Good morning, everyone! Today is the first day of the World Baseball Classic. The tournament may not be all that popular in the United States, but I’m fascinated by the different styles of play. We think of baseball as being just an American game, with a few outposts here and there, so it can be jarring to see it played, and played differently, in other parts of the world. I love each interpretation of baseball and I will be providing updates on the WBC, which gives me a great excuse to shirk all my other responsibilities and just watch baseball for a few weeks. Poor me.
Today pool play begins in the WBC. Four teams are in each pool and each pool will play a six game round robin, with a seventh game tie breaker if necessary. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the next round.
Pool A Game 1: Israel 2, Korea 1, 10 innings
Newcomer Team Israel gets the first win in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Israel also scored the first run of the tournament on Tyler Krieger’s bases loaded walk. Korea answered with a Geonchang Seo base hit in the bottom of the 6th. The score remained tied until Scott Burcham drove in the winning run with an infield single.
Dae-ho Lee went 0-5, but was robbed of a hit when Sam Fuld made a spectacular diving catch in center.
All times are PST, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.tv.
Pool A Game 2: Israel vs. Chinese Taipei 7:00 PM
Pool A: In order of ranking, Chinese Taipei, Israel, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Korea. Games take place in Seoul, Korea at the Gocheok Sky Dome March 6-10th.
Israel: Making their WBC debut this year, the team is considered to be an underdog. Jason Marquis, a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, is the biggest name. Former Major Leaguers Craig Breslow (in the Designated Pitcher Pool), Ike Davis, and Sam Fuld round out the roster, made up largely of Jewish Americans.
Korea: Our favorite, Dae-ho Lee, is on the team. The only current Major Leaguer is Seung-hwan Oh. The rest of the roster is full of professional Korean Baseball Organization players, including Hyung-woo Choi, the reigning KBO batting and RBI champion. I’m hoping to see some great bat flips.
Chinese Taipei: This is a young team that includes prospects Shao-Ching Chiang, Ping-Hsueh Chen (DPP), Che-Hsuan Lin, and Chin-Lung Hu. Former Mariners prospect Chih-Hsien Chiang (part of the Erik Bedard trade) is also on the roster. Major League veteran Chien-Ming Wang is in the designated pitcher pool for the second round. Current Major Leaguer Wei-Yin Chen of the Marlins is not participating.
Mariners in the WBC
No Mariners are in action today, but look for them later this week:
Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura (Dominican Republic): March 9th vs. Canada
Tyler O’Neill (Canada): March 9th vs. Dominican Republic
Yovani Gallardo, Sebastian Valle (Mexico): March 9th vs. Italy
Sam Gaviglio, Pat Venditte (Italy): March 9th vs. Mexico
Drew Smyly (United States, eligible in the second round): March 10th vs. Columbia
Edwin Diaz, Emilio Pagan (Puerto Rico): March 10th vs. Venezuela
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela): March 10th vs. Puerto Rico
On Deck for Tomorrow:
Pool A Game 3: Korea vs. Netherlands 1:30 AM
Pool B Game 1: Cuba vs. Japan 2:00 AM
Pool B Game 2: China vs. Cuba 7:00 PM