Who would have known that Canada vs. Mexico would have become the most heated rivalry in the World Baseball Classic?
After some tough slides, and a bunt for a base hit in the top of the ninth by Canada with a six-run lead, Team Mexico's Arnold Leon threw two pitches tight and inside on Team Canada's Rene Tosoni. Following the second pitch, home plate umpire Brian Gorman issued warnings to both the Canadian and Mexican benches; unfortunately, the warning would not be enough.
With the next pitch, Leon drilled Tosoni square in the back, igniting a fight that would delay the game for several minutes. Many current major league players were included, with Boston's Alfredo Aceves and Seattle's Oliver Perez being two of the most involved at first glance.
Let us not forget, that both Team Canada and Team Mexico have several big leaguers on their squads, which means the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Justin Morneau and others could have been involved as well.
The more troubling aspect of the fight was the aftermath. Fights spilled over into the stands between fans, as was pointed out by Marc over at USS Mariner:
This is crazy.Just end the game.“@jeffpassan: Another fight breaking out in the stands. Second one so far.”— Marc W. (@USSM_Marc) March 9, 2013
The fights were not all, however. After tempers had begun to finally subside, a water bottle was thrown from the stands, striking one of the Canadian bench coaches in the face. Later in the half inning, a baseball would be thrown towards the Canadian first base coach, prompting Canadian manager Ernie Whitt to step out of the dugout to speak with Gorman, in what many assume was a request to call the game.
Now, bunting while up six runs in most scenarios would be frowned upon. However, run differential is used as a tiebreaker in the World Baseball Classic. And after a 14-4 mercy-rule loss to Italy the day before, Canada needed every run they could get, which was also pointed out by the masses on Twitter:
Mexico is in the wrong here. Run differential is a major tiebreaker. Bunting for a hit with a 9-3 lead does not warrant retaliation.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) March 9, 2013
Now, the biggest fear for every major league team coming into the WBC every season is the health of their players. The WBC also makes sure to protect players of major league clubs by placing pitch counts per round to be similar to the workload of spring training.
However, there is no way to prevent inevitable hot-headedness that comes from the frustration of losing. Moving forward, the rumble in the desert between Canada and Mexico is going to make it a little more difficult for major league clubs to feel comfortable allowing their players to participate in the WBC.
With no disrespect to either Canada or Mexico, can you imagine the nightmare that would have come from a brawl involving the likes of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or the United States?
Keith Law of ESPN retweeted about it as one of the many inevitable issues that will come from this:
keithlaw (@keithlaw) March 9, 2013
Needless to say, the World Baseball Classic is going to have a lot of questions after this brawl, many of which will include how to punish those involved. It will be interesting to see how the WBC handles this nightmare, and what this is going to mean for the event moving forward.