Friday, January 30, 2009

MLB under attack

From Marvin Moore, Chief Writer for Baseball de World, comes an interesting opinion piece.

It seems that major league players are not tough, care too much about money, and aren't willing to represent their country. Whichever country it is they might choose on that particular day. So Mr Moore wants to know what the problem is:

What has happened to major league baseball players? Are pitchers so frail these days they cannot prepare for the upcoming season with limited work in a pre-season tournament that is good for the sport worldwide? Satchel Paige, Fergie Jenkins and Nolan Ryan all could have pitched in the WBC and contended for a Cy Young Award.
Yeah, but those guys are retired. Even though Nolan could probably still lead the Rangers staff in strikeouts. Because today's pitchers are soft:

Perhaps the biggest reason injuries have become such a staple of the game today is that too many players are “too” soft. With the advances of exercise equipment, sports nutrition and personal fitness trainers - luxuries not associated with players from the past - a large number of MLB so-called stars would still struggle in a brawl with a group of ice skaters.
There's more:

Another problem with the super-sized ego ballplayers of today is that they are driven by money - not a love or passion for the game. Playing hurt these days means risking a future contract. Heck, a great deal of these guys do not even become serious” ballplayers until the final year of a contract.
But it's not just the player's fault:

The wealthy franchise owners destroyed the integrity of the game by turning a blind eye to the rampant performance-enhancing drugs during the recent Steroid-era. And, sadly, the majority of players who have parlayed their skills on the diamond into big mansions and fancy cars do not give a damn about the game or the fans.
I kind of disagree with this assessment. I'm as patriotic as most people and would love to see the US win. And as a baseball fan, I want to see the best play. But the regular season is their job and they do get paid a lot of money to represent a city which provides them a privileged lifestyle. So they do have an obligation, and no compelling reason to play. But to each his own. The problem I have with this opinion is that he then goes off on a tangent:

The majority of governments around the world only provide funds for Olympic sports. Baseball is already underfunded in most European nations but continues to grow anyway with clubs and federations working overtime to get new fields built and recruiting young players. But the fairy tale ending has become a nightmare.

If the IOC threw out baseball from the Olympics due to its history of steroids use - why is track and field still part of the Summer Games? And, why does that Belgium guy and his cronies demand that the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) send MLB’s arrogant studs when FIFA and its powerful soccer clubs send only a few prospects to the Olympics?
Good points all. And I actually agree with him. But then he ends it with this statement:

The game is under attack and it seems like MLB and its superstars are leaving the IBAF to fight the battle alone.
I'm not necessarily disagreeing with that statement either. I've written about this myself. But exactly what is the point? Who is he attacking? The IOC? FIFA? Track and field? The players? The owners? Bud? (don't try and get on my good side) I'm a little confused. Instead of attacking Bud and his boys, shouldn't his anger be directed at the national IOC's that won't promote baseball? Or the government's that won't fund baseball federations when they support other sports?

Or is the Chief Writer for Baseball de World just against major league baseball? And for the IBF? Is he condemning one to champion the other? And why? Who cares?

The WBC, or the Olympics, is the biggest stage in the world for international baseball, but not for major league baseball. While I think Bud and the boys should be doing more to help international baseball, there is no reason for them to do so at the detriment of their own product. But attacking MLB, the main sponsor of the WBC, just doesn't seem to be the best way to go about things.

A different perspective

Anyone who reads this knows I am against people playing for a national team just because of their heritage. Especially when they weren't born in that country, or have never set foot in it. Just because your grandparents came from a particular country shouldn't give you special rights. Yeah, the laws might allow you to be a citizen and hold a passport, but that doesn't make you "?".

As I noted earlier, the Italians, while allowing this, haven't exactly figured it out completely, as the Olympic team was ready to boycott the games because of this issue. Now, it seems, they are not the only country with this issue. The Mexicans have some issues with this also, but don't seem to know how to really look at this.

This article just highlights the entire problem I have with hyphenated-Americans. Shouldn't you be one or the other. Yes, I'm calling you out, Alex Rodriguez. I'm not suggesting than any player shouldn't be proud of his heritage, or fail to recognize the birthplace of his ancestors, but you either are or you aren't, in my opinion.

In the 2006 WBC, the results for Mexico were mixed:
Team Mexico's lone Mexican-American was San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez. The team went 3-3 and did not make it out of the second round despite eliminating the United States.It doesn't seem all that bad to me. They eliminated their big rival, and did well with only one major leaguer.

