MLB drops the ball in ruling Mexico out of the World Baseball Classic
It is heartbreaking to lose out based on a hundredth of a run. It is infuriating to lose out when your team has been told something entirely different in advance, as Mexican team officials insisted they had before Sunday’s game.
We all had. On the television network run by MLB, and on the website run by MLB, each promoting the tournament run by MLB, the message was the same: If Mexico wins by two runs, Mexico advances.
Mexico won by two.
But wait, this postgame interpretation just in from the rules committee: That five-run inning earlier in the week, in which Italy walked off? Mexico did not get an out, so that did not count as an inning. The five runs still counted.
If it would have counted as an inning, Mexico would have advanced. The rule specifies that partial innings count.
“The rule doesn't specify outs,” Mexico Manager Edgar Gonzalez told reporters after the game. “It specifies partial innings. And if you go to a judge, this is a partial inning.”
Mexico has not sued, as far as we know. The Mexicans filed a protest, and lost.
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the brother of the Mexican manager, on Monday tweeted a picture of a dictionary definition of “partial,” then directed another tweet to MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre: “Looks like some rules makers cannot go by their own rules.”
If the tournament were run in the manner of boxing, there would be no question that Mexico would have advanced. The best interests of the WBC demanded it, and the rules would have been interpreted accordingly.
Sell tickets to an Italy-Venezuela tiebreaker game in Mexico, rather than include Mexico in the game? Good luck with that.
Keep hope alive that Mexico could play in San Diego, rather than Italy or Venezuela? Let the WBC tie another hand behind its back in trying to popularize the tournament.
It is not as if Mexico would have advanced without winning a game. It is not as if Mexico is solely a gate attraction rather than a decent baseball team.
There would have been nothing outrageous about making sure Mexico played Monday. Mexico deserved it, and so did the WBC.
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