Until today, Randall Simon was known for little more in baseball lore than this:
Now, he is one of the only recognizable names on the roster of the Netherlands’ World Baseball Classic entry, which beat the powerhouse Dominican Republic team for a second time yesterday, 2-1, to advance to Round 2.
But to read Tom Verducci today on SI.com, one might think this little band of Dutch hardballers took home the WBC trophy with a team comprised of full-time windmill repairmen:
The World Baseball Classic arrived Tuesday night. Baseball became a truly global game when the Netherlands, the international baseball version of Buster Douglas, the 1980 U.S. hockey team and the Milan Indians rolled into one, put the tournament on the map by upsetting the heavily favored, star-studded Dominican Republic team, 2-1. Talk about shocking the world. Go crazy, Rotterdam, go crazy.
Sure. Other than the fact that it was the opening round of a baseball tournament still in its infancy, with little historical background to put anything that happens into perspective, well then, heck, we’ll group that right up there with the Miracle on Ice. I’m all for getting caught up in the moment, but let’s take a deep breath. The first time the DR team got together was sometime last week. Normally, when a team makes a title run, or gets upset in doing so, they are a cohesive unit that has played together for some period of time.
It's the same reason Olympic hockey is flawed. All-Star teams are great. In All-Star games. Slap them together with a goal in the headlights, and the task gets that much more challenging. And no matter the talent, those that have played together, longer, sometimes have the upper hand.
When any favored team loses in the first round of a playoff series, the blame goes to none other than Alex Rodriguez, who is working his magical craft these days without even being present. Yet another talent from this tremendously gifted athlete.
Ken Rosenthal writes:
Our good friend A-Rod chose to play for Team USA in the first World Baseball Classic and the D.R. in the second. Each time, his team was eliminated in the first round.
Of course, Rodriguez didn’t play, electing for hip surgery instead of suiting up for his “native” Dominican Republic team. Apparently association is all it takes these days.
The news, however, only appears as a headline in the NRC Handelsblad, where a school shooting death leads the news. It does, however, contain the most brilliant proclamation of the victory: “Honkballers verrrassend door in World Baseball Classic.”
Yes, go honkballers.