World Baseball Classic organizers officially announced the return of the tournament for a second edition yesterday, as well as inviting the first eight teams for the 2009 event.
The first World Baseball Classic, a 16-team event spearheaded by Major League Baseball, had a successful debut at six sites in three countries in March 2006. The next tournament is scheduled for March 2009, with plans to play it every four years after that.
Japan beat Cuba 10-6 in the finals last year, with future Red Sox righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka winning tournament MVP honors by going 3-0, 1.38 in 13 innings. More than 42,000 fans came out for the game at San Diego’s Petco Park–and total attendance for the event was 737,112–even though the United States fell out of the tournament in the second round.
Advancing to round two was enough to get Team USA invited to the 2009 tournament, however, along with the other seven teams that made it out of the first round of pool play. Along with Cuba, Japan and the U.S., that group includes the Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
“We are extremely pleased with the impressive results of the 2006 World Baseball Classic and excited about the momentum and anticipation it has generated for the upcoming 2009 event,” said Bob DuPuy, MLB’s president and chief operating officer. “As international baseball continues to develop and thrive, and the supply of quality baseball nations grows, the task of selecting the 16 deserving teams has become increasingly difficult.”
The remaining eight teams for the field will be invited in December. Decisions on which countries to invited “will be following a period of evaluation
and consultation among steering committee members,” according to a statement from tournament organizers.
Gene Orza, COO for the MLB Players Association, said: “Numerous countries, far more than we currently can invite, are clamoring to get in. Given the limitations on the size of the field that we face at this date, we want to make sure that the widespread interest in participation gets the attention it deserves.”
Organizers also announced the distribution of more than $8 million from the inaugural tournament to the participating countries and the International Baseball Federation, based on predetermined percentages of the net revenue
corresponding to each team’™s finish in the tournament.
The national federations are set to contribute a minimum of $3.3 million to local baseball programs, and IBAF received nearly $1 million to help develop baseball worldwide.
More than half of the net proceeds of the event went to the participating federations, IBAF and the World Baseball Classic’s official charity, Habitat for Humanity. The remaining proceeds were divided among the tournament’™s organizing entities.
Organizers also kicked off the bid process to determine host venues for the 2009 event.