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Canada has been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic thanks to a disappointing, disheartening, and soul-crushing 6-2 setback to Frank Catalanotto and the Italians Monday night at Rogers Centre.   That means two things.  One, Italy will take on Venezuela at 5:00 p.m. EDT today to determine who will join the U.S. in advancing to Round 2 and two, Scott Richmond doesn't get to throw a pitch for Canada for the second straight tournament.

It was not long ago that Canadian starter Vince Perkins was a Top 10 prospect in the Jays system according to Baseball America.  He pitched like a non-prospect and it was evident from the get-go when he butchered a tapper from Nick Punto.  That allowed the Minnesota Twin to get on base and he would come home with the first run of the game.  It seemed to be death by a thousand cuts as Italy scored a run in each of the first four innings.  Canada came back with a two-run double from Jason Bay in the fourth but Italy matched that with a two-run seventh to put the game away.  The only standout performances were from Bay, who went 2-for-2 with two walks while Justin Morneau had a 4-for-5 night.   Jesse Crain struck out all four batters he faced to hold the Italians at bay in the last inning and a third.

World Series hero Matt Stairs was a World Classic bust as he failed to record a hit in the series.   Other than Bay, Morneau, and Joey Votto's ninth inning single, no other Canadian had a base hit against the Italians.  Just as disappointing was the fact that only 12,000 fans showed up for this one.  I guess the Leafs-Senators game must have had people riveted to their TV sets.

In other WBC happenings, the Netherlands almost played giant killer again but they couldn't hold a late 1-0 lead and wound up losing 3-1 to Puerto Rico.  That allows the Puerto Ricans to advance to Round 2.  Also, Mexico bounced back from a beatdown by the Australians by hammering South Africa 14-3.  That eliminates South Africa from the tournament.


On a more positive note, the Jays laid a 6-2 smackdown on the New York Yankees.  Travis Snider and Russ Adams provided the long ball while Casey Janssen chipped in with two shutout innings.  Brad Mills went 3 2/3 innings and gave up the two runs but he did strike out four.  If the Grapefruit League season ended today, the Jays would be A.L. East champions with their 6-4 record.

The Jays go to Port Charlotte to take on the Rays and it'll be a battle of the Matts - Clement versus Garza beginning at 1:05 p.m. EDT.

We Got Beat By Italy? | 28 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
cbugden - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 08:16 AM EDT (#197123) #
What an embarrassing display of uninspired baseball and an insult to every fan who paid good money to travel to Toronto to support their country.  The entire team should go on national TV and apologize to all Canadians.  As for Dempster and the rest of the walking wounded ... thanks for nothing !!  And what about Ernie Whitt?  Was he managing or watching the game on TV?  Get rid of him and give Larry Walker or someone else with some cojones a chance to manage.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 08:59 AM EDT (#197124) #
Well, that was a surprise.  While I am glad that the European teams have shown they can compete (for one or two games at least) it is a shame it was against Canada.  Saving Richmond for the next game makes a lot of sense to me, as scoring just 2 runs won't win very often.  Having just 12k show up though pretty much locks in that we won't see another WBC here for a long, long time.  Better to put it into a place that doesn't have MLB but has a stadium that could work (Montreal, Vancouver) and baseball fans who might come out to an international tournament.  Might be a good way for MLB to see if some areas have support by putting games into different cities around the US and Canada, or at least to encourage new baseball fans in those communities.

Glad to see the Jays win though.  Janssen going 2 innings giving up just 2 hits and getting 2 K's is a very good sign.  Mills had his first issues of the spring but didn't fair too badly although he has to get that ball down more.  Interesting to see how Adams is playing well now that he is off the 40 man and knows his career is nearing its end if something doesn't change fast.

Ryan Day - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 10:51 AM EDT (#197125) #
How frustrating must it be to be Scott Richmond? Miss the Olympics last year to be a spot-starter for a couple weeks, and now he leaves the team when he could be competing for a rotation spot only to be held out of the WBC to wait for a game that never happens.
Thomas - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#197126) #
It does suck for Richmond, but I don't blame Whitt for the strategy. Canada had to win against both Italy and Venezuela (assuming a loss to the United States), so I understand completely why Whitt would save Richmond for the more difficult game and leave Perkins to face the Italians. Sure it backfired, but it gave us a better chance to advance out of the first round, as I don't think Canada would have had much of a chance with Perkins facing Venezuela. Whitt's decision wasn't the problem, the team's performance was. Sure, Whitt looked past Italy to some degree, but if he didn't look past Italy and used our best pitchers to (attempt to) ensure Canada won the game, today's matchup would have Perkins, Burton and similar pitchers against Venezuela, with Richmond, Crain and Aumont all unavailable.

Now, perhaps you can argue that if Whitt was going to punt the first game he should have started Perkins and saved Johnson to pitch against Italy, but it would have taken a lot of guts to do that in front of a crowd of 42,000 fans. This loss just highlights how detrimental Dempster's decision to not pitch for the team turned out to be. It also highlighted the flawed tournament structure, which should have been a round-robin style and not a double elimination. Just because the 2006 tournament had an unfortunate 3-way tie that resulted in Canada's elimination is no reason to abandon the superior format. Canada had to face the US in the opening game because of the attendance/ratings factor, but if Canada had faced Italy instead it would have made the entire tournament different. Whitt would have started Johnson against Italy, I believe, since the team couldn't afford to lose and then play the loser of US-Venezuela. Canada may have lost that game regardless, but it is was certainly a disadvantage to begin the tournament against the States rather than Venezuela or Italy.

Mylegacy - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 01:23 PM EDT (#197127) #
Professional Baseball is a "Marathon."

Baseball is a 162 game, grueling, mind numbing, back breaking, spirit crushing - MARATHON. The WBC is like asking Paula Radcliffe to run a series of 60 yard dashes - it's absurd. Having said that - I like the WBC - BECAUSE upsets not only might happen they WILL happen - in FACT Canada's ONLY HOPE was for US to win a series of UPSETS! The Netherlands and Italy have a chance to go nuts - and anytime a REAL underdog can go NUTS is great for the world, the soul and humanity. Any sport where the GREAT ones get a hit 3 out of 10 times is a sport where - on any given day - or week - upsets happen. Looks like the great Chinese philosopher was an astute observer of the great game of baseball.

Now - next time around lets try and get a few of our REAL Canadian pitchers healthy and I'm already looking forward to Adam Loewen being in the lineup sending long bombs over the fence. Now - it's in March 2013 isn't it?

VBF - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 01:31 PM EDT (#197128) #
Considering that the U.S. couldn't draw flies when they hosted Canada on their own soil, the WBC in Toronto is hardly a disappointment. I don't know many families or kids that are coming to an 8pm game on a Sunday (that's not Sunday Night Baseball) and considering that the other weekday games are played at 6:30, 5:00, and 6:30, that's not giving people much of a chance to come from work and down to the park. Especially if they don't know who is playing up to 24 hours prior and having no time to plan anything out.

And considering the odds to win the Italy Canada game, anyone thinking of coming back to see Canada would have been holding out for the inevitable Venezuela/Canada matchup. That 42,000 people was no illusion. Perhaps having a three game first round format would be better and getting it all over with on a weekend.

John Northey - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#197132) #
Hmm... so a schedule which would've been Canada vs US at 7 pm Friday, Canada vs Italy at 1 pm Saturday and Canada vs Venezuela at 1 pm Sunday, mixed with 7 pm Saturday US vs Venezuela and 7 pm Sunday US vs Italy and 1 pm Friday (since it would draw flies anyways) Italy vs Venezuela.  Easy times to know, good for US TV with all US games at 7 (or 8) pm at night, good for Canadian fans with Canada games at 1 PM in the afternoon normally.  Have a simple tie breaker format where ties are broken by record against each other first, then if multiple ties you would also use run differential, then by something else (fewest runs allowed at that point makes sense) and continuing until you hit a coin flip.

I think that would've been an easier sell for tickets.  Easy to know when Canada (and the US) play, and the only 'dead' game would've been at 1 PM on a Friday while putting the US in prime time each game.
TimberLee - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 08:38 PM EDT (#197142) #

   Some reactions to the poor showing:   The Canadian team had four very good hitters and that was about it, so it was a matter of hoping to score every three innings and that won't work consistently. Jesse Crain was the only pitcher that looked like he actually had the pitches to get the opponents out. The Italians were so committed and enthusiastic that I could see it through the TV. And finally, the sad total number of fans in attendance for the Italy game was the most disappointing aspect of the two Classics so far. The organizers will no doubt be looking elsewhere for venues for 2013.



scottt - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 09:14 PM EDT (#197143) #
The Canadian pitching wasn't very good, but the offense should have produced more than 2 runs.

I didn't like the lineup construction much either.

In other news, Wolfe came out of the game after hearing a pop in his shoulder and feeling some pain. I don't think he was going to make the team anyway.

Clement was so-so in 4 innings.  Thigpen hit a solo homerun.

Oh, and McGowan is feeling some pain and doesn't look like he will rejoin the team before the late summer.

Sorry for not posting links.

Ryan C - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#197144) #
I blame at least some of the poor attendance on the fact that there was no concrete schedule for when Canada was playing.  Difficult to market, sell tickets, and difficult to plan to go down to the ballpark if you don't know when the game is going to be held until the day before.

Whitt deserves a lot more blame that some here are giving him.  He held his best pitcher out of a sudden death game.  That's poor management.  It doesn't matter if you have to win both games to advance.  You have to win this game first in order to even think about having a next game.

scottt - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#197145) #
Netherland took out Dominican Republic. That's a big upset.
canuckiwi - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#197147) #

I feel that it is appropriate for me to acknowledge "Thomas", who in  the second half of his comment, happened to suggest as an aside, that just possibly, the precursor for Canada's woes could be traced to the choice of pitchers used in their very first game. Thomas seems to be the only other commentator that I've come across who has raised this as a credible question, but contrary to Thomas's concerns, who really gives a damn about what the crowd thinks!!. 

Let me put this as simply as possible. In my opinion, the blame for Canada's underwhelming performance at the WBC can be laid squarely at the feet of their coaching staff. The main goal of the team was to win two games and move into the next round, plain and simple. To accomplish this, the most likely route would be to beat the two weakest opponents, Italy and Venezuela, period. In order to acheive this result, it would make the most sense to have your best two pitching combinations available to face Italy and Venezuela. Obviously this would mean that you start Johnson against Italy and save Richmond for Venezuela, and throw your weakest combination against the Americans, in the first game that meant nothing to the accomplishment of your initial goals.

Somehow, the team management lost sight of, what should have been this most obvious primary goal, and got carried away with the fairytale odds of possibility of another upset against the Americans, in a mano a mano confrontation with the big bad boys from south of the 49th parallel. Playing a wonderfully entertaining opening game was indeed a thrill for all in attendance, but as form and roster talent would have predicted, Canada did indeed lose one goal is as good as by ten.  Playing an entertaining game was not their primary goal, nor was it ever on any goal list. Canada's baseball credibility demanded winning two games in their pool, nothing more, nothing less. The Canadians should have tanked the first game, even getting mercied might have had it's advantages of giving the Americans an inflated team confidence, which might have allowed Canada to sneak up and knock them off in a low scoring final game to determine the eventual pool winner, [refer the outcome of the 2 games between Japan vs Korea games this WBC.]

Mike Johnson would have invariably pitched credibly enough to allow his team mates to get a head of steam, and roll over Italy in the walk in the park that should have been, setting up the much anticipated match with Scott Richmond starting against the Venezuelans, with the outcome based on how both teams played on the day.

There were many questionable management decisions in the game with the Italians, and I don't wish to dwell on the decision not to play small ball when swinging away wasn't working for most of the lineup, but I was simply aghast at how Stubby Clapp was kept riding the pine until the game was all but out of hand, when his spark and reputation for clutch performances on the international stage are things of legend. This was his final time to wear the Canadian colors as a player from what I understand, and I think that it would have been both a sign of respect for his contribution over the years, and an inspirational move by the coaching staff to have #11 take the field as a pick me up for the team.


John Northey - Tuesday, March 10 2009 @ 11:48 PM EDT (#197148) #
Wow.  Europe is doing well this time.  Canada being knocked out sucks for us, but the Dominican being knocked out by the Netherlands is just amazing.  Who'd have thunk?
Mylegacy - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 01:43 AM EDT (#197150) #
The Netherlands knocking out the Dominican just reinforces what I said earlier in the thread. Baseball is not built to be a sprint.
scottt - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 07:12 AM EDT (#197153) #
Sprint or not, there's no excuse for losing to Nederlands twice. I bet we would have crushed the Italians in a rematch.

While a good team can exit early, it's near impossible for a weak team to win it all.

The extra game to determine  the pool winner seems unnecessary to me. I don't see any team burning good pitchers on that one.

baagcur - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 08:48 AM EDT (#197154) #
'Professional Baseball is a "Marathon.'

Actually it is more like a marathon followed by a series of 200m
Wildrose - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#197156) #

Mike Johnson would have invariably pitched credibly enough to allow his team mates to get a head of steam, and roll over Italy in the walk in the park that should have been, setting up the much anticipated match with Scott Richmond starting against the Venezuelans, with the outcome based on how both teams played on the day.

