The first of 39 games in the 2009 World Baseball Classic takes place early Thursday morning at the Tokyo Dome, where defending champion Japan will take on China. That's 39 steps of suspense rivaling the best of Hitchcock, and the action will soon begin.
The 2009 World Baseball Classic begins on Thursday with Pool A -- the Asia Round -- at Tokyo Dome, kicking off with host and defending champion Japan playing China at 4:30 a.m. ET. Korea will take on Chinese Taipei at 4:30 a.m. ET on Friday to get the first round fully under way.
With the aid of Major League Baseball, China started from scratch before the 2006 Classic with an eye toward at least being competitive last summer when Beijing hosted the Olympics. Heading into the '09 Classic, the program has made great strides