Every four years, players representing their countries meet in the World Baseball Classic. 2021 will be the fifth such event; it began in 2006, then went to a quadrennial schedule beginning in 2009.
Two MLB ballparks will be involved in the 2021 WBC, Chase Field in Phoenix and Marlins Park in Miami. Games will also be played at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan, the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taoyuan, Taiwan and the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.
The event will be held from March 9 through 23, 2021, which again means that some players will be away from spring-training camps for a couple of weeks.
In 2021, the field of teams will expand to 20 for the first time in WBC history. The 16 teams that participated in the 2017 WBC — Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Kingdom of the Netherlands, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States, and Venezuela — will be invited to return next year.
They will be joined by four teams advancing from the 2020 Qualifiers, which will be held in Tucson, Arizona from March 13-25. The 2021 WBC will feature pools of five teams in the first round for round-robin play. The top two teams in each of the four first round pools will advance to the quarterfinals, while the top two teams from each quarterfinal pool will advance to the Championship Round.
Taichung and Taoyuan will host Pool A contests at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium and Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium from March 9-13, 2021.
The Tokyo Dome, which has hosted pools in each of the previous four World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017), will again be home to first round (Pool B) and quarterfinal games in 2021. The quarterfinals on March 16-17 will feature the top two teams from Pool B along with the two teams advancing from Pool A in Taiwan.
The games for Pool C will be played from March 13-17 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
“We are thrilled to once again host World Baseball Classic games at Chase Field,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall in a statement. “Arizona continues to shine on an international stage and we look forward to providing the best experience, not only to local baseball fans, but also those from across the country and around the globe as they cheer on the most talented players in the world.”
Marlins Park, which has hosted games in each of the last two WBC tournaments, will become the first venue in event history to host games in all three rounds of a World Baseball Classic in the same year. Pool D of the first round will run from March 14-18. The North American quarterfinals, including the teams advancing from Pool C and D, will take place March 19-March 20 while the semi-finals and finals will be played from March 21-23.
“Being selected to host all three rounds, including the finals, reaffirms Miami’s place as a global destination for all the biggest events, and Marlins Park is the ideal world-class entertainment venue to play host,” said Marlins CEO Derek Jeter in a statement. “The excitement and passion on display in Marlins Park during the last World Baseball Classic showed what we already knew to be true about this market – that South Florida has an undying love for their heritage and the game of baseball. We are proud to welcome fans from across the globe to Marlins Park for this event, and we are excited to show off all the new enhancements we have made to the ballpark since the tournament was last played here.”
I’m a big fan of the WBC. It’s fun to see MLB players put aside their usual uniforms and play for the various countries they represent. The USA is the defending champion; it was the first WBC championship for the USA, and one of the games featured this fantastic catch by Adam Jones:
And you surely remember this no-look tag by Javier Baez:
I look forward to more exciting play in next year’s Classic. We’ll have coverage here of the qualifier in Tucson next month. Details of the countries and dates for the qualifier are in this article posted here last month.