Jim Williams: Passion for the World Baseball Classic remains high

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Sports,MLB,Jim Williams

The World Baseball Classic is in full swing, and the MLB Network has pulled out all the stops in its exclusive coverage. By the time the event ends March 19 with the championship game at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the network will have aired all 39 games.

The success of the WBC has come through careful planning and an international campaign to make as many countries as possible aware of the event. MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian, who is doing play-by-play on over a dozen games, recently spoke about the tournament and its growth.

Has the timing of the WBC -- in the middle of spring training -- been a problem for the network?

Vasgersian » "Not at all. We have plenty of talented men and women working hard to cover the WBC as well as spring training without missing a storyline in any aspect of baseball. As for the WBC, this really is the best time for it to happen. It comes at a time when all of the world's baseball leagues are on a break. So timing-wise it is perfect, and as for the major leaguers in the WBC, they are getting live game action and the pitchers are not being asked to do anything they would not be doing if they were in camp with their home team."

What has made the WBC a success?

Vasgersian » "This an event that is so very meaningful to all the countries involved. The teams from the Far East, the teams from the Caribbean and yes, the USA all want to win and to have bragging rights. Having done this event in 2009, I can tell you that guys play full-out in this tournament and they want to be WBC champions."

Who are the favorites as you see it?

Vasgersian » "We have a strong USA team with Joe Torre as the manager. But if we have learned anything about the WBC in the past, there are plenty of talented teams like the Dominican Republic. Then there is Japan, who has won the two previous WBC championships. We know that dark horse teams like Venezuela, South Korea, Cuba and Chinese Taipei all can get hot at the right time and pull off an upset. That is what makes this such a fun event to watch and to cover."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.

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