Why generate so many repeat matches, such as Japan-Korea in rounds one, two, and three?
Why not mix it up?
In other words, why reject #219?
Why generate so many repeat matches, such as Japan-Korea in rounds one, two, and three?
Why not mix it up?
In other words, why reject #219?
Given that England is having trouble finding funding for the European Championship and couldn't fund a trip to the 2008 Olympic qualifiers, I don't see how countries like that will compete in a major event unless they are subsidized. Heck, even Germany had to let their general manager go due to funding cuts when baseball was eliminated from the Olympics.
Who paid the cost of participation in 2007 and in 2010?
Who may be expected to subsidize the 2013 tournament?
For example, here is half of Phil Lowry's round 3:
> TOKYO, JAPAN GROUP I: two qualifiers from Seoul Group 1, two qualifiers from Havana Group 2
That is two of
: 3 Japan, 4 Korea, 5 Taiwan, 15 China, 18 Thailand, 19 Philippines
and two of
: 1 Cuba, 10 Puerto Rico, 13 Dominican, 14 Nicaragua, 16 Panama, 24 Netherlands Antilles
Sending a baseball team to Tokyo for several days will be expensive for the latter six-pack and maybe for some of the former (although we may expect Japan and Korea to be the two).
It looks like MLB and the other sponsors of the World Baseball Classic are heading in the direction of expanding the number of participating nations from 16 to at least 24, and perhaps more. If they expanded to 24 or 32 nations, how would they do so ? One way may be to use IBAF rankings of nations, which I will cite here.
If the purpose is to include as much of the world as possible, as does the World Cup in soccer, then MLB would have to abandon the double-elimination format, and go with a single-elimination format. In this way, you could include the top 64 teams out of the 75 nations ranked by the IBAF, or even all 75, and still stay within the parameters of a two-and-a-half week span of time during Spring Training in March.
This method would maximize the NCAA College Basketball "March Madness" type of excitement created by a WIN OR GO HOME format. The David vs. Goliath theme is exciting. Even though it creates a lot of boring lopsided 18-2 results, amazing upsets are definitely great theatre, like the Netherlands defeating the Dominican TWICE in the 2009 WBC.
The problem with including the top 64 teams, or all 75 national teams, is that the level of play drops dramatically once you go beyond the top 24 or top 36, and the costs of helping lower-ranked under-funded national teams with transportation costs would be high.
So let's say that the decision has been made to go with 24 teams in 2013. The next thing would be to separate the eight nations who made it into the 2009 Second Round from the eight nations who did not, giving those who qualified for the 2009 Second Round a bye in the 2013 First Round:
THOSE GETTING A BYE:
1 Cuba, 2 USA, 3 Japan, 4 Korea, 6 Netherlands, 8 Mexico, 9 Venezuela, 10 Puerto Rico
This should illustrate some of the problems with IBAF rankings. Japan has won both of the two WBC's played to date, but they are only # 3 instead of # 1? The Netherlands is ranked # 6, ahead of Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican, and Nicaragua, all of whom would be considered heavy favorites in any match-up with the Netherlands?
In any case, the eight remaining teams would be matched in the 2013 First Round, or Qualifying Round, with the next eight highest ranked teams:
THOSE WHO DID NOT QUALIFY FOR THE SECOND ROUND IN 2009:
5 Taiwan, 7 Canada, 11 Australia, 12 Italy, 13 Dominican, 15 China, 16 Panama, 23 South Africa
This also illustrates some of the problems with the rankings. The Dominican ranks low because its national amateur team is under-funded, and often does not participate in international competition, while their WBC team with MLB professionals has been one of the top favorites in both WBC's played so far. Both China and South Africa are automatically included due to geo-political reasoning. Nicaragua is better than its ranking of # 14 would indicate.
THOSE EXCLUDED IN 2006 AND 2009 WHO ARE HIGHEST RANKED AND WOULD BE ADDED IN 2013:
14 Nicaragua, 17 Spain, 18 Thailand, 19 Philippines, 20 Germany, 21 England, 22 Czech, 24 Netherlands Antilles
This illustrates another problem. The Netherlands has fielded a team in both previous WBC's which included players from the Netherlands Antilles - Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Would the Netherlands be willing to see its team's chances of success severely reduced in order to allow a team from the Netherlands Antilles to also participate ? If not, then 25 Croatia would fill in for 24 Netherlands Antilles. If somehow we were to add all the teams through # 32, we would have 25 Croatia, 26 Indonesia, 27 Russia, 28 France, 29 Sweden, 30 Hong Kong, 31 Pakistan, 32 Palau.
