Back in the 19th century the Netherlands surprised the world. They were a small country with more channels than natural resources, yet they built a Dutch imperial empire that dominated parts of Brazil, South Africa, southern India, and Indonesia. Now the year is 2009 and the little country has again upset the world, this time keeping the Dominican Republic out of tournament play in the World Baseball Classic.
I thought that March Madness owned the rights on big upsets, but this unheralded team with seven MLB players, the only recognizable of which is a starting pitcher with a journeyman mentality (Sidney Ponson), beat the Dominican Republic twice, keeping them from advancing beyond pool play. The Dominican Republic had a roster full of respected starters (Ubaldo Jimenez, Jouhnny Cueto, Edison Volquez), an amazing infield (Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes), and a decent outfield (Jose Guillen, Willy Taveras, and Moises Alou).
The Netherlands advancing in a pool that had Puerto Rico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic is like a number 14 seed making it to the Elite Eight. Now, the Dominican Republic was missing the New York Yankees A-Rod and newly-signed Los Angeles Dodger Manny Ramirez, but most of the names on that roster would scare any major league manager.
Sadly I had not been paying that much attention to this tourney, giving it the treatment most of us give the World Cup, but baseball is our boring, low scoring sport and I simply cannot ignore such an incredible feat. I cannot help but be impressed by the Netherlands 2-1 win in the 11th inning in Game 5 in Pool D.
Well, they took out the number one seed, now lets see if they can be the aforementioned Venezuela and create a new era (the first actually) of baseball dominance for the nation that brought us clogs.