The World Baseball Classic has been criticized for all sorts of reasons since its inception in 2006, and now we can add an international brawl to that list.
Saturday evening, Team Mexico and Team Canada squared off in a first-round match-up at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., then actually squared off around the home plate area in the ninth inning.
Earlier in the game, there had been some bad blood brewing between our neighbors to the north and those to the south over a late takeout slide and a collision at home plate, but in the ninth inning, Mexican pitcher Arnold Leon decided to take things into his own hands. He threw one very inside on Canadian outfielder Rene Tosoni, prompting a warning to both benches from the home plate umpire. Leon must've been tying his shoe or looking at the center field scoreboard because on the very next pitch, he absolutely drilled Tosoni in the back, and all hell broke loose.
Both benches came storming out, meeting around home plate. In baseball, bench-clearing brawls usually end up with a lot of pushing and shoving, but apparently in international baseball, you get an all out war. In the videos posted here, there are several scraps that break off involving tackles and some serious punches. And as if it wasn't bad enough on the field, Canadian pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face with some sort of bottle as the teams were heading back to their dugouts.
Reports from during the fight and in the aftermath point to Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves being one of the key combatants. You can see him in the middle video at around the :30 second mark, in a big pile of Canadian players. Aceves was ejected, and may face even more serious penalties as a result.
Team Canada, wanting to boost their run differential should their fate come down to a tiebreaker, bunted in the ninth inning even though they were up by six runs. Mexican manager Rick Renteria says issue might have been taken with what the Canadians were trying to do, and they acted "in the heat of the moment."
Very bizarre scene to see in a tournament like this. The one good thing you can take away is that North American ratings may be up when these teams play again, but with over 40 players on the field and just four umpires, its surprisingly nobody was seriously hurt.