The first round venues and the pools for the World Baseball Classic 2009 are set and were presented at a press conference on Monday in Tokyo. MLB Commissioner Bud SELIG said, “The 2009 World Baseball Classic will further demonstrate the remarkable global growth of our game. There has been incredible demand to host the games of the second World Baseball Classic, and we are pleased to have four international destinations as our first-round venues. We are excited about the 2009 World Baseball Classic and look forward to next March.”
They also announced a format change in the qualifying round. They will replace the round robin with double-elimination duels until the quarterfinals. The semi-finals and the finals will still feature single-elimination games.
The venues in the preliminary round are set for Tokyo, Toronto, Mexico City and San Juan. Petco Park in San Diego and the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles are the favorites to host the semi-finals and finals. However the organizers have not made a decision yet.
The two European teams are travelling to Canada and Puerto Rico. Italy faces the USA, Canada and Venezuela from March 8 to 12 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The opponents for the Netherlands are the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Panama at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. They will start on March 7th.
Japan won the first edition of the WBC in 2006. Daisuke MATSUZAKA of the Boston Red Sox received the MVP-Award.
Pool A in Tokyo March 5 – 9:
Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China
Pool B in Mexico City March 8-12:
Australia, Cuba, Mexico, South Africa
Pool C Toronto March 8-12:
Canada, Italy, USA, Venezuela
Pool D San Juan March 7-11:
Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico