The pageantry, the passion, the players and the pride.
All is on display again in vibrant colors and international intensity as the World Baseball Classic has returned after a four-year wait.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Which of the 16 participating nations and territories will celebrate on March 22 at Dodger Stadium? That is the ultimate question, and here are some answers for many others you may have:
What is the World Baseball Classic?
"This is baseball's marquee world event," MLB Network analyst and 2006 Team USA pitcher Al Leiter said. Its format bears little resemblance to the Summer Olympics baseball program, which will return in '20, as this is much larger in scope, designed with input from players and conducted at multiple venues around the globe, and features one champion instead of medal winners. Japan won the first two iterations of the World Baseball Classic in '06 and '09, and the Dominican Republic prevailed in '13.
Who are some of the biggest names in this year's field?
When rosters were announced last month, a record 63 past All-Stars were on the list, including 25 from last summer's game. Many of the top 30 names on the 2017 MLB.com Fantasy Player Preview rankings are participating, including No. 3 Jose Altuve (Venezuela), No. 5 Nolan Arenado (United States), No. 6 Paul Goldschmidt (United States), No. 10 Manny Machado (Dominican Republic), No. 17 Starling Marte (Dominican Republic), No. 18 Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela), No. 23 Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico), No. 24 Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico), No. 27 Freddie Freeman (Canada) and No. 28 Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic).
• Compete World Baseball Classic coverage
Video: Park on WBC 2017 introducing baseball to everyone
How are the individual rounds formatted?
The first and second rounds are each round-robin format, and each features seven games, with tiebreaker games also a possibility for the first time. A team may need to play a tiebreaker if it is part of a three-way tie (with a 2-1 or a 1-2 record) after the round robin, and that could have a big impact on this World Baseball Classic. The Championship Round is a single-elimination format with one game scheduled each night from March 20-22.
Where are the games being played?
Here is an overview of the four first-round locations; click here for the full schedule:
• Pool A: Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea: Chinese Taipei, Israel, Korea and Netherlands
• Pool B: Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan: Australia, Cuba, China and Japan
• Pool C: Marlins Park in Miami: Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic and United States
• Pool D: Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco in Jalisco, Mexico: Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela
Second-round games will be at the Tokyo Dome for Pool E (featuring winners and runners-up from Pools A and B) and at Petco Park in San Diego for Pool F (featuring the winners and runners-up from Pools C and D). Dodger Stadium will host the Championship Round from March 20-22.
What format is the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium?
The semifinal game and final game of the tournament will be conducted in a single-elimination format with a winner-takes-all finish. The first semifinal at 9 p.m. ET on March 20 matches the Pool F (San Diego) winner against the Pool E (Tokyo) runner-up. The second semifinal at 9 p.m. ET on March 21 matches the Pool F runner-up against the Pool E winner. The Championship Game at 9 p.m. ET on March 22 pairs the two semifinal winners to decide the 2017 World Baseball Classic title.
Video: Players discuss the upcoming Classic and the culture
How does the new Designated Pitcher Pool work?
New to this year's tournament, each team is allowed to use a designated pool of pitchers, rather than being forced to use the same available pitchers for each round. A team can use up to 10 designated pitchers, but it can't have more than two on its active roster at a time. Those "active" DPs can be replaced at the beginning of each of the next two rounds, but only by another DP. Once a DP has been replaced, he cannot return to the active roster for a subsequent round. If a DP joins for the second round, he can be replaced for the Championship Round, but only by another DP. Inactive pool pitchers stay with their Major League clubs throughout the tournament.
Is there video replay review?
Yes, the full selection of replay reviews will be available for the Championship Round, though there will be no manager challenges. For the first two rounds, the rules are the same as they were for 2013, in that replays can only be used on boundary calls -- home runs or potential home runs.
How will extra innings work?
This World Baseball Classic will follow familiar international rules in that once an 11th inning is needed, the team at bat shall begin the inning with runners on first and second base. The batter who leads off an inning shall continue to be the batter who would lead off the inning in the absence of this extra-innings rule. The runner on first base shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding the batter who leads off the inning. The runner on second base shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding the runner on first base.
See 2017 rule changes for more detailed information.
What are the limits on pitcher usage?
As in 2013, pitchers will be limited to 65 pitches in the first round, with 80 and 95 pitches in subsequent rounds. In all cases, pitchers may complete a plate appearance in which they exceed those thresholds. Any pitcher who throws at least 50 pitches in a game must rest at least four days. A pitcher who throws 30 pitches must rest one day. No pitcher can throw on three consecutive days, regardless of pitch counts.
Video: Watch the world's best play in the 2017 WBC
What is the mercy rule?
In the first two rounds, a team is declared the winner of a game if it leads by either 15 runs after five innings or 10 runs after seven innings.
Which teams are new to the World Baseball Classic?
Two of the 16 are making their first appearance. Israel will be a darling, led by Ike Davis, Sam Fuld, Ryan Lavarnway, Jason Marquis, Cody Decker and prospect Tyler Krieger. Colombia, which did not reach the 2013 World Baseball Classic, qualified for the first time after Dilson Herrera hit a solo home run in the eighth inning of the qualifying championship game against Panama a year ago.
How popular is the World Baseball Classic?
In 2013, one-third of all televisions in Japan were turned to the event for that country's three first-round games, and most people in the Dominican Republic were fixated on that tournament's showing by Cano and teammates. It was created to give baseball a global platform, but if Team USA reaches the Championship Round for the first time, it is expected to be boosted considerably.
"It's going to be especially popular in places where their teams are winning," Leiter said. "Team USA hasn't finished better than fourth yet. So we haven't seen yet just how popular this event truly could become."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.