2006 World Baseball Classic
The 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC) was the inaugural tournament between national baseball teams that included players from Major League Baseball. It was held from March 3 to 20 in stadiums that are in and around Tokyo, Japan; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Lake Buena Vista, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Scottsdale, Arizona; Anaheim, California; and San Diego, California.
The first two rounds had a round-robin format, which led to two teams being eliminated on run difference tiebreakers: in the first round, Canada was eliminated despite its 2–1 record, due to a blowout loss to Mexico as well as failing to run up the score on South Africa; and in the second round, eventual champion Japan advanced despite its 1–2 record, due to a blowout win over Mexico and losing more narrowly to South Korea than did the United States. The higher-seeded teams generally advanced to the second round, including Puerto Rico and Venezuela, as well as the teams mentioned elsewhere in this summary.
Although South Korea defeated Japan twice in the earlier rounds, they were matched against each other again in the semifinals as the two teams emerging from the same second round pool, and Japan won that game to advance to the final against Cuba (which had defeated the Dominican Republic in the other semifinal). Japan defeated Cuba 10–6 to be crowned the first champion of the World Baseball Classic.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, a NPB veteran who was little-known outside Japan at the time, was crowned the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The following year, he made his debut in the Major Leagues with the Boston Red Sox.