Some of the biggest names in baseball are absent from Spring Training, because they’re all getting ready to compete in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Now played once every four years, the “World Cup of Baseball” pits 16 baseball-loving nations against one another in a winner-take-all tournament to determine which country can claim the best baseball bragging rights. This year’s World Baseball Classic features 45 MLB All-Star players, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (Team Venezuela), World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval (Team Venezuela), and Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey (Team USA). The tournament kicks off late Friday night on March 1, 2013 leading up to the championship game on Tuesday, March 19 in San Francisco, California.
The World Baseball Classic is a fascinating tournament for baseball purists because different nations play the game with noticeably different strategic philosophies. Team Japan won both previous tournaments in 2006 and 2009, and returns this year with a fearsome rotation of pitchers — but there are no MLB players on this year’s Japanese squad. Cuban players are so tough they’ll actually lean into an errant pitch to intentionally get hit to take their free base. The Taiwanese team was caught sneaking their scouts into South Korea’s practice games, disguised as umpires. The great appeal of watching the World Baseball Classic is seeing the rich diversity in how different nations play the game known as “America’s pastime.”
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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC ON iPAD OR iPHONE
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options available to watch the World Baseball Classic online. Major League Baseball’s cable channel, the MLB Network, has exclusive English-language rights to tournament games, and every game will be shown live on the MLB Network. The MLB Network will only stream World Baseball Classic games live to iPhone or iPad devices. Although, the app is free to download, only users who have an active cable subscription with a carrier that offers the MLB Network will be able to watch the games. If you don’t have the MLB Network, the app will still provide live scores, stats, video highlights, and a 3D batter’s box animation showing real-time developments of WBC games in progress.
There is no Android app available for watching games live, and even an MLB.tv streaming subscription will not deliver any World Baseball Classic games. The best Android users can do is download the World Baseball Classic News app, which provides real-time stats and scoreboards for World Baseball Classic games.U.S. viewers who want to watch the first round of the World Baseball Classic should be aware that some games are being played in Japan and Taiwan – creating some very pesky time zone differences. For instance, the first game on Friday night March 1 (Australia vs. China Taipei) will begin at 11:30 p.m. EST. The next game (Japan vs. Brazil) will be played at 5:30 a.m. EST Saturday morning. Later rounds will be played in San Francisco, and Miami and Jupiter, Florida, so watching live will be a little easier on your sleeping schedule. Those heading to Phoenix to check out 2013 Spring Training games can catch some of the games March 7-10.
WATCH 2013 WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC ONLINE
The good news is that a couple of World Baseball Classic games will be streamed live online and available to watch on your computer or laptop. The bad news is that the broadcasts will be in Spanish.ESPN Deportes has the Spanish-language broadcast rights to the World Baseball Classic, and they will show some of the games on WatchESPN, the site that allows you to watch ESPN online. Not many of these games will be available in the U.S., but WatchESPN will stream the Spanish-language broadcasts of the first-round match-up of Puerto Rico vs the Dominican Republic at 7:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 10, and the second-round opening gameat 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 12. WatchESPN does require an active cable subscription to watch games online, and the games will be available on demand after their completion.
In the meantime, you can watch World Baseball Classic videos of player interviews and sports news on the World Baseball Classic video channel. See a video you like? Use RealPlayer to download it to watch it again before and after the games. If you don’t have RealPlayer, you can download it free by clicking the orange button in the top right corner of this page.
Will you watch games announced in Spanish, just so you can see them? How is the streaming quality on the iPhone and iPad app for the World Baseball Classic? Will Japan win their third consecutive title, or will U.S., Brazil, or the Dominicans triumph this time? Earn global bragging rights with your opinions in the comments section below.