The 2023 World Baseball Classic Was Amazing

World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages

The 2023 World Baseball Classic ended Tuesday night in thrilling fashion, as the two best baseball players on the planet faced off in a final at-bat. Shohei Ohtani struck out Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout on a devastating slider to give Japan a 3-2 win over the United States. It was an epic end to a pulse-pounding tournament that only solidified the event as vitally important to baseball's future.

The WBC received near-universal praise from the players who participated. Fan support was through the roof, and the live-game atmosphere had the feel of October baseball. From Tokyo, to Taichung, to Miami, stands were packed and the action lived up to the billing. We also got great stories and some amazing moments.

The story of the Czech team that, against all odds, scored a victory and earned qualification to the 2026 WBC, was fantastic. Randy Arozarena's unbelievable catch to rob a home run then his epic staredown. Trea Turner's eighth-inning grad slam to give the USA a 9-7 lead over Venezuela in the quarterfinals. Then there was Japan's comeback win over Mexico in the semifinals, which was as good as baseball gets.

It all culminated in the championship game Tuesday night, ending with the Ohtani vs. Trout matchup we've all wanted to see. Ohtani fired 101 mph fastballs and wicked sliders while the best player of his generation tried desperately to keep up.

Yes, there are complaints about the way the tournament is currently structured. And some teams will think twice about allowing their players to participate after Edwin Diaz's unfortunate injury. With all due respect, those complaints are pretty lame.

The tournament was lousy with MLB All-Stars playing at an incredibly high level. They all seemed thrilled to be there and, why not, spring training can get monotonous. Playing in big games is far more thrilling.

On top of that, other countries had players emerge as stars in their own right. Masataka Yoshida came up huge for Japan, as did righty Roki Sasaki -- who is the country's "next big thing." Cuban righty Miguel Romero went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. Chinese-Taipei's Yu Chang also made the All-Tournament team after slashing .438/.500/.938 in four games. Italy's Dominic Fletcher hit .368 with a 1.110 OPS in five games. There are a number of similar stories.

There were great stories everywhere you looked during this tournament. The only complaint I have is that it only comes every four years. The powers-that be should bring it around every other year.

So to all those complaining about the World Baseball Classic, go ahead and stick it. It was a lot of fun and I'm bummed it's over.