Yesterday's upset of the Dominican Republic by the Netherlands was the biggest in sports history.
It was bigger than Douglas over Tyson, more monumental than USA over Russia in 1980, more shocking than Chaminade over Virginia. It was all these things for one reason: the Netherlands had to beat the D.R. twice.
Sidney Ponson was their ace. I'll say it again, Sidney Ponson was their ace.
The Netherlands couldn't get a hit out of the infield in the first game but still won managed three runs. They managed just three hits and struck out 14 times against Ubaldo Jimenez, Pedro Martinez, Tony Pena, Rafael Perez and Damaso Marte last night, but were able to get to Carlos Marmol -- a man who's made some of the best look like amateurs -- in the eleventh for two runs, enough to fell the giant and advance to the next round.
Conversely, the D.R.'s star-studded lineup managed just seven hits against guys named Stuifbergen, Smit, Cordemans, Neuman, Markwell and Boyd -- none of whom have thrown a major league pitch.
Together, they stifled a team making a combined $82,400,000 this season. Combined, the players from the Netherlands will earn just $400,000 this season.
I went in to the World Baseball Classic a blank slate. I didn't care who won because, ultimately, the games mean nothing. I was rooting for players more than teams. Italy's Francisco Cervelli, Mexico's Jorge Vazquez, Canada's Philippe Aumont -- those were the guys I wanted to succeed.
Now, though, I would be hard-pressed to say I'm not rooting just a little bit for the biggest underdog the world has ever seen.
Thunder Notebook: I wrote a Thunder notebook for today's issue of The Trentonian. It covers what I did earlier about Vazquez and expands with some updates with an update on Cervelli -- the Thunder's opening day catcher, and some notes on how last year's Thunder (and Brett Gardner) are doing in spring training. I'll post a link in a couple of hours.
For now, though, here's a picture of Cervelli to tide you over.