the winners and runners-up of Pool A and Pool B. Games between these teams will be played from March 11 through March 15, and will be played at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
Pool F consists of the winners and runners-up of Pool C and Pool D. Games between these teams will be played from March 14 through March 18 at PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres, in California.
The championship round consists of two semi-final games and a winner-takes-all championship game. The first semi-final game will be played on March 20, the second on March 21, and the championship game on March 22. All three games will take place at Dodgers Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in California.
Why does the WBC matter?
So why does the World Baseball Classic, an exhibition tournament that has no impact on the MLB season, matter?
It gives us all a stage to watch baseball, and see the different forms that it takes across the world. Baseball in Asia, for example, is played differently from baseball here in North America, with more of an emphasis on small ball, defense, and fundamentals. Fans are often more boisterous than those in the United States, but in a uniquely Asian way, singing cheers and songs—many of them written and published officially by the various ballclubs—led by an organized oendan (cheering squad).
Baseball in the Caribbean is often played using a “DIY” style of “whatever works for you,” influenced by the challenging upbringings that many in the region have experienced. The stands are often a spectacle in and of themselves, with incredibly knowledgeable and passionate fans dancing between innings, cheering along with the distinct, monotone blare of the vuvuzela.
It also gives us an opportunity to see athletes that are world-class players, but who rarely get mainstream media coverage in North America. Numerous members of the Samurai Japan are among the best the country has to offer, some of whom may one day choose to play in America. The Cuban National Team rarely makes appearances at MLB-headed baseball ventures because of lingering political issues between the United States and Cuba, and as a result, it is only once in a blue moon that we American fans get to see our stars go head-to-head with the best from our neighbors 90 miles to the south.
In the end, everything else aside, the World Basball Classic gives us a chance to watch baseball, cheer for our country, and be proud of our respective heritages.