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2 World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds begin Thursday

Thursday's Say Hey, Baseball includes the World Baseball Classic, the reason for Adam LaRoche's sudden retirement and Cam Newton giving Goose Gossage nightmares.

Mexico v United States - World Baseball Classic - First Round Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Listen, we know it's tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn't easy. It's okay, though, we're going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.

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Getting a little tired of spring training's exhibition games? Then you'll be excited to hear that games that actually matter are going to be played on Thursday. Two of the four World Baseball Classic qualifiers are kicking off today, with one in Mexicali, Mexico and the other in Panama City. The latter will start things off at 2 p.m. with Colombia against Spain, and then host a nightcap of France vs. host country Panama at 9. Meanwhile, in Mexicali, we'll get Germany up against Nicaragua followed by the Czech Republic against Mexico at 10:30.

These qualifiers will be played through the weekend -- you can find the full schedule here -- and the winners of each will be entered into the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Australia won the first of these four qualifiers, and the last will be played in Brooklyn in September, with Brazil, Israel, Pakistan, and Great Britain vying for the final spot. It's a little weird to think that a team with Adrian Gonzalez on it is fighting to be in the main tournament, but that ever-increasing pool of talent is one reason why the WBC is becoming more exciting with time.

In all, 16 players with MLB affiliations will participate in this weekend's qualifiers. Gonzalez is the most significant, but players you know like Mexico's Oliver Perez are also around, as are longtime Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz and the young Mets' second baseman Dilson Herrera, both of whom will represent Panama. You'll recognize the managers, too, as Carlos Lee is in Panama's dugout and Eric Gagne is in France's. It's a shame we'll have to wait until September to find out who the last of the 16 teams participating in the World Baseball Classic will be, but at least we have more qualifying baseball to look forward to.

  • Barry Bonds is an ageless baseball god, and the proof is in his defeating the entire Marlins team -- yes, Giancarlo Stanton included -- in a home run contest during batting practice. Bonds is 51 years old, y'all.

  • The Rockies want to trade Carlos Gonzalez and the Orioles never seem to know what to do with Kevin Gausman, but that wasn't enough to make a trade happen this winter when Colorado asked.

  • Adam LaRoche announced he would "step away" from baseball for personal reasons on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, we found out those personal reasons were the White Sox asking him to please stop bringing his son into the clubhouse for every single game.

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  • Good on LaRoche for giving up serious money to put family first -- though, let's be honest, it's a little hard to relate to his situation here -- but it's difficult to blame the White Sox for a "Can you please only bring your 14-year-old to work 50 percent of the time?" policy.

  • The Mariners have introduced yoga classes into their training regimen, so at least now they'll be relaxed and limber when they falter.

  • Yasiel Puig will not be suspended by MLB for an alleged domestic violence incident, as they could not find evidence of an incident occurring. It should be noted, though, that if MLB does find evidence later on, they can reopen this and suspend Puig.

  • Goose Gossage yelled into a microphone again because someone keeps putting the damn things in front of him, and this time it was about Cam Newton. The Panthers responded by tweeting out a GIF of Cam Newton running around, the very thing that keeps Gossage up at night.

  • Seriously, though: Every game, Adam? Every game?

  • Would you like to watch an umpire get hit right in the ball bag? Not, uh, not that ball bag. The one that, like, holds baseballs. Sorry, this is a confusing moment for our #brand, I know, but it's still a fun video.

  • This is an abrupt change of tone, but a gay former minor league player spoke out about why he quit the game, and it's because his teammates said that "gays should be killed." MLB and the Cardinals are taking this news seriously, and while it might be easy to pick on the Cardinals here given the irony of the whole Best Fans thing, know that this is a much deeper problem than just one team. Hopefully, one that MLB will work to solve.