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The World Baseball Classic is down to just four teams, and we’re past the round-robin setup of the first two rounds. It’s now single-elimination from here on out, with the winners of the next two games determining who will be playing on Wednesday to become the 2017 World Baseball Classic champion. The first of those two games is Monday night at 9 p.m. ET, with the Pool E runner-up the Netherlands taking on Pool F winner, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is an undefeated 6-0 in the tournament, and it’s hard not to see why when you consider they have Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Javier Baez, and Francisco Lindor, among others. Even so, they weren’t considered favorites in the same way that, say, the Dominican Republic team was, and yet, here they are in the semifinals once again. Puerto Rico actually made it to the WBC Championship Game in 2013, but fell to the Dominican. Puerto Rico made up for that on their way here, downing the Dominican in their first game of the second round, which inevitably helped them advance while sending the Dominican home.
The Netherlands have their own success stories, with young major-league players like Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar, and Jonathan Schoop on the roster, but they’ve also put together a pitching staff made up out of the European portion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that has helped carry them this far. Less than a decade ago, the Netherlands were a complete unknown in the baseball world, but here they are, in the semifinals once again. Like Puerto Rico, their championship aspirations were ended in 2013 by the Dominican Republic, but they no longer stand in the way of either team.
- The World Baseball Classic keeps adding signature moments, and Adam Jones’ catch was one of the very best. Here’s everything that came together to make this particular fantastic catch happen, courtesy Grant Brisbee.
- White Sox fans are getting used to a world without Chris Sale, and if Yoan Moncada keeps hitting shots like this, acclimating is going to be both easy and fun.
- The face of the Yankees is changing, and it sure is younger.
- The new Cubs’ slogan is “That’s Cub,” and it is not only annoying, it’s also everywhere.
- The Mets have a simple path to success, writes Beyond the Box Score.
- Good news, Indians fans! Michael Brantley is expected to make his first start of the spring on Monday.
- Bad news, Indians fans. Jason Kipnis is set to miss 4-5 weeks with should inflammation and Cody Anderson is missing all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- The Indians aren’t the only ones dealing with injury issues, as Tigers’ slugger J.D. Martinez is getting a second opinion on his injured foot.
- Brady Anderson’s role with the Orioles is a topic of debate, writes Ken Rosenthal.
- Eric Longenhagen’s top-100 prospects list is up for you to read and debate.
- This is how a Korean Baseball Organization thumper made his way back to MLB.
- Trevor Strunk has come to peace with Tim Tebow in baseball, and you can, too.