Now that the World Baseball Classic has finished its two rounds of round-robin play, we have four teams that have made it to the championship round. On Monday, the four teams will play two semifinal games:
We’ve seen Team Puerto Rico and Team Japan run through the tournament undefeated, but at least in exhibition (non-WBC) play, we know that they have some vulnerabilities. For example, the Chicago Cubs hosted Team Japan on Saturday afternoon and coasted to a victory with their B-squad, including this seemingly defender-assisted triple by Ben Zobrist:
Both Puerto Rico and the Americans had to dispatch the Dominican Republic to get to the championship round. You may remember this play:
Team USA would also witness the defensive wizardry of the Javy:
Having been thwarted by the Dominican Republic last round, Team USA would get their revenge this time around, with Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton providing the lumber:
And if you don’t think it matters to American fans, think again. That place got LOUD. And it was an absolutely exciting and pivotal blast, too. Adam Jones would later make a spectacular play of his own:
ROBO JONRON! What a play, even Manny Machado had to tip his cap to his teammate. Wow.
After Monday night’s semifinals, the championship game is on Wednesday night. While the Netherlands team is a great story and Team Japan obviously has played great all tournament long, you will excuse me if I’m rooting for USA and their tiny island territory. Even with all the quirky rules and pitching restrictions, the World Baseball Classic has been must-see TV and I hope for this to continue as the tournament comes to its conclusion.
(Featured Image by Denis Poroy, Getty Images)