In a normal, regular year, MLB fans would be counting down the days for spring training to begin.
And that’s not a bad thing at all: there is nothing like the hope and dreams of a brand new season.
However, there are other things to look forward to this time around that will also bring joy and excitement to baseball fans.
This year, we have the fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic.
In fact, the countdown is already on: 50 days.
Soon. 🌎⚾️ pic.twitter.com/hZVAVd2pMQ
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) January 17, 2023
50 days separate us from enjoying the first globally meaningful baseball game – aside from each country’s winter league, of course – since Game 6 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros.
It will be the first WBC played since 2017, mostly because the pandemic got in the way in 2021.
20 countries will compete for the right to be called champions.
The tournament is slowly growing in prestige, and many major league stars are going to be there: Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Edwin Diaz, Shohei Ohtani, Yu Darvish, Andres Gimenez, Salvador Perez, and many more.
Japan won the first two editions, in 2006 and 2009, then the Dominican Republic took the crown in 2013.
Team USA got its first WBC title in 2017.
Those three can be considered the favorites to win this time around, but other countries lurk.
Mexico, Venezuela, South Korea, Puerto Rico, and Cuba should not be taken for granted, and there is always space for a surprise or two.
It will be an exciting tournament from start to finish.