Legends On Deck

Former MLB Stars Will Shine Again For Team Canada In Classic

Prior to the creation of the World Baseball Classic, retired baseball players would just be fond memories of yester-years, but now the classic offers some the opportunity to showcase their skills on the world stage one more time.

While peering through the roster selections for the upcoming games, I noticed two ex-ball players, Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne, and was very intrigued with the possibility of what they both would bring to the table to assist their native country of Canada in the classic.

We all know that most of the countries will be stacked with Major League talent, so can these two ex-giants from their time still compete on the highest level.

Dempster started his Major League career in 1998 when he made his debut with the Florida Marlins at 21 years old and then won 15 games as a starter in 2001.

Then after an uneventful two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Dempster revived his career when he signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs in 2004. Once a starter and then a closer, Dempsey saved 87 games between 2004-2007 and returned back to the mound as a starter in 2008 and won a career high 17 games, while becoming an All-Star for the second time in his career.

He retired after pitching in 2013 for the Boston Red Sox finishing the season with eight wins and for his career he was 132-133, with a 4.35 ERA, 87 saves.

As for Gagne, his career started in 1999 as he made his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers and for the first three season he was mostly a starter. But his impact in the game took off in 2002 when he became a first time All-Star as a dominate closer, while finishing the season with 52 saves. In the next two seasons he was just as dominate finishing with 55 and 45 saves and earning two more All-Star selections.

But Gagne’s status would diminish quickly as he endured elbow surgery in 2005 and back surgery in 2006. After returning to the game in 2007 with the Texas Rangers he saved 16 games in 34 appearances, but it was not enough to revive his once dominating years.  His baseball career was done after the 2008 season when he appeared in 50 games with the Milwaukee Brewers saving just 10 games. Three seasons (2009, 2015, 2016) in the Can-Am League has not made any positive impacts in his game, other than to possibly prepare him for the opportunity to represent his native land this March.

Now both Dempster and Gagne will take center stage to see if they can reverse time and help team Canada to success in the Classic. No matter what happens in the games, it will be great to see two icons from the past come back to show they still have what it takes to compete. Good luck to both.

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