But it wasn't good enough, at least for manager Vinny Castilla. So in order to have a better showing this time around:
This year's provisional 45-man roster boasts nine Mexican-Americans, including Gonzalez, Tampa's Matt Garza, Arizona's Augie Ojeda, Jerry and Scott Hairston along with Toronto catcher Rod Barajas.
So I guess the idea is that in order for Mexico to be competitive, they have to bring in a bunch of hyphenateds. Yeah, I'm making that word up, but it seems to be the best option. However, as much as Vinny wants this, it isn't all paradise south of the border:
Then there's the rivalry that no one really talks about but everyone knows exists between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Unofficially, you can call it "Mexicanos vs. Pochos." Officially, you can call it silly and outdated. It's anything but friendly. The entire rivalry is based on heritage and pride. It's also about division and the notion of being a "true Mexican." It seems to be coming to an end, at least in baseball.
It seems to me that there might be a little bit of dissension on the exact makeup of the team. Vinny is talking a good game and trying to say all the right things:
"If they want to play for us and feel they are Mexican because of parents or family, we welcome them," Mexico manager and former Major Leaguer Vinny Castilla said. "They are coming to open arms, and they are still Mexicans to me. They want to represent the country, and they can."
Good politics. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees:
"Mexican-Americans are good to increase the performance level of the team, but they don't have any identification with the other players or the country," said Oscar Sanchez, a sports writer for the Mexican newspaper El Norte in Monterrey. "In soccer, we have a similar discussion with the naturalized players or 'naturalizados,' because many people don't want them on the national team, but the law gives them the right to play as Mexicans."
It would seem that place of birth is the big issue here:
"For too many years people in the sports world, especially in Mexico, have made the mistake of believing that a Mexican-American doesn't count as 'Mexicano' because we were born in the U.S., and honestly, many have been divided on this issue for years," said Adrian Garcia Marquez, a broadcaster for Fox en Español based in Los Angeles. "Others have said they don't consider what they call 'pochos' to be Mexicans because some [Mexican-Americans] can't speak Spanish or speak very little, and they don't respect the heritage. On the contrary, our parents teach us at an early age to be proud of where our family came from and understand that our parents or grandparents came to U.S. to give us a shot at a better life, and better opportunities. So it doesn't matter if two or three generations have lived in the U.S., our cultural heritage is something we hold on to, and cherish."
Some people (in Mexico) will feel it's perfectly acceptable for the hyphens to play, while other won't. If Mexico gets to the final round, or somehow wins it all, then it's a great idea. If they don't:
But tell that to the Mexican fans when Ojeda strikes out or Garza gives up a home run. What happens if a Hairston gets picked off first base? It could get ugly and the term "pocho" will be anything but a compliment.
Issues like this are one of the main reasons why I disagree with players being able to play for more than one country. They want the best of both worlds. They want to be American, but when they aren't the top tier of American players, they want to go play for a country that many of them really have no identify with. And while it's good for the player, I agree that it's not good for that national team. Unless the player is going to play in every international tournament for that country, why does he automatically get a roster spot for a team he has never played for. My personal opinion, you're either one nationality or another. No hyphens allowed. It seems to be the biggest issue with Americans playing for other countries. I haven't seen this being an issue with other countries, but I'm curious if it has.

A brief break

I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to come and read what I've put here. It's been a lot of fun, and I hope people are enjoying it.

Today, however, this will probably be it. I usually end up searching for about 2 hours or more to find enough to post on. A lot of what I fine just isn't good enough, in my opinion, to warrant a post. Plus, a couple of things I was working on have come out in the mainstream media already, so there isn't any reason for me to redo them. It's a little slow right now, with it being winter and all. I will have something every day, but it might be just one post, depending on what I can find. So, for the rest of today, and through the weekend, here are a couple of videos for your viewing pleasure.

They aren't baseball, but they are the next best thing to me. Soldiers. Enjoy.

The British Army still knows how to enjoy themselves. We used to do that also, but it's been a long time, due to changing attitudes about military society. As always, I welcome any and all comments, but please remember: this is not about politics or any situation going on right now.

The next big bailout

The government is set to establish a farm team system and develop a minor league program. No, the Yankees aren't getting a bailout. It's in Taiwan, and the government, more prone to fighting than legislating, is going to come together to help the big leagues, giving up the total of $300,000 to get it going.

Leaders of the four CPBL teams — the Sinon Bulls, La New Bears, Uni-President Lions and Brother Elephants — jointly attended a press conference called by Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) as the latter announced the government’s plan to boost the professional baseball league.

The main reason behind the offer:

The CPBL, which was founded in 1989, has experienced a slump in recent years as
a result of rampant gambling and game fixing.

