Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30- Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic

I need to apologize for the speed I’ve been getting these latest New Era Cap posts out; these long Oakland Athletics games and me being on the East Coast have done a number on my sleep schedule. But the bigger issue at work is the fact that I decided to stay an extra week to be with my girlfriend Angie Kinderman (@sconnineangie). With that, I made an egregious error and forgot to bring enough caps. Even after I ordered a few more I’m still a little short of my goal, but at least my parents are doing me a solid and mailing a few out this way so I can stay on top of if. Hooray!!!

So, with needing a new cap to write about, I ventured out to the local Lids about a mile away from Angie’s place hoping to find something I needed. When I walked in I didn’t spot anything I was in any kind of a rush to purchase, especially after the two employees on duty asked me if there was anything I had in mind. Originally I wanted to find either the Sunday-style for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox, but I struck out on both accounts. I also thought it was going to be a quick in-and-out operation; however, we were just getting started.

Having worked in retail for well over a decade I’ve always enjoyed getting into a bit of sport-related banter with the customers, just as I also appreciate chatting it up with the employees on duty wherever I go to pick up hats or other gear. B.J., the manager on duty, and I tackled a wide variety of topics for a solid two hours. I had a lot of time to kill as Angie was in her lecture until 4:30 PM and I really didn’t have much going on throughout the day. As it turned out B.J. is an avid collector of Nike shoes. Even bigger than that, he’s a close friend to former St. Louis Rams receiver, and future Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce. I decided to keep my San Francisco 49ers allegiance to myself. As much as I love and know about Major League Baseball, believe it or not, I actually know way more about the NBA between the 1970s and early 2000s. Our discussion brought up a lot of old names and rosters of teams who have long been forgotten by this current generation. The other employee, Aurelio (@IGettFreshh), is B.J.’s nephew; quite the accomplished photographer and Nike fan as well. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be going back there for more hats and chatter in the future.

I haven’t done a very good job of picking up all the World Baseball Classic hats, and since they didn’t have any Minor or Major League hats that I needed, I figured, “why not?” Of all the New Era Caps I’ve seen shuffling through the crowds of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, this Dominican Republic cap has been the one I’ve seen more frequently. Being in southern Florida it really didn’t come as much of a surprise, especially considering how close they are to one another. The same can easily be said about the number of Puerto Rico caps I saw as well for the same reason. The DR cap is one of the few to make an appearance in all three WBCs, and is hands down one of the best looking ones in the bunch.

This last WBC is not only the first time the DR has won the event, but more importantly they became only the second team to win it as the Japanese team took the first two in 2006 and 2009. In the eight games the DR played in the WBC they didn’t lose a single one, including the championship game against Puerto Rico. Robinson Cano was named the WBC MVP after going .469/2/6 with 25 total bases. That’s pretty damn impressive considering the fact that this is the best in the world at play. When coming up with numbers for this hat I did a bit of research through all three rosters from 2006-2013, but only found two names that popped up on all three. With that, I give you my marks…

#4- It’s kind of funny to look at Miguel Tejada’s bio sheet when considering the fact that he was busted for being two years older than he actually was back when he was playing for the Houston Astros. Tejada was once a premier player for a solid ten years from 2000-2009 when he played for the A’s, Astros and Baltimore Orioles. That’s not really to say he’s not good anymore, but you can’t doubt that 10-year stretch when he finished in the Top-25 for the American League and National League MVP vote eight out of 10 times. His best year came with the A’s in 2002 when he went .308/34/131 on the season and took home his one, and only AL MVP award. Other accolades he received in his 16-year career include six All-Star Game appearances and two Silver Slugger awards. What’s most surprising to me is how he didn’t win the AL MVP award in 2004 with the Orioles. That season he hit .311 with 34 home runs and a career/league-high 150 RBI; all of which met or beat his numbers from 2002; however, he only finished in fifth place. Weird.

#7- Jose Reyes saw the bench for most of the 2006 WBC, mostly because the other shortstop they had was hitting better. That guy, Miguel Tejada. Reyes has all the makings of being a Hall of Fame shortstop; mostly from a hitting perspective. Unfortunately for him, his body feels the exact opposite as we found out a few weeks ago when sliding into second base for the Toronto Blue Jays. In the 11 years he’s been in the Majors only nine of them have been truly praiseworthy. No offense to his time in 2012 with the Miami Marlins, but he was clearly the only sign of grace in an otherwise dismal lineup. From 2003 to 2011 Reyes was the man in New York with Mets. Despite only playing in 69 games his first year he still managed to crack the Top-10 for Rookie of the Year for hitting .307 with five home runs and 32 RBI. From 2005-2008 he cracked the Top-30 in the NL MVP vote, his best year coming in seventh place going .300 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI and a league-high 64 stolen bases. From 2005-2007 Reyes would lead the NL in stolen bases and in 2011 he would win his only batting title thus far in his career. He hit .337 in 126 games. Which in my opinion is a little shady based on the amount of games, but even worse because of the fact that he took himself out of the lineup in his last game in order to preserve it. Had Ted Williams still been alive he would have taken issue with it. In 2009 and 2013 Reyes was the starting shortstop for the DR WBC team. He hit .314 with one home run and three RBI for this last WBC as he and his teammates held the trophy after their 3-0 victory of Puerto Rico.

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