The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international baseball tournament whose goal is to spread the popularity of the game of baseball all over the world. Sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, the WBC is participated in by various national teams from all over the world. The first tournament was held from March 3-20, 2006 in various stadiums in Tokyo (Japan), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Orlando (Florida, USA), Phoenix (Arizona, USA), Anaheim (California, USA), and San Diego (California, USA).
During this inaugural edition of the World Baseball Classic, 16 countries adjudged as the best baseball-playing countries in the world were invited to send their national teams. These sixteen teams were divided into four pools, namely:
• Pool A – Japan, China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei
• Pool B – Canada, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States of America
• Pool C – Cuba, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico
• Pool D – Australia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Venezuela
The tournament was a conducted in a round-robin style of competition, wherein each team played once against the other three teams in the pool. The top two pool leaders of A and B were put together in the second round into one new pool (Pool 1), and the top two pool leaders of Pool C and D were put together in a new pool (Pool 2) also for the second round. Again each team in the new pools played against the other three once, with the top two from each pool put together in a single elimination pool for the semifinals. The champions and runner-ups of each pool face each other for a single game, with the winners facing each other for the finals to determine the champion.
In Pool A, Korea emerged the winner (3-0) while Japan came in second, while Mexico and U.S.A., each with a 2-1 win-loss slate, emerged as the winners of Pool B. These four winners formed Pool 1 for the second round.
On the other hand, Puerto Rico (3-0) and Cuba (2-1) led Pool C, while, in Pool D, the Dominican Republic (3-0) and Venezuela (2-1) clearly dominated. These four formed Pool 2 for the second round.
The second round again saw Korea (3-0) dominate Pool 1 to move into the single-elimination pool, with Japan, who tied with the United States and Mexico with similar 1-2 win-loss records, but became the second team from Pool 1 for the single elimination pool due to a better standing in the tie-breaker assessment. In Pool 2, the Dominican Republic and Cuba led the pack with identical 2-1 win-loss records. The Dominican Republic emerged as the champion in this pool due to a better standing in the tiebreaker assessment.
The single-elimination round for the semifinals was one characterized by upsets wherein runners-up Japan and Cuba beating Korea and the Dominican Republic respectively. In the final game, Japan defeated Cuba to become the first champion of the World Baseball Classic.
The next WBC tournament will be held in 2009, after which the tournament will be held every four years. Downloads of the First World Baseball Classic Live Feed may be downloaded from the official World Baseball Classic Website.