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The World Baseball Classic is coming in spring of 2017, but it doesn't just happen all at once. Qualifying rounds decide four of the 16 teams who will participate, and the first of those four ended on Sunday with a victorious Australia. They were the host, they were the favorite, and now they are the winner after winning a short tournament that also included South Africa, New Zealand and the Philippines.
There will be another qualifiers between March 17 and 20, this time in Mexicali, Mexico. Germany, Nicaragua, the Czech Republic and, of course, Mexico will participate in that tournament. There will also be a Panama City qualifier during the same stretch, with Panama, Spain, Colombia and France participating. The last of these four qualifiers will be on Sept. 22-25, with Brazil, Great Britain, Pakistan and Israel competing for the last of 16 spots in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The other 12 teams automatically made it based on their performance in the last WBC, held in 2013 -- top three teams in a pool automatically qualify, so teams know well in advance if they are going to have a spot in the next one. Those teams are the United States, Venezuela, Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Chinese Tapei, South Korea, China, Italy and the Netherlands. It's a shame we have to wait until next year for the WBC to actually play out, but at least we've got some international drama to keep us busy in the meantime. And before MLB gets going, too.
- MLB Twitter accounts love Valentine's Day because they love puns.
- Mookie Betts is great at everything. Well, maybe besides driving golf carts, as he ended up drowning one in a lake somehow.
- The A's traded for Khris Davis over the weekend, and it answered one of their 2017 questions in addition to helping them for 2016.
- As for the Brewers, dealing Davis for prospects solved two of their problems at once.
- Former pitcher Brian Bannister has a new role in the Red Sox front office combining an analytic approach with more traditional coaching input. If you're wondering how Rich Hill revitalized his career late last year, Bannister might be where you want to look.
- Jose Bautista hasn't paid for a drink in Toronto since The Bat Flip. If there is any good in the world, Bautista will never pay for a drink there ever again.
- The Mariners had a winter of mostly minor moves, and they'll need them to pay major dividends to win in 2016.
- Just what is the Orioles' ceiling right now?
- One wonders if Bryce Harper believes what he says about Jonathan Papelbon, or if he knows it's better for everyone if he keeps the peace. Hey, someone has to, and you can't count on that someone being Papelbon.