Through the first three installments of the World Baseball Classic it's fair to say Team USA has greatly underperformed. Overall the team has a disappointing record of 10-10. They have made the semi-finals just once, with a fourth place tournament finish in 2009.
Back in 2006 we got a taste of what the WBC could be for the Americans. In round two that year USA faced off with Japan, who had just two major league players on their roster. The story goes that Japan's players were in awe of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and the rest of USA's squad. This led to them keeping their distance during batting practice almost as if they were fans.
Japan's leader, Ichiro, sensed this and told the team they had nothing to fear. He then went out and homered off Jake Peavy in the first at bat of the game. The next eight innings were back and forth throughout, but in the bottom of the ninth A-Rod came up and hit a walk-off single to give USA an epic 4-3 win.
Over 10 years later this is likely USA's most memorable moment in WBC history. It was the moment when it looked like we had the best team in the entire tournament. Yet despite the win over Japan that year USA went on to lose their next two games and were embarrassingly eliminated. Meanwhile, Japan went on to win it all in '06, and then went on to repeat as champs in 2009.
The 2017 tournament began Monday, March 6th. Team USA's first round schedule:
Friday, March 10th versus Colombia 6:00 PM EST
Saturday, March 11th versus DR 6:30 PM EST
Sunday, March 12th versus Canada 7:00 PM EST