Japan won the 2023 title, but fans and players from all countries still walked away with a good feeling about the World Baseball Classic.
The tourney was nothing short of a playoff atmosphere taken from October in March. For the most part, many of the memories baseball fans hold of the WBC are slowly starting to fade to the back of their minds. Japan defeated the United States in the championship game with a final matchup for the ages between Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. However, before we all completely turn the page on the WBC, let’s give it the respect that it deserves. Some memories of this year’s WBC include Puerto Rico’s first-ever perfect game in the WBC, Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chang hitting his grand slam, or the emotional start of Japan’s Roki Sasaki’s start against the Czech Republic on the 12th anniversary of losing his father and grandparents in the tsunami that struck Japan.
World Baseball Classic brings in more viewers
Unity is a rare thing in sports. Rivalries tend to draw the line in the sand, but the WBC led to bringing some people together in March. USA’s title win in 2017 was an attention-grabber and, thanks to the participation of Ohtani, Trout, and other superstars, helped set the stage for the WBC to draw in more viewers around the world a few years later.
Players buying into the WBC
Although Team USA team came up short against Japan, Trout shared the sentiment that participating in the WBC was an epic experience, saying, “I had the time of my life representing that USA on my chest! The energy was electric and made the WBC a moment I’ll always cherish. So thank you all so much. It was an honor to be your captain.” The Olympics and the World Cup both have something that takes the best of the best and places them on the world stage. Baseball players now have the WBC.
Granted, the players in the WBC were not going to win the World Series or be placed in Cooperstown, but the game is certainly not some meaningless exhibition. Trea Turner expressed that his grand slam was the biggest hit he had in his career in front of the loudest crowd he’s ever witnessed.
The future of the World Baseball Classic
It’s time to no longer look at the WBC as meaningless exhibition games. As we saw in the tournament’s title game, things can get just as intense when a title is on the line. It is time to give a level of seriousness and importance to the event. Players and fans alike got to have the best moments of their career in the past month. On top of that, the fans got an extra month of baseball.
The current MLB season means time has moved on. Opening Day has passed and everyone is getting settled into their respective team’s campaign. However, the World Baseball classic will continue and likely many of the players who got their first taste of the global stage will return for the next WBC. Trout has already put his name down as a returner. As this decade moves forward, only time will tell just how popular the World Baseball Classic becomes.