Today’s WBC Q&A covers basically everything else that is left on the World Baseball Classic that I haven’t covered elsewhere. Go below the jump for it.
You said that “with extremely rare exceptions”, the WBC is the only international tournament where MLB players take part, what are those exceptions?
Occasionally an MLB player is allowed to play in a international competition if it would provide the player an exemption from some sort of thing (such as military service) that would affect the player’s MLB career. For example, in 2010 Shin-Soo Choo was allowed to play in the Asian Games for Korea because a win would allow him to avoid Korea’s mandatory military service, which of course would have caused him (and the Indians) to lose a few years of his career to the military. Also, note that technically the Caribbean Series is an international tournament, but since it’s between the champions of the Caribbean leagues (with a few ringers showing up just for the series) and not national teams, it doesn’t count.
I heard somebody say that the Netherlands is the defending World Champions. Huh?
This is a reference to how the Netherlands won the 2011 Baseball World Cup, the last IBAF-run World Cup before it was discontinued in favor of making the WBC the official “World Championship” for national teams.
What was the Baseball World Cup?
It was, as the name suggests, the World Cup of Baseball, run by the IBAF. However, since neither MLB nor even NPB players played in it, it was more of a showcase for minor leaguers and amateurs. This allowed Cuba to traditionally dominate the event, winning it 25 times including a stretch between 1951 and 2007 where they won the tournament every time they entered it (they did not participate in a few editions for political reasons).
So if the Baseball World Cup no longer exists, why don’t they rename the World Baseball Classic the Baseball World Cup?
A good question, especially since one would think calling it the “World Cup” would give it more of a cache than the relatively traditionless name it has now. It’s possible that it might have it’s name changed in the future, I guess. However, the fact that MLB holds the marketing rights to the WBC, as opposed to the World Cup that the IBAF holds the rights to, makes it unlikely for monetary reasons.
I know you’ve said this before, but why do players from Curacao and Aruba and such play for the Netherlands?
Because the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a country that technically contains the Netherlands (AKA Holland), Curacao, Aruba and the other Caribbean holdings of the Dutch monarchy.
How are the teams selected for the WBC?
12 of the 16 teams automatically qualified due to having won at least one game in 2009. The other four (Canada, Taipei, Spain and Brazil) won qualifying tournaments in 2012. The original 16 countries that played in the 2006 and 2009 Classics (South Africa and Panama were in instead of Spain and Brazil) were selected due to their baseball talent levels, interest, geographical spread, and potential.
How is the tournament’s format this year compared to previous years?
In 2006, the tournament was two round robin rounds followed by one-game semifinals and finals. In 2009, the round robins were replaced by double-elimination brackets. This year, it will be a mix of the two: the first round will be round robins, but the second round will be double-elimination. The semis and the finals remain the same.
What channel will the games be on?
MLB Network will be having all of the games this year in the United States, and it wouldn’t be shocking if there is a heavy online presence as well, especially since it’s likely some games will be going on at the same time and there is only one MLB Network. The migration of the WBC to exclusively MLB Network (as opposed to in 2006 and 2009, where many of the keynote games were on ESPN channels) is a continued effort by MLB to make it’s network a destination for baseball fans (some playoff games were on MLB Network in 2012 for similar reasons).
Who umpires the WBC?
A mixture of MLB umpires and umpires from other countries and organizations.
Okay, last question: How do you say “baseball” in the languages of the WBC?
Well, in English, French and Italian, it’s just baseball.
In Spanish, it’s béisbol. It’s the similar beisebol in Brazilian Portuguese.
The Netherlands call it be various names, depending what part of the Kingdom that player hails. However, in Dutch, it’s honkbal.
In Asia, baseball is known as yakyū in Japan, yagu (or yagoo) in Korean and bàngqiú in Mandarin Chinese.
And now you know.