The World Baseball Classic just had its “Moonlight at the Oscars” moment, and no one is particularly happy about it. Despite beating Venezuela 11-9 late on Sunday, Mexico was eliminated from the tournament due to an arcane tiebreaker rule that no one actually understood: runs allowed per defensive inning (RAPDI). Due to previous results, Italy (1.05) and Venezuela (1.11) will play a tiebreaker game on Monday night, while Mexico narrowly misses out (1.12).
While that seems simple in theory to understand (you take the amount of runs scored and divide it by innings), Mexico’s 10-9 loss to Italy on Saturday night messed everything up. Because the Italians walked off in the 9th inning with the victory before any outs were recorded, it technically does not count towards Mexico’s “defensive inning” count, while the runs scored by Italy do count.
Combine that with the fact that Venezuela’s first game against Puerto Rico ended in the 7th inning due to the mercy rule used by the tournament (games are stopped after 7 innings if one team is 10 or more runs ahead; Venezuela lost 11-0), and you get a perfect mess of a situation.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mexican star Adrian Gonzalez tweeted that “someone” told Mexico that, in order to advance, a 2-run victory (like the one they achieved) was enough to see them into the tiebreaker game. Clearly, that was not the case.
Even MLB Network’s own broadcast stated that Mexico had done enough to force their way into the tiebreak game:
After news trickled out that it was Venezuela, not Mexico, that would advance to Monday night’s game, a protest was filed by the Mexican team, but to no avail. At roughly 3:30 A.M., the World Baseball Classic officials confirmed that the Venezuelans would be facing Italy for the chance to advance to the second round.
Not only does this mess eliminate Mexico from the 2017 edition, it also makes them have to qualify in 2021 by virtue of finishing last in the group (first, second, and third all qualify automatically for the following tournament).