PHOENIX >> The violent misdeeds of the Mexican and Canadian baseball teams will go unpunished.
The World Baseball Classic decided no players will be suspended in the aftermath of Saturday’s nasty brawl between the teams. Video of the fighting spread across the globe, giving the WBC a major league dose of unwanted attention.
The organizers said Sunday that while the mayhem “runs counter to the spirit of sportsmanship and respectful competition,” suspensions would not be appropriate because one team and possibly both will not advance to the second round.
Canada’s 10-3 victory eliminated Mexico from the competition. Canada faces the United States today, with the winner advancing to the WBC’s second round.
The organizers, in a statement attributed to World Baseball Classic Inc., said punishment would be in inappropriate because of the format of the tournament, which is now held every four years.
“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,” the statement said.
The brawl began in the ninth inning Saturday when Canada’s Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch from Mexico’s Arnold Leon after Canadian Chris Robinson reached on a bunt single.
The organization said it spoke with representatives of the Canadian and Mexican federations Saturday night.
“We are aware of the perspectives held by both sides in a competitive environment,” the WBC said. “Nevertheless, we relayed to both teams that such an altercation is inappropriate under any circumstances and has no place in baseball.”
Canada manager Ernie Whitt said the WBC “did the right thing.”
When asked if the failure to take further action might give players license to such behavior in future WBC games, he said: “I certainly hope that’s not the case. I know it’s not the case with our team in there. … We had guys that were worried about it yesterday because of the fact of what happened. I think that if it happened again, then there would be suspensions.”
Seven players were ejected, four from Mexico and three from Canada.
Left unsaid was whether the WBC would look at changing the tiebreaker rule that was behind Robinson’s decision to bunt for a base hit with his team leading 9-3 in the ninth. In the WBC’s first round, a three-way tie is decided by overall run differential.
Mexico manager Rick Renteria said after the game he believed his players didn’t realize there was a reason behind Robinson’s decision.
“I think in just the heat of the moment you lose sight of it and maybe that’s how it occurred,” Renteria said. “It was just a misunderstanding.”
A very violent misunderstanding.
While some players tried to hold back teammates, others tumbled to the ground in hand-to-hand combat with opposing players.
When Canada returned to the dugout, someone in the largely pro-Mexican crowd hurled a full water bottle that hit pitching coach Denis Boucher in the head. Canadian shortstop Cale Iorg grabbed the bottle and angrily threw it back in the stands. When play resumed, someone threw a ball from the crowd that almost hit Canada first base coach Larry Walker in the head.
That’s when Whitt went to home plate umpire Brian Gorman and said if anything else is thrown at them from the crowd, he was pulling his players off the field. Several people in the crowd were escorted away by security personnel.
Robinson, who played for Baltimore’s Triple-A club in Norfolk last season, was in the center of the intensity all afternoon. First, there was a home plate crash with Karim Garcia, who was out trying to score from second. Then Robinson’s hard slide into second broke up a double play and allowed a run to score in the eighth. Finally, there was the bunt.
“The sad thing about the whole thing is we had a lot of great performances that were overshadowed by this incident,” Whitt said. “And you look at the pitching of (Chris) Leroux and (Andrew) Albers and (Trystan) Magnuson, you look at the offense that we put out there with (Justin) Morneau and (Mike) Saunders. I mean, unfortunately, that was overshadowed by an ugly incident.”
Mexico was frustrated in the late innings as its WBC hopes, so bright after a 5-2 victory over the United States a night earlier, were slipping away.
“We’re not here to lose,” Renteria said. “If you would say that that’s a failure, well, we were here to win and we didn’t. So, yeah, you can take it as a failure.”