World Baseball Classic
World Baseball Classic: Top sights, sounds, celebrations, more thus far
World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic: Top sights, sounds, celebrations, more thus far

Updated Mar. 11, 2023 8:38 p.m. ET

The World Baseball Classic is only three days old, and tournament heavyweights like the Dominican Republic and the United States have yet to play. But there have still been plenty of incredible sights and sounds from the first games of the tournament in Taichung, Taiwan and Tokyo, including bat flips, team celebrations, emotional crowd moments and even a new fan favorite for Team Japan in Lars Nootbar.

[WBC Daily: Japan, Cuba dominate; Czech Republic wins; Chinese Taipei rallies]

Below are some of the best moments you may have missed over the first few days of the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Make sure to check out the rest of the action through March 21, only on the FOX family of networks, Tubi and the FOX Sports App.


Shohei Ohtani comes home

It had been six years since Shohei Ohtani had played a competitive game in the Tokyo Dome, and seven years since he did so wearing a Japan jersey. (You probably know what he has been up to in the meantime.) So when the two-way superstar returned to lead a powerhouse Japan team that is one of the favorites to win this year's WBC, he received a welcome fitting a homecoming hero.

Japan's Shohei Ohtani records his first strikeout of the 2023 World Baseball Classic vs. China!

Shohei Ohtani ropes an RBI single to extend Japan's lead over Korea

All Ohtani has done is go 4-for-7 with three runs, three RBIs and three walks over Japan's first two games in Pool B. Oh, and he threw four shutout innings with five strikeouts in his start in Japan's opening game against China

As much as Ohtani has excited his hometown fans, however, another MLB star has also quickly captured the hearts of the Japan faithful as well as his new teammates.

Japan loves Lars

American-born St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbar is fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing for Japan, honoring his mother's Japanese heritage. Nootbar is excelling in his first taste of action in the Tokyo Dome going 4-for-8 over Japan's first two games with four runs and an RBI — and making two spectacular diving catches.

And despite the language barrier, he is quickly winning over teammates and becoming a fan-favorite off the field as well.

Even Ohtani, who helped recruit Nootbar to Team Japan, is adopting his teammate's trademark "pepper grinder" celebration.

Immaculate vibes in the Tokyo Dome

Carton Show panelist Cody Decker, who played professional baseball in Japan, had high praise for the atmosphere in the Tokyo Dome. It's easy to see why.

Even fans not present at the Tokyo Dome were showing their support all across Japan.

Chinese Taipei's incredible home crowd

The only place louder than the Tokyo Dome when Japan plays might be Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium when Chinese Taipei plays. The home crowd was rocking all night long during Chinese Taipei's comeback win over Italy in an instant classic on Friday.

Things only got even more nuts when Yu Chang, who hit the game-tying home run against Italy Friday, crushed a Grand Slam against the Netherlands Saturday.

Italy's incredible celebration

Not to be outdone in the likability department, the Italy team managed by Hall of Famer Mike Piazza has adopted the Italian pinched-fingers gesture as its official celebration whenever someone gets a hit. And there has been plenty of cause to use that because just like its coach back in his playing days, this Italy team rakes.

Oh, and Team Italy also has an espresso machine in its dugout because of course it does.

Dutch celebrations!

The Netherlands are no stranger to the World Baseball Classic and the team, which features San Diego Padres star Xander Bogaerts, feels right at home with some tributes to the NFL's Justin Jefferson and soccer's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Meet the Cuba horn guy

The opening game of the World Baseball Classic between Cuba and the Netherlands had some ambiance to it — namely, a loud horn. According to, the horn belongs to a Cuban baseball superfan who is close with the team.

The amazing Czech Republic story

One of the beauties of World Baseball Classic is that it not only features some of professional baseball's brightest stars but also teams like the Czech Republic primarily comprised of guys who work regular jobs, and then end up representing their country in front of the world. 

And that is how a college baseball player ends up throwing four no-hit innings in the Tokyo Dome…

… Eventually setting his teammate up to hit a game-winning home run in the ninth inning that brought at least one person in the Czech cheering section to tears.

Martin Muzik hits a go-ahead, three-run home run to give the Czech Republic the lead over China in the top of the ninth inning

It also earned Muzik a hug from his manager after the game.

Though the Czech Republic were no match for Ohtani and Japan in their next game, the home team's superstar still paid respects to the incredible squad from Eastern Europe.

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