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The 2006 World Baseball Classic was the inaugural tournament between national baseball teams that included players from Major League Baseball. It was held from March 3 - March 20 in stadiums that are in and around Tokyo (Japan), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Orlando, Phoenix, Anaheim and San Diego (United States). It was won by Japan.
The first World Baseball Classic featured 16 teams in a round-robin style tournament. Each team played the other three teams in their pool once. The top two teams of each letter-pool moved onto the second round, where the top two teams of Pools A and B (Pool 1) and the top two teams of Pools C and D (Pool 2) competed against each other in another round-robin. The top two teams from each pool entered a four-team single elimination bracket, with the pool champions and runners-up facing each other in the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-final games then met to determine a champion.
The teams selected for the inaugural World Baseball Classic were chosen because they were judged to be the "best baseball-playing nations in the world and provide global representation for the event." There was no official qualifying competition.
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C||Pool D|
|Chinese Taipei||United States||Puerto Rico||Venezuela|
- Round one (March 3–March 11)
- Round two (March 12–March 15)
- Main article: Results of the 2006 World Baseball Classic
Korea (3-0) won Pool A, and Japan (2-1) finished second, enabling both to move into Pool 1. Chinese Taipei (1-2) and China (0-3) were eliminated after Pool A play.
Mexico (2-1) won Pool B, and the United States (2-1) finished second, placing both into Pool 1 as well. Canada (2-1), despite an upset victory over the United States team, was eliminated based on a runs-allowed tiebreaker. South Africa (0-3) was eliminated but surprised many by posting respectable scores against Canada and Mexico.
|Mexico||2-1||2.42||1-1, 1.59 RA/9|
|United States||2-1||3.13||1-1, 4.00 RA/9|
|Canada||2-1||7.67||1-1, 7.50 RA/9|
Puerto Rico (3-0) and Cuba (2-1) attained spots in Pool 2. The Netherlands (1-2) and Panama (0-3) were eliminated after Pool C play. Included in this pool was a seven-inning no-hitter (shortened due to the mercy rule described below) by Dutch pitcher Shairon Martis in a 10-0 victory over Panama.
The Dominican Republic (3-0) won Pool D and Venezuela (2-1) was Pool D runner-up, putting both teams into Pool 2. Italy (1-2) and Australia (0-3) were eliminated.
Korea (3-0, 6-0 Overall) beat USA, Mexico and Japan en route to winning Pool 1, advancing into the semifinals at Petco Park in San Diego, California. Japan (1-2, 3-3 overall) was the surprise runner-up after losing to USA and Korea, qualifying for semi-final play after USA lost to Mexico.
|Japan||1-2||2.36||1-1, 2.50 RA/9|
|United States||1-2||4.32||1-1, 2.64 RA/9|
|Mexico||1-2||3.12||1-1, 3.50 RA/9|
The Dominican Republic (2-1, 5-1 Overall) won Pool 2 following a win over Cuba and Venezuela and a loss to Puerto Rico, and advanced into the semifinals. Cuba was runner-up.
Cuba upset the Dominican Republic and Japan beat Korea, after losing to them twice in earlier rounds, to reach the final. Although leading by only one run entering the ninth inning, Japan defeated Cuba, 10 - 6, to win the inaugural WBC tournament. Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka of Japan was named the first WBC Most Valuable Player.
