The new tradition known as the World Baseball Classic returns next spring. As reported earlier in the summer, San Francisco was chosen as the site for the finals, to be held March 17-19. The schedule is out now, if you want to plan for the event.
- Pool play: March 2-6 in Japan and Taiwan, March 7-10 in Puerto Rico and Phoenix, AZ.
- Second round (Double elimination): Pool 1 (Japan) – March 8-12, Pool 2 (Miami, FL) – March 12-16
- Semifinals: March 17-18
- Finals: Tuesday, March 19
Tickets are not yet for sale for the championship rounds. I’ll post anew when tickets are made available. All games will be broadcast on MLB Network. Some qualifying pool games have already been played, with two additional pools to commence mid-November.
During the last two WBCs, much attention was paid to ensuring that pitchers don’t get overworked, since spring training is meant to ramp their workload gradually. There are even rules to give pitchers an appropriate amount of rest between appearances. Rosters for the major contending teams aren’t expected to be set until winter. While the Giants appear to have numerous players who could appear on numerous rosters, it’s unclear what A’s might play in the WBC due to their relative lower profile. Yoenis Cespedes, who played in 2006 and 2009, can no longer play for Cuba due to his defector status.
Pitching concerns aside, the great thing about the World Baseball Classic is that it forces spring training to start a week earlier than usual. 2012’s spring training schedule started on March 3. In 2013 gameplay should start on February 23, with pitchers and catchers likely to report around Valentine’s Day as they did in 2009. The A’s first game is on 2/23 against the Brewers, only 117 days away from today’s date.
The inclusion of WBC games into spring training allows for a greater variety and schedule of games to watch in March, whether you’re in Arizona or Florida. Chase Field will hold First Round pool play March 7-10, while Marlins Park will stage Second Round games March 12-16. 2009’s semifinals games brought in 43,000 fans each while the final had over 54,000 announced attendance. The final rounds at AT&T Park should sell out as teams emerge from the elimination round. If 2009 is any indicator prices may be steep. Fans back then were encouraged to buy strips, just as they would for postseason games. That and the uncertainty regarding which teams would play slowed sales a bit, as pool play in Miami and San Diego last year frequently attracted fewer than 20,000 fans per game. Tickets for the 2013 WBC are expected to go on sale on December 3.