No, it's not a dream. It happened. A team that was thought to have a shot at taking it all in the World Baseball Classic got eliminated in the first round after being beat by a team that most thought would be lucky to walk away from the tournament with a single win.
Just what in the hell is going on here?
Despite what my headline says, this isn't David vs Goliath. It's bigger.
This is Michigan vs Appalachian State. Jets vs Colts. 'Nova vs Georgetown. Mets vs Orioles. Buster Douglas (or, if you prefer, Little Mac) vs Mike Tyson.
How did a team that lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates B-team in a Spring Training exhibition beat the powerhouse of the WBC twice?
The Netherlands were ousted 5-4 by a lineup of Anderson Machado, Luis Cruz, Craig Monroe, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Jeff Salazar, Ruben Gotay and Erik Kratz with Ross Ohlendorf on the mound.
So how did they manage to eliminate a team featuring big leaguers such as Jose Reyes, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Robinson Cano, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Marmol, Edinson Volquez and Damaso Marte, just to name a few?
The Netherlands had all the star power of Randall Simon and Sidney Ponson. Beyond that, I've never heard of any of them except Yurendell DeCaster, who I only know because he was once in the Pirates minor league system.
How did it happen? The box score tells me all I need to know.
How many players were left on base by the Netherlands? 18, between both games. The Dominican Republic? 44.
How THIS happened is up for debate. I think it's incredibly bad luck. It's well known that the best team doesn't always win in baseball, and two games is a small sample. After all, the Dominican absolutely demolished Italy, a team with about as much professional experience.
Some will point to a lack of clutch hitting, but with David Ortiz batting cleanup, I find that hard to buy. If there is such a thing as clutch, Ortiz is its embodiment.
He's not alone, either, as there are several other hitters on the team who are lauded for being clutch hitters.
Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about the idea of clutch, but even those that subscribe to the theory can't refute the players on the Dominican team.
So, I want to know what you think. How in the world did the Netherlands manage this? Was it a lack of timely hitting? Was it surprisingly good pitching? Was it simply bad luck? Sound off in the comments, because I'd sure like to know.
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