I would see that being a big drawback to the US government giving that kind of money to a professional sports league. Given their attitude towards steroids, I can't imagine them giving any help to a league having gambling problems. Not when their are banks and automakers to bail out, who are completely above board in their financial dealings.

But baseball is important in Taiwan, and the government doesn't feel that there is enough of a population base to sustain the league entirely on its own:

“Normally a population of 10 million can sustain a good baseball team. Taiwan, a nation of 23 million people, has four teams. You can imagine how difficult it is for the four enterprises to run a baseball team … This year will mark the 20th year of the CPBL. The government will work closely with the four teams to invigorate the baseball league,” Liu said.
This benevolence is not without its price, however. There is a cost to the teams:

Meanwhile, each of the four teams has agreed to adopt baseball fields in a county or city, home to its parent company, to encourage the feeling of belonging and inclusion among the local population.

CPBL president Chao Shou-po (趙守博) called for higher government spending to develop baseball teams in elementary and junior high schools.
Some of the players have a clue and have figured out how to fix the problems plaguing the league:

Hong Ruei-he (洪瑞河), captain of the Brother Elephants, said that eradicating gambling problems was the most crucial factor in winning back baseball fans.
Gee, ya think.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stumped by a curveball

It seems that baseball metaphors are alive and well in the UK. And not entirely welcome. After the Defence Secretary, John Hutton, said:

that it was time for our European allies "to step up to the plate" and send more
of their troops to Afghanistan.
It did not go over well. At least in the Guardian, who felt it wasn't a well-turned phrase, particularly when it was a man who:

shares a surname with one of England's greatest cricketers using a baseball metaphor so lazily when our own national games offer so many richer ones. The main issue is the continued and varied use of baseball terminology and phrasing throughout the government.
Even footballer Joey Barton said that:

"I am always one to step up to the plate."
Oh, Joey, Joey. Couldn't you just have been the one to step up to the penalty spot? But this didn't come without a warning. In a 1946 essay, George Orwell warned us that:

a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves". He suggested that "many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning ... a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying".
And there are options:

Cricket, on the other hand, provides plenty of handy metaphors, and it is reassuring to know that some are still fashionable. "On the back foot" featured 1091 times in the national press last year and John Hutton could easily have told the allies that there was no need to be on the back foot over Afghanistan. Or he could have told them that it was time they "went in to bat" on behalf of Nato, a phrase (only three uses last year) that seems to be inexorably drifting over the boundary rope of life. "Hit it for six", for instance, features less frequently in the British press than "hit it out of the park".
So, in the case you feel the need to use a baseball phrase, there is a better idea:

In the meantime, all sporting cliches used without due thought should be hit into the long grass, punched over the bar, kicked into touch, turned round the post for a corner or, if necessary, flicked silkily through the covers for four.
Seems to me the French had a problem with something like this a few years ago and tried to ban all things American. Good luck with that, because I don't see it happening.

Obviously, I don't have an issue with this, and think more baseball-related terms should be used.

Hopefully, no one will think I'm off base.

Being heard by the people

Here's something you just don't see every day. This is the blog for Dr. Harvey Schiller, president of the International Federation of Baseball. For those of you who don't follow international baseball, I can tell you Dr Schiller is a busy man. There are over 160 national federations, and the IBF has been around since the 1930's.

The fact that Dr Schiller can take the time to sit down and actually blog is an impressive thing to me, because it's hard enough to do it when you're unemployed and sitting on your ass every day. But to do it will running an international governing body. Hey, good on you, Doc!

Can you imagine Bud doing this? I would love it if Bud had his own blog. I would make it my homepage and have it open all day, set to automatically refresh every 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The new Japan

Many former major leagues used to go to Japan at the end of their careers (the Lee brothers, Warren Cromartie, Tuffy Rhodes) or in an effort to try and get it back (Cecil Fielder, Julio Franco). Since the Japanese leagues are considered major leagues, it isn't considered a step down to the minors by going and playing. Plus the money was pretty good.

A lot of current and former major leaguers have played in Mexico and the Caribbean winter leagues to get more experience, or to try and continue their career. Lately, a few (Karim Garcia and Runelvys Hernandez) have went to the Korean league.

Some of these guys go because they just love the game and want to play, and they're given a chance. Some go because of the money. Some for a chance to make it back to the big leagues. If the player is happy, that's all that matters to him. If he helps the team, that's all that matters to them.

But now, in the first instance I can find, a former major leaguer and World Series champion has gone to Europe to continue playing:

The youngest member of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox is going yo pitch for REGGIO EMILIA in the 2009 Italian Baseball League season. The team announced on Monday on its website that they signed the 26-year-old left-hander Abe Alvarez. Between 2004 and 2006 he appeared in four big league games for the Red Sox and was the youngest player to receive a World Series Championship ring
in 2004

Alvarez, a lefty reliever, only got into 4 games over 3 years in the majors, all with the Sox. He didn't pitch particularly well in the minors, getting released and spending time in the independent leagues.

