The Netherlands, whose roster makes only $400,000 a year, exploited the D.R’s biggest flaw, 1st base… again. D.R. does have probably the best 1st basemen in the world in Albert Pujols, but he is not playing. So instead they get Willy Aybar (David Ortiz started at 1st, but he hasn’t played first base in what seems like forever), who plays third base. As a result, Aybar drops two key throws in the bottom of the eleventh. Game is tied at 1, Gene Kingsale, who was last seen in the majors in 2003, is on first. Carlos Marmol, the new Cubs closer, tries to pick him off. The throw zips past Aybar and Kingsale reaches 3rd. Then Yurrendell de Caster (who?) grounds to first, only to have it bounce off Aybar’s glove and Kingsale runs home for the win.
Of course, that is not even the worst part for D.R. Who are Tom Stuifbergen, Alexander Smit, Rob Cordemas, Dennis Neuman, Diegomar Markwell and Leon Boyd? They manage to shutout a line-up of Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, etc. for 11 innings until an outfield error led to a run. One could blame off-season, but considering most of the Dutch team never played in the majors, that’s not an excuse.
Next they will face Puerto Rico, who do have a 1st baseman in Carlos Delgado, in the seed match. Could they pull off another upset? In this format similar to the College World Series, anything is possible.