The World Baseball Classic in the western hemisphere gets started Thursday -- teams have been taking on MLB teams in exhibition games this week as a warmup -- but in Japan and Taiwan, the first round of games is complete.
In Pool A, Cuba and Japan were the heavy favorites, but the two-time defending champs were defeated by Cuba 6-3 in the final game of Pool A on Wednesday. Both will advance to the second round in Tokyo.
In Pool B, South Korea was knocked out in a minor upset as the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei advanced to Tokyo. All three teams went 2-1, but Korea lost in a tiebreaker based on something called the Team Quality Balance, which is the sum of runs scored divided by the number of innings played on offense, minus the number of runs allowed, divided by the number of innings played on defense. (Yes, it sounds like the sabermetricians have taken over the WBC.)
The U.S. team begins play Friday against Mexico. There's a nice matchup on Thursday in Puerto Rico when the Dominican Republic faces Venezuela. Those two teams are probably the favorite in Pool C. Click here for the full schedule.