The article doesn't give much reason why he's in Italy, or the terms of the contract. But I don't think we really need to know. Its baseball. You would go too.

And its not even the Olympics. How about that?

I think this is great. I don't think too many players will go to Europe to try and revive their careers. But getting some former, pro-quality players in the leagues can only help the competition.

For those who might want to quibble, this is league ball, not national team ball. I don't have an issue with this.

So, if anyone knows of any other former major leaguers who have played in Europe, please let me know.

Another lesson plan gone wrong

I have mixed feelings about this. This is a lesson plan used to to teach English as a second language.

Now, using baseball for that is a great idea, and I'm all for it. But they just can't get past the idea that the game was invented in England.

I guess its a double-edged sword. It might bring us more baseball fans, but give them false information about the game.

Man, they're really pushing it hard. The title is "Baseball was invented in England", but if you get the bottom, and why wouldn't you, it states:

Historians in England have uncovered evidence that baseball may not be as American as apple pie.
Yeah, evidence. That proves it. Ask O.J. The Brits are really loving this. And seem to think that we actually care about this. We're Americans. Except for the potato and lacrosse, everything came from somewhere else.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A look back in time

There's nothing really too much to say about this link. Its just a short film of a game between Canadian Army units in 1917, played in England. Seems to be a fairly sizeable crowd, probably wounded.

I love watching films of these old games. Check out the uniforms and equipment. Just a trip to the past, but its a great one. Played by the finest men a country has to offer.

Its soldiers.

The newest Hall of Fame controversy

In light of the most recent Hall of Fame election, and the controversy that surrounds it, and pretty much all of them, a new controversy has come. The question? A simple one:

For executing the best play in the history of baseball, should Rick Monday be elected into the Hall of Fame?

Having grown up a military brat, and spent the majority of my adult life in the Army, I'll for acts of patriotism. I think what Monday did that day was pretty awesome. To me, he deserves a lot of credit for his actions. And I'm not making fun of this question. I take things like this very seriously. But I just don't see Monday making it to the Hall for this act.

Maybe recognition from the Hall with some kind of exhibit, but I'm not even sure if that is appropriate or not. It was something done by a baseball player, but isn't really a baseball-related event. Of course, baseball and patriotism have always gone hand in hand. So it wouldn't be out of line, added to an exhibit of all players who have served in the military, or something along that lines. But membership in the Hall? No, no chance.

Fortunately, most of the commentators subscribe to the common sense theory and suggest an exhibit (if that's even appropriate), but no Hall election.

Baseball legends to play charity game

From Baseball de World come news of a charity baseball game:

Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, will be hosting the 2nd annual “Fergie & Friends” Celebrity Baseball Game where Hall of Famers and other all-stars play baseball for charity. The game will be held at Mesa HoHoKam Stadium (1235 N. Center Street, Mesa 85201) on March 25th.

See Baseball Hall of Fame legends Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers, Juan Marichal, and Harmon Killebrew, plus Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bell and Basketball Hall of Famer Meadowlark Lemon.

Other All-Stars invited to attend include Jody Davis, Randy Hundley, Jay Johnstone, Keith Moreland, Lee Smith, Gary Bell, Bert Campaneris, Al Downing, George Foster, John Mayberry, Rick Miller, Amos Otis, Ozzie Virgil Jr. and Jon Warden
The only reason I care about this?

John Mayberry and Amos Otis will be playing. A piece of my childhood has been returned to me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The lighter side of life

This isn't really about baseball in the international scheme of things, unless you count the Expos, but its still a classic. And it still makes me laugh.

A future World Series champ

From Baseball de World comes news that the Kansas City Royals have signed a pitcher out of South Africa.

Dylan Lindsay:

landed a seven-year contract

which is kind of impressive, considering:

Lindsay is only the fourth South African teen since 1999 to land such a prestigious contract

I hope he makes it, and has a good long, healthy career, as long as he comes to his senses, because according to his mother:

it had always been her son’s wish to one day rub shoulders with international baseball stars. She said his ultimate dream was to play for the New York Yankees.

They might want to work on the public relations aspect of things. But I'm sure he'll get his wish. I have no doubt that after his first good season, Dayton Moore will trade him straight up for Melky Cabrera.

But anyone who reads this knows I think this is a great think. The more global the game because, the better it is for the game.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A different kind of respect

From East Windup Chronicle comes a story of life in Japan. One of the things, and few things, I know about the Japanese is their respect for their elders, and their immense respect for their elders.

