WBC loses its biggest ambassador and spokesperson

It was one of those press conferences that didn’t garner much attention but it was nonetheless very important. The date was February 8, 2017, an overcast but otherwise pleasant day at Dodger Stadium. The presser was to formally announce Team Mexico’s roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, of which the semi-final and final rounds would be played at Blue Heaven on Earth.

Representing Team Mexico at the press conference was Dodger great Fernando Valenzuela, Team Mexico manager Edgar Gonzalez, Edgar’s brother and Dodgers and Team Mexico first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and recently acquired right-hander Sergio Romo – and let me tell you, there wasn’t a prouder bunch on the planet.

The pride and enthusiasm of Dodger legend Fernando Valenzuela, Edgar Gonzalez, Adrian Gonzalez and Sergio Romo at the February 8, 2017 WBC press conference was overwhelming.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

“It’s almost like a bonus that it’s at Dodger Stadium,” AGon told the gathered media that day. “You get to play in front of our home crowd, in front of our people, in front of the great fans of L.A. We’re going to have the best cheering squad behind us obviously because of all the Mexicans here and all of the people who will travel from Mexico to support us. It’s an added bonus but we’re still going to be focused on making it to the finals just like if the game was somewhere else.”

Team Mexico did not make it to the finals.

They should have … they had the better overall record than did Team Venezuela. But due to an absolutely ridiculous WBC rule, Mexico was eliminated by Venezuela because they only beat Team Venezuela by two runs, this even though Team Mexico manager Edgar Gonzalez had been told by multiple sources before the game that a two-run victory would guarantee his team a spot in the next round. Team Mexico defeated Team Venezuela by a score of 11-9.

Lo and behold, no sooner had EGon, AGon, Romo, former Dodger Luis Cruz and the rest of Team Mexico finished their postgame high-fives and chest bumps that they were informed that the actually needed to win by three runs in order to advance to the next round.

As you might imagine, Team Mexico was absolutely furious – and justifiably so.

“You have no integrity,” AGon expressed to MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre through the media upon his return to Dodgers spring training camp on Wednesday morning. “Everything you guys are doing is a bunch of BS.”

The ironic part is that because Team Mexico was the home team in that 11-9 win over Team Venezuela, they already knew that they would not bat in the bottom of the ninth inning unless Team Venezuela tied the game or took the lead. However, had Team Mexico known that they needed to win by three runs instead of two, they would have allowed Team Venezuela to tie the game at 11-11 in the top of the ninth to at least have a chance of scoring three or more runs in the bottom of the ninth instead of playing an absolutely meaningless top of the ninth inning – something that AGon addressed with the media on Wednesday morning.

But the worst part about this entire embarrassing mess – and it’s bad – is that Gonzalez told reporters that Team Mexico general manager Kundy Gutiérrez attempted to contact WBC officials by phone and by email for a clarification of the tiebreaker rule before their game with Team Venezuela but never received a reply. This is absolutely unacceptable for an international tournament of this magnitude where there should always be someone available during the two-week long quadrennial event.

The WBC lost one of their greatest ambassadors when WBC Officials did not return Team Mexico’s phone calls or emails over a rule clarification before their March 12 contest with Team Venezuela. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

“They’re trying to be the World Cup. But they’re not even the Little League World Series,” Gonzalez said. “When you’re going to put your career on the line, why would you do it for something that has no validity?”

As if there was ever a doubt about AGon’s participation in future WBC tournaments, there most certainly isn’t one now.

“It’s good to be the hell out of that tournament.”

Shame on you WBC. Shame on you.

 

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5 Responses to “WBC loses its biggest ambassador and spokesperson”

  1. Respect the Rivalry says:

    When Gonzo’s that mad you know there’s something to be mad about.
    Now, he just needs to take his frustration out on the rest of MLB.

  2. Evan Bladh says:

    I have a difficult time feeling sorry for a Mexico team that went 1-2. Losing to “powerhouse” Italy, tanked a 8-1 lead vs. Venezuela at home to squeak out an 11-9 win. Come on, they played horrible.

    Team Mexico is out of the tournament because they didn’t perform. The tie breaking rules are confusing, so you go out and play your best baseball and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe if A-Gon had more than 1 hit in 12 at bats, they would have moved forward.

    Adrian comes out of the tournament looking like whiny baby.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Basically agree with the “whiny” part but have a real hard time with no one from the WBC being available via phone or email. This is a HUGE endeavor and there should be someone on-call 24/7 during the entire tournament to answer any questions – rules or otherwise – that pop up during the event. There is absolutely no excuse for this epic fail by the WBC.

      I also have to agree with RTR – when AGon has a beef, it’s usually a justified beef. It kinda sucks to win a game yet are eliminated.

      BTW – You can get one of these REALLY cheap right now – lol!

       photo AGon WBC Jersey.jpg

      • Badger3 says:

        I would never use the word whiny to describe Adrian Gonzalez, but I’ve seen it said a lot around the blogohood. He’s got the loudest voice on that team and he spoke up for his teammates. From what I read they might have had a legitimate beef. AGon has always been a class act. I don’t know the WBC history very well and frankly don’t much give a damn. What I want is for that tournament to be over so MLB players can get back to work.

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