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It'll be Dodgers' World

The semifinals and finals of 2009 World Baseball Classic are set for Dodger Stadium. San Diego is a probable second-round site.

July 18, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The battle for global bragging rights in baseball will be decided at Dodger Stadium next spring.

The Dodgers have been awarded the championship round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, according to two sources not authorized to speak publicly in advance of an announcement.

That announcement is scheduled to be made at a Dodger Stadium news conference on July 31. Bob DuPuy, the president of Major League Baseball, and Paul Archey, the MLB senior vice president of international operations, are expected to formally award the games to the Dodgers.

The semifinals and finals of the 16-nation tournament are tentatively scheduled for March 21-23 at Dodger Stadium. That means Southern California would play host to two of baseball's marquee events within 16 months, with the 2010 All-Star game booked for Angel Stadium.

The first round of the 2009 WBC will be played in Mexico City, Toronto, Tokyo and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The second-round sites are expected to be Miami and San Diego, with an official announcement expected this month.

Dodgers catcher Russell Martin did not play for his native Canada in the inaugural WBC in 2006, but he said he watched on television and marveled at the intensity.

"That's what happens when you represent your country," Martin said. "It doesn't get better than that. It's kind of like the Olympics."

Martin said he plans to participate next year, raising the possibility that he could play the first round in his homeland and the championship round in his home stadium.

"It couldn't be any better for me," he said.

Japan beat Cuba in the championship game of the inaugural WBC in 2006, with Daisuke Matsuzaka recording the victory at Petco Park. In the year before he joined the Boston Red Sox, Matsuzaka earned WBC most valuable player honors, with a 3-0 record and 1.38 earned-run average.

The tournament attracted large and festive crowds, with many fans chanting and waving national flags. Angel Stadium played host to the second round, in which Japan and Korea advanced to the championship round and the United States and Mexico were eliminated.

The semifinals and finals in San Diego were sold out, even without Team USA.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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