A new and exciting addition to the game of baseball was announced at the Winter Meetings lat week, the World Baseball Classic. This is an unprecedented event for baseball, as more than 170 of the best players in the world will compete for their home countries in a tournament. This is a tremendous idea by the Commissioner and the Player?s Association.
The World Baseball Classic is intended to show how much the game has grown internationally, as well as providing a platform to promote the game at its finest. For the first time in the history of international play, the best players in the world will compete. When I managed Team USA in the 2000 Olympics, we sent minor league players. In the WBC, you will see players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Derek Jeter represent the United States against Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada and Albert Pujols representing the Dominican against players like Ichiro and Tadahito Iguchi representing Japan. The talent will be at its highest, and, consequently, so will the competition.
Tickets are already being sold, and I am telling you to log on today to buy yours. Before you know it, the games will be sold-out, and then you?ll kick yourself for not listening to me. You can visit www.worldbaseballclassic.com to buy tickets, or to just get some general information about the tournament.
This tournament presents the game in an exciting new format that combines the love of baseball and the love of country. The first World Baseball Classic will bring a unique blend of enthusiasm and passion from baseball fans around the world.
Commissioner Selig has named me the Official Ambassador of the WBC, a position in which I am proud and honored to serve. I hope I can help this to be a huge success. More importantly, I hope I can convey my excitement for this tournament to the millions of baseball fans around the world. Baseball is truly an international sport, as about 30% of Major League players are foreign-born. There are currently 122 National Baseball Federations around the world, compared to just 60 in 1992.
I have worked hard to spread the words Dodgers, and baseball, to many nations. I have either played or managed in 13 of the 16 countries that will compete in the WBC. It is a real joy to see the progress that many countries are making in baseball. The late, great Walter O?Malley had a vision, which he passed on to his son, Peter O?Malley. The vision was to see a true world series, with the best team from Major League Baseball playing the best teams from around the world. We worked tirelessly to realize the vision. The WBC is the closest thing to a true world series, and I am very excited to watch the drama unfold this March.
The format of the tournament is four rounds, with four pools of teams. Pool A has China, Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei, and will play the first round in Tokyo, Japan. Pool B has Canada, Mexico, the United States and South Africa, and will play the first round in Phoenix, Arizona. Pool C has Cuba, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico, and will play the first round San Juan, Puerto Rico. Pool D has Australia, the Dominican Republic, Italy and Venezuela, and will play the first round in Orlando, Florida. The semi-finals and finals will be played at Petco Park in San Diego on March 18 and 20, respectively.
From now until the end of the tournament I will be keeping you updated with the progress of the games and the additions to each team?s roster. Stay tuned, and I hope you enjoy the World Baseball Classic as much as I do.