Canada Ousted by Italy... In Baseball?!!
In what will go down as one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, Italy trounced (and embarrassed) Canada tonight by a tally of 6-2, eliminating Team Canada from the World Baseball Classic. After playing a solid game against the USA, in front of 45,000+ hometown fans Saturday afternoon, and nearly winning, the Canadians certainly had higher hopes for their game against Italy, a team expected to lose two straight.
But sometimes that's not how the ball bounces and despite Canada being the home team (officially and in fan support), the sparsely-populated dome heard wild cheers and resounding boos, with the ultimate highlight being an emotional pinch hit appearance by minor league (and Canadian baseball) "legend" Stubby Clapp.
I had high hopes for a Canada/Venezuela matchup tomorrow night, but will have to settle for an Italy/Venezuela re-match, that despite Italy's win tonight will still heavily favour Venezuela to sweep Italy aside (scopa!) quite handily. (Again).
Although the Canada vs. USA game drew 45,000 to the Rogers Centre I wasn't surprised that tonight's matchup only drew about 12,000. Like the first game, the fans showed they cared, but as it became clear that Canada wasn't going to convert any of their 8 walks or numerous opportunities into runs the cheers turned to boos, which turned into chants of "We want Stubby!"
The fan support for Venezuela has been unbelievable their two games and I fully expect them out again tomorrow night in support of their countrymen. I'm not expecting the Italian community to take notice, but the Rogers Centre atmosphere would be electric if just 5 or 10 thousand Italian fans would show up to counter the Venzuelan cheers. After all, it's not just pride on the line tomorrow night, it's also an opportunity to reach Round 2 of the tournament and face off against the USA Wednesday night.
And despite Venezuela being heavy favourites, Italy has proven that anything is possible on any given night.
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