If you weren’t watching the World Baseball Classic today then you missed history in the making. USA Today reports that the first brawl in WBC history took place which resulted in seven players being ejected Saturday. Fans even got a little out of hand as some threw bottles from the stands.
The culprits? It was Canada vs. Mexico and they proved to be a feisty bunch on the field today.
"Whoever says that we're just here as an extra spring training game or we're just here to say we represented our country and then go home obviously didn't see how intense that game was and what it means to everybody that was involved," Canadian slugger Justin Morneau said.
It was the ninth inning and the score was 9-3. The Canadians pretty much had this game wrapped up and you could already cut the tension with a knife. The problem is the WBC has a tiebreaker rule that uses run differential to determine what team moves on to the next round. So, the Canadians wanted to score again in the ninth.
The game plan involved Chris Robinson squaring around to bunt. Third baseman Luis Cruz fielded Robinson’s bunt and is clearly motioned for Leon to hit the next batter.
It doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure out what happened next. Canada’s Rene Tosoni was hit in the back by a pitch from Leon and then all hell broke loose. Multiple fights broke out and even after officials were able to restore some sort of order, Canadian pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face by a full water bottle thrown from the crowd. Shortstop Cale Iorg threw the bottle back into the crowd. It was an angry scene.
To top things off, when the game resumed, someone in the crowd threw a baseball that almost hit Canada first base coach Larry Walker in the head. "That's when I went out to the umpire and I said, 'Another thing comes out, we're going to pull our team off the field,'" Canadian manager Ernie Whitt said.
"There's got to be another method other than scoring runs, running up the score on the opposing team," he said. "No one likes that. That's not the way baseball's supposed to be played. There's professionalism that we're all accustomed to here in North America. And unfortunately teams are knocked out of the tournament because other teams run up the score on them. Unfortunately that's what you have to deal with when you have that type of format."
The ninth-inning brawl prompted both managers to urge WBC officials to change the tiebreaking format to eliminate run differential which would encourage teams to score as many runs as possible despite the situation.
After finally putting this game to rest with a 10-3 win today, Canada has earned the right to face Team USA on Sunday. The winner will advance to the second round along with Team Italy.
You can bet MLB coaches are working up a sweat worrying about their players getting hurt during this series as the once peaceful competition has morphed into a no holds barred situation.