Generally, I agree with your point of view , but at the end of the day it's not like Johnson is a great pitcher. His  career  MLB ERA+ is 66. Basically he's a AAAA player. Still I agree he would've been better than Perkins who had good stuff, but brutal command.

At the end of the day Canada lost because we had only one ( Crain) of our top 10 pitchers available .In an early season tournament of this nature, good pitching seems to trump offence . Also , Canada's old Achilles heel , hitting against left handed pitchers proved to be a problem.

Still I really enjoyed this concept, although I think they need to do some tinkering with the timing and tournament structure moving forward.
Wildrose - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#197157) #
I think Bob Elliott has it right. As our overall depth improves so will our results at the WBC.

Twenty Canadians on major-league rosters in 2008. There were five in 1988.

There were 118 Canucks in the minors last season, 65 in 1998.

And there are 700 Canadians playing college ball south of the border this spring for a fifth straight season, compared to 590 in 2000.

"There are guys coming," said Hamilton when asked about the 2013 WBC. "We had young guys like Chris Leroux, Brett Lawrie, Nick Weglarz and Phillippe Aumont this time. And there are guys coming like Mike Saunders, Blake Hawksworth and Kyle Lotzkar."

Glevin - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#197158) #
"but I was simply aghast at how Stubby Clapp was kept riding the pine until the game was all but out of hand, when his spark and reputation for clutch performances on the international stage are things of legend."

There are many things that the management should be ashamed of, but this is not one of them. Stubby Clapp should not have even been on the team. He's been out of baseball for five years and was never any good to begin with. Pete Orr is a borderline major league utility guy at least. Why not give those ABs to Brett Lawrie who is moving to second and at leats has upside?

The problems I had, in order
1) Lineup construction-worst hitter hitting leadoff is simply unacceptable and it cost us dearly. Also, after Stairs looked horrible in the first game, why not drop him in the order or give Corey Koskie a start. He was our most damaging hitter going 0-6 with 9 LOB.
2) In game management-What in-game management? No hit and runs, no steals, no bunting, nothing.
3) Use of pitchers-Richmond should have started first game and Johnson second.

VBF - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 11:15 AM EDT (#197160) #
"From a business perspective, we're more than pleased," Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice-president, business, said prior to Italy's 6-2 win Monday. "Our sales are ahead of 2006 and in this environment for our sales to be ahead, it's almost unbelievable.

"The draw's been great, we couldn't be more pleased with how this venue has hosted the place, couldn't be more pleased with how the Canadian fans have responded."

John Northey - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 11:31 AM EDT (#197161) #
Wow, how bad was the attendance last time?  Lets check.

Japan: Just 15k for the first game involving Japan, up to 40k for the last one (other games were 5.1k or less).
Arizona: 49k capacity, peak was just under 33k for US vs Mexico with no other game cracking 17k, 2 games under 10k that were held at a minor league park
Puerto Rico: 15-19k for home games, 6-7k for others

Not amazing crowds for round 1.  I think putting them in the Dome wasn't a bad idea and maybe it would work better next time.  A clear schedule would help as Toronto isn't exactly a baseball mad area and even in baseball mad areas they didn't get great crowds for non-home team games.
Lugnut Fan - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#197162) #

I had a chance to watch all three of the Netherlands games so far in this tournament and the only thing that I find funny is that people still doubt them.  They beat the Dominican on Saturday which granted, maybe DR overlooked them, but on Monday, they pushed Puerto Rico to the brink leading them 1-0 until the eighth when ultimately PR scored twice to set up last nights match up which saw this team come from behind in the 11th to win.  They have played three of the best games in the tournament and last nights was probably better than the Canada / US game if you had a chance to catch it.  To say it is an embarrasement to lose to them I think is taking it a bit too far.  Do you think DR overlooked them last night?  Am I saying they will advance past the second round?  No, but if a team overlooks them, they will beat them.  Their pitchers throw strikes and their players catch the ball.  My point here is that last nights game proves you can't take for granted a win which Canada did against Italy.  Would Canada have won a rematch?  Perhaps, but we'll never know.....

As far as the format I think double elimination is a more fair option than the round robin as it determines who advance on the field rather than through a tie break system.  In the case of a three way tie (like what happened in Arizona a few years back) someone gets left on the outside looking in.

