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03/16/2006 Archived Entry: "WBC: USA Eliminated by Mexico!!"
WBC: USA Eliminated by Mexico!!
By Craig Tomarkin
ANAHEIM - Hollywood could not have written a better script. Mexcio defeated USA 2-1, eliminating the heavily favored and home field advantaged Americans from their own tournament. This was a fitting result for a US team that never got that "eye of the tiger." The remaining teams have that mental toughness, proving that at this level desire matters more than stats on paper.
Team Japan breathed not only a sigh of relief, but were avenged the terrible tagging up call that went against them when they lost 4-3 to the US in this semi-final round. Ironically, the same umpire blew a call in this game (who by the way was the only ump in the game with mlb experience), when Mario Valenzuela drove a ball off the right-field foul pole, about twelve feet up, for an apparent home run, but called it a double. Unbelievably, none of the other umpires over-ruled the riduculous call. One of the Mexican players held up the ball from the dugout to show the umpires the yellow paint scuff to no avail. What's more interesting is that due to the ill-concieved tie breaker rule, the only way Mexico could advance was to shut out Team USA for 13 innings, so had the ball been ruled a HR, they would have eliminated themselves from the tournament! Since the odds against Mexico winning that way were so remote, Mexico's manager Paquin Estrada declared that they would focus on winning the game rather than avoid scoring a run before the 13th just to try to stay in the tournament. Two batters later, Cantu, Mexico's best hitter, drove Valenzuela in with a base hit, so the bad call had no effect on the game's outcome. By crossing home plate and taking a 1-0 lead, Mexico eliminated itself. But, as was their wish, they took the US out with them - a feat few thought would happen.
This may also have been Roger Clemens' final game. He did not look sharp and took the loss as he was responsible for both runs.