Many people probably don’t even know about this tournament, but this March baseball’s only true best-on-best international competition begins in the form of the World Baseball Classic (WBC). This will be the 3rd incarnation of the tournament, which is held every 3 years and has seen Japan emerge victorious in both in 2006 and 2009. Korea has been very competitive finishing 2nd in 2006 an intense 10 inning final game and 3rd in 2009, after again losing to Japan. In fact, the Koreans have had the best win loss record in the tournament going 12-4 with all 4 losses coming to the Japanese, while team Japan has compiled a 12-5 record with 4 losses to the Koreans! Rivalry much?
So with this year’s tournament deciding the fate of Dokdo the Korea/Japan rivalry will be fiercer than ever! (just kidding, calm down) These posts will provide you with useful scheduling information, a guide to some of Korea’s top players, some notable Japanese foes, and anything else notable I come across.
Let’s start with the important grouping and scheduling information! Fun!
First, there are 16 teams in 4 pools that qualified for the tournament:
In Round 1 each team will play the other 3 teams in it’s division. The top 2 records in each division will qualify for the 2nd round. Korea is in Pool B, which they should probably win. They are 4th in the IBAF rankings!
The Korean team will be in Pool B. All games in pool B will be played in Taiwan. Korea’s 1st round games are as follows. (Korean time)
|Sat, Mar 2, 8:30 PM||Korea @ Netherlands|
|Mon, Mar 4, 7:30 PM||Korea @ Australia|
|Tue, Mar 5, 8:30 PM||Chinese Taipei @ Korea|
The Dutch have a couple established pro players in the likes of Andruw Jones, and Roger Bernadina as well as some exciting young players like number 1 prospect in baseball Jurickson Profar, highly touted Xander Boegarts and defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons. That being said they aren’t as experienced or as deep as the Korean team and should be in tough to qualify for the next round.
Ryan Rowland-Smith is their biggest name…. so this should probably be a win.
Chinese Tapei (Taiwan):
This is a young and cohesive unit that plays together more than most teams in a tournament like this. While it lacks players that I’m familiar with, the Taiwanese team is usually fundamentally strong and generally pesky. I do know Chein Ming Wang , this team has 2 players named that, and are ranked 5th in the IBAF rankings. Probably the only serious threat to Korea in the first round.
Round 2 is a little bit more complicated so stay with me here. The top 2 from each of the pools in round 1 will move on to round 2 and will be separated there into Pool 1 and Pool 2. Pool 1 will consist of the winners and runners up from pools A and B. Pool 2 will be the winners and runners up from pools B and C.
Let’s look at Pool 1, which will be played in the Tokyo Dome and potentially feature Korea and Japan, in the diagram below.
So we have 4 teams: Pool A winner (AW) and runner up (AR) and Pool B winner (BW) and runner up (BR).
Basically, you have to lose twice before the final to be eliminated. The winners of each pool (A and B) play the runners up of the other pool. The winners of those games move on to the 2nd part of the bracket, while the losers play in an elimination game (L1 vs. L2 above). The game between the 2 winners (W1 vs. W2 above) will move onto the final game of the group, while the loser will have to play the winner of L1 vs. L2 in another elimination game. The final 2 teams, while both moving on, play a game to decide seeding in the medal round.
The games are all in local time, which is conveniently the same as Korean time. The exact time of Korea’s games obviously isn’t clear because it depends on the results of the games in rounds 1 and 2. I’ll go out on a limb and say the 4 teams here will be Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Cuba though so we’ll have a look at the latter 2.
Oh Cuba! There are 18 Cubans currently in the Major Leagues and exactly 0 of them will be playing at the WBC, that’s because they are all traitorous defectors who have defied the revolution. Errr, politics aside, the Cuban team is always very athletic, very cocky and very good at baseball. Cuba has a passion for baseball. Their pipeline of Major League talent is inhibited only by their freedom hating regime — see this blog is politically fair and balanced. Once, I was in Havana and my tour guide pointed out a group of 40 old men in a park with newspapers. He informed the tour group that the group of señor citizens gathered everyday in that park to discuss baseball. Sounds like a good retirement spot. One player you should know is Jose Abreu who is allegedly a god of baseball. Click the link, it’s a good story about Abreu and Cuban baseball in general. But seriously “453 batting average; .597 on-base percentage; .986 slugging percentage. Thirty-three homers and 93 runs batted in … in 212 at-bats.” this guy might be one of the better hitters on Earth and nobody knows who he is. The Cubans will be good.
Due to a rich history of the Japanese being jerks to Korea, some of the most emotional and entertaining games ever played at the WBC have been between the Koreans and the Japanese. This year should be no exception. A major difference this year is the Japanese Major League stars like Ichiro “Korea won’t beat us for 100 years” Suzuki, Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui, and Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka won’t be attending this years tournament. Regardless, the Japanese boast a strong team with the likes of Kenta Maeda, their 24 year old pitching ace, as well as infielders like former Major Leaguer Kaz Matsui and Hayato Sakamoto, star of the NPB. This version of team Japan is significantly weaker than the previous 2 championship squads at the WBC, but it’s important to remember that the Japanese pro leagues are a really high level of competition and this team should not be taken lightly…… Dokdo is Korea.
Round 3 The Medal Round:
The Final round is pretty straight forward and looks like this:
The winner of Pool 1 from Round 2 will play the runner up of Pool 2 and vice versa in the semi-finals and the winners will faceoff in the final. The times will be brutal for Korea because all final round games will be held at the beautiful AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.
Here they are so you dont have to think about it:
Monday, March 18th 10:00 am Korea time W1 vs. R2
Tuesday, March 19th 10:00 am Korea time W2 vs R1
Wednesday, March 20th 9:00 am Korea time
So there you have it!
Broadcasts of the WBC in Korea will be done by JTBC, which according to Wikipedia is channel 15. The broadcasts will feature former MLB star Park Chan-ho and some other guys who will provide analysis in Korean and:
“JTBC also plans to introduce broadcasting technology that will allow Korean players to be shown more frequently than in previous international appearances aired by other local broadcasters.
‘They will be able to watch the plays by Korean players in more fun and varied ways,’ said a JTBC official. ”
So that’s awesome?