So this upset in the World Baseball Classic is redemption, of a sort:
In the span of about 15 hours the national team went from the distress of needing a ninth-inning rally to beat a collection of amateurs from South Africa to the elation of knocking off the powerhouse United States by an 8-6 score Wednesday afternoon.
Centre-fielder Adam Stern had a monster game with three hits, including an inside-the-park homer, four RBIs and a couple of key defensive gems. Starter Adam Loewen, all of 21 and never having thrown a pitch above single-A, gave Canada 3 2-3 clutch shutout innings and the bullpen held on after nearly blowing an eight-run lead.
The victory is Canada's biggest over the United States in international baseball and perhaps the national team's most significant win ever. Previous highlights included a 7-6, 11-inning win over the Americans at the 1999 Pan Am Games and an 8-7 triumph over the Yanks at the 1988 Olympics. But this one came against a collection of all-stars featuring at least four probable Hall of Famers.
"I'm still smiling, it was an amazing game,'' said first baseman Justin Morneau. "We kind of got a little bit of a scare there at the end, it was as excited as I've ever been on the field.''
In both cases, we have proof positive that you can't just throw together a bunch of all-star players at the last minute and expect them to mow down the competition on the way to the gold medal.
At the top level, the team that gels and hustles will always beat the team that sits back and expects to walk over.