There are times when I find myself watching Canada play in certain sports where it’s almost frightening the level of competition they’re up against. A few sports in particular come to mind, like when Canada plays New Zealand in rugby, or the U.S. in basketball. Last night was another one of those moments when Canada was completely overshadowed by the competition as they faced-off against the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. On the mound for Canada to start the game was Ryan Dempster, a player who hasn’t pitched since 2013, and here he is having to face the most formidable line-up in the world. I was really excited to hear that a pitcher like Dempster was willing to come out of retirement to play for Canada. The thing is however, when Canada is in a group that includes both the Dominican Republic and the United States, that’s when all of Canada’s top ball players need to seriously consider supporting their country at the WBC, and not leave the responsibility of representing the country to a group consisting mostly of minor leaguers and long since retired MLB players.
It’s understandable that for a big league ball player, their main priority is obviously to the big league club that pays their salary. What I don’t understand, is that except for Edwin Encarnacion, all of the best players from the Dominican are representing their country at this tournament. Why is it that all the top Dominican players are there, while a good number of Canada’s best players are not? When you’re in a group with arguably the two best baseball nations in the world, you need to step-up and represent your country so that your fellow Canadian teammates have all the help they can get when playing these ridiculously good teams.
This team from the Dominican Republic might not be quite as stacked as an MLB All-Star team, but they’re pretty damn close. What teams like the Dominican Republic and the U.S. realize, is that to win at the WBC, they need their very best players, because otherwise the team that does decide to bring as many of it’s best players stands a better chance of winning. Even if Canada had all it’s best players at its disposal yesterday, of course this Dominican roster would still be far superior and difficult to beat. But Canada still needs to at least send their most competitive team when going up against stacked rosters like this. The Dominican Republic as a nation is far better than Canada when it comes to baseball, but the result from yesterday’s game was not an accurate representation of what should have happened between these two countries had Canada had most of its best players.
That being said, a good number of Canadian players, guys like Russell Martin, Michael Saunders, and Brett Lawrie are coming off injuries and for insurance/precautionary purposes couldn’t play for Canada. That sort of thing is understandable, but just look at the list of Canadians playing in the big leagues today and see how many other players could have suited up for Canada, but chose not to. Canada never seems to send its very best team to the World Baseball Classic, and this needs to change, especially when baseball superpowers like the U.S. and Dominican Republic are sending their best and our boys have to face them.