Joey Votto, Russell Martin, Brett Lawrie, Michael Saunders, Jameson Taillon, James Paxton and John Axford. All Canadian. All MLB Players. All will not be wearing the Red & White when Canada suits up or their first game of the World Baseball Classic on Thursday. For a country that lacks MLB talent, having 7 of your best MLB players skipping the tournament for various reasons really sucks for baseball in Canada.
Canada is in what I call the group of death for the WBC. They will face-off against the reigning champs Dominican Republic, the favourites USA and Columbia. They’ll likely get bounced, finishing 1-2 or even 0-3 due to their lack of depth, commitment from thier top players and just stupidity on picking this roster. Baseball Canada should be embarrassed. And this goes for Basketball Canada and Soccer Canada who constantly FAIL to get the countries top players to wear the Red & White on the worlds top international stage. Hockey Canada is the only organization that gets its best to play, and it isn’t because it’s hockey and Canada. It’s because they have a program that runs deep into the grassroots and associate pride with their brand. Kids in hockey dream to wear the red leaf becuase they see their idols doing so. Kids in baseball, basketball and soccer don’t give a fuck because they don’t see their favourite players performing on that stage in those colours.
So let’s examine this Canadian roster for the WBC and see if there is a chance in hell we can win a game or if embarrassment and inferiority will continue to be the brand of Baseball Canada.
The Guys Who Showed Up:
Freddie Freeman: This will be our best hitter, likely our #4 hitter…and the guy wasn’t even born in Canada. He is our only regular MLB player on the roster and is playing for Canada as a tribute to his late mother who was born in Toronto (his father was also born in Windsor). Thank God for Freddie, he gives this team a star name and some credibility.
Dalton Pompey: The ‘Son of Sauga’ will likely be the lead-off man and brings some speed and MLB experience to the team. Pompey is part of the younger generation of Canadian players. I really would like to see him take on a leadership role with this team by the next WBC and encourage players to play.
Justin Morneau: Don’t care how old he is, this guy still has it. Glad he’s with the team.
Aaaaannnddd, those are the only notable MLB players that showed up…this will be fun.
The Young Guns To Watch:
Tyler O’Neil: If you haven’t heard of this kid, get to know him. I’ve been following him for a couple years now and he has just teared shit up. The 21 year old is ranked as the Seattle Mariners #1 prospect. He played AA last year smashing 24 bombs, 102 RBI while hitting .293 avg. Keep an eye on him in LF and in the middle of the order.
Josh Naylor: Drafted in 2015 12th overall by the Marlins, he was the key piece in a deadline trade to the Padres. The 19 year old is ranked 4th in the Padres system and moved through 2 levels on Single-A last season as a rookie. He has mega POP in his bat but will probably see limited action behind Freeman and Morneau as 1B/DH. This kid is part of the future.
Ryan Dempster: Funny this guy wouldn’t play for Canada last WBC when we needed him but now that he’s retired and was doing work on the MLB network and playing mens league last year (reported by Shi Davidi, can’t find the link fuck off)…NOW he wants to play for Canada. This is wear Baseball Canada should’ve told this guy to suck a dick and fill the spot his old ass is occupying with some prospect and give the young guns a chance.
Pete Orr: He retired in 2014…should I say more? This guy is enshrined in Canadian Baseball history and should’ve hung them up after he was the winning run to win Canada gold in the 2015 Pan Am Games. He is currently a pro-scout in the Brewers system, but Baseball Canada decided there wasn’t a more capable Canadian infielder to fill his spot.
Eric Gagne: The former dominant closer and steroid user hasn’t thrown a pitch in the MLB since 2008. For those who have lost track of time like me, that was 9 fucking years ago. He’s played in some bullshit independent leagues since then and is apparently using the WBC to make a comeback at 41…have fun with that one. Fun fact, Gagne was a coach for Team France’s baseball team in the WBC Qualifier last year.
So to sum things up, we’re sending out a pro scout, French coach and MLB Network Correspondent against the Dominican Republic on Thursday that features MLB talent coming out the ass. Like I said, Baseball Canada should be embarrassed.
This could either be the Cinderella story of all Cinderella stories for Canada and baseball. They could win a couple games, upset a favourite and go on a run and get a Disney movie made in a couple years. Or, realistically, they could get thrashed every game just like the Goddam Yankees did to them in an exhibition game on Wednesday. If this team gets bounced in this tournament, Baseball Canada should be thoroughly embarrassed and really reevaluate what the hell they are doing. Are they just looking to be loyal to old Canadian players or are they serious about fielding a real team? How do they build loyalty to MLB players? Suggestion: get them young and build a fraternity and loyalty to that Leaf, like Hockey Canada does. Not treat the biggest tournament like a joke. I was at the Rogers Centre in 2008 to watch Canada vs USA when they had Votto, Martin, Bay and Morneau and we gave those Americans a run for their money. It was the best baseball game I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been to the bat flip and wild card walk off games). I remember the pride I felt and the excitement I had for Canada’s future in baseball. There’s no hope of this team doing that for our nation. Baseball Canada, Basketball Canada and Soccer Canada need to figure their shit out so that players want to play for them and not provide every excuse why they can’t. Not sure what sort of brand Baseball Canada is trying to build but aI can tell you one focussed around failure and inferiority is not a good one. Get ready for the L’s Canada, they’ll come fast and often by Sunday. This is the worst team Canada has ever assembled at the WBC. Then again, Goddam Israel is in the Quarters, so anything can happen.
At least we’ll always have this: