Tuesday, November 8, 2016

You Just Know He's Out There

El Duque added the following comment to his post "Tuesday night, we will know the future of the franchise":

In the first news accounts of the Ivan Nova trade to Pittsburgh, one of the no-name prospects we received was Tito Polo, who was listed as a 5'9" 1B-OF. I thought this was wonderful - a midget first-baseman. Unfortunately - and this is a rare instance of allowing facts to get in the way - I looked it up and found that Polo had not played 1B in his career. Sad. We could have made history. We would have renamed the site and dedicated it to Tito Polo.
This interested me on a variety of levels, so I did further research at Tito Polo's Baseball-Reference.com page.

I confirmed that Tito "El Pequeño" Polo has never played first base.  I then spent some time wondering whether, when he was a kid, his friends called out "Tito!" with their eyes closed in the swimming pool, and he called back "Polo!"

This pretty much got me nowhere until I noticed that Polo is a citizen of Colombia. I wondered if he would be the first MLB player from Colombia because I couldn't think of any others.  I clicked the link and was reminded immediately about two relatively recent Red Sockian shortstops, Orlando Cabrera (a good player) and Edgar Renteria (otherwise).

I had an urgent memo to write for a client that I didn't feel like working on, so I further studied the Baseball-Reference page that shows where each player is from by state and by country.  The list of countries immediately caught my attention and -- being of Slovak heritage -- proudly noted that Jack Quinn, who played from 1909 until 1933, was somehow born in Slovakia.  

All this talk about GM meetings, along with thoughts of "who we can get" and where they'd come from, and Tito Polo being a Colombian made me remember that I once had to design something for another client (one who wasn't waiting for a memo) that involved putting together a list of every country in the world, along with some other attributes of the countries such as their principal currency, language, their insurance laws, etc.  I decided to merge the Baseball Reference list with the Countries list to get a sense of which countries have managed to produce zero major leaguers.

It's a long list, and I won't bore you with it here, but this further caused me to wonder two things:
  1. Since Latin America seems to be a hotbed of budding MLB talent, how is it possible that there are so many Latin American countries that have produced ZERO MLB players?  I mean, for crying out loud, namby-pamby friggin' France has produced seven, how can it be that there are no MLB'ers from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay?  How is this possible when Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia -- right next door -- have done so well?

  2. Similarly, how can it be that all the countries in Africa have produced zero major leaguers?  When you consider that Manute Bol went from being a Dinka tribesman to the NBA, and that the Kenyans OWN marathoning, and that three out of four cab drivers in NYC are from Ghana, how is it that no citizen of an African country has ever played in an MLB game?  Shoot, there are four MLB players from Poland and one guy from Latvia.  How is it that all of Uganda and Kenya and South Africa have never swung a bat? 
I think Commissioner Manfred needs to look into this.  

I also think that a few interns employed by the Yanks might want to update their passports and start looking around for kids in the African bush who can hit a sprinting dassie with a hunk of flint from 60 or so paces.  You just know those kids are out there and it's a pretty good bet they can also learn to swipe a base.

I'll leave you with the following list of every non-US country that has produced at least one major league ballplayer.  The list is sorted in descending order by number of players:
Dominican Republic 669
Venezuela 358
Puerto Rico 257
Canada 245
Cuba 199
Mexico 121
Japan 63
Panama 55
Ireland 47
United Kingdom 47
Germany 44
Australia 30
Korea, Republic of 22
Colombia 20
Netherlands Antilles 14
Nicaragua 14
Virgin Islands, U.S. 14
Netherlands 12
Taiwan, Province of China 11
Russian Federation 8
France 7
Italy 7
Bahamas 6
Aruba 5
Austria 4
Czech Republic 4
Jamaica 4
Poland 4
Spain 4
Sweden 4
Brazil 3
Norway 3
Saudi Arabia 2
Afghanistan 1
American Samoa 1
Belgium 1
Belize 1
China 1
Denmark 1
Finland 1
Greece 1
Guam 1
Honduras 1
Hong Kong 1
Indonesia 1
Latvia 1
Philippines 1
Singapore 1
Slovakia 1
Switzerland 1
Vietnam 1
Every other country in the world -- about 200 in all -- have never produced a major leaguer.  Should the Yankees forget about paying king's ransoms to 16-year-old Dominicans who are probably lying about their age anyway and turn their sights on beefy Kyrgyzstanians who can fell an ox with one swing of the cudgel?

Mr. Cashman?  Are you listening?


el duque said...

I hope the guy from Singapore was a pitcher.

Because he could be "the Singapore Slinger."

Alphonso said...

I always believed that the reason Haiti is a failed nation, while the Dominican ( same island, different side ) is successful, is because they play baseball in the Dominican.

What is lacking is diamonds and gloves, lined basepaths, places to sell bags of pumpkin seed, mud from the Delaware river, and hickory bats from Louisville.

If people could hear the sounds of baseballs hitting leather, or the crack of bats, those nations would thrive.

It is all baseball.