|1B||Seung Yeop Lee KOR|
|2B||Yulieski Gourriel CUB|
|SS||Derek Jeter USA|
|3B||Adrian Beltre DOM|
|OF||Ken Griffey Jr. USA|
|OF||Jong Beom Lee KOR|
|OF||Ichiro Suzuki JPN|
|C||Tomoya Satozaki JPN|
|DH||Yoandry Garlobo CUB|
|P||Yadel Martí CUB|
|P||Daisuke Matsuzaka JPN|
|P||Chan Ho Park KOR|
Ordered by batting average 
(minimum 2.7 plate appearances/game, 4 games unless noted)
- Nobuhiko Matsunaka, JPN - 13
- Ichiro Suzuki, JPN - 12
- Yoandy Garlobo, CUB - 12
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, JPN -11
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - 11
- Nobuhiko Matsunaka, JPN - 11
- Seung-Yeop Lee, KOR - 8
- Yulieski Gourriel, CUB - 8
- Ichiro Suzuki, JPN - 7
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, JPN - 7
- Jong Beom Lee, KOR - 6
- Nobuhiko Matsunaka, JPN - 4
- Justin Morneau, CAN - 3 (3 G)
- Yung Chi Chen, TPE - 3 (3 G)
- Miguel Tejada, DOM - 3
- Frederich Cepeda, CUB - 3
- 15 tied with 1
- Seung-Yeop Lee, KOR - 5
- Adrian Beltre, DOM - 4
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - 3
- Derrek Lee, USA - 3
- David Ortiz, DOM - 3
- Hitoshi Tamura, JPN - 3
- Jason Varitek USA - 1
Runs Batted In
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - 10
- Seung-Yeop Lee, KOR - 10
- Hitoshi Tamura, JPN - 9
- Adrian Beltre, DOM - 9
- Derrek Lee, USA - 8
- Frederich Cepeda, CUB - 8
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, JPN - 8
- Jorge Cantu, MEX - 8
- Seung-Yeop Lee, KOR - 23
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - 22
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, JPN - 19
- Frederich Cepeda, CUB - 19
- David Ortiz, DOM - 8
- Albert Pujols. DOM - 7
- Bobby Abreu. VEN - 6
- Hitoshi Tamura, JPN - 6
- Frederich Cepeda, CUB - 6
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, JPN - 6
- Hitoshi Tamura, JPN - 9
- Ariel Prestano, CUB - 8
- Yufeng Zhang, CHN - 8 (3 G)
- Alex Rodriguez, USA - 7
- Frederich Cepeda, CUB - 7
- Jin Man Park, KOR - 7
- Bobby Abreu, VEN - 7
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, JPN - 5
- Ichiro Suzuki, JPN - 4
- Eduardo Paret, CUB - 3
- Trent Durrington, AUS - 3 (3 G)
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - .583
- Yoandy Garlobo, CUB - .536
- Nobuhiko Matsunaka, JPN - .528
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - 1.048
- Seung-Yeop Lee, KOR - .958
- Adrian Beltre, DOM - .900
- Ken Griffey, Jr., USA - 1.631
- Seung-Yeop Lee, KOR - 1.372
- Adrian Beltre, DOM - 1.291
(minimum 0.8 innings pitched/game)
- Daisuke Matsuzaka, JPN - 3
- Ormari Romero, CUB - 2
- Odalis Perez, DOM - 2
- Jae Seo, KOR - 2
- Koji Uehara, JPN - 2
- Min Han Son, KOR - 2
- 26 tied with 1
- Carl Michaels, RSA - 10
- Barry Armitage, RSA - 9
- Dontrelle Willis, USA - 8
Earned Runs Allowed
- Carl Michaels, RSA - 10
- Dontrelle Willis, USA - 8
- Barry Armitage, RSA - 7
- Yadel Martí, CUB - 0.00 (in 12.2 innings)
- Chan Ho Park, KOR - 0.00 (10.0)
- Kelvim Escobar, VEN - 0.00 (7.2)
- Shairon Martis, NED - 0.00 (7.0)
- Carlos Silva, VEN - 0.00 (5.2)
- Jason Grilli, ITA - 0.00 (4.2)
- Erik Bedard, CAN - 0.00 (4.0)
- Wei-Lun Pan, TPE - 0.00 (4.0)
- Adam Loewen, CAN - 0.00 (3.2)
- Po-Hsuan Keng, TPE - 0.00 (3.0)
- Seo, KOR; Colon, DOM - 0.64
- Shunsuke Wantanabe, JPN - 0.84
- Dontrelle Willis, USA - 6
- Esteban Loaiza, MEX- 5
- Carlos Zambrano, VEN - 5
- Adiel Palma, CUB - 5
- Peter Moylan, AUS - 5
- Kelvim Escobar, VEN - 5
- Yulieski Gonzalez, CUB - 5
- 13 tied with 4
- Koji Uehara, JPN - 16
- Yadel Martí, CUB - 11
- Freddy Garcia, VEN - 11
- Johan Santana, VEN - 10
- Daisuke Matsuzaka, JPN - 10
- Roger Clemens, USA - 10
- Shairon Martis, NED - 0.14
- Jason Grilli, ITA - 0.20
- Jose Santiago, PUR - 0.63
- Main article: Controversies at the 2006 World Baseball Classic
In an effort to enforce the United States Government's embargo on Cuba, the Cuban team was initially denied a license to play in the United States. Puerto Rico threatened to pull out as hosts, IBAF said they would rescind its sanctioning of the tournament, and the IOC suggested that such a development would influence the ability of American cities to successfully bid to host future Olympic Games. Financing was restructured and the U. S. Government relented.
