The week in baseball is a true Classic.
It begins with elite teams from all over the globe working out and playing each other in first-round pool play of the 2017 World Baseball Classic in sites in four countries.
This morning, Israel and Korea began duking it out in the first round in Pool A at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea -- a 2-1, 10-inning win by Israel. That game was on MLB Network and MLB.TV, along with all other WBC '17 games and many of the pre-tournament exhibitions.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
"I think the Classic is great for baseball," said Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran, who has played for his native Puerto Rico in the first three tournaments and will be one of 20 players to play in all four Classics so far.
"As a player, you play for your country, and no one wants to lose. So every player that has the opportunity to play in a [meaningful] game, we're always going to give what we have."
Seven days from now, the brilliant and intense quadrennial competition will be narrowed from 16 to eight teams and two locales, as two teams will emerge from each of the four first round pools (more on that below).
Here is everything you need to know about the international baseball extravaganza that will touch all corners of the globe this week:
POOL A (Seoul, Korea): Chinese Taipei, Israel, Korea, the Netherlands
World Baseball Classic action began this morning with the first game, in which Israel beat Korea after a two-out RBI single by Scott Burcham in the top of the 10th inning. It was the start of round-robin play, as each team plays the other three in its pool, with the two best records advancing to the next round of pool play.
The other two teams in Pool A are Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands, which features big leaguers Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorius. Chinese Taipei plays its first game against Israel tonight at 10 p.m. ET, while the Dutch take on the host nation on Tuesday at 4:30 a.m. ET.
Korea, which lost to Japan in the final of the 2009 Classic, was a favorite to advance out of this pool, and if two advancing teams have not emerged by the end of round-robin play, a tiebreaker game will be held Friday at 4 a.m. ET.
Video: World Baseball Classic: Pool A
Pool B (Tokyo, Japan): Australia, China, Cuba, Japan
It figures to be a raucous Tokyo Dome, with powerhouses Japan and Cuba, plus underdogs Australia and China ready to resume their international rivalries.
Official Pool B games begin Tuesday with a much-anticipated opener between Cuba and Japan at 5 a.m. ET, a rematch of the finals of the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, which Japan won. Cuba's roster is highlighted by MLB prospects such as Victor Victor Mesa and Yoelkis Cespedes, the half-brother of Yoenis Cespedes. Japan, winners of the first two Classics, will again prove tough even in the absence of wunderkind Shohei Ohtani, who is sidelined with a right ankle injury. In Ohtani's absence, Nippon Professional Baseball stars Tomoyuki Sugano and Shintaro Fujinami front Japan's rotation.
• Top international prospects on display
China plays its first game againt Cuba begin at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday and that is followed by Japan and Australia playing at 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Video: World Baseball Classic: Pool B
Pool C (Miami): Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, USA
This foursome, which will play official Classic games at Marlins Park in Miami, might be the most loaded pool in the whole tournament, with Team USA and the defending champion Dominican Republic headlining and upset-ready Canada and Colombia filling out the bill.
Team Dominicana (at Pirates camp in Bradenton) and the Canadian contingent (at Blue Jays camp, naturally) will work out on Monday, and fans can see the stacked Dominican team that includes MLB heavyweights Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Jean Segura, Jose Bautista, Starling Marte, Nelson Cruz and more.
"It means a lot," Mariners shortstop Segura said. "Not just to me, but my family and my country, too, the people that love watching us play baseball. It's an honor to be a Dominican boy representing my country in the World Baseball Classic. It's going to be awesome."
The U.S. team, with Nolan Arenado, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey and many other All-Stars, will hit the field for its first workout on Tuesday in Fort Myers, Fla., at Red Sox camp alongside Colombia (Twins camp). Julio Teheran and Jose Quintana front Colombia's formidable rotation.
The early part of the week near South Beach will be dominated by more workouts and exhibition games against Grapefruit League opponents, starting with the Dominican Republic against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday with the Canadians playing the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., on that day as well. That Canada-Toronto game can be seen on MLB.TV.
Colombia (against the Rays in Port Charlotte) and the U.S. (Red Sox in Fort Myers) will start their exhibition slates on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. ET and 7:05 p.m. ET respectively. The U.S. will play another exhibition on Wednesday against the Twins at 7:05 p.m. that is available on MLB.TV.
On Thursday, Colombia will play the Twins at 1:05 p.m. ET in Fort Myers, the same time Team USA will finish up its exhibition schedule against the Red Sox, also in Fort Myers.
Classic play begins Thursday at Marlins Park with Canada -- which features big leaguers Freddie Freeman and Justin Morneau, plus retired veterans Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne -- against the Dominican Republic (6 p.m. ET), and on Friday, the U.S. team makes its WBC 2017 debut against Colombia at 6 p.m. ET. Saturday's slate features the most anticipated game of the first round, Team USA vs. the Dominican Republic, set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
Video: MLB Tonight: How tough is Team USA's opener?
Team USA did not win any of the first three Classic tournaments, while the Dominican broke through with its first title in 2013 after going 8-0. It's not surprising, then, that the Americans want to win. Rangers closer Sam Dyson, for example, is competing for the U.S. despite a sprained wrist, and he didn't hesitate to explain why.
"You're playing for people that have fought for you in the military," Dyson said. "You're playing for your family, you're playing for pretty much everyone that lives here as a part of the U.S."
Video: Dyson expresses excitement to play for Team USA
Pool D (Jalisco, Mexico): Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela
The last four teams will begin the week in Arizona working out and playing exhibition games against Cactus League teams before heading down to Mexico, where they'll compete at Estadio Jarros de Jalisco.
On Tuesday, Team Italy will play the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz., at 3:05 p.m. ET and Mexico will play the Padres in Peoria, Ariz., at 3:10 p.m. ET (on MLB.TV). Wednesday's slate of exhibitions features Mexico against the D-backs at 3:10 p.m. ET at Salt River Fields and also on MLB.TV.
Cactus League exhibitions for Classic teams will conclude Thursday, highlighted by Venezuela against the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., at 3:05 p.m. ET, also via MLB.TV.
Team Mexico, with big leaguers Adrian Gonzalez, Khris Davis, Marco Estrada and Julio Urias among the big names on the roster, will have home-field advantage, but Venezuela (Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Jose Altuve, Carlos Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez and more) and Puerto Rico (Francisco Lindor, Beltran, Yadier Molina, Javier Baez) won't make it easy. There's also Team Italy, with big leaguers Chris Colabello, Francisco Cervelli and Drew Butera to potentially make things interesting.
The first Classic competition of Pool D will take place on Thursday evening, with Mexico taking on Italy at 9 p.m. ET, and Venezuela and Puerto Rico will begin their Classic schedule at 9 p.m. ET on Friday.
The weekend will be wall-to-wall action, with twinbills on Saturday (Venezuela vs. Italy at 3 p.m. ET, Puerto Rico vs. Mexico at 9:30 p.m. ET) and Sunday (Italy vs. Puerto Rico at 3:30 p.m. ET, Mexico vs. Venezuela at 10 p.m. ET) to possibly determine which two teams will move on.
Second-round emotion: A fast-paced week will pick up even more steam in Tokyo, when the four teams that advanced from the Asian-based first-round pools (Pool A in Korea and Pool B in Tokyo) will begin second-round play. The Pool A winner will play the Pool B runner-up Sunday at noon local time (10 p.m. ET Saturday) and the Pool B winner playing the Pool A second-place finisher Sunday at 7 p.m. Tokyo time (6 a.m. ET Sunday). There will be workouts on Friday and Saturday in Tokyo preceding the Sunday doubleheader depending on the results of the previous round.
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.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.