The WBC final three

It’s Monday morning in Miami and we’re down to three teams after the United States cleaned Cuba’s clock in Sunday’s first semifinal. Japan will square off against Mexico in the second semifinal and it’s going to be a clash of relative unknowns.

In 2017, a Samurai Japan team without a single MLB player was one of two teams, along with Puerto Rico to enter the semis with a perfect 6-0 record, both finished with one loss, with both losses coming at the hands of the U.S., Japan 2-1 in the semis and Puerto Rico 8-0 in the final.

The records don’t really mean much because we’re talking about a handful of games against uneven competition. And because I spend my life thinking about Japanese baseball, I have a sense of Japan’s quality, but how that will play against Mexico or the United States in a single elimination game is anyone’s guess.

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MLB brand works against WBC popularity

The excitement the World Baseball Classic generates is felt throughout the baseball-loving world. In the United States, the wave of interest is mitigated by a breakwater, an obstacle MLB has nurtured through its branding of the American and National leagues as THE major leagues.

One Twitter wit, summed up the American fans who express vitriol toward the WBC as “People upset that a hard-fought meaningful worldwide championship interferes with practice for a domestic tournament that calls its North American winner the world champion.”

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writing & research on Japanese baseball