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The World Baseball Classic just kicked into high gear

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball features exciting WBC action, a platano in Fernando Rodney’s pants, and the patience of the White Sox.

World Baseball Classic - Pool D - Game 1 - Italy v Mexico
Italy wins!
Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

The World Baseball Classic rolled on yesterday, with Pool B playing its final two games. Japan beat China, though thankfully China scored a run. And Cuba advanced over Australia thanks to a grand slam from Alfredo Despaigne. But more importantly, Pools C and D opened play on Thursday night, and it was somehow even more exciting than it was supposed to be.

The excitement from the game between Canada and the Dominican Republic came from the DR players and the crowd at Marlins park. It's really bad luck that Canada had to face the DR in their first game. The DR team is made up almost completely of actual MLB All-Stars, and you could tell how grim the task was by the looks on the Canada players' faces. Yeah, not pleasant. Canada had just six hits to the DR's 15. Fifteen! And that number includes three doubles, a two-run home run from Welington Castillo, and a three-run home run from Jose Bautista and his luxurious beard.

But the baseball itself is only part of it. It’s hard to overstate how electric the atmosphere was at Marlins Park. The place was filled with DR fans, with platano shaped thunder sticks, flags, and an insane amount of pride and excitement. And the team itself was a reflection of that, basking in the glow of the fans. And having an insane amount of fun, too. It was great.

But the most surprising result of the night came from the Mexico-Italy game. Looking at those two teams, it's pretty easy to see which is more likely to win. It's Mexico, right? Not so fast! They might be the obvious pick, but that's why you actually play the game. And since the game was in Jalisco, which is nearly a mile above sea level, you *definitely* want to play the game. The ball was jumping all night, with six total home runs, four of which belonged to Italy. But down four runs in the ninth, it wasn't home runs that helped Italy to a surprise walk-off win. It was doubles. They hit three straight doubles to start the ninth, got another man on thanks to a fielding error, and then two straight singles took them over the top for a 10-9 win.

All of this is to say: if you're not watching the WBC, you should start immediately. It's insanely awesome.