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September 24, 2017

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Infighting could jeopardize Taiwanese baseball dreams

There is great news for Taiwanese baseball fans, with the nation to host the World Baseball Classic (WBC) for the first time next year.

The country's central city of Taichung has won the right to host the WBC's Pool B competitions from March 2 to March 5 at its Intercontinental Stadium, featuring Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands and another qualifying team.

It will be the first time the baseball-loving country has hosted the world's top-notch international baseball competitions, and it is also a rare opportunity for Taiwanese to witness some of the world's highest-level players competing locally.

After all, the WBC, an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and created by Major League Baseball (MLB), is by far the highest-level international competition of baseball after the International Olympic Committee decided to remove the sport from the Olympic program after the 2008 Beijing Games.

It is not yet a guarantee, however, that the home team will be joining the WBC's Pool B competition in Taichung because the national team has not yet won a tournament berth.

Team Taiwan has to first compete at a WBC qualifying round to be held next month, also in Taiwan.

Playing alongside Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand at the qualifying round to be held Nov. 15-18 at New Taipei's Xinzhuang Stadium, Taiwan must take first place in the tourney to advance to the May games.

It is widely predicted that Taiwan has an edge in the November tournament because neither Thailand nor the Philippines are known for their baseball skills.

The nation's biggest foe will be the Kiwis, who have many players from overseas on their roster, including many with U.S. Minor League experience.

It is reported that 23-year-old left-handed Nick Maronde of the Los Angeles Angels could also join New Zealand's national squad, posing a serious threat to the locals.

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