Baseball players and fans from around the world will be heading to AT&T Park in San Francisco starting this Sunday for the final rounds of the World Baseball Classic, an international baseball tournament that features teams representing a wide array of different countries and territories.
This is the third iteration of the competition, which is overseen by the International Baseball Federation, Major League Baseball, and other professional baseball organizations from around the globe.
The San Francisco Giants had seven of their players participating this year in the WBC -- Ryan Vogelsong and Jeremy Affeldt for the U.S., Santiago Casilla for the Dominican Republic, Angel Pagan for Puerto Rico, Sergio Romo for Mexico and Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro for Venezuela.
Giants hitting coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Muelens is managing the Dutch team, which has won a berth in the semifinals and will be playing on Monday evening at AT&T Park. Japan has also secured a spot, and will be playing on Sunday night; the final two teams have yet to be determined, and the winners of the Sunday and Monday games will play each other in the championship game on Tuesday.
Puerto Rico will play the Dominican Republic on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at Marlins Park to determine matchups for the semifinals at AT&T Park. Pagan will be hearing from the hometown fans as will Bam Bam and Casilla.
"We're always looking to just bring great baseball to our fans, and this opportunity to bring the best players from around the world representing their own home countries is really exciting," said Alfonso Felder, senior vice president of administration for the San Francisco Giants, who are hosting the WBC this year.
"If you've been watching the tournament, you see that there is an energy level that exists at these games that a lot of people compare to a postseason atmosphere, and there's a certain level of pageantry obviously with these games as well," Felder said.
"What we hope that fans coming from other places appreciate is what an amazing place this is to experience baseball. We've got an incredibly passionate fan base and people here have a love of the game that I think is pretty unparalleled," he said.
Tickets are still available for all three games, and Felder hopes that fans will come out not only for some great baseball, but also to gain a broader perspective on the sport.
"For everybody that comes, I think what they will walk away with is how much baseball is more than just our country's pastime, it's a pastime that people are passionate about from throughout the world, and this in many ways is the ultimate international celebration of this great game," he said.
The World Baseball Classic semi-finals and championship will be played at 6 p.m. Sunday, 6 p.m. Monday and 5 p.m. Tuesday at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Dynamic pricing applies to tickets. More information is available at this link.