It didn’t take long for the World Baseball Classic to have its first controversy and it’s an example of why Major League Baseball teams in the future will think twice before allowing a player in their organization to take part in the tournament. The issue is how the first tie-breaker for advancing gets made, which is by run differential.
With Canada up 9-3 on Mexico, Chris Robinson bunted with no outs to start the top of the ninth inning. Third basemen Luis Cruz indicated to pitcher Arnold Leon to hit the next batter Rene Tosoni. He went in on the fist pitch which got mishandled by the catcher, his second pitch again was inside leading to a warning for both sides from home plate umpire Brian Gorman and the third pitch a 93 miles-per-hour fastball hit Tosoni in the back.
The benches cleared with pushes, shoves, punches and even the fans getting involved by throwing bottles at the Canadian players. In MLB there’s an unspoken rule in regards to situations like this and yet with the tie-breaker rule that gets thrown out the window and becomes a brawl. That’s not the type of attention the WBC is seeking especially when fans consider it as a glorified exhibition game.
After today’s game and skirmish Mexico’s manager Rick Renteria said “well, I think that if they’re not changed maybe I needed to do a better job of explaining them to my players. I thought I had. I thought I had it understood. But as I mentioned, I think when you get into the heat of the battle of playing the game‑‑ a lot of these guys are used to playing in their respective leagues or clubs, and when that happens in that moment, he just lost sight of it. That’s all. And, quite frankly, I didn’t expect it. So I think that everybody will learn from it. I think it will be obviously a topic of conversation for everybody for a little while and maybe it will bring some light or maybe some understanding or maybe help us clarify.”
Canada’s manager Ernie Whitt stated in this tournament, you play baseball like it’s 0-0. That’s the unfortunate thing. What happened tonight is because of the rulings that they have. Regular baseball, during the season, you would never see that happening, but because of the run differential that they have, you play it like a 0-0 game the whole time. They need to take a look at that.”
Quite possibly the best quote is from Larry Walker on Alfredo Aceves when he claimed “I thought I saw Satan in his eye.’
Making an immediate change from run differential to runs allowed makes perfect sense. Otherwise brawls will become the norm as no team wants to get shown up by an opponent and reflects poorly on the WBC.