It’s two years late because of a pandemic, but the World Baseball Classic is coming back this month after a five-year hiatus.
The WBC announced that the first qualifying rounds for the 2023 tournament will start at Armin-Wolf-Arena in Regensburg, Germany from September 16 to September 21. Then a second qualifier will take place at the Rod Carew National Stadium in Panama City, Panama from September 30 to October 5. Twelve national teams, split evenly between the two sites, will be vying for four tickets to the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
In Regensburg, host nation Germany will face off in a double-elimination tournament against the Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, South Africa and Spain. In Panama City, the host Panamanians will take on Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand, Nicaragua and Pakistan.
In the first round in Germany, South Africa will face Spain and Great Britain will take on France. The winners of those two games will go on to play the Czech Republic and Germany, both of which received a first-round bye in the qualifiers. The losers will go to the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
Later in Panama, New Zealand will play Brazil and Argentina will be opposed by Pakistan. Panama and Nicaragua have the two byes in that qualifier.
Argentina is competing in WBC qualifying for the first time.
All 16 teams that qualified for the 2017 tournament have automatically qualified for next year’s WBC. A record twenty nations will compete in the 2023 World Baseball Classic main tournament.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation, the official world governing body for baseball and softball, considers the World Baseball Classic to be the official “World Championship” of baseball. So it should be a big deal.
I know that some of you love the WBC, some of you hate it and some of you don’t care one way or the other, but the WBC is the most important event for spreading the popularity of baseball worldwide. It means a lot to some of these emerging baseball markets to even be on the same field with the stars of the United States, the Dominican Republic, and Japan. That can lead to increased funding and support from national sporting federations, which then grows the game worldwide.