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World Baseball Classic grows game globally

02/15/2013 2:06 PM ET
By Matt Hughes

Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will manage Team Brazil in the World Baseball Classic.(AP)
The World Baseball Classic begins in March and all signs point to the tournament growing baseball as a global game.

A recent Forbes report outlines how the WBC has become the premier international baseball tournament. The WBC was founded in 2006 by the International Baseball Federation after baseball was voted out of the Olympics in 2005 by the International Olympic Committee. Besides bringing some of the world's most talented players together to represent their countries the WBC is also developing the game in non-traditional baseball countries.

Brazil's success might be the WBC's greatest achievement to date. After defeating Panama during the qualifying round, expectations are high for Brazil in 2013. Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin is managing the Brazilian squad and has seen baseball progress in Brazil through his affiliation with the MLB-organized baseball academy, which is now in its third year of existence.

"I have been down in Brazil for the past three years working with the academy, and I thought it was a natural thing for me to at least be on the Team Brazil staff due to the fact that many of the players went through the camp," said Larkin. "The future of baseball is predicated on how well the game is perceived in the nation. The baseball community backs it. The hope is that with Brazil's success in the WBC, it will permeate itself."

Japan won the first two WBC titles in 2006 and 2009. And according to Forbes, MLB's international participation last year was 28.4 percent. MLB is hoping the interest in the WBC will lead to a surge in global interest in baseball. 

The 2013 WBC begins on March 2 at various venues worldwide with 16 countries competing. The WBC Championship will be played on March 19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. 

Follow Matt Hughes on Twitter: @hughesmatt

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