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Canada? Fuhgedaboudit!

by Archives March 17, 2009

No one expects Canada to win any international tournament besides hockey. We have an outside chance of winning a lumberjack contest, but beyond the good ol’ hockey game, we lack any fearsome, competitive qualities on the international stage – and even the more veteran hockey players will apologize after a hard check into the boards.
We do, however, have tremendous pride that somehow translates into high hopes when it comes to Canada’s other modest entries into various big-stage contests.
It was no surprise that Canada didn’t make it out of the first round of the World Baseball Classic. What was surprising, though, was who managed to bump the Canucks out of the tournament. Blame it on those feisty Italians! What did Nonna put in the sauce the night before that had the Italians playing like, well, not Italians?
Just like Kazakhstan’s entry into the World Junior Hockey Championship, no one gave them a meatball’s chance in fat camp of doing any damage against a Canadian team who came off an impressive showing versus a favoured American team. Mamma mia, where did it all go wrong?
The Canadians can play ball with the best of them. They convincingly beat the stacked Americans in the last WBC, and were an out and a swing away from a spectacular comeback against the same team this year.
Hitting has never been Canada’s soft spot. Justin Morneau, Russell Martin, Jason Bay and Joey Votto know how to swing a bat, and they delivered as expected, combining in the tournament to hit .419 and driving in all of Canada’s six runs. Spectacular numbers, considering they were carrying the rest of the team (who managed only a single hit behind the foursome) on their shoulders.
Still, if the Expos could rely on a handful of bats, so could the Canadians, right? After all, their bread and butter lay in their pitching game.
Unfortunately, that very same bread and butter was feasted on. Canada, on the other side of the table, had to wait for their generous portion of humble pie. What was supposed to be Canada’s best asset became their prime weakness. The best they could do was a couple of prospects who’ve managed only a couple of solid innings in the big leagues. Back when Canadian baseball fans were dreaming up ideal rosters, the Canadian rotation was potent, sporting Ryan Dempster, Jeff Francis, Erik Bedard and Rich Harden. In reality, however, it was as thin as Donald Trump’s hair, and just as synthetic. It’s hard to look intimidating on the mound when your pitcher has but a handful of games in the Majors. It seems like Canada was suffering from American Idol syndrome: the talent pool had been skimmed one too many times. All that was left was a group of wannabes thrown in as patchwork for a respectable offence. Until Canada shows up with their entire arsenal, they’ll never be taken seriously.
Sigh . . . there’s always next year. If Baseball Canada is wondering the age-old question of “Where do we go from here?” then there’s only one sufficiently Canadian answer: Tim Horton’s. After all, it’s Roll Up The Rim To Win time, and the Canadians are already used to losing, right?

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