Baseball player birthday dilemma
Angels DH/First baseman is the latest to be accused of having a illegitimate age (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

The Baseball Player Birthday Dilemma: A Blessing And A Curse

In the Dominican Republic, baseball continues to reign supreme above all other sports. Many noteworthy Major Leaguers have come out of the island country, and are able to wow crowds with their talents. Interestingly, a handful of these players perform an action that many would consider taboo to the rest of the world. This is the baseball player birthday dilemma.

The first player cited to have changed his birthday was longtime starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. To get an edge on his peers, he took the identity of his friend who was two years younger than him. This gave him a boost, as a mid 80s fastball is ultimately more appealing from a 17-year-old than a 19-year-old.

The same occurred when talented shortstop Miguel Tejada was in hot pursuit of Major League scouts, stating that he was also 17 when indeed he was 19. Another star shortstop, Rafael Furcal also did this claiming he was 21 when he was in fact 23. Big sexy Bartolo Colon lied about being two years younger up until 2002 when he “jumped” to 28. Pitcher Roberto Hernandez had a completely different age and identity as “Fausto Carmona”. Most recently, however, famed slugger Albert Pujols is now being accused of lying about his age back when he signed with the Angels.

Why do players do it? As for Wandy Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada, it’s to get that edge. A player who performs equal to or better than a player two years older than him will have the edge. The sad truth is that it takes the opportunity away potentially from someone who the scouts overlook by the person who claims to be the age they are. It’s not that big of a deal if the player starts benefitting as a Big Leaguer and helping their team out. This is why Major League Baseball never takes the initiative to really punish the players who do this. Roberto Hernandez was the only recipient of any sort of punishment from the league. The league suspended him for a few weeks after serving jail time for identity theft. This transcends just “changing your age.”

Where Pujols stands now, he won’t garner any punishment. His lack of production and injury marred his tenure as an Angel. He is retiring after this season and will be a surefire hall of famer for his time with St. Louis.

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