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Ugly brawl highlights yet another flaw in the World Baseball Classic

Mar 9, 2013, 6:39 PM EDT

Canada-Mexico brawl Getty Images

One of the ugliest scenes to take place on a baseball field in recent years just took place in Canada’s defeat of Mexico on Saturday. And while none of the participants should be let off the hook — I’d have been in favor of stopping the game and throwing both countries out of the tournament — there’s no way this would have happened if not for the World Baseball Classic’s ill-conceived tiebreaker rules.

Let’s set the scene. Canada was up 9-3 in the top of the ninth on its way to an easy win, it’s first of the tournament. Yet, that might not have been enough for its hopes of advancing. Catcher Chris Robinson sought to help Canada add to its lead by dropping down a bunt single to start the frame.

Now, in a major league game, that’s pure bush league. In the minors as well. Probably as low down as college and high school.

In the World Baseball Classic, though, it’s smart baseball. The tiebreakers hinge on run margin, and with four teams playing three games apiece in each pool, tiebreakers are going to come into play at least as often as not. It already did in Pool A, which produced three 2-1 teams. Korea went home because its run margin wasn’t as strong as that of The Netherlands or Chinese Taipei.

Of course, Mexico didn’t see it the same way Canada did. About to fall to 1-2 and get eliminated from the tournament, they weren’t having any of it. At third baseman Luis Cruz‘s direction, Arnold Leon threw at Rene Tosoni twice, hitting him the second time and touching off a massive brawl that left several players bruised and might well have resulted in some more significant injuries.

All that needed to happen to prevent this scenario was for the tiebreaker rules to be tied to runs allowed, instead of run differential. It’s still far from perfect, but then, this tournament will never be anything close to perfect as long as MLB wants to try to play it alongside a 162-game season. I imagine we’ll see it changed next time around. Assuming that there is a next time around.

  1. proudlycanadian - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    The Mexicans obviously did not know the rules and deliberately threw at Tosoni. Foolish move. You do not do that to hockey players and expect to get away with it.

    • badintent - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      Mucho macho machismo goofy nuffy.Mexcians still pissed about Canadians fighting at The Alamo for los Estados Unidos. Claro que si ? You do your Montreal hockery and student riots, leave the baseball fights for Juan Marchial y John Rosobro. . Mexicanos no te gusto su cervesa Alexandra Keith, es beber de perro piss.Stick to ice fishing, es bueno para tu gringo.

      • sabatimus - Mar 10, 2013 at 12:41 AM

        Go ahead. Live up to your handle. See if I care.

      • tuberippin - Mar 10, 2013 at 3:33 AM

        That was terrible, terrible Spanish.

      • badintent - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:20 AM

        No it aint Spanish, it’s SPANGLISH. My PR guys taught it to me in exchange for English lessons to get their high school GED and take the NYC Police Department test. Yeah, they passed and I get a pass driving in NYC.
        Hasta la vista , baby !

  2. tfbuckfutter - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    As long as everyone makes their day-job on Monday, I think everything’s fine.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      Word. Everybody acts like they’v never seen a fight before. Geez. Too much program clutching.

      • sabatimus - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:14 PM

        Too many thumbs down. Shoulda changed the font or put in a (vomit) hashtag huh?

  3. baymac408 - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Bro Mexicans will beat up Canadians all day!! All you guys are good for is hockey.. No culture.. No food no dance just hockey… Lot of good you guys are thumbs down..

    • tfbuckfutter - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      They have food.

      They call ham bacon and put mayonaisse on their french fries.

      ….I intended to defend Canada but think I just reinforced your point.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        And they keep a whole French colony captive. Pretty sure that’s for the music divas.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        Mayonaisse on french fries? Vous etes une peau de vache. Poutine!

        Gravy, cheese curd, french fries. Unadulterated happiness.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 10, 2013 at 5:16 AM

        No, we don’t put mayo on our fries. You must have us confused with the Dutch for some reason. Vince told Jules that the Dutch drown their fries in mayo. Then him and Jules kill most everybody. Then I assume Jules goes to Amsterdam.

    • narrabeen23 - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      in a fistfight? Canadians win all day. if the mexican club had been batting? now thats another story

      • indaburg - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:06 PM

        I don’t know. It depends on the type of fighting. MMA? Boxing? There are some really good Mexican boxers.

      • paperlions - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        Within their weight classes, yeah. I imagine that your average Canadian is a might bigger and mass is important in any fight.

      • dondada10 - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        Baddest man on earth, Canelo Alvarez, is Mexican.

      • djpostl - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:10 PM

        @dondada10 and any UFC guy in his weight-class would take him down and elbow him through the canvas in about one minute.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        Boxing and fisties – Mexican every day that ends in Y. Unless it’s on ice.

      • chuckleberry1974 - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:34 PM

        Baddest man on earth happens to be French Canadian (or maybe 2nd baddest…)

      • woodstakes - Mar 10, 2013 at 1:12 AM

        @dondada10 Not sure if I fell into a coma and awoke to the death Anderson da Silva or not, but as long as he’s alive, i’m pretty sure he’s the “Baddest man on Earth”!

