Sal the Barber Smiles

So……something finally happened at the World Baseball Classic to provoke some American interest.

The first-round ballgame devolved into a full-fledged brawl, ripe with tussling, take-downs and tossed punches. Four Mexican players and three Canadians ended up getting ejected from the game at Chase Field in Phoenix, with more penalties possibly to come.

SalThe drama started with the game’s fate seemingly cinched. Canada led 9-3 when its catcher, Chris Robinson, led off the ninth inning with a bunt single.  His rationale was to give his team a better chance of scoring more, since total run differential is a factor in determining which teams advance in the tournament.  But Mexican players saw it as a slap in the face since the result seemed out of reach, and pitcher Arnold Leon then hit Canada’s next batter, Rene Tosoni, on his upper back.

That’s when the fisticuffs began. —

Footage of the fight right here.

Like most professional sports — football, hockey, basketball — baseball has been pussified over the years by do-gooders actually concerned for the health and well-being of the players.  Much to the detriment of the sport and its entertainment value, bean balls, brawls, and bell-ringing have been declared off-limits.  Somewhere along the line, somebody determined that the chunks of meat known as athletes deserve something better than outright butchery at the hands of their opponents.  As a result, sports got dull.

Personally, I miss that.  I remember when pitchers threw at heads, and base runners slid in with their spikes up.  Players had an edge.  Competition was more intense.

As a baseball fan in 21st century America, naturally I don’t give a toss for the World Baseball Classic.  But if that brawl becomes the New Normal for the international competition, I’ll change my view.   I’ll tune in.

BTW — if anybody wants to discuss the rule that led to this — the one about the number of runs scored which impacts a team’s seeding — I’m game.  However, this is south Florida, where so-called fans don’t know shit about baseball, unless they’re also regulars at the Liquor and Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Vivisected BBQ to Go.

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6 Responses to Sal the Barber Smiles

  1. ya' gotta' guessit says:

    “a full-fledged brawl, ripe with tussling”
    The word is “rife”, you CNN dopes…”a full-fledged brawl, RIFE with tussling”.

  2. Old Timer says:

    Yeah, I have no interest in WBC either, but what caught my eye is that weird rule about the way the total number of runs scored figures into the standings. That runs counter to MLB culture — obviously — but it’s not arbitrary, either. A team that scores a lot of runs is usually going to be a better team than one that doesn’t. Not always, of course: pitching counts for even more when it comes to W-L. But in an abbreviated schedule like this one, when they need something more than just total Ws, it’s a decent guideline. PS What’s that reference to Liquor and ‘Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Vivisected BBQ to Go’?

  3. Anonymous says:

    ‘World’ Baseball Classic? Which world? I thought us ‘mericans already owned the world. Ain’t that why they play the World Series every year?

  4. Lu Senz says:

    The rule about aggregated runs has two functions. First, it helps with the standings, as you noted, serving as a substitute for a longer, more meaningful season where the best teams distinguish themselves by consistently succeeding. It’s not a great idea, but it’s understandable even by blockhead ball players if you tell them about it enough in advance, which is exactly what didn’t happen here.

    A better approach might work using a wider range of sabermetrics — runs, fielding percentages, ERA, etc. But this is probably too nerdy and incomprehensible to wield, and they’d certainly lose the audience they’re still desperately courting.

    But this approach also helps with marketing. There is no down time in the game: regardless of score, each inning is played with the intention to score runs any way possible. This keeps the fielders on edge and the audience involved. It’s as though every inning started 0-0, and both managers labor to wring the most effective AB from each player, managing to keep generating runs.

    It wouldn’t work in MLB. The culture of the game prevents it, and the long season makes it unnecessary. But it’s not an outrageous approach. Pete Rose would approve.

  5. Jeff Hansen says:

    Did they name that shave cream, Barber Sal after Maglie?

  6. Diesel Fitter says:

    WBC has other problems with American audiences. There are restrictions on how managers can use MLB players — specifically, relief pitchers, who are limited to 2 innings maximum. No player is going to risk his paycheck and get himself hurt, so there’s this vibe of holding back you pick up when you watch games. Besides, most Americans find nationalism irritating, if not just stupid. Waving flags and chanting patriotic slogans is better suited for soccer games and tea party rallies.

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