The World Baseball Classic is Back!

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is finally back after having to postpone the 2021 edition due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The 2017 edition was the most successful yet with over 1 million in attendance according to some figures and over 24,000 average attendance, quite high for a tournament that featured two stadiums below this amount: the Gocheok Skydome (16,813) in Seoul, South Korea for Pool A, and Estadio Charros de Jalisco (16,000) in Zapopan (Jalisco), Mexico for Pool D. The other two stadiums used in the First Round were the Tokyo Dome (42,000) in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park (36,742) in Miami (Florida), USA. The viewership was even more spectacular with pure numbers from the USA showing that from 6 March to 12 March was the most watched week on MLB Network ever at the time. Overseas, viewership was up all over from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and Japan. Puerto Rico had over 70% of the TVs watching the WBC Final against the USA while the WBC was the most popular showing on TV in Japan during these games. Merchandise was up too as well as revenue generated at the games and through television. The list goes on and on, but basically, everything was an improvement from the last WBC and the money made exceeded 100 million US Dollars!

The First Round saw some major surprises in Pool A, with newcomers Israel topping the Pool at 3-0, while the Netherlands finished 2-1. Baseball blue bloods South Korea finished 1-2 and Chinese Taipei finished 0-3. This was a great story for baseball in the Middle East and for the wider Jewish Community as it displayed the best parts of baseball and that is that no matter what you look like or who you are, what is important is your ability to play this great game! Israel were the underdogs, but came out as the Group Victors.

From The Denver Post

Pool B was close between #2 and #3. Japan dominated finishing 3-0 as expected, and PR China finished 0-3 as expected. But, Cuba and Australia were quite even, with Cuba barely edging out Australia 4-3 in the deciding third group game for both teams.

Pool C was a lot less close than expected because Canada failed to show up. But, because they were Canada, everyone knew it was going to be a difficult group because of their potential, despite finishing 0-3. The Dominican Republic dominated both Canada and Colombia, and won a close one with the USA to go 3-0, while the USA barely defeated Colombia 3-2 and then also defeated Canada to finish 2-1 in the group and advance.

Pool D was the most exciting! Puerto Rico finished 3-0, while Italy, Venezuela, and Mexico all finished 1-2. However, Mexico finished 4th in the tiebreaker on run against during defensive innings played. There was lots of confusion. And Mexico felt extra bad because they had given up 5 runs to Italy in the Top of the 9th to lose 9-10 in their first game. Venezuela won the tiebreaker decider over Italy 4-3 to advance.

The Second Round was even more exillerating with Pool E being at the Tokyo Dome and Pool F being at Petco Park (40,162) in San Diego (California), USA.

Pool E saw Cuba lose all three games, while Japan won all three. The Netherlands finished 2nd due to their 12-2 win over Israel.

Pool F saw Puerto Rico win all three games, while Venezuela lost all three. The USA and Dominican Republic game was thus the deciding game in Pool F to see who would finish 2nd and advance to the Semi-finals and this game did not disappoint. It was back and forth and even had a catch over the wall by the USA to secure an out and save a home run. The USA would win 6-3 and advance.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune

The Semi-finals and Final were held at Dodger Stadium (56,000) in Los Angeles (California), USA, the largest baseball stadium in the world!

The Semi-finals pitted the Netherlands verse Puerto Rico and the USA verse Japan.

Puerto Rico won a close game 4-3 to continue their undefeated streak making their second WBC Final in a row.

The USA upset Japan 2-1 to reach their first ever WBC Final!

The Final was set in the City of Angels, the Entertainment Capital of the World!

Over 51,000 people came to the Final and there were many USA and Puerto Rico fans present, as well as fans of the other nations, especially Mexico.

Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, threw out the first pitch.

The Final not only featured the second highest number of attendance with rain expected, but also featured a record number of viewers, including the most viewed Spanish language telecast of a baseball game in the USA ever, as well as the most US viewed WBC game so far!

The USA defeated Puerto Rico 8-0 to win their first World Baseball Classic Championship.

From New York Times

It was a tournament to remember that brought the world together to celebrate the game of baseball.

So, what do we have to look forward to in the 2023 World Baseball Classic?

Who are the nations playing?

Where are the games?

When are the games?

The 2023 World Baseball Classic will feature 20 teams: the USA, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, the Netherlands, Venezuela, Italy, PR China, Israel, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia, and then 4 Qualifiers yet to be determined.

The Qualifiers will happen with two different groups, Pool A and Pool B. Each of these groups will feature 6 nations with 2 of these nations each Qualifying for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Pool A will be played in Regensburg (Bavaria), Germany at Armin-Wolf-Arena (3,100-11,548) from 16-21 September 2022 and will feature Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Great Britain, and South Africa.

Pool B will be played in Panama City, Panama at Rod Crew National Stadium (27,000) from 30 September to 5 October 2022 and will feature Panama, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, and New Zealand.

From WBSC/WBC

The 2023 WBC will be played from 8 March to 21 March 2023.

