March 11, 2009

DUTCH TREAT:

WBC Five Cuts: Netherlands shocks Dominican, puts event on the map (Tom Verducci, 3/12/09, SI)

1. The World Baseball Classic arrived Tuesday night. Baseball became a truly global game when the Netherlands, the international baseball version of Buster Douglas, the 1980 U.S. hockey team and the Milan Indians rolled into one, put the tournament on the map by upsetting the heavily favored, star-studded Dominican Republic team, 2-1. Talk about shocking the world. Go crazy, Rotterdam, go crazy.

The Netherlands is a country that may be the best baseball Europe has to offer, but is a country that has never finished higher than fourth in the history of IBAF World Cup competition. Its WBC roster included just one major leaguer. A 29-year-old third baseman named Yurendell DeCaster, with the grand sum of zero major league hits, became their Lorenzo Charles with a two-out infield grounder to first base -- it was scored an error by Willy Aybar -- to cap a two-run, bottom of the 11th rally for the historic 2-1 victory. The winning run was scored by Eugene Kingsale, a 32-year-old outfielder who had washed out of the major leagues and had escorted home the go-ahead run in the top of the inning for the Dominicans with a misplay in right field. It was a single by the redemptive Kingsale that had tied the game.

Major League Baseball can work all of its machinations to pump up interest in the tournament, such as marketing and broadcasting. But there is nothing more powerful to sell the tournament than the unscripted magnificence of the game itself, never more so than when what we regard as the meek overtake the mighty. The Dominicans, because of the country's abiding love for baseball, will bear grief and shame for the defeat.

But for the Dutch, and for those who saw the WBC as a means to grow the game, victory is eternal. Van Gogh. Escher. DeKooning. And now make way for a new Dutch master: DeCaster.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at March 11, 2009 8:56 AM
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