Return of World Baseball Classic in 2023 promises to be compelling again for Japan
TOKYO — The World Baseball Classic is resuming activity in 2023 after a six-year hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic. It will be the fifth incarnation of the WBC following the inaugural tourney in 2006 and tourneys in 2009, 2013 and 2017. It is an event that Japan has won more often than any other country and has great significance in that nation, if not so much in the United States.
The WBC is viewed by many Japanese as a substitute for a real World Series between the World Series champions in the United States and the winners of the Japan Series, something Japan has been asking for since the 1960’s when Matsutaro Shoriki, owner of the Yomiuri Giants, first proposed the idea. However, respective MLB commissioners have always deflected such requests, arguing that the Japanese Central and Pacific Leagues were inferior in quality to the American and National Leagues.
As Bowie Kuhn, big league commissioner from 1969-1984, once put it during a visit to Tokyo, “How can you claim parity with us when there are players no longer wanted in MLB who have become stars in Japan?”