So, assuming we expand from 16 to 24 nations, and retain the double-elimination format, now we have to put together four pools for the 16 teams in the First Round, or Qualifying Round. How might this be done ? Well, we could try geographic pooling:
BEIJING, CHINA POOL A: 5 Taiwan, 15 China, 18 Thailand, 19 Philippines
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN POOL B: 13 Dominican, 14 Nicaragua, 16 Panama, 24 Netherlands Antilles
CAPETOWN, SOUTH AFRICA POOL C: 7 Canada, 11 Australia, 21 England, 23 South Africa
ROME, ITALY POOL D: 12 Italy, 17 Spain, 20 Germany, 22 Czech
After the 2013 First Round, we would now have 16 teams remaining to enter the Second Round. Some possible geographic pooling:
SEOUL, KOREA GROUP 1: 3 Japan, 4 Korea, two qualifiers from Beijing Pool A
HAVANA, CUBA GROUP 2: 1 Cuba, 10 Puerto Rico, two qualifiers from Santo Domingo Pool B
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS GROUP 3: 2 USA, 6 Netherlands, two qualifiers from Capetown Pool C
CARACAS, VENEZUELA GROUP 4: 8 Mexico, 9 Venezuela, two qualifiers from Rome Pool D
No WBC games have yet been played in Korea, Cuba, Europe, or Venezuela. At some point, these areas must be considered to host WBC games.
Purely geographic pooling in the Second Round is not possible, because of the 24 teams in the competition, we have more teams from the Caribbean than from other areas:
Caribbean 8 teams
Europe 6 teams
Asia 6 teams
North America 2 teams
Oceania one team
Africa one team
Having come this far, pooling for the remaining 8 teams might look like this:
TOKYO, JAPAN GROUP I: two qualifiers from Seoul Group 1, two qualifiers from Havana Group 2
HOUSTON, USA GROUP II: two qualifiers from Amsterdam Group 3, two qualifiers from Caracas Group 4
And then we would have the Semi-Finals and the Championship Game:
NEW YORK CITY, USA: two qualifiers from Tokyo Group I, two qualifiers from San Diego Group II
Yes, put the semi-finals and the finals in Yankee Stadium, in the cold frozen North in late March. College teams have been playing baseball for many decades in the cold frozen North in March, as well as in February, and fans and players do just fine. It is no worse in late March than the weather in late October in which we play the World Series. Have you ever heard of any fans refusing to attend an NFL home game in December because it was too cold ? No.
The Semi-Finals and the Title Game should go to baseball's most famous and most sacred locale, Yankee Stadium, in the Big Apple. Yes, I know, it is a new stadium, but it retains the aura of its predecessor, and it actually looks more like the original 1923 Yankee Stadium than the post-1974-75 renovated Stadium. The weather in New York City in late March is just fine.
But who else may have a legitimate claim to hosting the Semi-Finals and the Title Game? Perhaps Tokyo, Japan, since Japan has won both previous Classics, and since Japanese Baseball and the TokyoDome are co-sponsors of the WBC along with MLB. Just some food for thought.
They had to get special permission to let them even play. There is no way, unless all the Castro's are dead and there is a democracy in place in 2013, that games will be held in Cuba.
And I think you'll have a hard time getting the finals out of LA after last year. It's got enough of each ethnicity to support whatever countries show up, and the chances for bad weather are much slimmer.
If Incheon completes their new domed baseball stadium early for the 2014 Asian Games, meaning in time for the Classic, then that sounds like a perfect test run for the place, except it's hard to take it out of Tokyo since they are 2 time defending champs.
I can't imagine any scenario in which the 2013 WBC finals are played in Japan. Attendance in Japan for non-Japan games was awful in 2009, plus the travel would be a hurdle. It might be unfair for Japan, but it's better for one team (Japan) to cross the Pacific than to force three others (U.S., D.R., VZ, etc.) to do so, especially when so many MLB players are involved.
That aside, like it or not, the WBC is a joint MLB-MLBPA event. The finals belong in the Americas, where they'll get the maximum amount of attention.
Several points concerning Agente Libre's comment that the Semi-Finals and Final Game must always be in the USA. The WBC is a joint event sponsored by more than just MLB and the MLBPA. The Japanese and Korean professional baseball leagues are also sponsors of the event.
Secondly, Korea and Japan have constitued half of the Semi-Finals in both 2006 and 2009. So for two non-Asian teams to fly to either Japan or Korea for the Semi-Finals and Final Game would be no more difficult than for two-Asian teams to fly to somewhere in the USA for the Semi-Finals and Final Game. At some point, MLB must acknowledge that this is the World Baseball Classic, which implies that the locations of the games must be fairly apportioned, and that the Semi-Finals and Final Game should not automatically go to the USA.
Lastly, as for Japanese attendance being poor, that might have been true for 2006, but it definitely was not true for 2009. Japanese attendance per game improved 68 % in 2009 vs. 2006, whereas USA attendance per game improved only 4 % in 2009 vs.2006. And in 2009, Japanese attendance per game exceeded USA attendance per game by 22 %, 28,352 per game in Japan vs. 23,202 per game in the USA. So the statement that attendance in Japan in 2009 was "awful" is just not true.
WBC AVERAGE ATTENDANCE BY NATION PER GAME
USA - 22,358
Japan - 16,827
Puerto Rico - 13,886
TOTAL - 18,900
Japan - 28,352 (up 68 %)
USA - 23,202 (up 4 %)
Canada - 17,317
Mexico - 15,444
Puerto Rico - 14,450 (up 4 %)
TOTAL - 20,549 (up 9 %)
Japan attendance increased by 68 %, while USA and Puerto Rico attendance each increased by only 4 %. If WBC organizers want to reward the country which increased its attendance the most by far from 2006 to 2009, and also won the first two championships, it would make sense to put more games in Japan in 2013.
There will be a domed baseball stadium in Incheon, Korea available in 2013 with capacity of 70,000. Havana's Estadio Latinoamericano, which hosted the Cuba vs. Baltimore Orioles game, holds 55,000. Attendance in San Diego, Miami, Toronto, and Mexico City was poor in 2009. New locations like Havana, Santo Domingo, Caracas, and Incheon should be considered for 2013.
Those a typically thoughtful (and long) posts from Phil Lowry. But Unit's right: No way Cuba gets any round. And that's because of politics.
I've long thought that there should be a first round bye for the 2009 quarterfinalists. But I've had a change of heart. I'm thinking the best way to go is to have six pools in the opening round, anchored by the top six teams in the 2009 WBC. They can play in either a round robin or double elimination. The top two finalists of each pool then go on to a 12-team round robin divided into two pools. The top two from these meet in the semis and then the finals.
Spreading it out to six pools in the first round allows for more host countries--which, given the amount of countries that have demanded to host games in 2013--should take some pressure off the organizers. And the quality of play in a six-pool first round will be very high, because the pools will host two or even three top-notch teams. So more would be at stake in that opening round. And the second round would have four more teams than in 2006 and 2009--meaning the tournament will keep the attention of more countries going into the middle of March.
A. Seoul: Korea, Taiwan, China, Philippines
B. Tokyo: Japan, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria
C. Toronto: USA, Canada, Italy, Germany
D. Caracas: Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua
E. Santo Domingo: Dom. Rep., Netherlands, Panama, Brazil
F. San Juan: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, Czech Rep.
(Obviously some of these can be switched around.) Then we move them on to the 12-team second round, where the top-two finishers of Pools A through C square off and, separately, the two-two from Pools D through E. They should play in Miami and Southern California or Phoenix. The round robin could look like this:
Pool 1: Japan, Korea, USA, Taiwan, Austalia, Canada.
Pool 2: Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dom. Rep., Cuba, Mexico, Netherlands.
To be sure, two six-team pools would mean more games--30 in all, which is a lot more than the 12-game second round in 2006 and 2009--but it could be done in a week with double headers scheduled in each location each day. And that means there'll be nearly no days off for the teams--which definitely was a momentum killer in 2009.
The finals should be in LA or Miami.
