The World Baseball Classic is crucial for the growth of baseball

The World Baseball Classic is crucial for the growth of baseball

Will Hudelson, Sports Editor

Preceding the 2023 Major League Baseball Season, the World Baseball Classic took place, featuring many of the world’s best players. This tournament included many great story lines from the beginning including the Czech Republic who had many players that weren’t even professional baseball players.

This team was special because unlike other countries, they did not feature any MLB stars, let alone any big leaguers at all. In fact, most of their team had day jobs like an auditor, sales manager, geography teacher, and even an electrician. 

In order to get into the tournament in the first place, it took a dominant one run outing by Czech pitcher Martin Schneider. Many may think only a professional pitcher would shut down the hot Spanish bats like this, but no, Schneider works as a firefighter in his day-to-day life. Their success did not stop there as they narrowly missed bracket play.

They pulled off a win against China to put them in contention of making bracket play with a win against Australia in their last pool play game. The Czechs did not come out with a win and ultimately did not make the quarterfinals, but they did not hang their heads as they did something no Czech Republic team had ever done before. 

The Classic brought baseball fans many great games, especially for Team USA fans. Team USA was off to a rocky start after getting blown out by Mexico in their second pool play game. This was shocking as some of the MLBs best decided to skip out on spring training to represent their country. 

They narrowly slid into bracket play after pulling off a three to two win against Colombia. This brought them to my personal favorite game of the tournament, and maybe the best I’ve ever watched. Team USA took on powerhouse team Venezuela in the quarter finals. 

USA jumped out to a three run lead right away in front of a sold out crowd with mostly Venezuelan fans. However, Venezuela surged back and ultimately took the lead late in the game. This brought them to the top of the eighth in what felt like a now-or-never situation with Venezuela’s dominant pitcher José Alvarado warming up in the bullpen for the ninth.

Team USA quickly loaded the bases to bring up Trea Turner down by two with a chance to take the lead. With two strikes, Turner clutched up, providing the hit of the tournament to give America a two-run lead. This hit capped off the single most exciting game of baseball I have ever watched. Not only because of the clutch hitting and close games, but because of the environment and the moment.

The WBC as a whole was great for baseball despite conflict of star players risking injury to play in the games. The players themselves claim it was some of the most fun they’ve had playing baseball and it was a joy for all to watch.