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The 2017 World Baseball Classic will take place in — wait for it — 2017, but 2016 has featured four qualifying rounds to determine the final four entrants in the tournament. We’re now up to the last of those, as Brooklyn will host Great Britain, Pakistan, Brazil, and Israel from Thursday through Sunday as they vie for said last spot. They aren’t necessarily the countries you think about when you consider global baseball powers, but that’s part of the fun of this whole ordeal, isn’t it?
The first two games will be played on Thursday, with Pakistan vs. Brazil at noon ET and Great Britain against Israel at 7 p.m. We’ll then get two more games tomorrow with fresh matchups of some kind, depending on who the winners of Thursday’s games are, at noon and 7 again. All we know is that Israel has the day game, and Great Britain the evening. Then on Saturday and Sunday we’ll have one game each: Saturday’s at 8 p.m., Sunday’s at 6, with the first a semifinal and the finals, obviously, on Sunday.
The winner of this tournament already has a place in next spring’s tournament, as they’ll be in Pool B with host-country South Korea, the Netherlands, and Chinese Taipei. That’s not an easy pool to be in, but if you take a look at some of the others, things could be a lot worse for whichever of these four countries makes it out of Brooklyn.
You can watch all of the qualifier’s games on MLB.com, streamed for free. If you’re in the area, you can also attend for $15 — the games will be played at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ park. If you’re on the fence, just know I’ll be jealous if you’re in attendance.
- The Mets lost via a metaphor for their general luck on Wednesday, as they got oh-so-close to winning before victory was ripped away from them at the last moment. In this case, the metaphor involved Ender Inciarte robbing Yoenis Cespedes of a two-out, walk-off homer.
- The Rangers have been lucky, and you shouldn’t care. Good teams tend to be lucky, and you don’t need to try to act as if Texas has figured out some magic formula for winning extra games.
- The Indians eliminated the defending champion Royals from the AL Central race with a 4-3 victory on Wednesday.
- Speaking of the Royals, Joakim Soria is just an easy scapegoat for their much larger problems.
- The AL Wild Card race tightened up, with the Orioles and Blue Jays both losing on a night the Tigers, Astros, Mariners, and Yankees all won.
- It’s not just the American League Wild Card race that is close, either, as you can envision a potential four-way tie in the NL since none of the Cardinals, Mets, or Giants seem committed to winning one.
- After a 6.35 ERA over his first 10 starts, Clay Buchholz made a mechanical tweak based on input from Brian Bannister, and has a 3.43 ERA since.
- The Braves’ loaded farm system is both a source of joy and potential tragedy.
- Gary Sanchez is the fastest ever to 19 career homers, as it took him just 45 games.
- Before Sam Miller leaves Baseball Prospectus for ESPN, BP is running a best-of series that you should check out. Thursday’s entry is on the Rougned Odor/Jose Bautista brawl and its many heroes.