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The World Baseball Classic

By Kevin Cain

Every four years baseball players from around the world gather together to compete against the world’s Best but unlike the “World Series”, this truly is a global sports event. With the supposedly waning interest in the USA for their national sport The World Baseball Classic is still keenly anticipated. It starts off in Marlins Park, Miami on the 6th March 2017 when the great stadium will host first round action with competing players from some of the world’s top teams.

The venues and pools for all of the qualifying rounds has now been finally released. The winners of each qualifier will advance to the 2017 final. And as you can see by the venues chosen, this exciting sporting event is truly a World event: .

They are::- Blacktown Sportspark in Sydney, Estadio B Air in Mexicali, Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City and MCU in New York.

  • Qualifier 1 - (February 11-14 in Sydney) Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa.

  • Qualifier 2 - (March 17 - 20 in Mexicali) Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany and Nicaragua.

  • Qualifier 3 - (March 17 0 20 in Panama City) Colombia, France, Panama and Spain.

  • Qualifier 4 - (September 22 - 25 in New York) Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan.

The winners from these qualifying games will advance to the actual World Baseball Classic tournament. The four teams joining the other 12 seeded countries:- Canada, China, Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Holland, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela. The qualifiers will feature a six-game, modified double-elimination format. The composition of the pools has been determined after the venues were finalised, with consideration also given to the competitive balance of the group, existing rivalries and geographic location.

The inaugural World Baseball Classic was held in 2006, and ever since has been growing in popularity. Baseball may be losing fans in the USA but interest seems to be growing elsewhere. In fact the defending champions are the Dominican Republic who will be keen to regain their crown against a fiercely competitive opposition. As it stands the WBSC rankings rate Japan as the number one seed, with the USA second and South Korea third. Israel are the rank outsiders and compete for the first time in the competition alongside Colombia who are also making their debut. The first round hosts will be, Tokyo, Seoul, Miami and Guadalajara and the games will take place between March 6th 2017 and March 12th 2017. The championship will be played at the 56,000 capacity Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The World Baseball Classic is broadcasted by 6 worldwide networks and is starting to attract a global audience. Even though baseball has far more competition these days in terms of a watching audience, the Classic is helping bring fans back to the sport. It has always been passionately loved by Americans since its formative years in the 1860’s and grew into the National Sport although some Football fans might disagree, but you cannot argue with its pedigree. The first Baseball League was founded nearly half a century before any Football League was established, a fact that cannot be disputed.

The love of this sport can be seen in another favourite American passion, The Silver Screen. Baseball has starred in many feature films and almost 50 full length movies have been made about the sport and the stars that have played it.Way back in the 1940’s baseball films helped millions through the post-war years to bring a feel good factor back to the average American Joe. The Pride Of The Yankees, The Stratton Story, The Babe Ruth Story and It Happens Every Spring brought audiences in their thousands flocking to the cinema.

As the sport flourished so the demand increased and the 50’s featured films such as the Jackie Robinson Story with the great man himself playing the lead role, The Damn Yankees, Fear Strikes Out, the Pride Of St Louis and Angels In The Outfield all had the big stars of the day playing the lead roles. Anthony Perkins, Karl Malden, Gwen Verdon, Tab Hunter and Dan Dailey. In fact the theme of baseball as a film genre continued with Trouble With The Curve, Million Dollar Arm, The Rookie, Moneyball and Fever Pitch which were all major successes on the big screen.

A host of stars featured have featured in Baseball films: Kevin Costner, Robert Redford, John Goodman, Brad Pitt, Dennis Quaid, Clint Eastwood, Jon Hamm and Robert de Niro. In fact

Kevin Costner actually featured in three Baseball films:Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and For The Love Of The Game. Many of these films have a “Feel Good factor” with rags to riches stories and rookies to stars.I cannot think of any other sport in the world that has attracted the film industry in quite the way baseball has. Perhaps it is because there is something about the complex nature of the game and the love it holds with its fans, that proves a perfect platform for a decent plot and a credible story line. Maybe The World Baseball Classic will inspire another blockbuster in the years ahead. It has all the relevant components with a twist in the tale that could certainly endear it to a global audience.

If you build it and they will come”