The World Baseball classic got underway early Monday morning here in the eastern United States when Pool A began the competition in Seoul, South Korea. No pun intended here but right off the bat this year’s tournament became eventful.
Israel is known as the Holy Land. Israel is known perhaps as the birthplace of the worlds major faiths. Israel and baseball? oy vey!, but that is the top story in the early going of this year’s World Baseball Classic. Team Israel consists mostly of Jewish American Major Leaguers who, upon returning to Israel obtained Israeli citizenship. They visited Jerusalem earlier this year.
Ike Davis has played for multiple MLB teams. He is currently in the Dodgers organization.
Ike Davis, pictured above drew a tenth inning walk that led to the winning run in Israel’s 2-1 victory over host country South Korea. Scott Burcham drove in Mike Meyers (who ran for Davis) with the go-ahead run. Israel has never qualified for the World Baseball Classic before this year.
Late Monday night eastern time (Tuesday afternoon in Seoul) the boys from the Holy Land were at it again. There were no extra inning heroics needed in this one. Team Israel defeated Chinese Taipei by the score of 15-7. The 2-0 start for Team Israel has already placed them in the next round. They finish play in Pool A vs. the heavily favored Netherlands. The Dutch have also advanced already with a 2-0 record.
Seoul was not the only Oriental venue to begin play this week. Host country Japan has already jumped out to a 2-0 record in Tokyo where Pool B is being contested. A Japanese team loaded with American and Japanese Major League players defeated Cuba, 11-6 on Tuesday. Team Japan also defeated Australia earlier today by the score of 4-1. Team Cuba is even at 1-1 followed by Australia and China at 0-1 .
Tomorrow the World Baseball Classic opens for business in the Western Hemisphere. Miami’s Marlins Park will host perhaps the strongest pool in the competition. Team USA although always loaded with Major League stars, has yet to win a gold medal at the WBC. Teams from Canada, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic round out the star-studded field in Pool C. The Dominicans are the defending champions, having defeated Puerto Rico in the 2013 finals.
Marlins Park in Miami, host venue for Pool C.
Team Puerto Rico, the runner-ups from 2013 will highlight the field in Pool D. Mexico will host this pool in Jalisco. Venezuela and Italy round out Pool D.
The boys from the USA see their first action on Friday against Colombia.
In an already eventful tournament there will be lots of international baseball this weekend. I will be focusing the Wednesday Night Baseball blog on the World Baseball Classic until it concludes. The finals are set for March 22 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
So wave your country’s flag, don your nation’s colors and enjoy baseball’s version of the World Cup!