As it is forced to do in most international sporting competitions, the Taiwanese baseball team, as the result of political pressure from the People's Republic of China, had to play under its Olympic name and flag, Chinese Taipei () rather than as the Republic of China ([[Image:Template:Country flag alias TWN|22x20px]]).
A number of Major League baseball players chose not to participate, some backing out at the last minute. Without players such as Barry Bonds, Vladimir Guerrero (who pulled out because 3 cousins died in a car accident right before World Baseball Classic), Manny Ramirez, Hideki Matsui, and Jose Vidro, some questioned whether the event would be credible. Cuba barred from its team players such as Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras, Cubans who had previously defected. Italy was criticized for a roster made up almost entirely of second-generation Italian Americans such as Mike Piazza.
Korea completed the first two rounds undefeated (6-0) but was still forced to play Japan, a team it had already beaten twice, in the semifinal round. Other international sporting competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup, are formatted so as to make it impossible that teams play each other three times. They can only face twice at most - in round robin group play and then again for the championship or 3rd-place match. In addition, the regional grouping of teams was called into question, for the groups were perceived to be unevenly distributed.
The World Anti-Doping Agency criticized IBAF's drug testing program and threatened to withdraw sanction of the event. One athlete, a Korean pitcher, tested positive for a banned substance during the event, and he was kicked out of the WBC.
WBC organizers were unable to reach an agreement with the MLB umpires' union and so the tournament was overseen by umpires from the minor leagues. American umpire Bob Davidson made two questionable calls at critical moments in two different games that each directly benefited the American team.
Additional rules Edit
There were several rule changes from normal major league play. Pitchers were held to a pitch count of 65 pitches in the first round, 80 pitches in the second round, and 95 in the semifinals and championship rounds. If a pitcher reached his maximum pitch count in the middle of an at-bat, he could continue to pitch to that batter, but was required to be replaced once that at-bat ended. A 30-pitch outing needed to be followed by one day off, and a 50-pitch outing by four days off. No one would be allowed to pitch on three consecutive days. A mercy rule would come into effect with one team leading by either fifteen runs after five innings, or ten runs after seven innings in the first two rounds of play. In addition, ties could be called after fourteen innings of play.
The designated hitter rule was in place for all games.
Success of tournamentEdit
Many members of the United States press, and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, were skeptical of the Classic since its inception. The event proved to be quite popular, however, providing many memorable moments including a first round game between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Attendance was higher than expected at several sites, including the 19,000-seat Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, which was sold out for every Puerto Rico game in the first two rounds. Though international ratings figures are not yet available, viewership is expected to be high, ESPN spokeswoman Diane Lamb said. In addition, there were 4,000 media credentials issued — more than the World Series and the Olympic Games — which bodes well for the stated goal of internationalizing the sport. Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci reported that "[m]ore merchandise was sold in the first round than organizers projected for the entire 17-day event."  He also reported that, at one point, jerseys for the Venezuelan team were selling at the rate of one every six seconds.
The US television ratings on ESPN were stronger than initially expected, drawing in more than one million television sets for some games, more than almost any other ESPN program in the month of March. This occurred despite less than stellar airing times for the games. Most were not aired live but taped, and sometimes with innings cut, as the WBC was organized well after ESPN had committed to much of its programming. These ratings all but assure the next WBC, in 2009, will be awarded more live broadcasts during prime time.
The allocation of earnings Edit
The total earnings of WBC is divided into net profit (53%) and prize money (47%). U.S. Hurricane Katrina victims will receive the 7% of money earned by the Cuban team.
Net profit (53%) Edit
- World Baseball Classic Inc.: 17.5%
- Baseball Players Union: 17.5%
- Japanese Baseball Organization: 7%
- Korean Baseball Organization: 5%
- Korean Baseball Union: 5%
- Miscellaneous expenses: 1%
Prize money (47%) Edit
- Japanese team (1st place): 10%
- Cuban team (2nd place): 7%
- Korean and Dominican teams (semi-finalists): 5% each
- The 4 teams that drop out of the second round: 3% each
- The 8 teams that drop out of preliminaries: 1% each
- Video and Audio - 2006 World Baseball Classic
- ESPN Podcast Coverage of the WBC
- WEPN New York Live streaming radio coverage of the final
News and mediaEdit
- MLB.com: DuPuy reacts
- Yahoo!: Cuba allowed to play
- Unofficial chat forum of The World Baseball Classic
| World Baseball Classic |