Mar 23, 2009; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of opening ceremonies before the World Baseball Classic final between Korea and Japan at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- Are you ready for the 2013 World Baseball Classic? Some casual fans of the game might not "get" the whole concept of this mid-spring tournament, so we thought we'd try to give you a quick, easy to understand primer on what this is all about and how you can see it.
The 16-team World Baseball Classic will be played for the third time beginning on Saturday with the two-time defending Japanese team seeking to defend their crown.
The teams making up the international field are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Spain, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei, USA and Venezuela.
The World Baseball Classic, or WBC kicked off in 2006 and became the first of its kind in baseball history to put professional players in national team colors. The idea was simple, create an event that would help determine a true world champion. Interestingly enough, the creation of the Classic, eventually led to the game of baseball getting eliminated from Olympic competition.
While the World Baseball Classic is set to begin in Asia this weekend, the U.S. team will get it's first taste of competition next Friday at Chase Field against the highly competitive and arch-rival Mexico. The Americans play Italy and Canada in succession at the home of the D-backs the following two days.
The game may have originated in America, but the world has clearly caught up. In the tournament's first year in 2006, the U.S. squad failed to make it out of the second round and it lost in the semifinals in 2009 to Japan, which won the first two tournaments.
This year's team will be managed by former Yankees skipper Joe Torre.
Unlike the Olympics, American fans can rest assured that they will know more than a few names spread out across the 16 international rosters. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval and Cy Young knuckleballer R.A. Dickey are among 45 major league all-stars on the rosters for the World Baseball Classic.
There are seven players who have won MVP awards, including Cabrera, Joe Mauer, Joey Votto and Miguel Tejada.
Ryan Braun, David Wright and Giancarlo Stanton are among the stars on the U.S. team. Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and free agent Jose Valverde lead the Dominican Republic.
The Italian team includes New York Yankees minor league Pat Venditte, who is an ambidextrous pitcher.
Five players from the Cardinals organization will be featured on various rosters. On the U.S. squad, Mitchell Boggs. Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran will play for Puerto Rico. Fernando Salas for Mexico and Cardinals farmhand Richard Castillo will play for Spain.
To view the games, you will need to have access to the MLB Network. The network recently announced plans for its coverage of the 2013 World Baseball Classic which starts Friday at 11:30 p.m. , and continues with 39 games of the tournament through the Championship on Tuesday, March 19 at 8 p.m.