You know what would suck? Being 21 years old and rolling in to Major League camp and having people immediately want to know whether or not you’re 21 and just how your estranged, crazy, baby-kidnapping wife is doing. I mean, I understand why people have to ask Jose Tabata those questions, I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be how I wanted to start camp if I were him, and by his responses it’s clear that it’s not how he wants to start camp either. From the Post-Gazette:
“I don’t talk to her,” Tabata was saying the other day. “Everything is good. I don’t want to talk about that because it’s in the past.”
“Yeah, man, I want to know who talked bad. I’m really 21. God [knows],” Tabata said, pointing heavenward. “It’s me. That’s it. But if you want to see [the papers]. …”
Reading the whole story, it sure sounds like Tabata’s done a lot of growing up in the past 12 months. As for his age, I did some checking into the whole age-gate scandal based on comments I read made by Wilburt Miller (I don’t remember where exactly, probably in the comments at Bucs Dugout, but maybe at the PBC Blog or OnlyBucs, WTM is everywhere) about Venezuela generally being much better about documenting ages than the Dominican Republic and dug up this Baseball America list from 2002, when the great majority of the age changes came into light after 9/11. It’s far from a complete list, but since then the age changes are down to a relative trickle every year compared to the first big rush eight years ago.
I did some very non-scientific analysis of the list (the list is huge, so I copied a few names into Baseball-Reference, scrolled down a bit, copied a few more names into Baseball-Reference, and repeated the process until I hit the bottom), but of the approximately 30 names I cross-checked, probably 26 of them were from the Dominican Republic with two from Mexico, one from Puerto Rico, and just one from Venezuela. This doesn’t prove anything, of course (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!!! If I get really bored, maybe I’ll sort and tally up their whole list and that still won’t prove anything but it’ll give me something to do, I guess.), but I do think that the fact that Tabata is Venezuelan and not Dominican means that it’s much more likely that the age documentation that exists is legitimate and that he’s 21.