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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Friday, December 16, 2005

Baseball Goes Dutch

I ordered my tickets the other day, and now I'm pretty psyched about the World Baseball Classic in March. It has the potential to be a really cool tournament if MLB runs it right. For starters, they should see what they can do about getting a Cuban team involved after the U.S. Treasury Department said Cuba won't be allowed to send a team. Six years ago, the Baltimore Orioles played a couple of exhibitions against the Cuban national team (one in Cuba, one in the States), so I don't see why this is all that different. Another solution that has been mentioned is to make a team out of Cuban defectors to represent the country, but that seems a little ironic, doesn't it?

Anyway, the 16-country field (assuming Cuba gets back in the draw) has a lot of the usual suspects: the U.S.A., the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico. But there are a handful of countries that don't come to mind when you think baseball. There's China, which has had a grand total of one player born there make it to the major leagues - a guy named Harry Kingman, who went hitless in three career at bats, all for the 1914 Yankees. I don't think he was Chinese; I'm guessing he was born there out of coincidence. Also in the WBC field is South Africa, which can't even boast one player who made the majors. I don't see them making it out of Pool B, which will pit it against the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

And then you have the Netherlands. The Dutch have a good soccer team; I know that. Looking at the medal counts from the 2004 Athens Olympics, I see they won four gold medals (two in swimming, one in road cycling, and one in equestrian). But as for baseball, there's not much history there. The Dutch did field a team in the '04 games, and they went 2-5, although their wins were over Greece and Italy, while they lost to Japan, Canada, Cuba, Australia, and Chinese Taipei. The loss to Australia was by a score of 22-2!

The Dutch have a trick up their sleeve, though (and maybe a finger in a dike, but that's neither here nor there). Through the magic of imperialism, the Dutch can claim players from Aruba and Curacao as their own! Although this raises the question of why the U.S. can't take Puerto Rican players, it does help the Netherlands out, because it gives them Andruw Jones, who is a native of Curacao. I looked it up, and there are a total of 11 players who have major league experience, are under age 40, and are from either Holland, Aruba, or Curacao. So I pieced together a lineup. Enjoy!

CF - Andruw Jones, 28, Willemstad, Curacao - He's the only position player on this roster who was in the majors last season. I'm going to bat Jones leadoff because I don't see much offense being generated by this team, so he's going to need all the plate appearances he can get. Besides, by virtue of the fact that he's the only serious offensive threat, he should be getting walked all the time anyway, so he'll be on base often.

1B - Randall Simon, 30, Willemstad, Curacao - You may remember Simon as the guy who, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates a couple of years ago, beat a girl in a sausage costume with a baseball bat as she ran by the dugout. He wasn't in the majors last year, but he tore up the Mexican League before being picked up by Orix of the Japanese League, where he couldn't keep up his caliente pace. Fun fact: He has been knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands!

RF - Gene Kingsale, 29, Solito, Aruba - Kingsale actually played for the Netherlands in the '04 Olympics, putting together a pretty solid batting line (.346, 5 RBI, HR in 7 games). His seven-year major league career wasn't as impressive, though - it ended in '03 with the Tigers, where he batted .208 in 120 AB. His three career HR make him the all-time major league leader among Arubans.

LF - Hensley Meulens, 38, Willemstad, Curacao - We're going to have to drag Meulens out of retirement for this one, since he last played in the majors in '98, wrapping up a seven-year career with a .220 average. He played for the Netherlands in the 2000 Sydney games - but was an assistant coach at the '04 games.

SS - Robert Eenhoorn, 38, Rotterdam, Holland - If you'd like to buy a vowel (well, an E or an O, at least), this guy might be able to spare one. He played 37 career games over four seasons, the last of which was '97. He should have called it quits after 36 - then he could say he hit his only career homer in his last game. Alas, like so many great talents, he hung on too long.

2B - Ralph Milliard, 32, Willemstad, Curacao - He also played for the Netherlands in '04, but didn't peform as well as Kingsale, batting .192 with seven strikeouts. In 93 career at-bats from '96-98, he batted .172 with no homers and three RBI.

3B - Ivanon Coffie, 28, Klein, Curacao - I actually saw this guy play in the Carolina League (A) All-Star game when I was in high school. Alas, he never quite blossomed as a major leaguer, only getting a cup of coffee (get it? get it?) in 2000, playing 23 games for the Orioles. He was the three-hole hitter for the Dutch in the '04 games, but he was awful, batting .105 and getting himself benched for the final game. (I assume he was benched, since he didn't play, but I suppose it could have been an injury. He deserved to be benched, regardless.)

OF C - Rikkert Faneyte, 36, Amsterdam, Holland - Sorry, Rik. Although you never played a major league game behind the plate, we don't have a catcher in this lineup, so you're it. Faneyte's career went from '93-96, mostly with the Giants. His claim to fame is that he played in the same outfield as Barry Bonds. He also can talk smack to Ralph Milliard, since Faneyte's career batting average is better - .174, baby!

P - Sidney Ponson, 29, Noord, Aruba - Somewhere along the line, Ponson became regarded as a big-ticket player, since the Orioles paid him $8.5 million last season. I have no idea how this happened, since he has only posted a winning record in one of his eight big-league seasons. But since he's the only pitcher out of this trio to have seen big-league action recently, he's going to get the start. Sir Sidney was also knighted along with Randall Simon. He has besmirched the title by getting himself convicted on a DUI charge earlier this year and sentenced to a five-day stay in the slammer.

P - Calvin Maduro, 31, Santa Cruz, Aruba - I remember when this guy came up with the Phillies in '96. He showed a lot of promise (1.04 WHIP, 11 K in 15.1 IP). Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. He was out of the Phils' system in two years and ended up finishing his career with a 10-19 record and a 5.78 ERA. He was the ace of the Dutch staff in '04, pitching seven shutout innings against Greece, although he couldn't get out of the first inning against Australia. He missed being the first Aruban in the majors by five days (damn you, Gene Kingsale!), although I recall he did have the nickname "The Aruban Flash" when he first came up.

P - Radhames Dykhoff, 31, Paradera, Aruba - Aside from having a name that makes for an easy target for ignorant American hecklers, Dykhoff's major league "career" was all of one unfortunate inning on June 7, 1998, when, trailing 7-0, the Orioles brought him in to pitch the ninth against the Braves. He allowed two runs on a walk and two hits, including a double to Andruw Jones, of all people. After he got out of the inning and the game was over, he never returned to a major league mound.

Team Netherlands! Fear it!

(Now back to working on my Comment.)

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  • At Friday, December 16, 2005 10:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At least your need to stall the inevitable (working on your comment) has a benefit for the avid readers of your blog. After an incredible spell of silence, you have turned into a veritable font of prodigiousness. Who knew finals and law review (or the need to avoid them) could be so inspirational? Hope your comment is progressing satisfactorily....

     

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