Multiple reports have the World Baseball Classic canceled from its original 2021 date, as concerns about pandemic management and a desire to avoid conflict with the 2021 Summer Olympics is forcing what other are deeming a postponement.
Whether it’s a cancelation or a postponement depends on who you ask in MLB circles, and it may just be a matter of semantics for now, as there’s been no official announcement of the tourney’s status. The fifth installment of the WBC, originally scheduled for March 9-23, 2021, was set for Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan and the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taoyuan, Taiwan; the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan; Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Phoenix, Arizona; and Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins, in Miami, Florida.
Given how unsettled the world is, postponing the WBC makes some sense: the 2020 season has already been dramatically changed by the coronavirus, and as we struggle toward some level of normalcy in 2021, throwing a World Baseball Classic in the midst of such uncertainty makes little sense. Add to that the desire of the Japanese NPB pro league to delay a World Baseball Classic as not to complete with the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics (delayed a year from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic), and you have a perfect storm for a cancelation or postponement. One other reason why there’s some uncertainty around the status of a 2022 or 2023 World Baseball Classic: It needs to be negotiated as part of the next labor agreement with MLB and the players association.
Image from 2017 courtesy Marlins Park.