The World Baseball Classic is almost here, folks, and I've got all the information you'll need so you don't miss a single pitch, hit-and-run or walk-off home run.
On Tuesday, the tournament will kick off when Japan takes on Brazil. Over the next two-and-a-half weeks, 16 teams will compete for the right to be called the king of international baseball.
With a slew of MLB stars, two-time defending champion Japan defending its crown and a few surprising entries like Spain, this year's tournament figures to be another classic.
Make sure you don't miss any of it! Well, if you don't mind being a bit late or waking up extremely early, that is.
When: Friday, March 2nd to Tuesday, March 19th
Watch: All games will be televised in English on the MLB Network and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes
Streaming: World Baseball Classic App
Rosters: For full team rosters, be sure to check out WorldBaseballClassic.com
Pool A: Japan, Cuba, China, Brazil
Pool B: Korea, Netherlands, Australia, Chinese Taipei
Pool C: Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain
Pool D: United States, Mexico, Italy, Canada
The tournament will open with a group stage comprised of four teams in four pools. Each team will play every team in their group once.
The tournament will then turn to a double-elimination tournament comprised of the group winners and runners-up. In this stage Pool A will face Pool B, and Pool C will face Pool D.
The winners and runners-up (four teams) will then play one another, and the winners of these two games will face off in the championship.
Bracket, Date and Times
|1||A||Saturday, March 2||5 a.m.||Japan vs. Brazil|
|1||A||Saturday, March 2||10 p.m.||Cuba vs. Brazil|
|1||A||Sunday, March 3||5 a.m.||China vs. Japan|
|1||A||Monday, March 4||3:30 a.m.||China vs. Cuba|
|1||A||Tuesday, March 5||3:30 a.m.||Brazil vs. China|
|1||A||Wednesday, March 6||5 a.m.||Japan vs. Cuba|
|1 ||B||Friday, March 1||11:30 p.m.||Australia vs. Taiwan|
|1||B||Saturday, March 2||6:30 a.m.||South Korea vs. Netherlands|
|1||B||Sunday, March 3||1:30 a.m.||Netherlands vs. Taiwan|
|1||B||Monday, March 4||5:30 a.m.||South Korea vs. Australia|
|1||B||Monday, March 4||11:30 p.m.||Australia vs. Netherlands|
|1||B||Tuesday, March 5||6:30 a.m.||Taiwan vs. South Korea|
|1||C||Thursday, March 7||6:30 p.m.||Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic|
|1||C||Friday, March 8||5:30 p.m.||Spain vs. Puerto Rico|
|1||C||Saturday, March 9||11 a.m.||Dominican Republic vs. Spain|
|1||C||Saturday, March 9||5:30 p.m.||Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela|
|1 ||C||Sunday, March 10||12:30 p.m.||Spain vs. Venezuela|
|1||C||Sunday, March 10||7:30 p.m.||Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico|
|1||D||Thursday, March 7||3 p.m.||Italy vs. Mexico|
|1||D||Friday, March 8||2:30 p.m.||Canada vs. Italy|
|1||D||Friday, March 8||9 p.m.||Mexico vs. United States|
|1||D||Saturday, March 9||2:30 p.m.||Canada vs. Mexico|
|1||D||Saturday, March 9||9 p.m.||United States vs. Italy|
|1||D||Sunday, March 10||4 p.m.||United States vs. Canada|
|2||n/a||Thursday, March 8||10 p.m.||Game 1: Pool A Runner-up vs. Pool B Winner|
|2||n/a||Friday, March 8||5 a.m.||Game 2: Pool B Runner-up vs. Pool A Winner|
|2||n/a||Saturday, March 9||5 a.m.||Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser|
|2||n/a||Sunday, March 10||6 a.m.||Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner|
|2||n/a||Monday, March 11||6 a.m.||Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser|
|2||n/a||Tuesday, March 12||6 a.m.||Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner|
|2||n/a||Tuesday, March 12||1 p.m.||Game 1: Pool D Runner-up vs. Pool C Winner|
|2||n/a||Tuesday, March 12||8 p.m.||Game 2: Pool C Runner-up vs. Pool D Winner|
|2||n/a||Wednesday, March 13||7 p.m.||Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser|
|2||n/a||Thursday, March 14||7 p.m.||Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner|
|2||n/a||Friday, March 15||7 p.m.||Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser|
|2||n/a||Saturday, March 16||1 p.m.||Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner|
|Semifinals||n/a||Sunday, March 17||9 p.m.||Pool 2 Runner-up vs. Pool 1 Winner|
|Semifinals||n/a||Monday, March 18||9 p.m.||Pool 1 Runner-up vs. Pool 2 Winner|
|Championship||n/a||Tuesday, March 19||9 p.m.||Semifinal Winners|
Look for Japan and Cuba to advance out of Pool A. Neither team has a major league player on the roster, but each squad is still very talented and should do well at this tournament.
Pool B is definitely up for grabs, though South Korea was the runner-up in 2009 and should win the pool. After that, don't be surprised if a young Netherlands squad surprises everyone and moves on.
In Pool C, I'd be shocked if Venezuela and the Dominican Republic fail to advance. Each roster is stacked with Major League All-Stars, highlighted by Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion for the Dominican Republic, and Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval for Venezuela.
Puerto Rico will make some noise, but they're overmatched in this group.
In Group D, if Ryan Braun, David Wright, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira, R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez can't lead the United States past the group stage, shame on them. Mexico has some talent as well, led by Adrian Gonzalez, but I think Canada (Joey Votto, Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie) will advance.
This year, I think Japan's run of dominance comes to an end. Both Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will advance to the semifinals, while the United States and South Korea will move on from the other side of the bracket.
In the final, the United States will take on the Dominican Republic. This should be an excellent game, but I have to stay with my countrymen and predict a United States win. Simply put, the U.S. team simply has too much talent and depth to blow it this time around.