I agree that the timing could be tweaked on the tournament, but at the same time, I can't think of a better time to do it.  The problem is that team like the Domincan, USA, Canada etc. have a responsibility to get players ready for the MLB season while the Japanese league, Korean pro league, Cuba pro league have their seasons underway with Austrailia having just wrapped theirs up.  There will never really be a good time to do it where the players are at all the same point in their training.

rikley - Wednesday, March 11 2009 @ 11:54 PM EDT (#197174) #

The problem is that team like the Domincan, USA, Canada etc. have a responsibility to get players ready for the MLB season while the Japanese league, Korean pro league, Cuba pro league have their seasons underway with Austrailia having just wrapped theirs up. 

Actually, the Japanese and Korean pro league are in the same situation as the MLB. They are both in spring training right now and will start the season at the beginning of April.

Glevin - Thursday, March 12 2009 @ 03:37 AM EDT (#197175) #
"I had a chance to watch all three of the Netherlands games so far in this tournament and the only thing that I find funny is that people still doubt them."

Why? They are a bad team. They just won a couple of games. If Randall Simon is your #3 hitter and Ponson is your ace, people are right to doubt you.
Lugnut Fan - Thursday, March 12 2009 @ 05:50 AM EDT (#197177) #

Actually, the Japanese season started February 28th.  They are about a month ahead of MLB.

While I agree that the Netherlands is one of the weakest offensive teams in the tournament, I don't believe they are a bad team.  Their team ERA was sub 1.5 going into last nights game in which they played two games against the Dominican and one against P.R. and they play solid defense.  They threw the only no hitter in WBC history against Panama in the first tournament and have several big international wins.  Talent wise, they absolutely don't match up.....But ask the Dominican players what they think of the Netherlands at this point.

John Northey - Thursday, March 12 2009 @ 11:13 AM EDT (#197179) #
Wow does the Japanese league have a lot of offdays.  I'm guessing they have lots of rainouts thus leading to the need for more offdays to play makeup games, as that is the only reason that comes to mind for it.  Most Mondays were off for the team listed.

Europe does seem to have a fair number of decent players, so if I was a MLB team I'd be chasing down a few. Might be hard to sign them if they are good at soccer as well, but that hasn't stopped Canadians from playing MLB (replace soccer with hockey).  I suspect some areas just need a push to get going. 
Glevin - Thursday, March 12 2009 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#197180) #
"Europe does seem to have a fair number of decent players,"

No, they don't. The players on the "Netherlands" are overwhelmingly from Dutch islands. Randall Simon is from Curacao, and  Kingsale and Ponson are from Aruba. Other "Dutch" players like Andruw Jones, Wladamir Balentien, and Jair Jurrens are also from the islands. The Italian team is almost all made up of Americans with Italian ancestry. Hardly anyone in Europe has even a basic understanding of baseball let alone plays it. 
Thomas - Friday, March 13 2009 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#197206) #

This is quite late, but let me just respond to Canuckwiki's comment. I did mention the crowd reaction as a concern to starting Perkins against the US, but Canuckwiki does a very good job of laying out the simple case for starting Johnson against the Italians, which is that Canada's primary goal for the first round had to be to win two games and starting Johnson and Richmond in those two games gave the team its best chance to do that. As difficult as it was, a manager's decision is to make calls like that and Whitt should have done that.

However, I have heard him being criticized for leaving Richmond to the last game and having Canada lose with their best pitcher on the bench. That is one decision Whitt got right, in my opinion. Having Richmond start, and presumably beat, Italy would have meant Canada faced Venezuela on Tuesday with Perkins starting and I certainly would not have liked our odds in that game. Ensuring a third game in the first round while minimizing the team's chance of winning it is not worth it, in my opinion. With Richmond on the mound that game was winnable and Canada needed to set themselves up to have a fighting chance in game three, while keeping Richmond for that game.

The WBC is proving an even greater success the second time around, but the tournament needs to shift back to a round-robin format in the first round, while creating a better tiebreaker than the inaugural tournament had. Just because the original setup screwed Canada, there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, the tournament organizers just need a better tiebreaker. A double-elimination tournament is unfair if two teams of roughly equable talent (its arguable, but I think that Canada-Venezuela is not far from that) are starting against opponents of vastly different calibre. I think Johnson would have certainly started had Canada opened against Italy and that may have changed the entire tournament for Canada.

At least Canada should have a lot to look forward to in 2013, assuming that most or all of our players and pitchers are healthy and willing to play.


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