The World Baseball Classic finished up its fourth running on March 22 with a United States victory. The U.S.’ 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the championship game gave the U.S. their first World Baseball Classic championship.
For the first time, the total attendance at the WBC rose to over 1 million attendees this year. The final between the U.S. and Puerto Rico—and its 2.3 million viewers—was the second most watched telecast on Major League Baseball Network ever. It was also streaming on ESPN2 in Spanish, which drew about 800,000 viewers, making a total of roughly 3.1 million viewers.
The last final in 2013 between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic only drew about 1.1 million viewers.
We have now seen four World Baseball Classics since its debut in 2006—each one being better than the last. Just looking at its television rankings can prove this. Hosted all around the world in cities like Seoul, Tokyo and Miami, the tournament provided a great foundation for baseball to reach an international scale that anyone can enjoy.
When many thought that this year might be the last WBC due to its low viewers and low ratings, the world of baseball turned it around with what turned out to be a great tournament for all who participated and watched. Thus, it’s hard to believe that there won’t be another until 2021.
Focusing on this year and not the future, however, the U.S. started off with wins in two of their first three games in group play. This included victories against Colombia and Canada. In that span, they also lost to defending champions, the D.R.
The U.S. followed up with the same record in the next round. With a victory over Venezuela to start off the round, the U.S. then lost to Puerto Rico 6-5—making their next game against the D.R. a must-win to get into the single elimination championship rounds.
The U.S. came from behind against the D.R. and in the bottom of the fourth took a lead they would not relinquish. The 6-3 victory over the D.R. was capped off with an impeccable catch by U.S. outfielder Adam Jones to rob D.R. infielder Manny Machado of a homerun.
The win secured the U.S. a spot in the semifinals and a matchup against powerhouse Japan.
With a great all around pitching effort, the U.S. secured a 2-1 victory over Japan and advanced to the finals, where they faced unbeaten Puerto Rico.
There, the U.S. showcased a stellar performance by Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, who pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning, struck out three and only walked one hitter. Stroman—who decided to pitch for the U.S. instead of Puerto Rico—led the U.S. to the WBC championship and was named tournament MVP.
The 8-0 win gave the U.S. its first WBC championship. It is not only a stepping-stone for baseball in general, but also for baseball in the U.S.