On The Eve Of The WBC….My Thoughts About “Age-Gate”

OMG! Jeter will be wearing another uniform when he faces the Yankees!


Honestly, I’ll live. I’m sure the game will be exciting and I’ll watch the tournament with interest. But tonight? I’m thinking about Angel Berroa.
It’s been six long years since he won the Rookie of the Year award with the Royals.
Who would have guessed the Yankees would invite him to spring training to compete for the utility infielder’s job – and that he’d hit a double and a homer in today’s game against the Astros?
Angel, you may remember, ran afoul with MLB in 2002 when he was embroiled in “Age-Gate,” the scandal involving several Latin American players who claimed to be younger than they really were.
Will he win a roster spot with the Yanks? Does it matter how old he is if he can hit the ball and field his position? Do I care if he has an AARP card or uses Botox or covers his gray like the guys in the Just For Men Haircolor commercial?
Another Yankee who was cagey about his age was this guy.
If a pitcher can contort his body into a pretzel like El Duque did and still manage to get batters out, he can be on my team any day.
Less amusing is the case of Esmailyn Gonzalez, the 19-year-old Dominican who scored a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Nationals in 2008.
esmailyn_gonzalez.jpgEsmailyn’s real name turned out to be the far less melodious Carlos Alvarez David Lugo, and he was 23, not 19. The Nats were conned; this kid wasn’t who he said he was.
Still, far be it from me to judge someone who’s trying to climb the corporate ladder by shaving a few years off the resume. It happens every day.
What will really blow my mind is when a female ballplayer from the Dominican comes over here insisting she’s a guy and gets a big contract.
I mean, could you swear this person is a man or a woman? I defy you.
Seriously. Ramon? Or Rosa? You decide. But I’m seeing a faint mustache.


  1. raysrenegade

    Has Hidecki Matsui yet kicked Angel Berroa in the butt for taking his Rookie of the Year votes back in 2000-ish. I can still remember like it was yesterday when the Japanese media sked me who I thought was going to win, Matsui or Rocco Baldelli. We know what my answer was, but who would have thought Berroa would get the split vote and win the award.

    Gotta love Karma and irony. They are a cute couple.

    Rays Renegade


  2. Erin Kathleen

    I was going to say that it’s not the first time a ballplayer named Lugo conned a major league team out of a lot of money, but Jeff kind of beat me to it. And I love those ‘Just for Men’ commercials with Emmitt Smiff. Too bad I no longer get to enjoy him butchering the English language on ESPN anymore.

  3. Jane Heller

    It’s sad, Julia. Baseball has been a way out for lots of poor kids, including those from our own country.

    Jeff, you can’t be 29 forever. You already outed yourself here on the blogs when you hit the big 3-0.

    Those commercials crack me up, Erin. I like the one where they go, “Reeee-jected!” to the gray haired guy, but the version on YouTube was too grainy.

    LOL, Rob!

    I guess the Nationals did ask for their money back, Kaybee, but who knows if they ever got it.

  4. crazy19canuck

    Wow..Derek Jeter playing AGAINST the yanks….Does he want to win? Bet that’s an interesting decision for him.
    Where do you find these pics – they are wonderful!

  5. Jane Heller

    I think Jeter always wants to win, Canuck, but I doubt he’ll slide hard into whoever plays second base today! I find the pics on Google images. They’ve got lots to choose from.

  6. rrrt

    Yeah, I remember the “age-gate” thing. One of the players in that was Merkin (pubic wig) Valdez – one of my favorite names 🙂 – who originally went by Manny Mateo and claimed to be 9 months younger than he was. I can understand the name thing, given what his real name means, but if you’re going to lie about your age, why only 9 months?
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  7. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Well, this will be interesting, all this WBC stuff (kind of like the XFL, or the AFL, or the ABA…whateva). Until the first injury occurs — then there will be Hell To Pay, I fear. Maybe all the pseudo-rookies from the D.R. and elsewhere can have their own team — sort of a Satchel Paige/Minnie Minoso thing, and if you can guess their age (within 4 or 5 years) you can draft ’em. Hey, who cares if they can HIT, and stay outa trouble. Didn’t Tony Oliva borrow his brother’s name (I think he was really Pedro), and he didn’t know any English except “cheeseburger” when he was a rook? Methinks this has gone on for many a moon…

  8. letsgoyankees

    I haven’t watched today’s game yet, been out. Gonna watch the encore at seven, trying not to read too much about it. Anyway, I really don’t want to badger, but did you check out the pinstripedbible yet? It’d be interesting to see what your thoughts are on the aforementioned Jeter debate.
    By the way, I love Mark Texeira. I predict a Yankee triple crown-Tex MVP, Joba Cy Young, and Gardner Rookie of the Year! Your thoughts?

  9. letsgoyankees

    I admit it-I cracked an looked at a recap of the game. Still didn’t get details. Wasn’t all bad, though Yanks lost. Apparently Gardner did well and Jeet drove in two runs. Makes me think that with Jeet, we would have won. Since I was 1/2 rooting for Jeter, glad he led them to win.

  10. Jane Heller

    Good point, Sue. Why lie about 9 months, unless there was some sort of an age cut-off? Makes no sense.

    Did Tony Oliva really take his brother’s name, Dave? That’s a cool piece of trivia. I used to love to watch him play, although it seemed as if he ALWAYS got a hit against the Yankees. You’re right though – this stuff, in one way or another, has been going on awhile.

    I did check out the debate raging on Pinstriped Bible, Letsgoyankees, and left a comment there. I like how you defended Jeter to the bitter end. I honestly think the situation will resolve itself and he’ll know when it’s time to retire. But it’s not anytime soon and shouldn’t be. He’s going to have a fabulous season, if he stays healthy. As for the others, it’s way to early to be predicting those sorts of awards. They need to prove themselves. But I do applaud your passion!

  11. Jane Heller

    I agree, Darion. It was like a hybrid game between an All-Star team and a Triple A team. Definitely unique.

    I think you’re right, Elizabeth. But then Tejada has been involved in so many scandals lately I can’t keep track.

  12. Jane Heller

    He wasn’t that young, Gomets. Just incredibly agile. I loved watching him pitch, didn’t you?

  13. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Jane …

    Angel Berroa made a big error with the bases loaded and no outs in the 6th inning of the game against Team USA that should have been an easy double play … The Yankees pitcher that inning, Eric Hacker, didn’t help matters by facing six batters and not getting anyone out; but, the error opened the floodgates that led to Team USA scoring four runs that inning, which was the key inning in their 6-5 victory over the Yankees !!! … Derek Jeter would have started that double play “very easily” !!! ………. It was good to see Jeter play well in that game, really the star of the game for Team USA … But, I hope it is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we never see Derek Jeter play for another team other than the New York Yankees !!! … Of course, “Go Team USA” in the WBC; and, “Go Yankees” in 2009 !!! … Take care, Jane !!!
    — Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  14. Jane Heller

    Yeah, Jimmy. Berroa did make that big error. I guess Cody Ransom will get the utility infielder job. I like Ransom. Seems like a good fit for us.

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