Entering the final day of play in Group C of the World Baseball Classic, the theme for Team USA and all three other teams that take the field Wednesday comes straight out of Al Davis: Just win, baby.
The U.S. will play Colombia in the group’s concluding game Wednesday night in Phoenix right after Mexico and Canada square off on the same field.
If the U.S. team beats Colombia, they and the winner of the Mexico-Canada game will advance to the tournament’s knockout stage. It’s that simple.
But if Colombia beats the U.S., chaos ensues. In that scenario, the Mexico-Canada winner still advances as Group champion with a 3-1 record. But the U.S., Colombia and the Canada-Mexico loser all would be tied for the second spot at 2-2, leaving all three teams’ fates in the hands of that most heartless of arbiters, the mathematician.
Depending on those final two Wednesday games, who the formula favors hinges on who wins between Canada and Mexico. If Mexico advances automatically, then the U.S. is in a good position. Pending Wednesday’s results, here’s how the math works out to resolve a U.S.-Canada-Colombia tie:
Team USA: .56
However, if Canada beats Mexico to win the Group championship, the math looks less friendly for the U.S.
Team USA: .56
The way for Team USA to ensure its advancement is to take out both Colombia and the mathematicians Wednesday. If that happens, it and the winner of Canada-Mexico automatically advance at 3-1. If Canada wins, the U.S. would move on as the group’s top seed thanks to its earlier win over Canada. If Mexico beats Canada, it is No. 1 in the group and the U.S. is No. 2 thanks to Mexico’s victory over the U.S.
As Al Davis said, just win, baby.