The 2023 World Baseball Classic

Things To Do

Photo courtesy of 2017 World Baseball Classic.

This spring, a different kind of competition has taken hold of Major League Baseball. The World Baseball Classic returned Tuesday in full swing for the first time since 2017. The international baseball tournament, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, features a field of 20 teams, including newcomers like the Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Nicaragua, all battling it out for the chance to be named world champions.

If this setup feels oddly familiar, it’s because we last saw baseball as an international competition just two summers ago, in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. However, the 2020 Olympic baseball tournament and the World Baseball Classic are not cut from the same cloth. For starters, the Olympic baseball tournament was, unfortunately, an anomaly – hosted for the first time since 2008, the sport will not return in 2024. Secondly, the Olympic baseball tournament only featured a pool of six teams as opposed to the World Baseball Classic’s 20 team pool. The last and most distinguishing factor between the two tournaments is the level of play – the 2020 Summer Games took place right in the middle of the MLB regular season, preventing the best players in the world from actually playing for their countries in the competition. The World Baseball Classic, on the other hand, takes place over the course of Spring Training, allowing MLB’s best and brightest to compete against each other on the international stage.

This means that players from the same teams will be competing against each other, something that never could have happened during the typical MLB season. The teams that call the Sarasota-area home for the spring are no exception to this either – the Atlanta Braves feature eight players representing six different countries in the tournament, the Baltimore Orioles with six players from five different countries, and the Pittsburgh Pirates with a whopping 13 players from 10 different countries.

Photo courtesy of 2017 World Baseball Classic.

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