WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
Is Mexico’s World Baseball Classic run the best ever by a Mexican men’s national team?
Mexico were knocked out of the World Baseball Classic semi-finals by Japan on Monday, but went down in national sporting history.
Two home runs at the bottom of the ninth saw Japan end Mexico’s hopes at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, as the two-time champions edged out the North Americans in a nail-biting semi-final in Miami on Monday. For the Mexicans, it was a case of so close yet so far. Nevertheless, Benjamin Gil’s men enjoyed a tournament that will go down in sporting history in the country.
And not just because of Randy Arozarena’s stellar batting, or his catches in center field, or Patrick Sandoval’s pitches, or the team’s stunning victory over the United States, or the incredible comeback against Puerto Rico.
Now among Mexico’s most successful national teams
Mexico’s World Baseball Classic campaign will also live long in the memory because of the place it will occupy in the record books: almost no other Mexican men’s national team in any sport has ever got so far in its respective world championship. Indeed, when it comes to elite global tournaments, Mexico’s baseball side is now the nation’s second-most successful male team.
Only behind Mexican polo team
The only other Mexican side to have reached the semi-finals of a men’s world championship is the polo team. It took silver in the 1987 World Polo Championship - losing to Argentina in the final - and finished third in 1995 and 2008, thanks to wins over England and Spain in the bronze-medal match.
Soccer, basketball, volleyball...
In the soccer World Cup, Mexico’s best ever performance is the quarter-finals - a round El Tri have reached twice, in 1970 and 1986, both as tournament hosts.
And Mexico have had limited success in basketball, too. Only in 2014 were Los 12 Guerreros able to get through the first round of the FIBA World Cup, finishing up with a final ranking of 14th out of 24 teams. In 1967, the Mexicans placed eighth at the event, but only 13 nations took part.
It’s a similar story for Mexico’s men’s volleyball team: their best showing at the FIVB World Championship came in 1974, when they placed 10th after qualifying from the group stage. That’s one of only three occasions - the others were 1978 and 2010 - that they emerged from the opening phase.
Mexico are yet to qualify for the cricket and rugby World Cups, and this article doesn’t count the country’s two silver medals at the World Championship of American Football (1999 and 2003), as this competition only involves college players.