Saturday, August 16, 2008

The one and only Justin Cardinal

We stumbled upon an eerie and amazing coincidence regarding Israel Baseball League veteran Justin Cardinal last week, after the former outfielder for the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox stood up publicly to the IBL’s elusive executives after a series of bounced paychecks.

A cursory Google search revealed there were two Justin Cardinals, both ballplayers from Canada, both born in 1982-- "was," because one of them, a pitcher, had his career and life cut short in a tragic highway accident in 2002.

Much had been written about the late Justin Cardinal. Of the one who turned 26 on Thursday, not so much, leading some of our more imaginative followers to suggest that one may have taken the name and credentials of the other (just like you see in the movies).

We got in touch with the IBL’s Justin Cardinal and he filled us in:

What an eerie coincidence! I understand you're from Ottawa; the other Justin was from Alberta. Have other people brought up the coincidence before?

No one I know ever talked to me about it except those that I brought it up with once I found out about it randomly some day a couple of years ago.

What's your story?

I was born here in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.

I went to Sir Wilfrid Laurier S.S., but they didn't have a baseball team.

Before the IBL, I played men's league here in town for a few years after coming out of AAA midget ball when I was 18-19.

This AAA team was really the highest quality of ball I had ever played in, and it took me on many different trips to cities as far as 13 hour drives (West Virginia). This coach was really the only one to ever take a chance on me. That year, in 111 plate appearances, I hit .370 with an on-base average of .550 and four home runs. It was by far the season I'm most proud of, mainly because I was basically on a team of all-stars, and was still top five in those offensive categories.

The reason I know I did so well that season was because of how many games I ended up playing in. Every single year, I start off poorly, but once mid-July comes, or a lot of at-bats early, I really start to go on fire.

Last year though, I’m glad to say I was on the championship team. I'm also pretty upset because of my lack of playing time. I don't blame them for thinking I couldn't hit; they just didn't realize what I could do with enough opportunities.

If you ask some of the guys like Gregg Raymundo, Sean Slaughter, Alan Gardner or Johnny Lopez I bet they'll praise what I did in batting practice towards the end of the season. (Manager Ron) Blomberg won't, though He gave up on me right before I started crushing the balls.

For me, it really sucks, because here in Canada, we can go eight months between baseball games, so ya, I just end up forgetting what I have to do to hit line drives. Right now is a great example: last week in my league after about 32 at-bats I was hitting .180, but in my last two games I've hit five-for-eight with two doubles and four RBIs.

Does that sound like a typical .180 hitter???

The two seasons before I went to Israel, my batting averages were .455 in 2006, and .470 in 2005. Bottom line is I get so much better as the season moves on.

Fortunately for me this year, I'll have an opportunity to play for my University in my first year, so this will be the real test of how I can do after having a substantial amount of games during the summer time.

How'd you get to the IBL?

Martin Berger found my baseball profile online, I think, and sent me an e-mail to come for tryouts in Miami.

I took a thousand dollars out of my own pocket to do it, and on January 1, 2007 I got a contract by way of e-mail.

At the time, it was the greatest day of my life. It was what I worked my whole life for.

Are you playing now or are you hoping to hook up with another league?

I wish I could play in a league where I got to play every day, all-year-round, but right now I'm with my men's league again, which just clinched first place with four games to go-- and then hopefully university ball.


Alan Gardner said...

Justin definitely did start leaning on the ball as the season progressed. Just ask my forehead. And in addition to spraying line drives about during bp, he also dropped one or two over the fence at the Geez.
Was a tough outfield to crack, what with Rees, Slaughter and Lyons out there. Not a soul can argue with the prowess of those guys, defensively, at the plate and on the base paths. Would have been nice if he could have got a bit of late inning PT when games were already decided or the more occasional start. But hey, guess that's just baseball.
What really sucks is that this solid, generally unassuming, soft-spoken young man dropped a G out of his own pocket to get to the Miami tryouts, made it, went to Israel and has now been stiffed out of $1,500 plus whatever fees his bank has charged him for the bad checks and any checks he may have written on his account thinking the checks were good. I wonder how much the IBL spent for a round trip ticket for the "festival". A good rate these days is about....$1,500. And how many other guys that have been stiffed could have been paid out of funds used for this sad excuse for a professional baseball tournament ?
Or maybe they're doing the travel the good old IBL way...buying the tix on credit and then stiffing the travel agency, too. Or did everyone forget that last summer's travel agent threatened to pull all of our return trip tickets because the IBL owed them LOTS of money? That's right, apparently if Baras had not been lucky enough to persuade at least one of the investors to loan him something like $40G to make the travel agent happy, we all might still be in Israel working off the IBL debt at the Kfar Hayarok and getting our meals at the gas station...
Most importantly, good luck to our mate Justin in Ottawa. I think he's going to have a stellar career at the university level.

Anonymous said...

IBL was a year ago. Get over it guys. It was fun. But it's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

It WAS fun. But as long as the IBL is still doing nonsensical ,unethical gargage thet will still get slammed.

Anonymous said...

"Where's that money, you silly stupid old fool? Where's that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison. That's what it means. One of us is going to jail -well, it's not gonna be me." -- George Bailey, yelling at Uncle Billy, "It's a Wonderful Life"

Anonymous said...

and the candidates for jail are
1) Larry Baras
2) David Solomont
3) Martin Berger
4) Russel Robinson
5) All of the above

Anonymous said...

And the WINNER is:



Anonymous said...

I vote for Russel Robinson

He has nothing to gain and everything to lose playing with these fools
Russel,where did the $480,000 from the JNF go?
Till you provide answers your $400,000 annual salary should be docked!

Anonymous said...

Justin is a classy guy. Too bad he was pissed on by his .097 manager who played himself to death. Too bad he was pissed on by teammates who showed no morals and signed up for the festivus without a regard for an unpaid comrade.