Hey, remember the World Baseball Classic? If you don’t, I can’t blame you – the last one was in 2017, with the pandemic forcing the postponement of the event until 2023.

On Thursday, the WBC announced that the event would indeed be going forward next spring. 20 teams will be in the tournament proper – the 16 teams who competed in 2017 along with four teams that advance from a ten-team qualifying tournament later this year.

The first qualifying tournament takes place in Germany from September 15th-21st, and features Germany, Czechia, Spain, France, Great Britain, and South Africa. The second qualifying tournament takes place in Panama from September 30th-October 5th, and features Panama, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, and New Zealand. The top two teams from each tournament will advance into the main tournament, which begins on March 8th.

The tournament itself will allow for plenty of overnight baseball too. The first pool, taking place from March 8th-13th, features Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, Cuba, Italy, and a qualifier, and will be played in Taiwan. The second pool, taking place from March 9th-13th, will be played in Tokyo and features Japan, Korea, Australia, China, and a qualifier. The quarterfinals for those two pools will be played in Tokyo on March 15th and 16th.

The other two pools will be played stateside, with both being played from March 11th-15th. The third pool in Phoenix features the United States (the defending champion from 2017), Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and a qualifier, while the fourth pool in Miami features Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Israel, the Dominican Republic, and a qualifier. The quarterfinals for those two pools take place in Miami on March 17th and 18th.

As for the semifinals and finals, they’ll go down in Miami from March 19th through March 21st.

Of note: the NCAA Tournament begins with the First Four on March 14th. I can’t see that having any impact on viewership for the WBC, no sir!

A media partner has yet to be announced, but ESPN (the first two tournaments) and MLB Network (the last two tournaments) have aired the event domestically in the past. Most of MLB’s TV partners seem like logical fits: ESPN has several channels to air the games along with ESPN+ when there’s too much of a conflict, Fox is lusting after any cheap live springtime content it can get, NBC would probably like to air more live games past its one game a week Peacock package, and Apple’s dalliance with live sports is only getting more serious. Even keeping it in-house with MLB Network would make sense, given the network’s reliance on Spring Training games in March. Turner probably wouldn’t be a potential host beasue of the aforementioned NCAA Tournament. The WBC wouldn’t be a game changer for any of them, but hey, it would at least be something.


The last WBC five years ago was pretty cool, actually. After underperforming time and time again, the US finally got it done, advancing to the semifinals by defeating the Dominican Republic in an elimination game a week after blowing a 5-0 lead to the same team in pool play. They then edged two-time champion Japan in the semis before bludgeoning the previously unbeaten Puerto Rico (who beat the US a week earlier) to claim the crown.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming months, networks looked at that US run and thought about what kind of viewership it could draw this time around. Back in 2017, the championship game drew 2.29 million viewers on MLB Network, despite a start time of after 9 PM on the east coast. Imagine what it could have done in primetime on network TV (and with out of home viewing included, which it wasn’t in 2017). Hindsight is 20/20, but I’d imagine the possibility of a run like that again could inspire more interest than you might expect from the usual parties.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.