Last World Baseball Classic berth on line in Brooklyn
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Playoff baseball comes to Brooklyn this week as the last spot in next year's World Baseball Classic (WBC) field of 16 nations will be decided in a tournament between Brazil, Israel, Britain and Pakistan.
The tournament opens on Thursday with favorites Brazil, managed by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, playing an afternoon game against Pakistan before Israel meets Britain in the second game of a day-night doubleheader at MCU Stadium.
The winner of Sunday's final in the round-robin qualifying event in Coney Island will travel to Seoul in March to join hosts South Korea, the Netherlands and Taiwan in Pool B of the premier international competition.
Other WBC first-round games will be played in Tokyo, Miami and Guadalajara. The final will be staged in Los Angeles.
Larkin led Brazil into the main draw of the 2013 championship with a qualifying tournament win in Panama before they were eliminated in the first round.
The former Cincinnati Reds shortstop says the WBC drove up interest in the game in Brazil, as well as in other participating countries hoping to develop in baseball.
"This tournament has a lot to do with the growth of baseball in Brazil," Larkin told reporters at the 7,000-seat stadium set on the edge of the Coney Island amusement park with the boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean beyond as its backdrop.
"The amount of attention we received down in Panama during the qualifier was incredible, amazing. The reception the players got when we returned back to Brazil was fantastic." Continued...