Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Japan won the 2009 World Baseball Classic by defeating South Korea 5-3 in the finals staged at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


By John Conroy

The buzz of vuvuzelas and the beat of the hit “Ya’alili” blasting from the speakers at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, last September were audible proof that the World Baseball Classic may be rounding third base in terms of worldwide popularity. Fans of South Africa were blowing the noisemakers to support their team during its third appearance in as many tournaments since the event’s debut in 2006. Team Israel’s fans bopped to Israeli pop songs, waved the national flag and cheered on their team’s first visit with a smattering of Yiddish. But on day five of the qualifier, Spain defeated Israel, advancing that team to the first series of round-robin games scheduled to begin March 2 in Japan and Taiwan and end with the championship series March 17–19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

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