CANADA ON PRECIPICE OF ADVANCING FOR FIRST TIME IN HISTORY

2023-03-15 · 2 min read · WBC/Baseball
Canada heads into today’s game against Mexico in a very unique position - their ability to advance, unequivocally, is in their hands.

Daniel Shirey/World Baseball Classic Inc. | Getty Images

Now sitting at 2-1, Canada heads into today’s game against Mexico in a very unique position - their ability to advance, unequivocally, is in their hands. A win and you’re into the WBC quarterfinals for the first time in history, a loss and you’ll be eliminated - possibly on a tiebreaker - yet again.
Following Canada’s 18-8 rout of Great Britain, the United States handed Ernie Whitt’s squad a mercying of their own - 12-1, the final was, as Canada got blown out by their geographical rivals. Then, sending the Phillies’ Noah Skirrow to face a beleaguered Colombia team who had lost to the increasingly-likable Brits a day earlier, Canada pitched a 5-0 shutout. Overmatched by a combination of Skirrow, Curtis Taylor, Trevor Brigden, and Scott Mathieson, Colombia gathered only five total hits. A statement win, and one that pushes Canada even closer to making history.
At 3pm EST (12pm PT), Team Canada will send lefty Rob Zastryzny to the mound to face off against Mexico’s Jose Urquidy. Freddie Freeman, who was removed part-way through against Colombia, will be unavailable for Ernie Whitt - an obstacle Canada will have to overcome if they want to advance.
Tournament rules allow for injury substitutions, though should Canada move on the door is open for Freeman’s return so long as he doesn’t depart the team. If removed, Freeman would be permanently replaced. Cleveland Guardians’ Josh Naylor, who’s brother Bo Naylor is Team Canada’s starting catcher, is rumoured to be a possibility to replace Freeman if the injury is such that he must be removed from the roster if Canada advances.
Mexico, having lost to Colombia but beating the United States and Great Britain, has equally as much at stake. A win would secure their spot in a quarterfinal game in Miami, though a loss wouldn’t necessarily eliminate them - then it would come down to the United States/Colombia matchup at 10pm EST (7 PT). For all the potential chaos, Great Britain is yet another uplifting storyline to come out of the World Baseball Classic.
Although not advancing, registering a win in this WBC is a massive organizational feat both morally and financially - all tournament long, the reward for a good performance tantalized broadcast and fans alike. On a superficial level, replacement jerseys. On a grander scale, access to resources and training overseas that a baseball program, as Rich Waltz put it, in its infancy would heavily benefit from.
Similarly to the Czechs, the showcasing of lesser-known talent is one of the major themes of the World Baseball Classic - nobody expected the Czech Republic or Great Britain to be as competitive as they were, especially against international powerhouses like the United States and Japan.
Mere hours from now though, it is Canada who can become the center of attention in the baseball world. The game against the United States was a major letdown, however Mexico - as good as they are - have been shown to have weaknesses. And for that, we owe thanks to Great Britain - again.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins

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