Will this be the year for Team USA?

The World Baseball Classic has proven to be a force and very popular around the world, creating interest and great television ratings in many countries. But for the event to gain more interest here, Team USA probably needs to win this event - or least get deep into the competition.

As Team USA - with two Orioles on the roster - begins Pool C play tonight against Colombia, we can note that the Americans have been rather mediocre in previous editions of the WBC.

Japan has been to the semifinals in all three previous events and won the championship in 2006 and 2009. In the 2013 WBC, the team from the Dominican Republic went unbeaten and won it all.

The United States has never reached the championship game and made the semifinals just once in three events. That was in 2009 and the USA lost in the semis to Japan 9-4, before Japan went on to beat Korea for the championship.

So yeah, a few more wins from the Americans might create more interest in the event among Americans. Team USA went 2-3 in 2006, 4-3 in 2009 and 3-3 in 2013.

Three Orioles have played for the United States previously. In 2009, Brian Roberts went 7-for-16 (.438) with six runs, two doubles, a triple, a homer and two RBIs. Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, though, was not good on the mound, going 0-2 with an ERA of 14.73. Over 3 2/3 innings, he allowed 14 hits and 10 runs (six earned) in two games, one as a starter.

Adam-Jones-Team-USA-throw-warmup-sidebar.jpgIn 2013, center fielder Adam Jones played for Team USA and went 4-for-22 (.182) with a double, two runs and four RBIs. Jones and teammate Mychal Givens will represent the Orioles this year on Team USA.

The United States is joined by Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Canada in Pool C. The top two teams will advance to the next round, which will feature another round of four teams in two pools. Each of those pools will send two teams to the semifinals where single-elimination play begins and a team will then need two wins for a championship.

Right-hander Chris Archer of the Rays is expected to start for the Americans tonight at 6 p.m. against left-hander José Quintana of the White Sox for Colombia. On Saturday night, the USA will face the defending champion Dominican squad at sold-out Marlins Park in Miami. Sunday night, Team USA faces Canada. They will probably need a 2-1 record to advance.

The Dominican squad beat Canada 9-2 last night to open Pool C play as O’s third baseman Manny Machado went 2-for-5 with a run scored for the winners. O’s catcher Welington Castillo went 1-for-4 with a second-inning two-run homer that gave the Dominican Republic a 3-0 lead.

That game Saturday night, United States versus the Dominican Republic, should be something and a great game that could also get more Americans excited about this event. This could be the game that really gets the WBC major exposure here. Jones and Givens play against Machado and Castillo.

According to Major League Baseball, 51 media outlets have signed on to broadcast the WBC in platforms in 182 countries and territories with a worldwide global reach of more than 415 million households.

Broadcasts from the previous edition of the World Baseball Classic in 2013 set numerous records around the world. The 2013 final was one of the most watched sporting events in Dominican Republic history and was the year’s most watched sporting event in Puerto Rico. Japan against the Kingdom of the Netherlands (March 10, 2013) was the most viewed sporting event over the previous 12 months in Japan, out-rating all 2012 Olympic coverage. In Chinese Taipei, an extra-inning thriller between Japan and Chinese Taipei was the highest-rated cable program in the country’s history.

This year’s WBC has already featured some excitement and now that the Americans begin play tonight, we should be in store for much more.

Machado has spoken many times about playing for his family in this WBC. But here he does so in his own words in this first-person story for the Players’ Tribune.

Meanwhile, via the WBC Twitter feed, here is visual evidence how two Orioles helped the Dominican Republic win last night in Miami:

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