25 May, 2008

09 World Baseball Classic

In 2009 the World Baseball Classic promises to surpass its introductory run. The pools have changed, as have some of the venues. Pool A remains unchanged with China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Japan participating, with their games again being played in the Tokyo Dome. In 2006 Pool B was made up of the United States, Canada, Mexico and South Africa while the opening games were played in Arizona. This go around, Pool B is made up of Australia, Cuba, Mexico, and South Africa with games being played in Mexico City. Pool C originally contained Puerto Rico, Cuba, Netherlands, and Panama with games in Puerto Rico. It will now be Pool D playing in Puerto Rico. Pool C will play its games in the Rogers Centre in Toronto, with the United States, Canada, Italy, and Venezuela participating. Pool D changes from a group of the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Italy, and Australia to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Netherlands.
While the games were hugely successful in 2006, there are even higher expectations in 2009. Many critics of the 06 classic focused on the convoluted tie breaker system, but in 2009 that system will be replaced with a double elimination format through the first two rounds. This also ensures that all games matter. In addition, the second round is now set-up with crossover with teams from different pools. Allowing the winner of one pool to play the runner-up of another pool.
First round games now being played in Mexico City gives Major League Baseball another chance to look at the popularity of its product in Mexico. Speculation continues that Major League Baseball would consider moving or expanding to the Caribbean, with Mexico City, one of the world's largest cities, being on top of the list of potential suitors. While the Classic still has many issues to iron out, particularly the need to ensure that the top players will be able to participate in top form, it has become clear that the Classic is here to stay.

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