    • misterchainbluelightning - Mar 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Upset that your scrubs got rag-dolled by Canadians huh?
      Or upset that nobody on the planet is surprised that Canadians can do that to Mexicans with such ease?

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Mac might break the thumbs down record with that post.
      I think each day I may come back and give him one myself.

  4. craigmaitland - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Good canadian kids

  5. mantastic54 - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    Changing the tiebreaker to runs allowed does nothing. You would still try and run up the scores to increase your opponents runs allowed

    • umrguy42 - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      Maybe occasionally, but in this case, it wouldn’t have been necessary. If Mexico goes home with a loss, and Canada’s up 9-3, Canada worries about preventing more runs. Mexico worries about trying to come back and win, unless they really have a burning desire to play spoiler (and even then, it’d be difficult and not guaranteed).

  6. proudlycanadian - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Throwing at a hitter just because the previous guy bunted is cowardly and dangerous. He deserved to have his face smashed in.

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      Personally, I would have broken the pitcher’s collar bone.

  7. thebadguyswon - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    The WBC sucks. This is more proof positive.

  8. sabatimus - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    I have no problem with the bunt single whatsoever, even if it were in an MLB game where the run differential doesn’t matter. But here, the retaliation was sheer cowardice.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM



      • historiophiliac - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:40 PM

        Ooops. *Clemensesque


  9. sparty99 - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Matthew, why do you blame the system? Point/run differential (as opposed to points/runs allowed) is a pretty standard tiebreaker in systems where tiebreaker games aren’t feasible. Even the NFL has it as one of their tiebreakers for division titles and playoff berths. Why not instead blame the (at least) 2 morons – the third baseman and the pitcher – who did not know the rules and incited the brawl?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      I do blame them. I want Cruz suspended for regular-season games. But if the tiebreaker rules fundamentally change the game — and they do here — then that’s a big problem.

      I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of the NFL tiebreaker rules. But there’s a difference between something highly unlikely to come into play and something like this that would probably come into play about half of the time. There’s just far too much incentive for these teams to try to run up the score in every game in pool play.

      • cshearing - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:02 PM

        Who cares about running up the score? These are men, not little league-rs. Don’t want the other team to keep scoring? Stop them.

      • djpostl - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:14 PM

        They are by & large professionals. Even if they play in Japan, Mexico or some other league they most likely make a good wage compared to their common countrymen/women.

        The rules are fine, the idiot ass players who don’t take the time to understand them are the real issue here. If you feel it is so important to you to represent your nation then take the God damn time to learn the rules.

      • Francisco (FC) - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        Seriously Matthew, stop it. Blaming the rules for this incident is the epitome of idiocy. If you want to point out that run differential changes the make-up of the game fine (After all, the DH does that, but you don’t complain about that one do you?). But how you come to the conclusion that players brawling over a bunt-single and run differential is the fault of a system and NOT grown men acting unprofessionally is beyond me.

      • sparty99 - Mar 10, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        They don’t fundamentally change the game. The pitch count rules do, but not the tiebreaker. “Running up the score” doesn’t fundamentally change the game. Under old Olympic softball rules (and this may have applied in baseball too, but I’m not certain), at a certain point in extra innings, a runner was put on second base to start the inning to speed up scoring. THAT fundamentally changes the game. The designated hitter fundamentally changes the game. Teams needing to score more runs to assist their ability to advance does nothing to the game.

        Now, if you had started your argument to suggest that they’d be better off going to a pure double elimination format, you might’ve had a better case. Blaming the system for the stupidity of players not knowing the rules is pretty dumb.

      • seeinred87 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        To everybody saying that it’s not faulty rules that caused this:

        That may be technically true. But when you’re competing, and the other team does something that embarrasses you (such as a bunt when you;re up 6 in the 9th), you’re going to retaliate. If that doesn’t piss you off, I don’t want you on my team. And I mean that. Sportsmanship is important obviously, but the same rules that apply in every day life don’t apply in sports.

        I guess it’s a little different in baseball than in certain other sports (e.g. hockey), but if we’re in an athletic competition, and you do something I don’t like, I’m going to hurt you. And the way I (and my teammates) would see it is that you brought it on yourself.

        (I fully expect this to be a rather unpopular opinion here)

  10. indaburg - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    “Catcher Chris Robinson sought to help Canada add to its lead by dropping down a bunt single to start the frame. Now, in a major league game, that’s pure bush league. In the minors as well. Probably as low down as college and high school.”

    I respectfully disagree, Matthew, and that kind of thinking perpetuates stupid unwritten rules.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      That’s fair. I kind of disagree with it myself. If this happened in a major league game and the pitcher responded by throwing at a batter, I doubt it’d take me long to post a blog entry bashing the pitcher.

      That said, whether I like it or not, the unwritten rules are very much a thing and there’s no doubt that it’d be viewed as bush league if it happened in a major league game.

