After a Six-Year Hiatus ... The World Baseball Classic is Back!

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After a Six-Year Hiatus … The World Baseball Classic is Back!

Chicago Cubs

After a six-year hiatus, the World Baseball Classic is back! The WBC announced this afternoon that the 2023 tournament, the first since 2017, when the United States defeated Puerto Rico in the championship game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, will return next spring and take place March 8-21, with games held in Taiwan, Japan, Arizona, and Florida.

The 2021 WBC was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but sports have largely returned to pre-pandemic statuses in the last year, so the fifth installment of the tournament was created as an answer to baseball being removed from the Olympics in 2005.

The 2023 version of the WBC will include a field of 20 teams for the first time (previously 16) and be played at two MLB ballparks and two international venues. The stateside venues will be loanDepot Park in Miami and Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition to the 16 teams that played in the 2017 WBC, four teams will advance from the 2022 Qualifiers, which will be held in Germany and Panama in September and October.

Here’s what the field looks like:

The United States will open the first round in Pool C and play their first-round games at Chase Field in Phoenix between March 11-18. If the United States advances to the quarterfinals, those games will be played at loanDepot Park in Miami between March 17-18. The semifinals and championship games will also be held at loadDepot Park in Miami between March 19-21.

MLB players could miss two weeks of Spring Training next season, which will surely spark some debate as to whether or not MLB players should be participating in the tournament. There’s also the fact that COVID-19 is by no stretch of the imagination a thing of the past, and we’re now talking about International travel into the United States for a large portion of the tournament. I’m sure COVID-19 protocols will be a major storyline to monitor in the months leading up to the event.

For my money, I love this tournament. I’m happy it’s back. You’ll remember that current Cubs starter Marcus Stroman (then with the Blue Jays) had a heroic performance for the United States in the last WBC championship game. Stroman took a no-hitter into the seventh and led the United States to an 8-0 victory over previously undefeated Puerto Rico to clinch its first WBC championship. Stroman allowed one hit and one walk in six innings of work.

Javy Báez, Adam Jones, Christian Yelich, and many others played big parts in that game as well (we’ve all seen the image of Báez pointing to Yadi on Team Puerto Rico). Seeing our favorite MLB players get a chance to represent their home country in this tournament is a unique viewing experience and a lot of fun.

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.