Canada, Colombia Mentally Prepared Ahead of Crucial WBC Clash

Canada and Colombia
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Right: PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MARCH 13: Tyler O'Neill #27 of Canada prepares for a World Baseball Classic Pool C game against the United States at Chase Field on March 13, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Canada, Colombia Mentally Prepared for Crucial WBC Clash

Tuesday afternoon’s World Baseball Classic game between Canada and Colombia became a must-win for both teams after Monday’s action. With Colombia’s loss to Great Britain and Canada’s mercy rule loss to USA, they have identical 1–1 records. To avoid tiebreaker scenarios, both teams need to win three games. Furthermore, they both have tough games Wednesday, with Canada facing Mexico and Colombia facing USA.

Canada manager Ernie Whitt is at ease, as this was what they planned for from the beginning. “Coming into the tournament, we knew that we had to win three games to guarantee us going forward,” he smiled. “And the three games were Great Britain, Colombia, and Mexico. It’s right on the table. If we do that, then we’ll move forward.” The squad also knows the importance of this game — not only for themselves but for Colombia. “They’re professionals,” Whitt confidently stated. “Hopefully the stage is not too big for them. And they know what they have to do to win. Naturally we’d like to get the bats going early and kind of take the other team out of it. But (Colombia is) in the same situation, too. I mean, it’s two good teams going against each other.”

Canada, Colombia to Avoid Pressing

It is human nature to try harder when put in a high-pressure situation. But trying too hard — also known as pressing — is counterproductive. Both teams have taken a mindset that aims to avoid that. Colombia infielder Dilson Herrera said, “There’s always going to be pressures to win. There’s always going to be that we have to win forcefully, basically. But it’s a team that’s very at ease even though there’s a lot of inexperience, a lot of young people. There’s experience as well. And then we try to manage the calmness, everybody’s positive, and we know that today’s going to be a great day.”

A big part of that has been the calming influence of Cabrera. Herrera said about his manager, “He’s very important. He’s very important for the team since he’s the head of the team. And he always tries to control — he tries to keep us calm. He’s always talking positive.”

Whitt said there isn’t much of a message he can give his players to keep them from pressing. Instead, the staff is “up front” with the players. “You tell them this is what we need to do. And you either go out and you do it, or you don’t. It’s a very simple thought, basically.”

“Like Any Other Game”

Canada first base coach Larry Walker feels there won’t be as much pressing in this game as there was Monday night against USA. It largely comes from the “hype you build up to it.” He added, “There’s a lot more pressing involved when it’s a team with a lineup like the US had, and then you got a stadium that’s got 30-some odd thousand people. Today’s game is not as prominent of an opponent, as far as names, with Colombia. Maybe 10,000 people will be in the stands. Right then and there, it’s an easier stress level before you even start the game.”

Ultimately, the goal is to treat this game like it’s any other game, according to Walker. “Once the bell rings, I think most guys — as I did and everybody I know, in years past — once the bell rings, it’s just another game. You don’t approach it as anything different. There’s nothing you want to do different in this game that you didn’t want to do in every other game you played. You just want to perform well. Don’t make errors. Do the right plays, throw to the right bases, throw strikes — everything that you do as a kid playing baseball. It’s just having that ease in your mind. Sometimes, in the moment, you need to really take a deep breath and remember it’s just another game. That’s all it is.”

Main Photo:

The main photo is a composite of the following two images.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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