The World Baseball Classic begins today for the first time in six years
The GIST: Pack up your winter gear and grab some peanuts and cracker jacks because spring is springing early with the start of the World Baseball Classic, aka the world cup of baseball, beginning in earnest today for the first time in six years after COVID-19 canceled the 2021 edition.
- Adding to the intrigue? Unlike the Olympics, MLB’s best and brightest — including a record-setting seven league MVPs — will suit up for their countries. Play ball, baby.
How it works: The newly expanded 20-team field is divided into four pools — spread out across Tokyo, Taichung, Miami and Phoenix — where they’ll compete in round-robin action. The top two teams from each pool advance to single-elimination play, culminating with the championship game on March 21st in Miami. Dale!
The top teams: The Dominican Republic and their terrifying roster of MLB talent are the favorites. From All-Star teammates Manny Machado and Juan Soto to American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, this squad is the definition of Dream Team. But we’d never bet against unicorn Shohei Ohtani, who’s already blasting home runs for two-time champs Japan.
- Don’t count out the defending champions, though. Team USA boasts more All-Stars than they can squeeze into a lineup, including certified good dude Mike Trout and Mookie “how did he do that” Betts.
- And if you love an underdog, look no further than the Czech Republic — just one player has big-league experience and all the players have day jobs. Talk about swinging for the fences.