Now, I'm all for showing respect to senior citizens and those who have achieved a certain status in life. But I don't think I'm going to refer to Ichiro as Sir!! Seems the blogger, along with some friends, was in Japan a got a cab ride, with the gist of the story being:
the subject in the cab had turned to ICHIRO. The driver flicked his hand to the right and mentioned that ICHIRO had gone to high school over there, at Nagoya High School for Electronics. Just think, if baseball hadn’t worked out, ICHIRO could have put together your car stereo or Tamagotchi pet.
The cab driver then proudly announced that he was Ichiro’s superior, an alumnus of the same baseball club at Nagoya Electric. I interpreted that for the other guys in the cab, and they wanted to know exactly what that meant. So did I.
And me too, obviously. So what did this mean:
The cab driver explained that, even though over twenty school years separated them, if they ever met and he mentioned the school that Ichiro would have to refer to him as “sir,” or otherwise honor the cabbie’s superiority.
However, common sense prevailed:
I guessed that if Ichiro were sitting in the taxi with us that he might turn to
us and say, “This guy is *$&# nuts,” in English and bow and say “sir” in
Japanese. And then proceed to listen to the driver tell us his batting average
and running time to first base as we did.

Hey, I'm all for the respect issue. But I think back to when I went to school, and some of those older than me, particularly some of my relatives.I just don't see me showing that kind of respect just because they were born a certain number of years before me, and happened to go to the same school.

I know different places have different rules, but somehow I don't see Manny doing this. Or Sir Sidney. Or A.J. Pierzynski.

Another homerun derby

This is something I kind of have an issue with also. Man, what is with me. I used to always have a definite opinion on everything, and now I waver all the time.

There was a home run contest for a bunch of high school prospects, held at Tropicana Field.

Some of the issues I have with it:

1. Its a homerun derby. Haven't we learned from the All-Sham game what a mistake that is.

2. They invited the 60 best power prospects from the US, plus 10 international players. There is so much more to the game than just hitting homeruns. Just like there is more to basketball than a slam dunk.

Things I like about it:

1. They invited 10 international players. Even though they didn't do well, its great to see them getting a chance.

2. Wooden bats were used through the first 10 outs, when they switched to aluminum. Hey, its a start.

3. Babe Ruth's granddaughter handed out the trophies. Hey, anything that keeps the Babe name rolling is a good thing.

4. One of the players, Bryce Harper of Las Vegas High School, hit one measured at 502'. Impressive.

There was also a Dante Bichette sighting, of the junior kind. Wonder if dad was there to watch?

So, its baseball. And they are doing a good thing by letting international players compete. But why a Home Run derby? Do those things really serve any purpose except to screw up a guys swing? And if you're a high school hot shot prospect, why would you participate? This isn't a good thing, in my opinion.

A lack of respect

Not only do Royals fans have to suffer at home, now we have received one of the great insults of all time.

Yes, our hero, our Hall-of-Famer not only has his card selling for a quarter, but he has been incorrectly identified as John Henry Johnson, a guy who posted a 48 ERA+ in '87.

You know,there just doesn't seem to be much to say to this at all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The gift for the guy who has everything

Too late for Christmas, and my birthday is too far away. But the perfect baseball gift is now out and available. For only $749.

It's the must gift for any true stathead, and it's great from the expensive seats.

One of the great features:

the Sport 2 is the only sport radar that features a stopwatch function to measure base-running times concurrent with radar operation.

The rest of the features:

• 2 - Year Warranty.

• Simple, baseball-specific operation.

• 2 Active Speed Windows - Both Peak Speed and Plate Speed.

• 3 - Hour Battery Life - Uses common AA NiMh batteries with low charge indication.

• 10-millisecond speed acquisition time.

• Stopwatch function - Simultaneously measures pitches and times runners - optional stopwatch cable required.

• Multiple units of measure - MPH and KM/H.

• Recall Previous - Recalls previous 5 readings.

PERFORMANCE 300 feet for baseballs

DIMENSIONS Height: 8 inches Width: 3 inches Length: 6 5/8 inches Weight: 1.70 pounds(including batteries)

Guys, remind your wives. There's still plenty of time to pick this up for Valentine's Day. All it will cost you is something with diamonds on it.

Planting another flag

Mister Baseball has posted the recap of the Moldavan baseball season. Like most people, I didn't realize that they played baseball in Moldova, but I'm not making fun of the fact. I think it's great that more and more countries are playing. Which is making the decisions by the IOC even more baffling every day I look at this.

