The wikipedia entry for Total Football describes it thusly:
“an influential tactical theory of association football in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team. It was pioneered by Dutch football club Ajax from 1969 to 1973, and further used by the Netherlands National Football Team in the 1974 FIFA World Cup.”
More than any other tactical strategy I can think of, the idea of Total Football perseveres. People who are not Ajax supports or fans of the Oranje know, or at least have an idea, of what Total Football represents.
Baseball does not have a parallel for Total Football, as it is baseball. It is tough to create a harmonious feeling of positionless freedom in a game built entirely on the idea of bookkeeping. But Andrelton Simmons did his country, and their cherished footballing ideals, proud while partaking in the newest Dutch passion: baseball aka honkbal.
The video above shows Andrelton Simmons abandoning the shackles of traditional shortstop range by scampering half way to RIGHT CENTER FIELD to make a catch, en route to doubling off a Cuban base runner. Personally, I cannot recall seeing a shortstop make a play from this position.
Has Andrelton Simmons ever been to the Netherlands? Does he know anything about Johan Cryuff? No idea. But this was a close to Total Honkbal as any of us will ever see. If Andruw Jones was still alive, he TOTALLY would have dashed from his position in center field to cover shortstop as Simmons went for his wonder.
This is a similar tale to that of the Dutch baseball team, a team made up mostly of players from the Dutch protectorate of Curaçao. The Dutch snuck into the second round of the World Baseball Classic and started themselves off smartly last night, upsetting the number one ranked team in the world, Cuba, by a score of 6-2.
The upsets kept coming as the Italian team made up of few Italians and numerous reasonable facsimiles upset Mexico, scoring two runs in the top of the ninth after Edgar Gonzalez (brother of Adrian) butchered a deep fly ball to left off the bat of Anthony Rizzo, proud Italian from Florida.
The highlight of the night was the game between the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The DR are fresh off two massive beatings of Major League spring training rosters and have a terrifying lineup. Venezuela were a sexy pick before the tournament began but they fell hard against the Dominicans, who banged out 9 runs and took the game 9-3. Their pitching might leave much to be desired but the defense is pretty, pretty nice.
Early this morning, the other second round matchup from the Asian pool saw Japan outlast Chinese Taipei 4-3 in extra innings. Closely played as this game was, it was marred by endless bunts and poor relief pitching, notably from former big leaguer Hung-Chih Kuo, who was once the best.
The remaining teams get into action this afternoon, with the Brett Lawrie-less Canadians taking on the Italians while Team USA sends R.A. Dickey against Yovani Gallardo and Mexico in Pool D action. Puerto Rico starts their tournament against the minnows from Spain.
A few notes for today’s games: Jason Grilli is unavailable for Italy after throwing 36 pitches against Mexico. Sergio Romo is technically available for Mexico after throwing just 26, though the Giants are less than impressed with his usage so early in the tournament.
Giants don’t seem very happy with Romo throwing 26 pitches yesterday. Bochy meeting with staff right now.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) March 8, 2013
Bochy put in a call to Sergio Romo just to see how he came out of yesterday’s 26-pitch outing. Hasn’t heard back yet.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) March 8, 2013
This is why people in the game seem to hate the WBC. This benefits nobody. Pick up the phone, Sergio. Pick it up and call your buddy Boch. Please.