Phil -- I might be wrong, but I believe the attendance in Japan, for games in which Japan did *not* play, was quite bad in 2009. I distinctly recall hearing this last year, and perhaps seeing it in terms of empty seats.
While I appreciate your desire for non-U.S. sites to host WBC games, your choices of new venues are quite optimistic -- and more than a little naive. Havana is located in communist Cuba, which is embargoed by the U.S. government and whose people couldn't afford tickets priced above 50 cents or $1. Santo Domingo is located in the dirt-poor D.R., where even the occasional MLB exhibition game struggles to garner good attendance numbers. Caracas not only is located in essentially socialist Venezuela, but is the most violent city in the Western Hemisphere.
The WBC won't be much of an event if it doesn't make money and/or can't get players to participate because they don't want to spend several weeks in places like Caracas or Havana.
The games that did not include Venezuela in the Carib World Series did not sell out either. Actually, Margarita Island stadium looked good. I thought San Juan did a good job and deserves another round and I think Mexico City was better than I expected. Some mentioned the ticket prices were too high in Mexico though.
Richard -- Ticket prices in Mexico City last year were outrageous. Prices were well out of range of the average Mexican baseball fan. The event was priced like it was for high society.
NattyBaller -- You're right about the D.R. threatening to boycott, but everyone knew it was hollow talk. I wouldn't be surprised if Santo Domingo gets some WBC games in 2013, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it turns into a disaster, with ticket prices through the roof and out of reach for the average D.R. resident/baseball fan.
Concerning attendance in Tokyo for non-Japan games pointed out by Agente Libre, it is correct that such attendance was much lower than for games involving Japan as one of the teams. But attendance for non-Japan games in Tokyo in 2009 did make a huge improvement over such games in 2006.
In 2006, non-Japan games drew 5193, 3925, and 4577; or average of 4565. Three years later, in 2009, non-Japan games drew 12,704; 12,890; and 12,571; an average of 12,622, an improvement of 176 %.
The economic factors you point out may rule out certain locations. Ideally we would hope that the WBC would believe that increasing the global growth of the game is a higher priority than making money, but we live in the real world rather than the ideal world, so economics will be a part of the decision-making process. But clearly if the Baltimore Orioles played a game in Havana with 55,000 fans in attendance, a WBC pool conceivably could be played in Havana.
One issue that has not been addressed is the frequently repeated rumor that the eight (8) additional teams in the 2013 WBC will be picked geographically, usually stated as three (3) from the Americas, three (3) from Europe, one from Asia, and one from Africa. Based on current IBAF rankings, such a geographical decision-making process would be drastically unfair to teams higher ranked that would not be picked.
GEOGRAPHICAL DECISION-MAKING PROCESS - # 33 Colombia and # 36 Nigeria clearly do not belong in the Top 24
THREE FROM THE AMERICAS - # 14 Nicaragua; # 24 Netherlands Antilles; # 33 Colombia
THREE FROM EUROPE - # 17 Spain; # 20 Germany; # 21 Britain
ONE FROM ASIA - # 18 Thailand
ONE FROM AFRICA - # 36 Nigeria
IBAF RANKINGS DECISION-MAKING PROCESS - # 19 Philippines and # 22 Czech clearly belong in the Top 24 more than do # 33 Colombia and # 36 Nigeria
TWO FROM THE AMERICAS - # 14 Nicaragua; # 24 Netherlands Antilles
FOUR FROM EUROPE - # 17 Spain; # 20 Germany; # 21 Britain; # 22 Czech
TWO FROM ASIA - # 18 Thailand; # 19 Philippines
ZERO FROM AFRICA
What about Brazil?
some news about Great Britain team and their financial problems and plans to be part of the WBC 2013 http://www.baseballgb.co.uk/?p=6785
The only thing you know is you never know and that you know for sure!
Phil -- The Orioles game in Cuba was a one-off exhibition that only cost the Orioles some expense money. But for the WBC to play an entire pool/round there would require the WBC to surrender millions of dollars in lost ticket and merchandising money with *no upside* for MLB or the WBC. Why would the WBC want to hold an event in Cuba when the official policy of Cuba is that Cuban players who leave for MLB are "traitors"?