Pool A will be played at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium (20,000) in Taichung, Chinese Taipei and will feature Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, the Netherlands, and Qualifier #1 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Pool B will be played at the Tokyo Dome (42,000-55,000) in Tokyo, Japan and will feature Japan, Australia, PR China, South Korea, and Qualifier #2 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Pool C will be played at Chase Field (48,405) in Phoenix (Arizona), USA and will feature USA, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and Qualifier #3 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Pool D will be played at LoanDepot Park (37,442) in Miami (Florida), USA and will feature the Dominican Republic, Israel, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Qualifier #4 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Quarterfinal #1 will feature the Top 2 nations from Group A and Group B and will be played 15 and 16 March at the Tokyo Dome.

Quarterfinal #2 will feature the Top 2 teams from Group C and Group D and will be played on 17 and 18 March at LoanDepot Park.

The quarterfinals will feature a knockout style Semi-final whereby the Pool A winner will play the Pool B runners-up and the Pool B winner will play the Pool A runners-up, while the Pool C winner will play the Pool D runners-up, and the Pool D winner will play the Pool C runners-up. The winners of the Pool A and B games will play each other in one final while the winners of the Pool C and D games will play each other in one final. All nations in these finals will advance to the Semifinals at LoanDepot Park.

The Semifinals will be played 19 March and 20 March with the Quaterfinals #1 winner playing the Quaterfinals #2 runners-up and the Quarterfinals #2 winner playing the Quarterfinals #1 runners-up.

The Final will be 21 March with the two semifinals winners playing to win the 2023 WBC!

From WBSC/WBC

So, how does this tournament stack up against the 2017 WBC?

For one, the total viewership should be higher as there are more games and nations. A 2021 WBC would have exceeded 2017 numbers in average viewership for sure, but there might be a lack of increase due to a lack of momentum. Therefore advertising will be important and if the WBC uses other networks like they are talking about, then their US numbers will probably be higher.

For total attendance, it should be higher because there will be more games and nations, but, they will not be using Dodger Stadium and LoanDepot Park, formerly Marlins Park, is limited in size. So, average attendance and total attendance might be lower. But, on the flip side, the smallest stadium will be Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium at 20,000, and the other stadiums will be +40,000 with LoanDepot Park just below 40,000. So, total and average attendance should be higher.

Furthermore, while we may not know who the Qualifier nations are yet, just looking at the groups as is, it is clear that the geographic distribution between the groups works out brilliantly.

Having the USA and Mexico in Phoenix should mean sell outs or at the very least, +30,000 attendance for these games. Canada should not draw too large of crowds by itself, but against Mexico and against the USA, the North American rivalry should be there. The viewership for these games though should be really high! There are a good amounts of Colombians in Arizona and nearby California, Nevada, and Utah, but not even close to the amount there are in Florida where Colombia played last time in 2017. So, expect less Colombian fans and the games between Colombia, Canada, and the Qualifier team may not be as high.

Pool D features nations whose diasporas all have large amounts in Florida and especially the Miami area. Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, and DR Dominicans fill the streets of Miami and if they get a Nicaragua or Panama, well then it will be a big Latin baseball party as these nations would all be baseball first nations in an area their diaspora calls home. Miami is not consider the Capital of Latin America for no reason. However, adding in Israel is an amazing call as there are many Jewish people in Florida and Miami especially, and many are from New York and are huge baseball fans. Due to the rivalries between the nations involved, there should be huge viewership too.

Pool B will feature the Japaenese-Korean rivalry in their sport, baseball! By this game itself, the viewership should be highest out of any WBC pool in Tokyo from the First Round. But, then, there is the Japanese-Chinese and Korean-Chinese rivalry on the line. This should keep attendance and viewership high. Then, Japan verse Asutralia should be highly attended and viewed as Australia is considered a top baseball nation and the Japanese really respect the growth of their baseball and will expect a good game.

The Chinese Taipei group will probably not feature high attendance , but because it will feature the first game of the Tournament, viewership should still be lowest of all the pools, but it should be respectable. But, with the relative ease of this group compared to others, Chinese Taipei, Italy, the Netherlands, and Cuba should all find themselves in a competitive group meaning that each nation will be in play for the Second Round longer most likely. This should keep the attendances higher and the viewership higher. If Chinese Taipei is playing well, expect average attendance to be around 15,000, and maybe even more.

The Second Round will most likely have lower total viewership and attendance, but the average viewership and attendance will probably increase. This will be due to less games, but each game being more important.

The Championship Round will most likely have less attendance both in total and average, but the viewership is likely to be higher if new television contracts are worked out and if greater advertisement is out there. In the end, the 2023 WBC should be have higher numbers overall, but would be better served placing the Championship Round in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium again due to the more central location between Asia and the Americas and the higher capacity and the demographics that features more variety, especially for the Asian nations.

Published by CK 22

I like history, politics, foreign diplomacy, sports, and more. Basically, the most popular things, plus also geography.

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