The World Baseball Classic, and people’s coverage of it, is often filled with innuendo, missed information or taking hearsay as fact. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to the actual media, and it’s happened even to Major League Baseball itself.
It’s not hard to see why. It’s still a relatively new event, after all, not a yearly decades-old baseball mainstay like the All-Star Game, or like other events like the Olympics, which have been going on for over a century. In addition, it isn’t as centralized, and information is often crossing linguistic and national borders. So something about a roster change in one country might not reach the rest until later, or a claim by a player in one language might lose it’s nuance when translated into English.
So, anyway, to clear things up, go after the jump for part 1 of a Q&A on the WBC.
What is the World Baseball Classic?
The World Baseball Classic (WBC, for short) is a tournament run by Major League Baseball (MLB), the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), as well as the MLB Players Association and various other leagues and associations from around the world. It is, with very rare exceptions, the only international baseball tournament in which MLB players can take part.
When does this year’s WBC get started?
The 2013 WBC starts March 2nd. However, due to the fact that those games will be in Asia, you could argue that it will start at about 11:30 PM Eastern on March 1st in the USA, when Taipei and Australia face off.
When did the WBC get started, as a tournament?
2006 was the year of the first WBC, with the second one occurring in 2009.
Wait, so shouldn’t we have had a WBC in 2012 with that pattern?
After the 2009 WBC, the event was moved to a 4-year cycle. The reasoning for this was likely so that it wouldn’t end up colliding with years in which other major international events, such as the Olympics, would be occurring.
Okay, so why did the World Baseball Classic get started?
A) Baseball had been removed from the Olympics, primarily because no MLB players were allowed to play. The WBC could help make up for that by providing a international showcase for national baseball teams. In addition, the hope would be that eventually the WBC could show the Olympic movement that baseball is played by enough countries that it deserves a spot in the Olympics even if it doesn’t have the best players.
B) Connected to the previous one, it would help spread awareness of the sport and get money for smaller baseball countries that lack the revenue of larger ones such as the United States and Japan.
C) It could make those organizations involved (especially MLB) a lot of money, especially in overseas markets like Japan.
How successful were the first two WBCs?
It depends on how you measure success. While attendance figures have been hit-or-miss and public opinion on the event has been (and continues to be) quite polarized, the numbers don’t lie: the 2009 Classic’s television ratings were up greatly from 2006 even in the supposedly WBC-skeptical United States, for example, and set what were then all-time viewing records in countries such as Japan. And, although there are no statistics I can find from 2009, merchandising sales were also likely very good: in 2006, for example, more merchandise was sold in the first round than organizers had expected to be sold for the whole tournament.
In addition, it has helped reinvigorate baseball in other countries, such as Korea, where the local league has had record-setting attendance every season since the 2009 WBC.
Who won the first two WBCs?
Japan. They beat Cuba in the first one, and Korea in the second one. Daisuke Matsuzaka won the MVP in both tournaments.
How’d the USA do in those tournaments?
Team USA exited after the second round in 2006 and fell to Japan in the semifinals of 2009.
Okay, so long will this year’s WBC last?
The final game of the WBC this year will be on March 19, in San Francisco. So, in all, it’ll be a 17-day tournament (or 18, depending on how you measure with the fact there’s the international date line).
Come back tomorrow for part 2, in which I answer questions about rules and other things that are a bit more in-depth.