Great Britain vs. United States in the 2023 World Baseball Classic

PHOENIX — Two countries on parallel ends of the international baseball spectrum collide tonight as the United States, defending World Baseball Classic champions, host Great Britain in the American Southwest.

But for all the bravado and pageantry that comes with winning, for the players it’s ultimately about what’s written on the chest of their uniform.

“First it was just a really cool opportunity to play international baseball,” said England captain Daniel Cooper. “Then the more you get to know these guys, find out what we mean for the country back home where my family is from, and to build baseball in a country it wasn’t really known for, that It’s been an amazing, amazing journey, I’m just thrilled to expand baseball around the world and in our country, Great Britain.

“For me, it’s an honor,” said USA first baseman Pete Alonso. “As much as an honor, everyone in the dressing room has earned the right to be there and be part of this group – I mean, it’s an elite team.

“For us, the talent is through the roof, but we also want to be a bottom team, not just a team that is good on paper. We want to go out there and win.”

Here’s what you need to know about Saturday’s game:

When and where: Right now at Chase Field, home of the D-backs, in Phoenix.

How to watch: The contest between Great Britain and the United States is live on FOX. Games are available on FOX, FS1, FS2, Tubi, or FOX Deportes, and each game can be streamed online in the FOX Sports app. For international viewing options, click here.

How to listen: Live audio coverage of all games will air on Sirius XM, TuneIn, and in the MLB app.

What’s at stake: Britain secured a place in the event for the first time in 2023, having fought their way through qualifying in Regensburg last September. A win in one of its games would all but guarantee them qualification for the 2026 World Baseball Classic, but a victory over a juggernaut team like the one the defending champions have compiled? It would be a seismic event in the tradition of British baseball.

“Baseball is crazy,” said British outfielder Trayce Thompson. “Even the best players can be beaten by a guy who is in Rookie ball, you see that all the time in Spring Training. Anything can happen, and that’s the beauty of this game.”

For Team USA, its quest to play seven games in 11 days and lift the trophy again begins Saturday. But manager Mark DeRosa is preparing for his first game at the helm with searing intensity.

“I’m going to be honest with you,” DeRosa said, “I’m not going to treat Great Britain any different than we treat Mexico (or any other team). was playoff baseball in terms of energy.

Match history: On the stage of the World Baseball Classic, it will be a first confrontation. The two teams each competed in the 2009 Baseball World Cup but never faced each other. The last example of international play between the two teams dates back to 1938, when Great Britain won the first Baseball World Cup against the United States.

Harry Ford, C, Great Britain: Ford’s attacking heroism was at the heart of Britain’s three-game race to qualify for the Classic. Seattle’s No. 1 prospect spent all of last season at Single-A Modesto in his 19-year-old campaign, a 5-for-11 trailblazer with three home runs and eight RBIs in Germany last September.

Adam Wainwright, RHP, USA: You can pick any member of the star-studded American starting nine, but Wainwright gets the nod here as a Saturday starter. Although there are 65-shot limits during pool play, the 41-year-old takes on a substantial charge as the team’s ace ahead of embarking on his 18th big league campaign. Despite Britain’s established lack of talent at the highest levels of the game, the right-hander is preparing like any other Major League starter.

“I can’t wait to play them,” Wainwright said. “I know they are exciting players and (they) are going to be hungry, looking to make a statement and beat this team. So I have to be very prepared. I don’t take them for granted, I’ll tell you that.

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