While the lineup card for a Major League Baseball game may resemble a meeting at the United Nations, the game of baseball truly is a universal game.
In the early morning hours of March 6 the first game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic will get underway when Israel and Korea take the field at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.
Like the Olympics and World Cup the elite baseball players from around the world gather every four years to play a round robin styled baseball tournament.
The pool play format will see the 16 teams cut to eight, then four, then two before a champion is crowned. The two teams from each pool in round one will advance on to the next round.
The tournament begins with four teams playing each other in four different locations around the world – South Korea, Japan, the United States, and Mexico.
Pool A will consist of Korea, Chinese Taipei, Israel, and the Netherlands.
Pool B will consist of Japan, China, Cuba, and Australia.
Pool C will consist of Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and the United States.
Pool D will consist of Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Italy.
For round two Pool A and Pool B winners will play in Tokyo (Pool E), while Pool C and Pool D winners will meet up in San Diego, California (Pool F). The championship round with the final four teams will be played in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium March 20-22.
The Championship Round is a single elimination tournament.
During tournament play if a game goes into extra innings, beginning with the eleventh inning the inning will begin with runners on first and second base. The base runners will be the two players that precede the batter at the plate. For example if the first batter is the clean up batter – fourth – then the base runners would be batters in the second and third of the batting order.
The designated hitter is in play for the 2017 WBC.
Since it is very early in the baseball season, the WBC has put a limit on the number of pitches a pitcher may throw in a game. For the first round the limit is 65 pitches – although a pitcher may finish throwing to the batter even if it takes him over the limit. Any pitcher who throws at least 50 pitches must rest for at least four days before he can pitch again.
In subsequent rounds the pitching limit is 80 for the second round and 95 pitches for the championship round. Any pitcher who throw 30 pitches must rest for at least one day and no pitcher may throw three days in a row no matter what his pitch count.
Like in Little League play, the WBC has a “mercy rule”. Any team who is ahead by 15 runs after five innings or 10 runs after seven innings will be declared the winner of the game.
Each team of the World Baseball Classic will have a roster of 28 players.
The first WBC took place in 2006 with the Japanese taking the title. The Japanese repeated their championship win in 2009 but the Dominican Republic won the tournament in 2013.
photo courtesy of By LiAnna Davis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25497276
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