Only six teams will compete in the Tokyo Baseball Games.
The place is normally reserved for the host country. Mexico, South Korea and Israel qualified in the regional tournaments.
This means that Canada is fighting with powers such as the United States, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
Venezuela, Colombia and Puerto Rico are also participating in the tournament, with only one team going to get an entry ticket to Tokyo.
The countries that finished second and third will have a last chance to qualify for another tournament in Mexico.
In Group Two, Canada will face Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela, respectively. At the end of these three matches, the two best teams advance to the deciding round.
There is no room for maneuver.
Within the Canadian team, we find a mixture of both veterans and youth.
Team manager Ernie Witt will be able to count on former league players such as John Oxford, Scott Richmond and Andrew Albers.
Unlike in previous competitions, Canada will be deprived of many talented young players who have not been demobilized by their majors.
She has lost most of her hopes for a season due to the pandemic and cannot leave her livelihoods to represent her country.
Former Quebec capitals to the rescue
Two Quebecers were chosen by Ernie Witt, veterans Jonathan Mallow, 37, and Jose Bailey, 33.
The two former Capitales de Québec teammates have not played professional baseball for five years, but are still full-time baseball players.
They work together at Baseball 360, a company that sells equipment but also offers baseball lessons in its training rooms, which include hitting cages.
Between teaching youth baseball in sports studies and playing against former league shooters, there is a margin.
Joshua Bailey knows it and has seen it live during the new season’s pre-season against the United States.
Sure, when you’re not facing a fast ball at 96 or 97 mph, you’ll be blissed. When I encountered Edwin Jackson who was tossing at 95 or 96 mph, I thought to myself, “Okay, you have to get your foot down a little faster and you have to be prepared!”
For Jonathan Mallow, a longtime Canadian player, playing in a tournament isn’t the same level of difficulty as he’s playing an entire season.
It’s not like 160th game season where your day can be bad. You have to go in and win every match, every set, and every throw. You should be at your best, He said.
I have no problem running one or two week sequences. It will be difficult to play a whole season and maintain your health. We won’t hide it, I will be 38 in September and the sores come on faster, Quebec player concludes.
Depth of the United States
If Canada is deprived of many aspiring young people because of the lost year, so is the case with other countries.
The Americans have such a large group of players that they should be better off than the rest, but they have also chosen to bring in veterans.
In pre-season games, Canadian hitters were able to compete with shooters who had spent more than 10 years in major leagues such as Homer Bailey, Edwin Jackson or David Robertson.
Former Matt Kemp Dodgers, a player who has amassed more than 1,000 RBIs in the MLB, is patrolling the field for the Americans.
Jonathan Mallow, who spent seven seasons with the Mets, admits that the depth of the United States can seem impressive.
The United States came with five or six players who played 10 years in the major leagues. They are very experienced.
But we just played two show games against them and it was very soon, he says, happy. It can move from side to side. In these competitions, anyone can beat anyone.
Wearing a Canadian outfit, Jose Bailey comes full circle.
Like Malo, he rolled his head at the affiliate baseball game, before settling in Quebec with the capitals. He hasn’t been wearing the Canadian outfit in 15 years with the junior team.
Since that time, he has spent three seasons with the Blue Jays crew, making him fulfill his dream of reaching the major tournaments.
Wednesday, his sport may give him another nice moment.
I was born and raised in Venezuela. I moved when I was 10 years old. He’d be something cool and move to face them. You will do something with my heart to play against my country, my country of origin, He said.
Who knows, maybe he could hit a heavy blow against former Detroit Tigers Anibal Sanchez and send Canada to the Tokyo Games.