By Andy Sadler, WSOE Sports
World Baseball Classic favorite Dominican Republic got bounced in the first round last week. No, let’s revisit that. They got trounced in the first round last week. In a tournament where no other favorite struggled out of the gate, the Dominican dropped two one-run decisions to the lowly Netherlands.
Yes, the Netherlands. Led by stud pitcher Rick VandenHurk. (Okay… By stud I mean that he pitched in the MLB last year. And only 14 innings at that.) The team has compiled 95 career MLB victories among the entire team. All of them belong to VandenHurk and journeyman Sidney Ponson. The Dominican totaled 512.
The reality is, however, that no more than five of these guys will likely ever make it to Major League Baseball. And none of them look to have All-Star potential. This isn’t the case of an underrated team being remarkably better than everyone expected. It’s the case of a world power being overconfident. Twice.
For everything you can say about the Netherlands team, you can say the opposite about the Dominican. Almost the entire roster has Major League experience. The rest are top prospects right now. There isn’t a player on this roster who won’t play in the Majors. The Dominican B team should have crushed the Netherlands. Even the C team could have matched them.
For the Netherlands, the journey continues. After losing 5-0 to Puerto Rico, they’re off to a bracket with the Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, and Americans. Ouch. If they can persevere, maybe the Dominicans can conserve a bit of pride. But in all likelihood, they’ll be overmatched and make a quick exit.
This loss is a giant embarrassment to baseball in the Dominican Republic. A team led by MLB stars David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Pedro Martinez couldn’t hang with a team led by Rick VandenHurk, Randall Simon, Eugene Kingsale, and Yurendell Decaster. (Who???) So it’s back to the drawing board and hope for 2012.
But that’s why they play the games.
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