Welcome to a new feature on Nats101.com, “Holding Court.” Written by Court Swift (@RCourtSwift) one of the most knowledgeable Nationals (and everything) fans I know. He’ll be writing a columns for us that not only get you up to speed on some baseball things, but also offering his sage like opinion on those same topics.
The World Baseball Classic: What is it. What’s wrong with it. And how to fix it.
Baseball’s World Cup
Sixteen Teams. Five Continents. One Cup. For All the Marbles(-ish). And I don’t even know if there is an actual cup…
When the World Baseball Classic began in 2006, I was pretty intrigued by the idea of a new World-Cup style baseball tournament. The Olympics had just dropped baseball – which only featured amateurs anyway – so MLB, in partnership with the MLBPA, decided to allow professionals to compete internationally for the first time ever. The WBC began in Spring Training of 2006 with 16 hand-picked countries, spanning 6 continents. Japan won that year, and again in 2009 with all the same countries competing.
For the 2013 edition, the tournament was opened to qualifiers. Winning a WBC game now qualifies you for the next tournament. The 12 countries that won a game in 2009 (Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United States, and Venezuela) automatically qualified. The four teams that did not win (Canada, Taiwan, Panama and South Africa) were part of a qualifying group of sixteen teams that played for the final four spots. Ultimately Canada and Taiwan returned to the 2013 WBC with Spain and Brazil being the two new teams to earn their way in.