The 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC) held a few surprises and upsets during its round-one action. And dont expect to see that trend ending any time soon.
Clearly, the biggest surprise has been the Netherlands, a team filled with non-MLB professionals who defeated and eliminated the powerful Dominican Republic team twice in the first round.
Despite the presence of several MLB all-stars on their roster — David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, and Jose Reyes, just to name a few — the Dominicans failed to avenge their first loss against the Dutch by a score of 3-2. When the two teams squared off again in an elimination match days later, the Dominican Republic took a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the eleventh, but proven major leaguer Carlos MÃ¡rmol — summoned from the bullpen in order to close the game —ended up blowing the lead. MÃ¡rmol gave up two runs while walking one batter to allow the Dutch a 2-1 victory.
This is a miracle. The Dominican Republic is one of the best teams in the world, said Netherlands manager Rod Delmonico after the second victory against Dominican Republic. Its difficult to describe what took place. These kids have fought for three days. I have never had a team with this much passion.
For the mighty Dominicans, losing twice to the Netherlands simply meant that they couldnt attribute their disappointing performance at the WBC to bad luck. For the Dutch, their message is clear — they came to play, and the outsider odds strapped to them mean little.
Another notable upset involved Italy defeating and eliminating the heavily favored Canadian team. The Italians marched on to the latter stages of the tournament after a convincing 6-2 victory against Canada at the Rogers Centre on March 9.
It’s the most emotional and most disappointing loss Ive ever been a part of. I think it’s going to take some time to recover from it. I’ve never experienced something like this before, said Canadian DH Joey Votto after the disappointment loss.
The result has since been marred with some controversy however, with the Canadian team questioning Italys team roster. They may just have something to go by.
The Canadians claim that the majority of the Italian team does not reside or hold their own citizenship in Italy. Players such as Frank Catalanatto, Mark DeFelice, Lenny DiNardo, Dan Serefini, Chris Cooper, Vinny Rottino, Chris Denoforia, BJ LaMura, Jason Grilli, Nick Punto and Cody Cillo are all American-born players who grew up living in the USA. As well, coaches Mike Hargrove and Mike Piazza, along with third base coach Tom Trebelhorn are also American-born. According to the WBC rules, in order to be eligible for the Italian baseball team, a player only has to have one parent with Italian citizenship.
Despite their heroic efforts against Canada, Italy has since been eliminated from the tournament, losing to Venezuela 1-10 at the Rogers Centre the day after.
The tournament is currently in its Round Two phase, held in San Diego (Pool 1) and Miami (Pool 2). The Netherlands, in Pool 2, are still in contention despite losing their first second round game to Venezuela. They face the United States for a spot in the semi-finals on Sunday. Dont write them off just yet.