It was a short season, only 10 games. But the first season of the National League was only 70 games. Starting slow, building interest, and then increasing the schedule is a good way to go.

They are trying, and are presenting post-season awards. The one I like the most was the MOST VALUED PLAYER (MVP). There is a subtle difference in "Valued" and "Valuable", but it is a difference. Maybe MLB needs to look at the wording of the awards.

The thing I like the best is the awarding of Gold Gloves:

Gold Glove Winners:
Catcher: Bliadze Timur (KVINT-SDISOR)
First Base: Andreev Andrei (ABATOR)
Second Base: Barisev Iurii (KVINT)
Third Base: Balan Gheorghe (BIVOL)
Shortstop: Covalenco Oleg (KVINT)
Outfield: Marinciuc Alexandr (KVINT)
Balan Anatolii (BIVOL)
Leonov Alexei (BIVOL)

This tells me the people shotgunning this thing are aware how important defense is. It's not just about the scoring.

Here is an additional link for those who are interested.

An interesting side note is that the Pirates finished dead last.

Where snow delays are fun

Iceland has now joined the ranks of baseball-playing nations. It's really only a club team, and not a league. But it is a start.

Take that, Olympic committee.

Can you imagine this, however. Play a double header, then relax to an outdoor sauna. Because I'm in.

The only issue I have is that its an indoor facility. NO DOMES.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I love me a little controversy

I posted here about the world rankings for baseball. The original post came from Baseball de World.

I guess the official rankings are actually coming from the International Baseball Federation, and it seems as though a little controversy has arisen, as the rankings have been changed. Originally, South Korea was second and the US was third. Now the US has been moved to second and the South Koreans are third.

The reason, for the change, according to the IBF was that:

the points granted to the famous tournament held in Haarlem, Holland, in 2006 and 2008, were not included in the Tuesday final scoring.
Here is an official breakdown of the points for each country.

Having umpired for years, I know the idea behind any of this is to get it right. So if the points were miscalculated, then it's only fair to redo and rank the countries accordingly. Unfortunately, anytime the US is involved, and particularly when we move up, there is always concern for controversy. The South Koreans, however, are taking it very well, and put the problem down to:
confusion may have been caused by a miscalculation of points

I guess they don't really have anything to complain about, but its nice to see them not turning this into an international incident. Oh, wait....

Anyhow, here are how the points are awarded.

Maybe the BCS could take a look at this and see how it works. The rest of the top 10:

4. Japan 691.00
5. Taiwan 458.50
6. Holland 336.57
7. Canada 262.19
8. México 238.93
9. Panama 197.64
10. Australia 191.43

I think Panama is a surprise in the top 10, and Holland most definitely is. But isn't that a good thing?

A matter of opinion

This is an opinion poll I found asking which is better: Baseball or Cricket.

Granted, its a small sample size, but there are some interesting comments, ideas, perceptions, and prejudices that come out.

The most interesting is the idea that cricketers are skilled, athletic, professional athletes at the top of their game, while baseball players just play some silly game that requires no skill and athleticism.

A couple of comments try really hard to prove how much more difficult cricket is than baseball while admitting that they know nothing about baseball at all. Seems to me they want to study up a little before making assumptions they can't back up, particularly this comment here:

And of course a cricket bowler vs a baseball team is going to win at Baseball... just like a baseball team would lose to a cricket team at cricket. What pointless arguments.
He calls it a pointless argument, but can't give any evidence to support it.

Side note for those who don't know anything about cricket. The bowler (pitcher) gets a running start. Can you imagine any hitter standing in and facing Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson if they could get a running start at the plate?

Anyhow, I've come to the following conclusion:

1) Baseball fans who have never played cricket: - don't really have any issues with cricket as most have never seen it player and could care less. They also don't make a lot of negative comments about cricket or the nationalities of those who play.

2) People who are fans of both sports: - seem to be able to look objectively at each individually and enjoy them for themselves, without being rude or condescending to the other.

3) Cricket fans who have never played baseball: - somewhat arrogant people who take every opportunity to put down baseball, and more so Americans, without being able to back up any point they make. This says a lot more about the people who watch cricket than it does about the game itself.

I've watched cricket for years, and except for the fact that it goes on forever, mainly due to the interminable time between pitches, I don't really have any issues with it. I'm not sure why cricket fans seem to be so anti-baseball.

I don't know what the demographics for the response were, but baseball did come out ahead. As is only right and natural.

And can you imagine any big league hitter getting to use a flat, cricket bat to hit? Forget about steroids, what would that do to the record book?

Sometimes blood isn't thick enough

Jason Grilli, a relief pitcher with the Colorado Rockies, is perparing to leave for Italy, where he wil compete for the Italian national team in the World Baseball Classic.

