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A real World Series

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Deer Creek’s Michael Fulmer is a member of this year’s USA roster at the World Baseball Classic.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Although the World Series crowns the best professional baseball team in America as the superior team each year, the World Baseball Classic actually includes teams from around the globe.

The WBC has begun this week, but the United States doesn’t see action until today. The WBC is modeled after the FIFA World Cup and was created to provide worldwide competition after the International Olympic Committee decided to remove baseball as an Olympic sport in 2005.

The first WBC was held in 2006 and again in 2009, but has been presented on a quadrennial basis. Japan won the first two WBCs, and the Dominican Republic won in 2013. Medals are awarded like the Olympics—gold for the first place team, silver for the runners-up and bronze for third place. The United States’ best finish was fourth in 2009.

One reason for the USA’s disappointment is that many of the game’s stars don’t want to compete.

“It’s well-documented that some guys turned it down,” said David Wright four years ago after the USA failed to advance to the second round. Wright is a seven-time All-Star third baseman for the New York Mets. “But I like the guys that want to be here. I understand why some of those guys don't want to, it kind of gets them out of routine, and obviously, it’s an odd time of year for some of those pitchers to be ramping it up.

“But I think there’s something to be said about guys that want to be here and want to put that jersey on.”

Sixteen teams are divided into four pools and compete against each other once in a round-robin format during the first two rounds. From there, four teams move on to the championship round with semifinals round and final round. The USA opens this year’s Classic against Columbia today at 5 p.m. in Pool C. All games in Pool C are played at Miami’s Marlins Park.

The USA then meets the Dominican Republic at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and pool play ends on Sunday when the Red, White, and Blue takes on Canada at 6 p.m. The top two teams in each pool advance to the second round.

Jim Leyland is the USA team’s manager. Leyland managed four Major League teams including the Marlins, who won the 1997 World Series. The 72-year-old former skipper retired four years ago and was honored to coach in this year’s Classic.

“I’ve worn a lot of jerseys, but never one like this,” Leyland said. “This is special. I thought I wouldn’t put on a uniform again.

“I’ll definitely be ready. I’m never going to manage again after this. I didn't think I’d manage this, either. But when I was asked, I could not turn this down. Not from an ego standpoint, but it’s the honor of being asked to manage for your country.”

South Korea hosts Pool A in Seoul. Chinese Taipei, Israel and the Netherlands also compete in this pool. Tokyo hosts Pool B, which includes home team Japan, Cuba, Australia, and China. Mexico hosts Pool D in Zapopan, Mexico. Italy, Puerto Rico and Venezuela also compete in this pool.

The second round will be played in Tokyo, and San Diego and the Championship Round will be played March 20-22 at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.

The MLB Network and ESPN Deportes will air all WBC games in the United States.

USA stars competing in this year's World Baseball Classic

Chris Archer – Tampa Bay pitcher and 2015 All-Star

Nolan Arenado – Colorado third baseman and two- time All-Star

Tyler Clippard – New York Yankees pitcher and two-time All-Star

Brandon Crawford – San Francisco shortstop, 2015 All-Star who helped the Giants win three World Series

Michael Fulmer – Detroit pitcher and 2016 American League Rookie of the Year; played for Deer Creek High School

Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona first baseman and four-time All-Star

Eric Hosmer – Kansas City first baseman, 2016 All-Star who helped the Royals win the 2015 World Series

Adam Jones – Baltimore center fielder and four-time All-Star

Ian Kinsler – Detroit second baseman and four-time All-Star

Jonathan Lucroy – Texas Rangers catcher and two-time All-Star

Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh outfielder, five-time All-Star and 2013 National League MVP

Andrew Miller – Cleveland pitcher, 2016 All-Star and 2016 ALCS MVP

Daniel Murphy – Washington second baseman and two-time All-Star Matt Carpenter – St. Louis infielder and three-time All-Star

Pat Neshek – Houston pitcher and 2014 All-Star with St. Louis

Buster Posey – San Francisco catcher and four-time All-Star who helped the Giants win three World Series

Giancarlo Stanton – Miami right fielder and three-time All-Star

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Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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