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Dutch to stage black-and-orange revival by Bay

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PHOENIX -- Next week's World Baseball Classic semifinals and final will be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco (live on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes), the home of the Giants, who wear orange and black. One of the teams competing will be the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which wears orange and black. San Francisco's hitting coach, Hensley Meulens, is the manager for Team Netherlands.

In other words, is something weird going on here? Is it destiny? Kismet? Or just a big orange-and-black coincidence some seven months from Halloween?

"It just so happened that we are orange and so are the Giants," said the pitching coach for Team Netherlands, Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven. "I hope that will carry us into that final ballgame. We've got to win Monday first, though."

History shows us that the Giants first wore orange in 1933, won the World Series, and have stuck with it ever since. They went through a rough patch after moving to San Francisco, but that has subsided. They've won two of the last three World Series, including last year, when reliever Sergio Romo finished off a sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a strikeout that wrapped up the championship on Oct. 28.

You can probably guess which official orange-and-black day the Giants chose for their ticker tape parade (hint -- it was three days later).

This brings us to the Netherlands, whose flag is red, white and blue, but whose sports teams don orange and black in honor of Willem van Oranje, or William of Orange, or William the Silent, who was hardly silent while leading the Dutch to independence in 1648 by revolting against the Spanish and starting the Eighty Years' War.

The World Baseball Classic is nowhere near such serious business, but the Dutch are trying hard to win it against the odds, and they're doing it in orange. And Meulens isn't exactly being Hensley the Silent while they're playing.

"Now, there are some 60,000 Dutch people living in the Bay Area, so we've got to get these people out there to watch this game come Monday, you know?" Meulens said.

"We've got to get these people in the stands wearing black and orange, just like they do when the Giants play. But now they'll be cheering for the Motherland. We made it. And it's a great story."

There's little doubt about that. The Dutch built off the momentum they earned in 2009 while beating the Dominican Republic twice in pool play, retooled their roster and knocked out favored Cuba while advancing to the semifinals, where they should be greeted in the stands with very familiar colors.

"We're so happy that we made it to San Francisco because a lot of people didn't believe in us," infielder/outfielder Yurendell de Caster said. "But I know that since we started this tournament, we knew we were going to make it. Just play our game, don't make mistakes. We knew we could do it."

Meulens said the fact that the team played the first two rounds of the tournament in Asia -- first in Taiwan, then in Japan -- might have kept them off the global radar just a bit, but once he set foot back in Giants camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday, he found out that people were watching.

The Giants were among them.

"They were going nuts," Meulens said. "Tons of reporters were asking me questions. It's pretty cool because your primary job is here, and all of a sudden there's something really special going on.

"All that, and you're going to end up in the same place you were. With the same colors."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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