Personally, I have some issues with this. I'm not saying I'm completely right on the subject, but I have a hardtime accepting ballplayers going back to the country of their ancestors birth, being given citizenship, and be allowed to play in international commpettions.


who says he is "75 percent Italian" and traces his roots to Florence and Naples,

and was:

was honored with a parade in his hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., and had several
family members arrange trips to Italy to see him prepare for the Games in
You know what that means, Jason. You're an American of Italian heritage, not an Italian.

I was born in England, but wouldn't ever want to play for the English team. My grandmother was born in Holland, but I don't think that gives me the right to play for the Dutch team. I'm 1/8th Cherokee, but wouldn't ask to play for them, since I was raised as a a semi-typical white boy.

But it just isn't me. There is an overwhelming fallacy that a lot of the national teams need to bring in Major Leaguers, to make them competitive or give the team some sort of legitimacy. I disagree entirely. The fact that any of these teams can qualify for, and compete in, the Olympics, the World Cup, or the World Baseball Classic, means they are already legitimate.

And it would seem to me, if I was on one of those team, I wouldn't be happy about a couple of hired guns brought in to play in the biggest stage in the world, when they haven't paid their dues. And in fact, in 1996, when Grilli and another "American" pitcher were brought in for the Olypmics, the team wasn't quite as receptive:

when they arrived, other players on an Italian team that qualified for the Olympics without the two made it clear they didn't want them on the club, going as far as to threaten a boycott. The pitchers would leave.
Kudos to the Italian team for standing up for what is only right and fair. I mean we are all enraged about what happened in Slapshot. (I'm not going to explain, you should know).

Just so everyone knows, I'm not wanting to pick on Jason Grilli. He just happened to be the one in the article I found. As a baseball fan, if the Italian team is okay with it, or any other team, that's their business. As an American, I'm kind of dismayed that so many athletes do this. I don't agree with it, and I don't like it, and I don't have to. Just my opinion, no one is required to agree with me.

However, I did live in Italy for 4 years, as a kid, and I hope they do well. I hope Jason Grilli and all the other ballplayers, regardless of nationality, do well and make their country(ies) proud.

Just make sure you don't get confused and you stand up for the correct national aththem.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For those who care

From the World Baseball Classic website, here are the provisional rosters for all teams. These are the 45-man rosters, that will be paired down to 25-man rosters by the start of the tournament.

You can do your shopping by country, or major league team. It's a good thing that half these guys are minor leaguers, and that 44% of these guys won't make the final roster. Otherwise, there wouldn't really be much call for spring training this year.

You have to wonder what the tourism boards in Arizona and Florida are thinking about this?

The Dutch (yes, we have a Sir Sidney sighting) and the Aussies have some pitching, the Canadians have some hitting and fielding, Japan, based solely on their major leaguers, isn't as strong as it would seem to be, and the Dominicans have Pujols, Rodriguez (traitor, but who wants to watch him choke), Ortiz, Beltre, Pena, a whole who's who of hitters, and suspect pitching.

Puerto Rico has the catching, but isn't as strong as they think, the USA has a manager who will actually try to win instead of stroking egos, and the Venezuelans are a hell of a lot stronger than anyone might expect. Who knew the Hairston brothers were Mexican, by the way?

So, based purely on the provisional rosters, the teams advancing into round 2 will be:

Japan & South Korea

Cuba & Australia
(have to have an upset here. You might think Mexico would be a logical choice, but under orders from Trey Hillman, Joakim Soria will only get to pitch 2 innings total in the classic, assuming Mexico ever has a lead and a save opportunity, but not on back to back days)

USA & Canada
(I really want Italy to make it to the second round, thus giving the Italian team a chance to actually step foot in the country they are playing for)

Dominican Republic
The Netherlands

My final (and I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I want) 4 will be:



The Netherlands as a surprise upset special over the Dominicans, who will beat their good hitting with good pitching.

I also envision Sir Sidney propelling the Dutch into the second round by tossing a complete game shutout, striking out Alex Rodriguez with 2 outs in the ninth and the tying run on 3rd, dominating the Classic, signing a huge contract with Boston, winning the Cy Young, and Jason, from It IS About The Money, Stupid, denouncing baseball as inherently evil, shaving his head, and going to live in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

It's baseball, it could happen.

The physics of baseball

I've always thought baseball was the sport of the common man more than any other. Football has become so high tech, with all the game film, headphones, helmet microphones, etc, that it seems like the James Bond of sports. Basketball is fast paced and high flying, at a speed that most people can't identify with. Hockey is associated with a more educated class of people (at least according to the studies I've seen) and golf and tennis are golf and tennis.

