* Fergie Jenkins, left, Canada's only Hall of Famer and Ken Griffey threw out the ceremonial first pitches before the game which would decide whether Canada or Team USA would advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic. .... ELSEWHERE .... TOM VERDUCCI -- Five outs from finishing last USA rallies .... Another near miss for Morneau .... BOB NIGHTENGALE -- USA advances with 9-4 win over Canada .... PATRICK REDDINGTON -- WBC Game Thread Canada-USA .... BOB NIGHTENGALE -- Walker: Canada plays with more passion .... GREGOR CHISHOLM -- Jays’ Bautista thinks Robinson, Canada in wrong .... JIM CAPLE: Walker saw Satan in Acves’ eyes .... JON PAUL MOROSI -- Canadians didn’t start melee, they finished it .... JEFF PASSAN -- Brawl far from classy, but WBC finally got its classic moment .... KEN WEIBE -- Robinson didn’t deliver knock out, but was catalyst .... CHRIS JENKINS -- Brawl punctuates Canada rout of Mexico .... IAN DENOMME -- Robinson sparks Canadian victory, and brawl with Mexico .... ALEXIS BRUDNICKI -- Minor leaguers helped Canada get to Phoenix
By Bob Elliott
PHOENIX _ Joey Votto is not someone who is real on chemistry, when it comes to a 162-game schedule.
“Not when we play a whole season,” said Votto. “But in something short-term like this tournament it’s important.
“When the Reds play on the road I go back to the hotel,” said Votto. “If you’re playing for your team and you’re playing for the guys you know and grew up with, I think no matter what you’re up against you still think you have a chance.
“When I play with this team, it feels like teams I played with when I was 11 and 14 and 16 years old. It feels like the guys I grew up with, and you don’t get that a lot.These are my friends and my countrymen.”
Votto is a Bloordale and Etobicoke Rangers grad.
He played with Team Canada teammate Shawn Hill and John Suomi.
Not wondering: Has Adam Loewen wondered what if?
As in what if Brett Lawrie had not been injured and been able to play third base?
Or what if Russell Martin had not decided he wanted to be a shortstop rather than a catcher?
That’s two more right-handed hitters for manager Ernie Whitt who started seven left-handed hitters each game.
“Chris Robinson did a heck of a job,” said Loewen emphatically. “Taylor Green did a good job at third too. Everything played out the way it was meant to be.”
Robinson started all three games and hit .556 for the tournament, including singling on a 10-pitch, at-bat to load the bases with Canada down 5-3 in the eighth.
Next up was Lowen, who hit a ground ball which Brandon Phillips tracked down showing Robbie Alomar range and fired to first for the second out of the inning. Loewen put his hands to his helmet. Instead of getting through for a two-run single, it was a run-scoring ground ball.
“They were playing double-play depth,” said Loewen. “I didn’t think he could get there. It got us back within a run.”
Sporting a beard for the playoff run Loewen said he’d soon be shaving. Team USA’s Adam Jones called him Duck Dynasty after the reality show where everyone sports a lengthy beard.
“I wanted to advance to the second round for my teammates and people watching back at home,” said Loewen, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Canada’s 8-6 upset win over Team USA in 2006.
Passion winner declared: “We have more passion than USA, more passion than anyone in this tournament,” Larry Walker, Team Canada’s hitting coach told reporters before Sunday’s game. “Look at the way we play, the Canadian way. Ask Ernie Whitt. He’s an American. He’ll tell you the same.”
Walker said beating Team USA would have been the biggest win ever for Canada, more important than the gold medal at the Pan-Am Games in 2010 or the world juniors in 1991 or beating Team USA in 2006 in the WBC.
“The buildup for this, after what happened Saturday, would make it more satisfying,” said Walker. “The U.S. had to win. We had to win. Bam, here we are. It has meaning for both clubs.”
Walker said Canadian players were surprised at the interest their brawl against Mexico had in Canada.
“It was like it went viral in Canada,’’ Walker said. “Like, ‘we go your back. We’re behind you. It’s not your fault. They invited us into a mêlée. We obliged.”
Zero suspenders: The WBC ruled that there would not be suspensions for the Mexican and Canadian players involved in Saturday’s Hockey Night in Phoenix.
The WBC said in a statement it was “extremely disappointed in the bench-clearing incident.”
“We relayed to both teams that such an altercation is inappropriate under any circumstances and has no place in baseball. Because at least one club - and potentially both - will not advance ... it was determined that disciplinary measures would not have a meaningful corrective impact. It is our firm expectation that the members of Team Mexico, Team Canada learn from this incident and set a better example.”
Recalling the Hawk: Paul Hollingsworth did an excellent job covering the WBC for TSN. Growing up in Halifax he was a Montreal Expos fan and his favorite player was Andre Dawson.
When his son was born 10 years ago he and his wife named the baby Dawson Hollingsworth. Five years ago Hollingsworth met the Expos centre fielder at the winter meetings and told him about the name of his child.
Dawson, now an executive with the Florida Marlins, sent Hollingsworth an autographed picture from the 1981 all-star game.
This winter the Hall of Famer attended a banquet in Halifax and “spent time with me playing 20 questions all about my son,” said Hollingsworth. A few weeks later a framed 1981 Expos jersey arrived by signed: “From Big Dawson to Little Dawson, HOF, 2010.”
Roots: Victoria B.C. lefty Steve Wilson, the Chicago Cubs Pacific Rim scout is scouting the WBC.
Wilson, who pitched for Canada in the 1984 Olympics, looks at the Canadian team and sees how far it has come. “We didn’t have enough NCAA players to fill our roster, we had to go get some guys from beer leagues to fill it out,” Wilson said.
Now, more than 750 collegians play the majority of the schedule south of the border. At the time there were two Canadians in the majors: Terry Puhl of Melville, Sask. and Ottawa’s Doug Frobel.
“Now there’s 28, a couple of years ago it was over 30,” said Wilson. “That junior program Greg Hamilton runs is the reason why. You have no idea how many countries look at Canada’s program and say ‘how can we make ours as good as Canada’s? Greg’s juniors plays the best schedule in the world.”
Wilson pitched six years in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. He signed free agent Jesse Hodges in Korea last fall at the World junior when Canada won silver.
One from the road: A reporter asked John Brioux if the travelling secretary had cancelled his room in Miami.
"Ah, I think Team USA cancelled ALL the rooms for us."