The World Baseball Classic may have been criticized or downgraded in previous years, but the competition appears ready to stay. Although the WBC is not doing well for television in America, it is a very popular event around the world as fans get to see their local talent against some of the worlds best.
This weekend will be remembered most in North America for the brawl that took place Saturday night at Chase Field in Arizona (home of the Diamondbacks). With a 7-run lead in the 9th, Canada’s Chris Robinson bunted for a single. Mexico did not take this lightly and hit the next batter igniting a brawl that saw punches thrown and fans and players tossed from the park.
This weekend will be remembered differently for Mariner’s fans and probably OF Michael Saunders as well.
Saunders was 8-for-11 over the weekend, including a 4-for-4 night Saturday against Mexico. Canada failed to advance to the second round behind Italy and team USA, but Saunders production could not be overlooked, and he was awarded the Pool MVP honors.
“It’s definitely an honor, however it’s kind of a sour taste in my mouth right now,” Saunders said in his press conference Sunday.
The maturation of this player really took place a year ago, when he finished one HR short of a 20/20 season for the Seattle Mariners. Despite a packed outfield with quality players, the Mariners will be relying on Saunders to continue his progression and be a catalyst for this young team.
Later in the press conference, Saunders talked about the increased validity and importance of the WBC now that baseball is no longer a part of the Olympic games. This is now the top competition for country in baseball, and Saunders treated it as such.
Saunders finished his WBC run with a home run and 7 RBI. Although it would have been fun to see Saunders continue this torrid place on an international scale, having his bat at Mariner’s camp won’t be half bad either.
This could be the start needed for Saunders to cash in on a career year.
O Canada, Mariner’s fans truly hope so.