      • sabatimus - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:05 PM

        Then perhaps what it gets viewed as needs to change. Teams have blown 6-run leads in the 9th in MLB. I don’t get why players get taught that it’s bush league to get runners on base, via a legitimate within-the-rules baseball play. My opinion is this: if you can’t stop someone’s tactic, that’s your own fault and work on stopping it instead of getting your faux manhood insulted and taking it out through violence on your opponent.

      • albertmn - Mar 9, 2013 at 11:49 PM

        We can’t keep saying it is okay to hit people for breaking “unwritten rules” just because “it’s always been done that way”. If it isn’t written, then it isn’t a rule. And, as far as bunting, anyway on base is fine. Even if a team is ahead, as others have said, those games have been blown.

        And, we will never see change until writers and bloggers quit defending the idiot pitchers that throw at guys in these situations. Matthew – Be the change you want to see.

  11. baymac408 - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    What a letdown…

  12. paperlions - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    This tournament would be a lot more interesting if, instead of 3 games during pool play, each team played a 3 game series with each other team in its pool. While 9 is still not a lot of games on which to base advancement, it is a hell of a lot better than 3….plus, if Canada and Mexico still had 2 games left to play against each other, those tickets would sell like hot cakes and viewership would sky rocket.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      What? You’re not done shoveling?

  13. ET Sport - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    L’ha ribloggato su ET Sportse ha commentato:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  14. jpat2424 - Mar 9, 2013 at 7:15 PM


    • djpostl - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      At least we know Rush Limbaugh’s Hardball Talk handle now…

      • historiophiliac - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:26 PM

        Isn’t that Lou Dobbs’?

      • djpostl - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:28 PM

        Lol. Yeah, as he was employing a bunch of illegals to work in his stables lol.

      • hasbeen5 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        Racism is a really shitty accusation to throw around. I challenge you to actually listen to Limbaugh and count how many racist things he says.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      Jerry Springer guest.

  15. dangernearing - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    All they are is Friggin’ thugs that smell like bologna when wet.

  16. nflfollower - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Good thing they got their big brother in between em to keep the peace!

  17. drdonkey - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Ugly article highlights yet another flaw in the author…..did you even watch the game? Are you aware of what Robinson did in the game prior to the bunt? This doesn’t highlight a flaw in the WBC (world cup has the same flaw then?). Also while violence is best avoided this will do wonders for the popularity of the WBC. Shows players care, which is pretty awesome.

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      At a crucial point in the game, Robinson blocked the plate on Karim Garcia who was trying to score from second. It was quite a crash, but Garcia was out and eventually had to leave the game due to an injury sustained in the collision.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 10, 2013 at 5:21 AM

        So what? Who’s Karim Garcia?

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:25 AM

        Karim Garcia has played in the majors. I assume that daylight savings time has clouded your memory.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        Or perhaps you’re just unfamiliar with Pedro Martinez.

  18. psuravens19 - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    I think the biggest disgrace of the hole thing was the scumbag Mexican fans throwing stuff at the Canadian players.

    • cshearing - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      We’re more accustomed to Russians doing that.

    • hasbeen5 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      While throwing things onto the field is never ok, it was pretty unprofessional and plain stupid for the Canadian players to engage the fans at all. Again, not justifying or excusing throwing stuff onto the field.

  19. Francisco (FC) - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    All that needed to happen to prevent this scenario was for the tiebreaker rules to be tied to runs allowed, instead of run differential.

    No, what needed to happen to prevent this scenario was for the Managers to make their players aware of the rules regarding tie-breakers and to guard against bunts at any point of the game since every run can count.


    Matthew, you’re going to seriously argue that the fault lies in the tournament and not the players? I take exception to your logic (rather, lack of it)

  20. joshpeterson29 - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    You improve your run differential by continuing to hit and run the bases, idk about bunting. But either way, tiebreaker should always be runs allowed, it prevents running up the score and, in turn, prevents this. I don’t know that it constituted a pitch at anyone. That should be used more to protect a teammate, not instigate anything because your just not good enough. Just say something at the guy if you don’t like it.

    • joshpeterson29 - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:35 PM

      Follow my up-and- starting baseball blog!

  21. donttouchdownmethere - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Good thing it was not Joey Votto (or any other better than average MLB player). No faster way for MLB teams to not let their players play in the next WBC than getting hurt by an intentional hit by pitch.

  22. bigtrav425 - Mar 10, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    stop being a pussy…its happened before and will happen again..go report for the View if u dont like or want to see shit like this

    • sabatimus - Mar 10, 2013 at 1:04 AM

      Go work for Fox.

  23. Walk - Mar 10, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    By throwing at a player like that the pitcher and third baseman were saying the game was over and they would not have been able to come back. Sure it was in the ninth but i saw the braves comeback from 9 in the ninth before so it can happen and happen to better teams as well. It is really hard to do though if your team is full of quitters.

  24. plowe70 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Please don’t bash baseball’s unwritten rules commenters. I love that this sport isn’t riddled with touchdown dances and jersey flailing soccer players.

  25. nomoreseasontix - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    So… A hockey game broke out?
    The fact is, if the fight hadn’t happened, there would STILL be almost nobody paying attention to the tournament.
    It put the WBC on people’s radar for about 20 seconds…

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