Those who may have been skeptical of the World Baseball Classic before needed only to take in the highly entertaining US/Canada game yesterday to realize these next few weeks are going to be a lot of fun.
USA 6, Canada 5: It doesn't take much to get 42 000 Canadians going. An early run, the chance to boo Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia & Kevin Youkillis on the same day, and a few well-timed Molsons (actually, Budweiser is the official beer of Rogers Centre) and you've got yourself a party. A party that Brian McCann crashed with his moonshot and Adam Dunn nearly shut down with his laser beam (no joke, Dunn's shot was still rising when it left the field.)
Team Canada came exactly as advertised, with great bats and zero pitching. Joey Votto and Russell Martin were the Canadian heros, giving me the opportunity to jump up and down like a little girl. 20 year old Phillipe Aumont provided a glimpse into the future by manufacturing then escaping quite a jam. JJ Putz is already in September Mets form, creating more drama in the ninth until Former Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau gifted him an at bat of little value. Putz coaxed Jason Bay into a lazy pop up to end the best game I think I've ever seen at Rogers Centre. It featured the best baseball crowd I can remember (only one wave, thank God) and nearly everyone was cheering for the same team! This experience figures to steel the US side going forward, scaring them into a maximum effort no matter who the opponent.
Netherlands 3, DR 2: The mighty Dominican Republic couldn't take advantage of the numerous opportunities provided by fat, unemployed Sidney Ponson. A bunch of faceless "Dutch" relievers shut the door on Papi and friends, I hope the decision to start offensive Juggernaut but defensive Clayface Hanley Ramirez at short and Wily Tavares in center, leaving Jose Reyes on the bench. Unearned runs undid the Dominicans, who now must get past Panama to force a potential rematch against this Dutch side. Pedro Martinez's performance was certainly a boon to
Pedro's agent the Dominican team. Petey pitched three excellent innings, striking out 4 while handing out 29 resumes. The Dutch team, uhh, is full of Dutch guys that don't play in the big leagues? Congrats, fellas.
Elsewhere: Somehow the Korean team played two games yesterday, losing badly to the Japanese team before clubbing China like a human rights commision. Japan and Korea advance from the Asian bracket leaving China and TAIWAN to fight for the latter's independence ad infinitum. Puerto Rico got a tater tots from national hero Carlos Delgado and nationally recognized needer of pay checks Ivan Rodriquez. Pudge went off, hitting two tots en route to a 4-4 day. Venezuela beat Italy because Italy's participation is something of a sham and because Venezuela is stacked to the tits.
Today! Group D joins in on the fun, pitting the mighty Cubans against South Africa. A delightful fish out of water movie is dying to be made here. Mexico faces Australia in a group clearly drawn up by Felipe Calderón himself. Team America and Venezeula fight for the chance to move on at Rogers Centre today, a game neither side will be sweating as they know a date with Canada is the reward for losing. The Dominican side have a chance for redemption against Panama at 3:30pm, I'm sure many barns will be burned.