If the intricacies of baseball generally pass you by, then the outcome of the World Baseball Classic’s Pool D will leave you completely baffled!
After defeating Venezuela 11-9 Sunday at the Charros Stadium, Mexico looked to have qualified to play a tiebreaker game against Italy the following day, since the second, third and fourth teams in the pool had the same stats – one win and two losses (Puerto Rico qualifying for the second round having won all three of its pool games). According to the Major League Baseball (MLB) hierarchy, Mexico and Italy qualified for the tiebreaker as both had a better “runs allowed per defensive inning” average (a somewhat obscure and infrequently used stat).
However, after a revision, it was decided that Mexico’s earlier 10-9 loss to Italy on Saturday night had changed everything. As the Italians walked off in the 9th inning with the victory before any outs were recorded, that did not technically does not count towards Mexico’s “defensive inning” count, while the runs scored by Italy did. Getting lost? Join the club!
Naturally, the Mexican team filed a protest, insisting that they were informed during the game that a two-run advantage over Venezuela would be sufficient for them to make the tiebreaker game. Unfortunately, the protest was upheld, meaning that Mexico were dumped out of the competition.
Venezuela went on to beat Italy in the tiebreaker game in an empty Charros Stadium on Monday, to join the United States, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in the round two pool.
The only bright spot for Mexico and tournament organizers was that the six regular pool games held at the Charros Stadium were all sellouts. The stadium’s capacity was increased by 5,000 to 16,000 to accommodate fans for this prestigious international tournament.
The semi-finals and finals will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Monday, March 20 to Wednesday, March 22.