18 January 2013

JP America! - Thoughts on the 2013 World Baseball Classic

As you may have read a few posts previous to this one, I will be temporarily laid off for the months of February and March. I am, however, a young, able-bodied lad and somehow still optimistic about my future. I mean, it could be worse.

I could be an Astros fan.

A few years ago, I'd be in panic mode. However, 2013 is a special year.

It's a World Baseball Classic year.

When I was younger, I always wondered why there wasn't a big international tournament for baseball pros - like there was for hockey (The Olympics), soccer (The World Cup) and basketball (whatever the hell that is.)

Around 1994 and the age of eight I was beginning to realize that baseball was ruled by the almighty dollar, and that as Americans with our professional sports unions, there was no reason to hope for international play.

However, there remains on force in my universe that remains for powerful than money.

The baseball gods. They exist, dammit. And fortunately, the powers that be have succeeded - and a great success it has been - to form the World Baseball Classic tournament.

The Baseball Gods. They exist, dammit.

While there are some strange kinks in the system (country eligibility, scheduling, time-of-year), the Classic has been a savior for me and the dearth of daily baseball from October-April with qualifiers in November and the tourney beginning in February-March. Essentially, it reduces the baseball season from five months to about two and a half.

Which is all we really want, right?

I'll answer that for you. It is. And with last night's announcements of the tentative 2013 rosters, the Classic is coming up very quickly.

While I won't go too deep into it right now - I'll save that for later posts (lucky you guys), I can at least talk a bit about the Blue Jays - all seven of them - that are on International rosters this year.

I'll start with the four Dominicans - Esmil Rogers, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes.

Esmil has a long torso.

As Jays fans, we may not know too much about Esmil Rogers at this point. He likely won't have a huge role with the Dominicans in this tournament - he's still young, not extremely polished and occasionally wild, but his numbers in the MLB recovered greatly after being traded from the Coors Field Rockies to the Cleveland Indians last summer.

I imagine him mostly as a matchup guy versus right-handed batters with slower bats in order to be most effective.

After a brief but thorough search, I was unable to find a card featuring Esmil as a Dominican player. The same goes for the next guyer, coincidentally, I picked a card from the same set and parallel of: Melky Cabrera.

Thank you fans.
I don't want to talk about Melky. Still very torn on him.

Worldly Edwin.
Edwin was the Blue Jays offence last season. He somehow hit .280/.815 last season, consistently hitting home runs (42?!) and driving in 110 runs. Watching about 80% of Jays games last season, I had no idea he was that much of a contribution.

While Edwin is yet to play an International game for the Dominican Republic, I did manage to come across this blue beauty on COMC, picturing Edwin playing for the World team in the 2005 Futures Game.

Lastly, Jose Reyes, who is seemingly the happiest baseball player on Earth right now, will also be playing shortstop for the Dominicans in the coming months.

Jose Reyes' presser with the Blue Jays was yesterday at 4:00. Generally, I work until then, but left 15' early to catch it. If the boss doesn't understand that - I'll have to find a new workplace.

The excitement Jose brings to the game is unparalleled. Sure. Argue for Mike Trout, but you won't be seeing him in any meaningful games until April at the earliest, and if I can read MLB rosters like I think I can, probably not until 2014.

Ideally, Jose will be batting leadoff for the Dominicans, hitting a plethora of triples, stealing bases and making slick fielding plays - hopefully picking up where he left off for the Blue Jays at the start of the MLB season.

I've pictured him here in a World Baseball Classic get-up, smiling that Jose Reyes smile an on a blue refractor. How can one be blue on a refractor?

On a side, the girlfriend and I have a long-standing (playful) argument going on over the most adorable MLB player. Last night, I raised her Gio Gonzalez with Jose Reyes. It's a tie, right now.

Future Canadian Prime Minister.
  KID CANADA. Analysis not necessary.

And if it was, it would be incoherent rambling and audible hashtags.


And now for my fellow countrymen, the knuckleballin' abbreviatin' Nashville duo: Robert Allen Dickey and John-Paul Arencibia.

R-A-D! U-S-A!
I don't need to get into the saga that is the life of RA Dickey. Chances are, if you've been alive and paying attention to baseball in the past three years, you've heard, watched, and possibly even written about him in some way. But strictly in a USA baseball fan point, RA gives Team America! a distinct advantage, as the reigning Cy Young is one of the few grown men alive who can make a baseball dance like a bottlecap in a hurricane. We're glad to have you, Dickey.

With the addition of RA Dickey to the USA roster, another hole was opened - a catcher who can receive it. No offense to Mike Nickeas or Josh Thole, but their pedigree doesn't quite spell out National representation. While Joe Mauer, who is on Team America! caught the knuckleball for a brief period as RA Dickey was still searching deep in his locker to find it, a fresh glove and teammate doesn't hurt.

Enter JP Arencibia.

JP is no stranger to International play. In 2006, he played for the USA Collegiate team, along with other hot shots such as Pedro Alvarez, Jake Arrieta, Darwin Barney, Zach Cozart, Ross Detwiler, Todd Frazier, Jemile Weeks and David Price.

I will soon own the black signature version of this.

Hell of a team, no?

Now, I am sure a lot of you are thinking: "JP Arencibia on the national team? What the hell? He hit .220 last year"

And you're right. But someone has gotta catch the knuckleball - and JP will probably only play when Joe Mauer is hanging out on first base and RA Dickey is pitching. But also, shut the hell up.

JP is awesome:

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