The plans for the 2013 World Baseball Classic are starting to come together as Major League Baseball announced the three United States host cities on Wednesday afternoon.
The big winner is San Francisco's AT&T Park, which will play host to the tournament semifinals and championship round next March. The second-round games will be played at Miami's Marlins Park while first-round games will be played at Chase Field and Salt River Fields in Arizona. This is the second big headline for the 2013 tournament, following last month's announcement that Joe Torre will manage the U.S. team.
A couple of thoughts on the news: • AT&T Park is a bit of a surprise because I heard some talk and speculation that Miami would get the semis and final as a reward for Jeffrey Loria working over the south Florida taxpayers and building a new stadium. But as our own Jeff Passan speculates on Twitter, perhaps this carrot is being dangled in front of a different owner: Could this be Bud Selig's inducement for the Giants to relax their territorial rights to San Jose so that the A's stadium deal creeps closer to being done?
• There could be a different financial explanation, of course. AT&T Park will be the third California venue to host the WBC final, joining San Diego's Petco Park in 2006 and Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium in 2009. All three cities boast significant Asian-American populations and are a lot easier for tourists from Japan and Korea to reach than the other side of the United States. With Japanese and Korean fans making for a memorable atmosphere at the Dodger Stadium final in 2009, it's not hard to see why baseball would opt for a surer crowd than rolling the dice with Florida.
• A stay in San Francisco for BLS after hitting Arizona for spring training? Yes, that will work just fine.