World Baseball Classic Update
The 2023 World Baseball Classic started with 20 teams spread across four groups, and the quarterfinals are the focus of the baseball world. Let's look back at the events leading up to this point.
Team Japan clinched a berth in the semifinals after handling Italy earlier this morning. The Japanese will take on the winner of Puerto Rico and Mexico.
The Italians were one of the tournament's surprises after somehow finding a way out of Group A with competitors like Cuba and Chinese Taipei standing in their way. Group A was a dog fight as every team went 2-2, with Cuba advancing with Italy.
Team Cuba, who permitted pro players to compete internationally for the first time, narrowly defeated Australia 4-3 and will take on the United States and Venezuela winner.
The odds on the favorite heading into the World Baseball Classic was the Dominican Republic, and they failed to make it out of group play. The nation was stacked with superstars like Julio Rodriguez and Juan Soto and is, without a doubt the largest disappointment of the tournament.
The Americans were expected to cruise through the group stage. Still, they were throttled by Mexico 11-5 as Randy Arozarena, and Joey Meneses provided the offensive spark to vanquish a considerably weak pitching US pitching staff.
Despite more notable players joining team USA for this event, they could not convince some of Major League Baseball's top arm talent to wear the stars and stripes.
Two games remain in the quarterfinal round: USA vs. Venezuela and Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.
The American offense has been up and down through the first four games, but Mike Trout has been leading the way, as expected. The Angels' center fielder has been nicknamed "Captain America" and has a slash line of 417/588/833.
Trout is seemingly willing to bring his team to another tournament championship, but baseball being the ultimate team sport, he surely can't do it alone.
On the other side, when looking at Venezuela, it's impossible to overlook the offensive powerhouses in that lineup. Salvador Perez has five hits in the tournament, four of which have gone for extra bases.
The undefeated Venezuelans also boast the second-best team ERA with a mark of 2.00. If you compare that with the Americans' lackluster team ERA of 4.24, the offense has to come to play if the reigning champs can move on.
The other quarterfinal contest comes with a bit of drama. After Puerto Rico's victory over the Dominican Republic to advance to the next round, star closer Edwin Diaz badly injured himself while celebrating the win.
The injury questioned why athletes making tens of millions of dollars per year are putting their bodies on the line mere weeks before the season starts. If the injury is severe, Diaz would be a massive loss for the New York Mets, who are primed to make a World Series Run.
When looking at the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico matchup, Puerto Rico should have the advantage, but Mexico looked very strong in the group stage.
The teams' pitching staffs have been lights out as they're both top five in opponents' batting average and earned runs allowed. It's also an extra incentive to have a shot at playing Japan, who has looked like the most well-rounded team in the WBC.
Only five games remain in the World Baseball Classic, and Japan seems in a prime position to capture its third championship. They look unstoppable, especially with Shohei Ohtani leading the charge.
John Colavita is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
JC Colavita is a second-year broadcast journalism student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. He is involved in CommRadio and hopes to hone his broadcasting skills calling Big Ten sports and enhancing his knowledge of sports and entertainment through his production of talk shows and podcasts. He has worked in college summer baseball as he worked for the 2021 Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League Champion Trenton Generals as the lead play-by-play man for their Youtube stream. At Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, New Jersey, JC was a TV video and production class member where he wrote, filmed, edited and produced weekly segments, focusing on both professional and high school. As a driven and passionate broadcast journalism student who dreams of one day calling sports on the biggest stage, he intends to utilize his talents in front of and behind the camera to reach his goals. In the future, he hopes to be immortalized as the voice behind one of the most impactful moments in sports history.