The Athletics got a bit healthier on Friday, activating first baseman Ike Davis and reliever Edward Mujica from the disabled list. To make room on the roster, right-hander Arnold Leon was optioned to Triple-A Nashville and infielder Andy Parrino was designated for assignment.
Davis went on the DL in mid-May with a strained left quad. He was hitting well, carrying a .282/.348/.427 triple-slash line with two home runs and 11 RBI in 115 plate appearances prior to the injury.
Mujica appeared in only five games for the Athletics after coming over from the Red Sox in a May 9 trade. He held the opposition scoreless in 5 1/3 innings before landing on the DL with a fractured right thumb.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, World Baseball Classic officials have decided that no players will be further disciplined for the benches-clearing brawl that broke out Saturday between Team Canada and Team Mexico. The fight brought seven ejections, but that’s as far as the punishment will go.
“We are extremely disappointed in the bench-clearing incident that marred the conclusion of today’s game between Canada and Mexico,” reads a written statement released early Sunday morning by World Baseball Classic, Inc. “The episode runs counter to the spirit of sportsmanship and respectful competition for which the World Baseball Classic has stood throughout its history. After communicating with both the Mexican and Canadian baseball federations this evening, we are aware of the perspectives held by both sides in a competitive environment. Nevertheless, we relayed to both teams that such an altercation is inappropriate under any circumstances and has no place in baseball. Because at least one club – and potentially both – will not advance to the second round, WBCI has determined that disciplinary measures would not have a meaningful corrective impact. Thus, discipline will not be imposed beyond today’s seven game ejections. It is our firm expectation that the members of Team Mexico, Team Canada and all the tournament’s participating teams will learn from this incident and set a better example – one that befits the sport they share – in the future.”
It’s great news for Mexican third baseman Luis Cruz, who incited the entire fracas when he directed teammate Arnold Leon to plunk Canada’s Rene Tosoni after Chris Robinson’s successful ninth-inning bunt single. Cruz, who is expected to open the 2013 season as the Dodgers’ starting third baseman, also threw the first punch when the two teams rushed toward each other. A suspension that would bleed into regular-season MLB games seemed likely for him. But here we are.
Canada (1-1) plays Team USA (1-1) today at 4 p.m. ET in Arizona. The winner of that game will advance out of Pool D along with Team Italy (2-1). Mexico (1-2) has already been eliminated and has no games remaining.
Canada defeated Mexico 10-3 in today’s World Baseball Classic Pool D match-up, but that wasn’t the most talked-about result from the game — it was the fracas that started in the ninth inning. With his team up six runs, Canada’s Chris Robinson led off the top-half of the inning with a bunt, which infuriated Mexico, thinking that the WBC operates under similar rules as Major League Baseball. However, where the WBC differs is that they use run differential in their tie-breaker, so all efforts to eke out that extra run, whether by bunting or stealing bases up by more runs than can be counted on one hand, are justifiable. Not knowing this, Mexico reliever Arnold Leon threw at Rene Tosoni with his first pitch of the next at-bat, causing both benches to empty and punches to be thrown.
Those involved in the brawl included Mexico’s Luis Cruz, Eduardo Arredondo and Alfredo Aceves, as well as Canada’s Tyson Gillies and Scott Mathieson. Canada first base coach Larry Walker was involved as well, and says he saw Satan in the eyes of his attacker.
Walker also had baseball’s best interest in mind, pulling Mexico star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez out of the gathering.
Walker had some other interesting thoughts on the brawl, saying that CBC hockey commentator Don Cherry “can’t wait” to put the baseball brawl on his Hockey Night in Canada program. He never was one for a dull moment.
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.