Because of the time zone issues that come with hosting an event in multiple hemispheres, the World Baseball Classic has, so far, had a spotty schedule. Groups A and B, in Taichung and Tokyo, respectively, each of their teams have played at least two matches, while Groups C and D, in Phoenix and Miami, have yet to start. One of the beauties of this tournament is that the games can be held all over the world but still be in the same category. But we haven’t had a full day of classic madness yet.
That changes on Saturday.
The Czech Republic and Japan opened Saturday’s play from the Tokyo Dome and the final will begin at 11 p.m. EST. If you want – and you must! – You can watch the World Baseball Classic all morning, all afternoon and all night.
Having a high-stakes baseball game in early March is very exciting. But each of these games has its own story, whether you’re a WBC fan, an MLB fan, or, more likely, both. Here’s one thing to watch in every game.
This could be the game of the day, right off the bat. Japan have been the best team in the tournament so far, and they sure look like a powerhouse in Pools A and B. Shohei Ohtani is the star of course, but everyone on this team hits hard, including Lars Nootbaar, who has the all-Japanese team grinding peppers as well. He did with the Cardinals last year. But in this game, Japan plays WBC sweethearts, the Czech Republic, a team full of firefighters, policemen, and high school teachers who win the classic opener in the most spectacular fashion. With South Korea starting 0-2, he opened the door for the Czech team to sneak into the next round. A win over Japan, however unlikely, can unceremoniously snatch it up. This game is exactly what this event is about.
The Netherlands were probably the favorites in Group A going into the tournament, and they couldn’t have asked for a better start, with wins over Cuba and Panama. A win over Chinese Taipei would send the Dutch through to the next round. Their success did not come from the lineup, but from the promotion; They gave up only three runs in two games. A lot of that has come from their stellar defense, which contains far too many quality MLB players to even fit on the field. Chinese Taipei can solve this problem by hitting the ball over the wall; Their four referees are the most involved in the tournament so far.
Nicaragua versus Puerto Rico
N. ET, FS2
Colombia vs. Mexico
2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
You might think Mexico—currently ranked fifth in the WBSC rankings—would have a rich history in the Classic, but the country has never finished higher than sixth. If Mexicans are looking to get out of the pool, this is a huge game for them, with the US and Canada closing in. They’ve got the right pitcher on the mound—team captain Julio Urías, with some great cleats for the Mexico flag—and midday TV coverage, too. Colombia is only in their second edition of the Classics and is full of Orias and a very motivated Mexican team.
Dominican Republic vs Venezuela
7 p.m. ET, FS1
Great Britain vs. the United States
9 p.m. EST, Fox
A stacked USA lineup may have to bolster a shaky staff, especially over the rotation, but if you’re worried about missing a zip on Adam Wainwright’s fastball – which has been a serious concern so far in Spring Training – this can supply him with the right game. ; He will not face a weaker Great Britain squad all season. Great Britain hasn’t announced their starting pitcher yet, but they are facing glove Turner/Trout/Goldschmidt/Arenado/Tucker, the Brits may know him, but they’re keeping him hidden to protect him.
Czech Republic vs Korea
10 p.m. ET, FS1
This is the size of a great baseball game on Saturday: you can watch the Czech national team twice. Korea had the worst start imaginable yet, losing both matches despite a roster that looked capable of putting together a deep run in the Classic. For all the love the Czech national team has earned, this is a must-see for them. With a win over Japan perhaps a lot to hope for, earning the split on Saturday would be a huge victory.
Chinese Taipei vs Cuba
11 p.m. ET, FS2
Cuba bounced back from their rocky start to the Classic with a decisive win over Panama on Thursday, and while they still need a little help, a win over Chinese Taipei here could be enough to propel the Cubans into the next round; They will need the Netherlands to help them take on Italy on Sunday. This has been a Cuban side like no other, and there is a non-zero chance that this is the last time you will see Yoenis Céspedes in action. I can’t think of a better reason to watch there.
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