Dodgers: Solving the Mexico Elimination Controversy

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Mar 8, 2017; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Mexico first baseman Adrian Gonzalez prior to the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a 2017 World Baseball Classic exhibition game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2017; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Mexico first baseman Adrian Gonzalez prior to the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a 2017 World Baseball Classic exhibition game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Adrian Gonzalez returned to the Dodgers camp after team Mexico’s controversial elimination from the World Baseball Classic.

Gonzalez, Alex Vergudo, and Sergio Romo all returned to Camelback Ranch Wednesday just days after being eliminated following team Mexico’s 11-9 victory over Venezuela. The Dodgers participants disgruntledly returned after losing their WBC appeal.

Following Mexico’s win, it created a three-way tie between Venezuela and Italy with a 1-2 record. The WBC rules determined a two team play-in game between Italy and Venezuela to advance to San Diego.

The rules state that the teams with the two lowest runs allowed per defensive inning would play the tiebreaker to determine who would advance.

Based on the numbers, Mexico’s runs allowed per inning were the highest of the three teams tied, thus they were eliminated. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a debatable. But since Mexico never recorded an out in the final inning against Italy, they had less innings to divide their run total by.

Mexico contended the ruling by claiming that Mexico should have been credited with another inning of play. Since Mexico lost in walk-off fashion against Italy they were not given credit for that inning. Being that there was no outs recorded in the bottom of the 9th, the WBC ruled that Mexico would not get credit for being on the field.

If Mexico would have been given credit for playing that inning, they would have had lower runs allowed per inning than Venezuela and could still be in the tournament. The reason this story is getting so much traction is because Adrian Gonzalez has been very vocal about the WBC rules.

Gonzalez continued his rant by claiming he’ll never participate in the World Baseball Classic again. Gonzalez has not cooled off on being critical of the WBC format and has continued to bash the tournament. 

The truth is, whether you agree with Adrian Gonzalez or not, Mexico shouldn’t have been credited with an inning because they didn’t record an out. But that doesn’t mean Gonzalez is entirely wrong in criticizing the WBC.

The purpose of the WBC is for baseball to become a transcending sport that will have a following worldwide. Its goal is to be as popular as the Soccer World Cup. But the rules are so much in question that it doesn’t come close.

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If you ask me, the MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred should take a larger role in this tournament. How are you supposed to showcase the sport around the world without having the world’s best on display? Neither Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout have participated in this tournament.

The rule flaws are understandable. It’s a trial and error process that will get better as the tournament moves along. I believe the WBC officials will reevaluate their tie-breaker rules and come up with a better solution for the upcoming years. This is only the 4th run for the tournament. The fact that the tournament is already seen as highly questionable is concerning.

The tournament’s mercy rule completely contradicts their rules of a tiebreaker. Their mercy rule reads:

"“A team is declared the winner of a game if it leads by either 15 runs after five innings or 10 runs after seven innings.”"

This automatically puts a team that falls under this category at a disadvantage because their runs allowed per defensive inning would be inflated. The rules need to be polished.

My biggest issue is trying to showcase a sport without having the best players in the world participate. Honestly, I’m not quite sure there’s a solution for that. The scheduling of the WBC aligns with MLB’s spring training schedule. So it gives MLB players the option to choose to prepare for the season with their own club or with their country.

It’s a difficult choice.

Since this tournament is becoming a growing part of the MLB, the MLB players and owner-union should make it a priority to polish the rules. The way the WBC is currently run seems like a trial and error method. Their extra-inning rules are something the MLB is implicating in the minor leagues, not even the majors.

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The WBC is in its early stage of its development. So bumps and bruises are to be expected. But I need to see more effort to fix a tournament that will be displaying a sport worldwide. I love and look forward to the WBC every four years. It’s not right to offer an unfinished product of the game to fans across the world. If the MLB isn’t ready to adopt these rules, they shouldn’t be displayed worldwide.

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