A Look Into the Netherlands Upset(s) of the Dominican Republic

How does an upset like this occur? TWICE?? How does a team made up of MLB outcasts-at-best defeat one of the favorites in the tournament, the Dominican Republic?

Eugene Kingsale has dabbled in the major leagues, and Randall Simon once hit an Italian sausage with his bat and gained fame that way... But other than that, these Netherlands players are unknowns to even the trained baseball fan's eye...

Sidney Ponson has had the best MLB career out of the Netherlands roster. Sid also has a 90-106 career record through 2008 with a 4.95 ERA... Less than impressive overall, obviously.

On the other hand, for the Dominican team you have some of the best players in the world in Big Papi, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Willy Taveras, Robby Cano, Pedro, Ubaldo Jimenez... the list goes on! How does a Netherlands team with literally ZERO signed MLB players on the team defeat the team with virtually every one of their players not only on a MLB roster, but starters on their respective teams?

I understand I have only asked questions thus far in this blog post, but I am trying to convey what an enormous feat this is! This just should not happen!

Reason Number One for these upsets: Bert Blyleven.
Yes he was born in the Netherlands (Zeist), and Blyleven is the pitching coach for the team. Blyleven is not only the most accomplished pitcher not in the HOF, but is also evidently a tremendous pitching coach. Steve Phillips of ESPN was talking about how Blyleven has coaxed a tremendous amount of self-confidence in the Netherlands' pitching staff. He taught them to bring the bill of their caps down to right over their eyes in an effort to avoid all of the distractions and simply pitch their guts out. While Ponson is a decent enough pitcher, they have won two games against the D.R. with other pitchers too... Keep in mind Ponson has only pitched four innings out of the 18 total against the Dominicans...

Remember these rules:
A pitcher may:
Not pitch until a minimum of four days have passed since he last pitched, if he threw 50 or more pitches when he last pitched;
Not pitch until a minimum of one day has passed since he last pitched, if he threw 30 or more pitches when he last pitched;
Not pitch until a minimum of one day has passed since any second consecutive day on which the pitcher pitched;
Throw no more than
70 pitches per game in Round One of the tournament;
85 pitches per game in Round Two of the tournament; and
100 pitches per game in the Semifinals and Final of the tournament; unless the pitcher needs more to complete a batter's plate appearance; and
Throw no more than
50 pitches per exhibition game for a Team, or the maximum number of pitches that WBCI sets forth for such pitcher for such exhibition game, whichever is less, if the pitcher is under reserve to an MLB Club. WBCI may set forth such a maximum upon the written request of the pitcher's MLB Club.

(Courtesy of http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com/about/rules.jsp)

This allows unknown pitchers like Alexander Smit, Robbie Cordemans, Tom Stuifbergen, Dennis Neuman and Leon Boyd the opportunity to shut down the potent D.R. lineup for 5 innings in the first game and nearly the entire second game. The Dominicans knew how big of an upset this was going to be if they lost, so they panicked, swinging at pitches they definitely should not have. Kudos to Blyleven and his pitchers for capitalizing on these over-anxious mistakes.

The first game was basically given to the Netherlands with Eugene Kingsale scoring on a wild pitch by Edinson Volquez, and two more runs scoring in the first on a throwing error by Hanley Ramirez. That lead held up and the Netherlands won.

The second game, and the reason this is such a tremendous story, featured tremendous pitching on both sides. Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies struck out 10 batters in four innings for the Dominican team, while Team Netherlands didn't allow an earned run the entire game, allowing just one run (Jose Reyes scored) on a miscue by Kingsale.
The tremendous team pitching for the Netherlands, coupled with solid defense proved successful in extra innings and created one of the biggest upsets we've seen in any sport in a long time. This team showed a lot of heart and will go on to face Puerto Rico on Wednesday... You know what they say... If you ain't Dutch, you aint much.

What We've Missed

Here is a quick rundown of the big sports happenings in the last 10 days...

ARod had surgery on his hip to repair torn cartilage. It looks like he's going to be out until May at least. Not the great start to the season that he needed to rebound from the ARoid controversy.

Terrell Owens was cut by the Cowboys. And, just when you thought that the NFL's front offices were wising up to this guy, the Buffalo Bills picked him up for a 1 year/6.5 million dollar deal. Time will tell how this gamble works out, but I don't see it being beneficial in the long run. How does an NFL exec not get the similarity between Trent Edwards and Tony Romo, I can not understand.

In NCAA hoops, Pitt dismantled #1 UConn and #15 Marquette, but somehow is only good enough to be the #2 team in the country. This is due to the extreme bias to North Carolina, who is now at #1 after beating Duke on Sunday.

Busy busy busy

An apology to anybody that ever looks at this blog--if there is anybody. As college students, the two weeks before spring break are the 2nd busiest of the semester. So, if there's anybody out there who has been disappointed, apologies from the guys at shortwhiteguys.

This week Jordan Loperena and myself will be heading to Indianapolis to cover the Big Ten Tournament for KRUI. I will try to update a couple of times down there, as we begin to learn how the madness that is March unravels.