Ambiguous clauses in the WBC (World Baseball Classic) matchup caused a ‘controversy to modify the matchup’. The MLB (American Professional Baseball) Secretariat, which supervises the WBC, is under suspicion of modifying the bracket to help the United States advance to the final. It is said that the United States put their hands on the match to avoid the ‘strong team’ Japan in the semifinals.
This controversy stemmed from an ambiguous provision that was specified in the bracket announced before the tournament. The four WBC quarterfinals will be played twice each in Tokyo, Japan and Miami, USA. 1 match in Tokyo (1st in Group A – 2nd in Group B) and 2 matches (1st in Group B – 2nd in Group A), 3 matches in Miami (2nd in Group C – 1st in Group D) and 4 matches ( 1st place in Group C – 2nd place in Group D) will be held. In the existing bracket, “If Japan and the United States (the host countries of the quarterfinals) advance to the quarterfinals, regardless of the group stage ranking, the second quarterfinal game (of the two quarterfinal matches held in each region) will be played” (play the second quarterfinal game). There was a proviso clause, but it was not clear whether the matches scheduled between Japan and the United States were different, or if only the match time was placed backward.
In the case of Japan, this proviso clause was not a problem as they advanced to the quarterfinals with No. 1 in Group B and were initially organized for two games. However, problems arose as the U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals after finishing second in Group C, contrary to expectations. If the U.S. is drawn for the quarterfinals and three matches and the match time is held later than the fourth match, it will face Cuba in the semifinals, which won one match in the quarterfinals by avoiding Japan. On the other hand, if the United States is to be organized in the quarterfinals 4 games, it will face Japan, who won the quarterfinals 2 games, if it advances to the semifinals.
Without a clear explanation on this point, the MLB Secretariat presented a schedule that put the United States in 3 games and put the game time behind 4 games. The proviso clause in the existing bracket was also removed. The only thing left for the US to do is face Japan in the final.
It’s not bad for Japan to avoid the US in the semifinals, but they can’t hide their bewilderment as the expected matchup suddenly changes. Ahead of the quarterfinal match against Italy on the 16th, Japanese reporters poured out questions to MLB officials, asking, “If the US advances to the quarterfinals, wouldn’t it be the 4 games in the quarterfinals?” However, an MLB official said, “This is incorrect information.”