The History and Evolution of the World Baseball Classic

All work and no play will make Jack a dull boy. At least that is the excuse most children used to get to play as parents hammered into them the importance of studying hard. Today, sports have become a favorite pastime activity for most people with some making professional careers out of them. It is, therefore, no wonder to find stadiums full of spectators as they watch a game of football, rugby, basketball and many more. Sports have become so embedded in the society that each country wants to be the best hence the need for competition through the Olympics.

Unfortunately, one of the games that do not feature in the Olympics is baseball. However, that has not stopped fans from getting a thrill nor countries from determining which one is the best. To understand how far baseball has come in being a sport competed across globally, let us take a look at its history.

Baseball removed from Olympics in 2005

Up until 2005, baseball was among the games featured in the Olympics until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to remove it from the Olympic sports. IOC, based in Switzerland, was founded in 1894 and it is the non-governmental body which organizes winter and summer Olympics. The World Baseball Classic was then formed, with the concept borrowed from the FIFA world cup.

Inaugural tournament held in 2006

In March 2006, from 3rd to 20th, the 2006 World Baseball Classic inaugural tournament took place it was between 16 national baseball teams, including Major League Baseball players. The competition was held across different stadiums on several states including Florida, Arizona, California, Puerto Rico, and Japan. Elimination in the first two rounds was through a round-robin, leading to the removal of two teams. Canada became the first to be eliminated despite a 2-1 record because it failed to run up a score with South Africa, and also due to a blowout loss to Mexico. Japan advanced in the second round due to a blowout win over Mexico, despite a 1-2 record. Other teams that advanced are Puerto Rico, Venezuela, South Korea, and the United States. The eliminations went to the semi-finals and finals, leading to the first game.

The first game on World Baseball Classic

The first WBC game was on 3rd March 2006, and it was between South Korea and Chinese-Taipei. South Korea beat Chinese-Taipei 2-0 and continued advancing through the semi-finals with a 6-0 record. However, South Korea lost to Japan which became the champion that year, although it had beaten Japan twice during the earlier rounds. Japan became the champion after defeating Cuba 10-6.

2009 WBC tournament

The same 16 teams that played in the 2006 tournament played, but this time instead of using the round-robin and single-elimination method to disqualify teams, they used double-elimination for the first two rounds. Another constant was the eight teams that advanced to the semi-finals with the only exception being an exceptional performance by the Netherlands which reached the second round by defeating the Dominican Republic. South Korea and Japan beat Venezuela and the United States respectively leading to Japan emerging victorious for the second time after defeating South Korea 5-3.

2013 tournament

The 2013 WBC tournament was held on March 2 to 19 after going through a qualifying round. The 12 teams which won at least a game during the 2009 match were guaranteed to play the main tournament. However, the other four had to compete with 12 additional teams, and South Africa lost its spot to Spain while Brazil replaced Panama. The 2013 tournament led to the Dominican Republic is the champion after defeating Puerto Rico 8-0. It prides itself in being the first and only team till now to remain undefeated throughout the tournament.

2017 WBC tournament

2017 saw the elimination method used going back to the round-robin used in 2006. For the first time, Israel and Columbia qualified while the Dominican Republic lost in the second round. The semi-finals led to the United States going against Japan and Puerto Rico against the Netherlands. The United States and Puerto Rico won against their opponents causing them to go against each one in the finals. Puerto Rico then lost to the United States after coming along this far despite the WBC rules disqualifying its most important pitchers from playing.


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