SAN FRANCISCO -- We got beat on Monday night 4-1. By "we" I mean Team Netherlands. My team.
I am being completely unprofessional, utterly derelict in my duty. I freely admit that. I rooted for the Netherlands to beat the Dominican Republic in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic at AT&T Park. It didn't happen.
I'm supposed to be impartial because I'm a sports journalist. The heck with that. I rooted like nobody's business, rooted shamelessly. It was a completely new feeling for me, this ardent love of a team. And it felt good.
You want to know why I rooted?
It's all about the little guy.
Yes, the little guy like you and me.
The Dominicans are the big guy. They are General Motors, Exxon, IBM. I'm sure the Dominican players are very nice, but they are some of the best on the planet. I mean, all credit to the Dominican Republic for producing Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz. I could go on.
Eighteen players on the Dominican team were on major-league rosters last season. Seven have played in the Major League All Star Game. The Dominican team is loaded, could play in the majors right now and be a threat. Or as Team Netherlands manager and Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens said before the game, "It's like playing a big-league game. The Dominican Republic team is straight up big-league players, so it is."
Compare the Dominicans to the Kingdom of the Netherlands team — a mom-and-pop operation if there ever was one, you and me, us. Yes, us. We have five players who were on major-league rosters last season, for gosh sakes. That's quite a disparity compared to 18, you'll agree. Not that we were afraid — we're made of sterner stuff than that.
Our catcher, Dashenko Ricardo never has played above Single-A. Our third baseman Jonathan Schoop and our first baseman Curt Smith and our left fielder Kalian Sams never have played above Double-A.
And then there's our starting pitcher Diegomar Markwell, God love him. The guy never pitched above Double-A and, get this, last season he pitched for Neptunus Rotterdam. Do you regularly follow Neptunus Rotterdam? He's 32 and won't ever get a shot at the Show, and there he was pitching his heart out for us.
I wish I could write that Diegomar — we fans call him Diego for short — pitched a perfect game for us and stood those Dominican superstars on their heads. Alas, I can't.
Markwell was just fine for a while. Think of him as the Barry Zito of Rotterdam. He throws strictly junk, some pitches topping out at 67 mph, looking like they'll run out of gas before reaching the plate. His "heat" is 85. He keeps guys off balance just like Zito, nipping and tucking at the corners of the dish. In the bottom of the second, he issued a leadoff walk to Hanley Ramirez and promptly picked that star off. It was a wonderful moment for all us Netherlands faithful.