The next time you want to bunt with a large lead, you may want to revisit that idea. What happened in Saturday's World Baseball Classic game between Canada and Mexico could cause both nations to void their share of the NAFTA treaty.
For a while, things seemed somewhat calm, cool and collected as the boys from the Great White North were taking it to Mexico in what some would consider an elimiation game at Chase Field Saturday afternoon. Canada took an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning before the crowd of 19,581 (most of them fans of Mexico) in attendance got a chance to get settled in their chairs. Canada would go on to take a 10-3 win to advance to the next round.
Tyler Green and Joey Votto (Cincinnati) hit one-out singles against Mexico (and Milwaukee Brewers) starter Marco Estrada, Twins slugger Justin Morneau hit an RBI double into the gap in right-center field, Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders singled in two more runs, catcher Chris Robinson singled in another and Canada never looked back.
The Canadian starter, Pittsburgh's Chris Leroux, did his job, holding Mexico to one unearned run in three innings of work with four strikeouts. Even though Mexico did pull to within two at 5-3 after four innings were in the books, Canada responded and kept responding.
Pete Orr's RBI single in the sixth and two more runs in the seventh, including another driven in on a Morneau double, made it 7-3. Morneau's third RBI of the game, on a single that made him 4-for-5 for the afternoon, made it 8-3 in the eighth inning. Saunders added an RBI single that made him 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Canada scored again in the ninth.
It was in the ninth that things got ugly.
The aggression started after Robinson bunted for a single to lead off the inning, with Canada holding a six-run lead. Mexico reliever Arnold Leon appeared to answer that move, which likely could have been based on the tournament's run-differential rule when deciding round-robin tiebreaker by hitting the next Canadian batter, outfielder Rene Tosoni, with a pitch.
Tosoni began walking toward the mound, both benches emptied and a lengthy scrum ensued and intensified, with punches thrown and a Canadian player body-slamming Mexico outfielder Eduardo Arredondo to the turf.
Just when it seemed like everything had calmed down, a Canadian player egged on the pro-Mexico crowd on his way back to the dugout by raising his arms as if to welcome their derision. Soon after, a bottle flew out of the stands and hit Team Canada coach Larry Walker in the face. The player appeared to be trying to start a climb into the stands before he was subdued by teammates and the game resumed several minutes later, although more fan activity continued, with a ball being thrown back from the crowd onto the playing surface. Over the public-address system, announcers in English and Spanish urged for fans to calm down and threatened immediate arrest for those who refused to comply.
Let's just say that there won't be any Christmas or Easter cards exchanged anytime soon.