GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Adrian Gonzalez had some harsh words for organizers of the World Baseball Classic.
“They’re trying to become the World Cup, but they’re not even close to being the Little League World Series,” the Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman said Wednesday.
Gonzalez’s Mexican team beat Venezuela 11-9 Sunday in Guadalajara, leaving both teams tied with Italy for second in Group D behind Puerto (3-0). The World Baseball Classic Twitter account initially announced Monday’s tiebreaker game would be between Mexico and Italy. But the WBC technical committee determined the tiebreaker — runs allowed per defensive inning — meant Italy (1.05) and Venezuela (1.11) advanced and not Mexico (1.12).
The Mexican Baseball Federation objected that the ninth inning of Sunday’s game should count as a partial inning, even though Italy scored five runs without Mexico getting any outs.
Gonzalez, a veteran of four WBCs, said he won’t play in any more. He said Mexico’s general manager called the two WBC representatives in Mexico seven times and sent several text messages and emails before Sunday’s game inquiring about what Mexico needed to do mathematically to advance. Gonzalez said WBC representatives never responded.
“So during the game when they posted it on the broadcast, they came into the dugout and I said ‘Hey, we just need to win by two,’” Gonzalez said. “When we had first and second, no outs in the eighth or ninth, whatever it was, we didn’t bunt because we felt we’re already up two. … We win the game, and they change it on us.”
Gonzalez said he spoke with Kim Ng, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for baseball operations, and was told the WBC technical committee was not responsible for the information disseminated on Twitter by the WBC and MLB.
“You’re MLB! What do you mean you’re not accountable?” Gonzalez said he responded.
Dodgers teammate Joc Pederson walked up to the crowd of reporters around Gonzalez and said: “Unbelievable, huh? What kind of rules are those?”
“Mexico! Mexico! Mexico!” Pederson chanted loudly.
“Going into the ninth inning, our strategy we had talked about, was if we gave up a run, we would intentionally walk somebody and balk him in to tie the game, and try to win the game by two in extras,” Gonzalez said. “But because we were told you had to win by two, we went for the win.”
“So the whole game strategy changes by what we were told,” Gonzalez added. “Unbelievable. And all they said afterwards was ‘Well, that’s what we decided.’”
At issue was the definition of a partial defensive inning.
“The whole time they’re just putting their heads, like an ostrich sticking his head in a hole and trying to let it all diffuse and go away,” Gonzalez said. “I told it to their face. ‘You guys are unaccountable, you don’t account for your own actions, you guys have no integrity.’
“They don’t want to put out the face of ‘we made a mistake,’” Gonzalez said. “They’re just going to stick to what they said, so it sounds like they didn’t make a mistake. They’re blaming it on the media outlets, not themselves. So that’s a cowardly way out.”
Outfielder Alex Verdugo, Gonzalez’ Mexico teammate at the WBC, said he enjoyed the experience of playing in Mexico, but felt the ending circumstances left a “bad taste.”
“There’s nothing we can do about it now,” Verdugo said. “When we won, you could see the emotions that we had. How we reacted when we won, how Venezuela reacted when they lost. They thought they were out. We thought we were advancing. It’s tough to swallow.”
Verdugo said he’d participate again for his Mexico teammates, but would have to think about it given how the situation with his team was handled this year.
NOTES: Manager Dave Roberts said Gonzalez, Verdugo, Sergio Romo and Rob Segedin, all WBC participants who rejoined the Dodgers on Wednesday, got the day to get re-acclimated to spring training and will soon be back in action. … SS Corey Seager and OF Andre Ethier took part in the morning’s workout but still aren’t playing in games because of minor injuries, Roberts said. “If it was in the middle of the season, they would be able to play, but right now where we’re at, we still feel that it’s prudent to take it slow,” he said.