Thursday, February 11, 2016
The Philippines in the World Baseball Classic...2016 Edition!!!
In 2012, the Philippines, that hotbed of baseball in Asia, was invited to participate in a four-team qualifying round where the country that wins this six-game round-robin schedule, would go on to the 16-team World Baseball Classic tournament.
Okay, so hotbed isn't really the word. But listen, after the Americans introduced the Filipinos to the game during the Spanish-American War, the Philippines won the first Asian Baseball Championships in 1954. The game, however, faded in popularity, with basketball the number one team sport on the islands. But baseball is making a comeback, thanks in part to Filpino teams winning gold medals in the 2005 and 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
The WBC Philippines team shocked the world by beating Johnny Damon (yes, THAT Johnny Damon) and team Thailand in their first game (proudly recalled in this post back after it happened). And although they did eventually lose to squads from Chinese Taipei and New Zealand, a third place showing did in fact give the powers that be to give the Philippines another shot at getting to the games.
This week, the Philippines, along with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, are competing amongst themselves for one spot in the tournament that takes place in 2017. Team Aussie will be their first opponents, which should be a challenge for the Filipino team. Australia has participated in EVERY WBC since 2006 and doesn't plan on taking next year off.
So who is on Team Philippines? Any major leaguers with ties to "The Pearl of the Orient?" The answer...is YES!!!
Tim Hulett, a MLB player from 1983-1995 and has been a minor league manager (presently with the Rangers Short-A team in Spokane) after his playing days, was tabbed to manage Team Philippines.
Clay Rapada, a journeyman left-hander who last appeared in the majors in 2013, leads a pitching staff of 13. In seven seasons, Rapada has a cumulative record of 8-0, with a 4.06 ERA, 82 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.366 in seven MLB seasons.
Chris Aguila, one of six outfielders on the team, played for both the Marlins and the Mets in parts of four seasons. He hit 4 home runs, drove in 16 rbi's, to go with a .230 batting average and slash statistics (OBP/SLG/OPS) of .280/.343/.624.
Eric Fariss, who was in the majors from 2011-2012 and was recently in the minor league system of the Twins, is on the team as well.
There are presently two players on the team with MLB affiliations, one is Marlins farmhand Brad Haynal, a catcher, and the other is outfielder Angelo Songco, who has a Pro Debut card from 2010.
By the time this post comes out, the game would be long over (they lost 11-1 by the way).
Good luck to Team Philippines the rest of the way.