Today we continue to honor the World Baseball Classic with another entry in our ongoing series, in which we come up with an “All-Time Team” for as many of the participating nations as we can.
This time we felt up for a challenge, so we decided to attempt to construct a all-time team of the greatest Panamanians every to play the game, despite the fact that so far only 49 Panamanians have even made the Show for a single at-bat or a single pitch.
Here’s the starting lineup we came up with:
This lineup is actually not that bad. Rod Carew is of course a Hall of Famer, and despite rumors that he is Jewish, is actually 100% Panamanian. The outfield is also strong, led by slugger Carlos Lee and Ben Oglivie, who was the AL home run champ in 1980 when he slugged 41 homers for the then American League Milwaukee Brewers. Other options in the outfield include Omar Moreno who had as many as 96 steals for Pirates in 1980, and Adolpho Phillips, remembered for his nickname, “The Panamanian Flash.” Hector Lopez had a fine career as a utilityman for the Athletics and Yankees in the ’50s and ’60s, and Carlos Ruiz is the current starting backstop for the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Olmedo Saenz, aka “The Killer Tomato,” gets the nod at first base on account of his proven track record in the Major Leagues, but he could easily be replaced by sluggers Julio Zuleta or Fernando Seguinol, both of whom put up monster power numbers in Japan. Chico Salmon gets the job at short because he is the only Panamanian player who saw any significant time at short in the Majors, and also because he has such an awesome name.
As for the rotation and closer, here’s what we came up with:
Well, the starting rotation is a bit thin other than Berenguer, especially in the back end where Medina and Acosta only made the Majors for a brief stint, but the bullpen is strong. Not only do the Canaleros have the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera, but if we were to fill out the rest of the pen, we could also add outstanding relievers such as Humberto Robinson and current major leaguers Manny Corpas, and Manny Acosta.
Final Verdict: The Panamanian squad is surprisingly good, given how few Panamanians have played in the Majors. They wouldn’t embarrass themselves on the field, although they would have a hard time matching up to the other all-time teams.