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From Fausto Carmona to Leo Nunez, baseball players play the name game

When Shakespeare wrote that “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he presumably was not referencing any pitcher from the Dominican Republic; nor any Major League clubhouse for that matter. Charles Foster Kane was not alluding to any shortstop from the Caribbean when he uttered Rosebud, though baseball has seen its share of Citizen Matt Cain.

North American sports have provided the world with plenty of athletes hell-bent on changing their name. In the NFL, it usually involves a hyphen, an addition to the last name, or poorly translated Spanish. NBA players like to turn their monikers into ironic messages meant to spur global change but end up as comedy fodder. For whatever reason, Major League Baseball serves as a stomping ground for athletes who either lack imagination or common sense in the practice.

Put aside for a moment all the oddities surrounding America’s once-glorious pastime. For example, there have been more Cy Young awards won by a guy named Johan than their have by anyone named Chaz. Certainly the name is in vogue, as the Fastest Man in the World title might soon go to another guy similarly named, but with a “Y” instead of the “J.”

One would probably expect the name — regardless of the spelling — to be closely linked to clogs or some smorgasbord thereabouts. However, astute baseball fans will know that there are two active Major Leaguers who were born Johan Santana. The Mets pitcher is one, the other being the Angels’ Ervin Santana. In 2003, the latter changed his name to Ervin because he felt it sounded good. Had he known that he would be currently sitting on a 4-10 record with an ERA of 6, he probably would have left it so that layman baseball fans would have mistaken him for winning two Cy Youngs.

The Cleveland Indians’ pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona (pictured) has not pitched in the Majors this year and it might be a good thing. People all around baseball may still need time figuring out who the heck Roberto Hernandez is. (Of course, it took fans years before they realized that Fausto was not a Marx brother.) He has not thrown one fastball this year, though he unsuccessfully tried to throw U.S. officials a curveball and was arrested for trying to use a false identity to get a visa.

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Leo Nunez Has Been Playing Under Fake Name; He’s Really Juan Carlos Oviedo

Don’t expect to see Leo Nunez pitching in the big leagues ever again. Juan Carlos Oviedo might close a few games down the road, but Leo Nunez is retiring.

The Marlins placed closer Leo Nunez on the restricted list this week, and he’s not expected to pitch the rest of the season. The Associated Press reports that Nunez is in the Dominican Republic because he’s been playing under an assumed name. They add that he is really 29 years old, not 28 as is listed in his bio.

I really wonder what took them so long. “Leo” is about the whitest name you can find. Have you ever heard of someone from the Dominican Republic named Leo? That was just a dead giveaway.

But when it comes to Dominican baseball players lying about their age, this is nothing new. Next thing you know we’re going to be told that SEC teams cheat and that the Yankees spend a lot of money. Who would believe such a thing?

This may also explain why Nunez went from having a sub-3.50 ERA in July to getting lit up in August. Hard to pitch when you have this sort of thing on your mind. (Or maybe it was just normal wear and tear).

via Rotoworld

Minnesota Timberwolves Acquire Ineligible Player Tanguy Ngombo Who Lied About Age

Just when you thought the Minnesota Timberwolves actually had a good draft, we learn they acquired a player who lied about his age. With the 57th overall pick in the draft, Targuy Ngombo, a 21-year-old forward from Qatar was selected by Portland and acquired by Minnesota. Sounds like a typical foreign player you would just stash overseas and watch his development, right? Well one little problem. The player they drafted (in a pick acquired from Portland via trade), is actually Tanguy Alban Harrys Ngombo who is a 26-year-old forward from Qatar.

Not only did Tanguy Ngombo lie about his name by changing the “R” to an “N,” he lied about his age. What’s sad is that SB Nation Minnesota figured it out (with some help from Draft Express) but the Timberwolves didn’t. It’s one thing for MLB players to lie about their age (which they do so frequently) by doctoring their birth certificates, but it’s a complete other thing to draft a guy who actually is an established foreign player. You know what else this tells us? People sometimes get too fascinated with young players instead of focusing on how good or bad they are.

Chest bump to Los That Sports Blog for the story

ESPN Right to Attack Tejada’s Age

By now you must have seen the ESPN E:60 interview with Miguel Tejada — or lack thereof. If you haven’t, welcome back to the States, hopefully you didn’t lose your passport during your travels. Anyway, for about a week now ESPN has been promoting it’s E:60 segment with Miguel Tejada where they break out a document proving Tejada had been lying about his age. Tejada promptly ends the interview and storms off, acting incredulous that they weren’t there to ask him strictly about his .370 batting average. Initially I felt badly for Tejada; he looked so helpless and innocent, you had to feel poorly for him. I know some other people felt the same way. But once I got past that, and making jokes about Julio Franco revealing his true age, I’m actually pleased that ESPN handled the interview and its promotion the way they did.

Think about this for a second here: Miguel Tejada is not the victim. The teams that paid him his salaries and signed him long-term are the ones who were duped. They’re the ones who should be complaining. Tejada obviously proved he could play at a high level, but he never should have lied to do it. Matter of fact, most players who lie about their age know exactly why they’re doing it — being younger makes them more of a prospect which in turn results in higher bonuses and more money. By calling out Tejada and humiliating him in the interview, not to mention replaying the clip over-and-over each day, they were sending a message to other players that they could too be exposed the way Miguel was. Maybe some players/representatives will think twice before they falsify information, take a spot away from another kid, and steal money from organizations.

You can watch the video after the jump if you haven’t seen it.

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Julio Franco Reveals Age, Was Really 54

Most of you probably have heard by now that Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada revealed he is really 33-years-old and not 31, as he had professed to be throughout his entire Major League career. He initially lied to the A’s when they signed him as a kid out of the Dominican Republic because his youth would make him more appealing as a prospect. Well in light of this revelation, a chain reaction has started amongst other Dominican-born players. Many of the ones currently playing are afraid to speak because they have not yet achieved the security of a lucrative free agent contract, something Tejada did four years ago. But the retired players have begun to cave to the pressures and admit the truth. Julio Franco, a 23-year MLB veteran who finally retired this year after playing until age 47 last season, decided to speak:

After seeing fellow countryman Miguel Tejada come clean about his age, I have decided that it was only fair to reveal the truth about myself. All those years that I was playing, I was really older than I said. Those people who told me I looked like a 50-year-old last season were right — I was 54. I never wanted to let anyone know because I felt it would jeopardize my status as a free agent. I knew I could still play, but I didn’t think teams would sign me if they knew my real age.

Rumblings out of New York late Thursday night indicated Orlando Hernandez was contemplating revealing the truth about his age. Though his birthday according to MLB documents suggest he is currently 39-years-old, there is widespread suspicion that the Cuban-born pitcher is actually 43. And according to a report from the Spanish newspaper La Verdad, a childhood teammate of Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero claims the slugger is really 35. When asked for his response, Guerrero’s interpretor said Vlad had no comment. Additionally, Mariners third-baseman Adrian Beltre, already financially secure with a $65 million contract, has scheduled a news conference for late Friday. He is expected to reveal that he too is two years older than the date indicated on his MLB profile.

Of course none of this really did happen, but I know you were probably buying it. Heck, most of it is probably true!