Anyone still wondering if the players involved actually care about the World Baseball Classic should review the film of the matchup between Canada and Mexico on Saturday in Arizona.
With Canada leading 9-3 in the top of the ninth inning, a wild brawl broke out. The melee kicked off after Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon hit Canada outfielder Rene Tosoni in the back with a fastball. Tosoni was none too pleased as Leon had been warned by the umpire after his previous pitch had been inside. Mexico catcher Sebastian Vale tried to get between Tosoni and Leon as they began arguing but players from both teams were already closing in. The punches began flying once the players from both teams were tightly bunched near the mound. Mexico pitcher Alfredo Aceves, a member of the Red Sox, may have made out the worst in the fracas. Aceves was tossed to the ground by Canada outfielder Tyson Gillies.
"Boy, I'll tell you, this really got ugly fast," marveled MLB Network announcer Matt Vasgersian, who also dropped in a reference to "Slap Shot" during the broadcast.
Even after the teams were separated and peace seemed to have been restored, a fan appeared to throw a bottle of water from the stands that struck Canada pitching coach Denis Boucher in the head. Canada shortstop Cale Iorg appeared to pick up the water bottle and throw it back toward the stands. After play resumed, Canada would go on to win 10-3.
A fan in the stands filmed another perspective on the fight and uploaded it to YouTube:
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PHOENIX — A fierce brawl that saw Alfredo Aceves and several players throw nasty punches erupted Saturday in the ninth inning of Canada's 10-3 romp over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in a melee that also involved fans.
The fights broke out after Canada's Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch from Arnold Leon with Canada leading 9-3 at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It turned into a wild scene, as chaotic as any on a major league field in recent years.
Even when the fisticuffs ended, a full water bottle thrown from the crowd struck the face of a Canadian coach. Canada shortstop Cale Iorg angrily threw the bottle back into the crowd.
Several police officers came onto the field trying to restore order, and there were a few skirmishes in the seats. Seven players were ejected.
There had already been several hard plays on the bases when things got out of hand. Shortly before Tosoni was a hit, a bunt single by Canada seemed to heighten the tension – a tiebreaker in the WBC relies heavily on scoring runs, and the Canadians were trying to pad their margin.
Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau and Joey Votto were among the big-name, high-priced stars playing in the game. The fight was exactly the kind of thing that must have made major league managers and general managers cringe at the thought of one of their players getting hurt in such a fracas.
Aceves was among four Mexican players thrown out – the angry Boston reliever was tossed to the ground by Philadelphia minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies during the height of the altercation.
Also ejected were Arnold Leon, Oliver Perez and Eduardo Arredondo of Mexico and Tosoni, Pete Orr and Jay Johnson of Canada. A statement from WBC organizers said tape of the incident would be reviewed for possible disciplinary action.
All in all, it was far from the worldwide goodwill that is supposed to accompany this competition, where players exchange team hats with opponents before the start of each game as a sign of sportsmanship.