PHOENIX -- The big scoreboard at Chase Field showed all the usual good-sportsmanship, touchy-feely propaganda supporting international brotherhood and all that kind of thing before Sunday's United States vs. Canada game in the World Baseball Classic.
And the teams, as is tradition, shook hands, gave half-hugs and traded smiles and little gifts with each other after the national anthems and team introductions.
What a farce.
How could anyone call it anything other than that after what transpired the day before when Mexico played Canada?
Long story short:
Canada was up 9-3 when catcher Chris Robinson led off the ninth inning by dropping a bunt down the third-base line for a hit.
Typically, that's bad baseball form. You don't bunt when your team is up six runs in the ninth inning. However, in this particular tournament, there are tie-breaking rules, and those rules include run differential.
Mexico's third baseman, a likable young Dodger named Luis Cruz, picked up the bunt and immediately made a motion toward his ribs as he said something to pitcher Arnold Leon.
It's not clear exactly what he said, but it's very doubtful that motion toward his mid-section meant he was hungry and wanted Leon to hurry up and end the inning.
Leon's next pitch drove Canada's Rene Tosoni off the plate, and unkind words were exchanged -- not the kind of stuff that was said when these teams also shook hands and exchanged gifts before their game.
The second pitch was at Tosoni, too, and barely missed his right thigh. The third pitch hit him in the back, prompting an ugly brawl in which players from both teams threw punches. Fans -- and we use that term loosely -- also got into the act, with scuffles breaking out in the stadium aisles and dangerous objects getting hurled toward players and coaches on the field.
In all, seven players were ejected -- four from Mexico, three from Canada.
And the fallout after that, after tournament officials reviewed video of the incident?
Now there's the real farce.
In a statement released early Sunday morning, tournament organizers called the incident "inappropriate" and "counter to the spirit of sportsmanship and respectful competition for which the World Baseball Classic has stood throughout its history."
Then it said that "because at least one club -- and potentially both -- will not advance to the second round, WBCI has determined that disciplinary measures would not have a meaningful corrective impact."
So, in other words, the folks responsible for a sophomoric and embarrassing melee that could have easily resulted in injuries to players, coaches and fans got away with a scolding and were suspended a grand total of one inning.
Of course, hindsight is 20-20 and in the heat of battle, good people make bad decisions -- or no decisions. But, at the risk of sounding sanctimonious, there seems to be plenty of blame to go around in this case.
Let's start with Leon, who delivered the message that Mexico wasn't happy by brushing back Tosoni with the next pitch. The pitch didn't connect, but the point was made. And it should have stopped there. But then a second pitch that misses too?