The reason for the WBC to potentially allow Cuba to host a pool is that Cuba has proven over a period of many years to be one of the very best baseball teams in the world. That should be more important than whether the fans pay $50 per seat or #1 per seat. But I acknowledge that economics are part of the reasoning when pool hosting decisions are made by the WBC.
I have a question for those reading these WBC postings. How much faith do you have in the IBAF rankings ? How accurate are they ?
Several points are relevant. Having read the details of how the rankings are compiled, it seems to be a good system. But there are inevitable inaccuracies.
For example, when a nation cannot afford to attend a tournament, they are penalized.
Secondly, for those teams which have significant numbers of MLB players, their results in the WBC with MLB players will be drastically different than their results in non-WBC tournaments without MLB players. A good example is the Dominican. Even though the Netherlands defeated them twice in the 2009 WBC, they were a Semi-Finalist in 2006, were one of the favorites in 2009, and will be considered one of the favorites in 2013 even though they will not get a bye since they did not finish in the top eight in 2009. Without their MLB players, the Dominican team's results in non-WBC tournaments is poor, if they show up at all. With their MLB players, the Dominican will probably always be favored to make at least the WBC Semi-Finals.
Lastly, over a three or four year period, IBAF rankings can be manipulated by MLB. For example, if MLB invests millions of dollars in a baseball academy and coaches for China, China will rise in the IBAF rankings, as they already have. If MLB were to invest a similar amount of money in for example Ghana or the Philippines, it could reasonably be expected that their IBAF rankings would similarly improve. MLB will probably invest money in those places it senses have the biggest potential for future MLB players and MLB advertising and television revenue.
Phil -- The IBAF rankings are probably fairly accurate in terms of the teams listed in the top 10 or top 15 -- I don't mean the ordering; just the group of teams included -- but the rankings past about the #10 or #15 spot are mostly based on teams showing up for events rather than a true ranking of the countries' baseball prowess. It seems silly, for example, for Great Britain, Spain, and Thailand to be ranked higher than Colombia, which has several MLB and MiLB players to the country's credit (unlike the other three).
Regarding Colombia being better than Britain, Spain, and Thailand. Maybe somehow the IBAF rankings should include the number of current MLB players as a factor to be weighted in the overall rankings ? This would however be very unfair to Japan and Korea, who are great teams but have few MLB players due to their own leagues being so good and due to restrictions on moving from their leagues to MLB.
Regarding Rally Monkey's suggestion for six-team pools, that sure would keep the teams busier. There were two things wrong in the 2009 WBC: First, the teams were off more days than they played. A team played 8 games in three weeks. Baseball is a game played daily, so pitching depth is part of what a champion should have. And the tournament should reward pitching depth by scheduling the teams to play almost every day. Total attendance might increase, but in six-team pools with daily doubleheaders, the average attendance would probably decrease.
Second, the seeding games, the 6th game in the pool between the 2-0 team and the 2-1 team, were regarded by fans, players, and managers as pointless.
I have one question though for Rally Monkey. Why did you include Nigeria, Brazil, and Colombia for 2013, all of which have lower IBAF rankings than Britain, Thailand, and Netherlands Antilles ? Is this a case where you think the IBAF rankings beyond the first ten or fifteen teams is inaccurate because teams are penalized severely for not entering tournaments ?
I attempted to figure out what would be the most "fair" way to match the 2009 WBC Elite Eight, those teams who qualified for the Second Round in 2009, for the 2013 WBC Second Round pools that will come after the Qualifying Round.
If you take it as a given that Japan and Korea are geographically going to be together in the Asian pool, it turns out that seeding the teams according to Cumulative 2006-2009 WBC rankings gives you the exact same results as matching the teams which were together in the 2009 WBC First Round.
Japan and Korea are #1 and #2 in the cumulative rankings, and they are together geographically. Then seeding would put #3 Puerto Rico with #10 Holland; #4 Cuba with #8 Mexico; and #5 Venezuela with #7 USA. And that fits exactly with where they were in the 2009 WBC: Puerto Rico and Holland in San Juan; Cuba and Mexico in Mexico City; and Venezuela and the USA in Toronto. The Dominican at #6, and Canada at #9, have better cumulative records than #10 Holland, but they did not qualify for the Second Round in 2009 as did Holland.