I am Canadian, and I love living in this country. I love the ideals that Canada, if not actually stands for, at least believes itself to stand for. In some ways though, especially as the Olympic Games continue in London, being Canadian reminds me of really liking Radiohead in undergrad. They’re really great until you meet the super fan who sees a couple of Radiohead compact discs by your stereo, and takes that as an invitation to provide you with a spec script for an impromptu episode of Behind The Music on Pablo Honey.
For as much as I love Canada, I really hate the Canadian tendency to exhibit our insecurities and overcompensate for our culture being inundated by the United States by adopting an uncharacteristic jingoism or nationalistic ideology when it comes to athletics, arts and entertainment. I always believed the best part of being Canadian was that we don’t necessarily care all that much about being Canadian.
This has led me to often roll my eyes at the Toronto Blue Jays’ exploitation of this phenomenon, specifically, as it pertains to the marketing of Langley, British Columbia’s Brett Lawrie. And don’t even get me started on the members of the team’s fan base who suggested Ryan Dempster as a solution to the Blue Jays problems, or craved for the team to go after Jeff Francis when he was available.
This is all to say that I don’t dabble in maple bonerism.
However, if I were to experiment just one time, like I was back in college or something. I would probably get rather excited about this quote from St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras:
I’m Canadian. My passport is Canadian.
Taveras, who lived in Montreal, Quebec, during his teenage years, was ranked as the number fifty-three prospect in all of baseball at the beginning of the year by Keith Law. He then moved up all the way to number eight overall in Law’s mid-season rankings which came out a couple of weeks ago. This, is what the ESPN scout and scribe had to say:
It ain’t pretty, as you know if you watched the Futures Game on Sunday, but it works, with average, power and an impressive ability to square up pitches most hitters can only foul off. He’s hitting .324/.372/.593 as a 20-year-old at Double-A, though I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to play center field at an adequate level in the majors given teams’ general insistence that their center fielders have more range than Taveras can offer. His bat still profiles as star caliber in right.
Baseball Prospectus prospect guru Kevin Goldstein had even more glowing praise for the young outfielder:
Taveras has an excellent approach for his age, and his swing possesses the rare combination of extreme violence and sublime bat control. While he takes a massive cut, he consistently makes very hard contact to all fields. Once he adds some loft, scouts believe he’ll be good for 18-20 home runs. Leg problems limited Taveras in 2011, but he’s an average runner with a good arm.
And then earlier in July, he had this:
Talked to a scout today who said Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras is the best offensive prospect in the game. Took him over Wil Myers.
— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) July 3, 2012
This is all very exciting stuff for Canadian baseball, as is the rest of what a mock Team Canada Olympic Games roster might look like. It should be noted that although he remains open to the idea, Taveras has never represented Canada, and during the recent Futures Game, he wore a Dominican crest on his uniform.
If Taveras were to represent Canada, say at the next World Baseball Classic, it would certainly be something that those who care about Canadian baseball would and should get excited about. However, I think it’s somewhat illustrative of my overall point about the ridiculousness of caring about such things. Globalization has made it justifiable for almost anyone to represent anyone at international sporting events. It just seems all so silly to imagine someone who lived for only four years in a country as a young teenager to be an arbitrary representative of a country. Then again, it seems silly to me to divide these things up by country to begin with, as though that has any meaning.
After all, this is how I was first introduced to Taveras:
Most people didn’t even know his name, let alone his nationality.