But baseball is baseball, and seems very simplistic. Its the game of throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. It's sitting in the bleachers on a summer's day, drinking beer and sunning yourself. The good life.

Here, Tom Spears offers a lesson on the physics of baseball, and what happens on an infield fly. Its some good stuff, and short and simple. But I don't know many baseball players who really need this explained quite this scientifically. Ask anyone who's ever played the infield, and they'll tell you they don't know anything about the Mangnus Effect. They already know the ball has backspin on it, and it's difficult to judge an infield fly. Which is why so many of them fall in.

This is great for scientists and academics and sabermaticians. Because they feel the need to take the simple things from the game and explain it in a manner that most people just don't care about.

Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball.

Still, I'm always up for a good lesson on anything baseball.

The way I see things

I was reading through some blogs this morning, as I am want to do. In one of them, the blogger wrote a pretty good article about a typical baseball issue. One of the commentators raised the issue that it was nice that the blogger actually wrote a complete piece, instead of just linking to someone else's article, as many of us do. It came across as a little rude and holier than thou, but don't we all at times.

I don't have any reason to think this particular comment was about me, or anyone else that I know who blogs. But many of us do that, and I will continue to do so. I write a few original pieces, but that's not what this blog is all about. I'm trying to show how baseball is perceived, and played, around the world. So my thing is to find articles that others have done, post it here, write my little snarky comments on it, and let history do with it what it may.

That's my shtick, I hope no one minds. As I've said, the 1,000,001st baseball blog just won't get taken seriously, I'm not a reporter or a sportswriter, and I don't think a whole lot of people are going here to come read my ramblings about the Royals. I'm not even sure I would care about that. I'm not getting paid to do this, so I'm the sole editor of the content.

So, I will continue on with my thing.

The video is about kids playing baseball in the townships of South Africa. I've been to South Africa several times, but never to the townships. I'm not sure if I would really want to go there. They are dangerous places.

That's why I'm glad to see the kids playing baseball. The things you heard in the video are true. They do have serious problems with drugs, and rape is a huge issue in the townships. They're poor, they don't have jobs, and South Africa is the most violent nation in the world. There isn't a lot for these kids.

So, the African nations are the new Caribbean countries. Poor kids who have nothing, and might be able to find a way out. The major league scouts are all over South Africa, and several players have signed minor league contracts. There's a gold mine (no pun intended) of talent there.

Anytime kids are playing baseball its a great thing. It's the greatest game in the world. Anytime a kid can use baseball to stay out of trouble and make a better life for themselves is something that should be celebrated. And the word should be spread.

Even if I'm not the first.

Top 15 greatest sports moments of all time

At least this is one list:

15. Dwight Clark The Catch

I remember this. I hate the Cowboys. This was a great day.

14 Diego Maradona Diego Maradona’s goals for Argentina against England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup

Maradona was just in the UK a few weeks ago, coaching the Argentinian team against Scotland. Bin Laden would be better received over here. But I do like to bring this up from time to time, when the Brits get on my ass about American sports. I might get us pulled out of NATO yet.

13 Rocky Marciano Rocky Marciano Retires As Heavyweight Champ Undefeated at 49-0

I used to be a big boxing fan, about 25 years ago. When it meant something. This is one of the great, under-rated sports achievements of all time.

12 Kerri Strug Kerri Strug’s one footed Vault

This wasn't quite the great victory it's been made out to be, as the US had already clinched the gold, and this vault didn't matter. But spirit like this is what made our country. And what a great moment on our soil. The second greatest in the history of American international competition.

11 Jackie Robinson Jackie Robinson Signs a Major League Contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers

I'm not any kind of activist, and I do get tired of all the first-this, first-that of race, creed, color, religion, etc. Continually naming our differences doesn't do anything to bring us together. But somehow, shouldn't this be a top-5 event, at the least. This changed the face of America in a way that very few events ever have.

10 Bob Beamon Bob Beamon long jumps 29′ 2 1/2 inches to shatter the world record by more than two feet

Somehow, I just can't get excited about this one, and don't see how this is top-10 event. If not for the clenched fist controversy, the Mexico City Olympics might go down as the most forgotten games in history. I mean, seriously, name one other thing you can remember about the '68 Olympics.

9 Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech

I think this one transcends sports, and is one of the great moments of mankind.

8 Mark McGwire Mark McGwire over Sammy Sosa, 70-66, for the new home-run crown

I'm about to commit a sacrilegious offense here, but this doesn't belong on this list. Its a great moment, but it's really not that great. And not to be listed above Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig.

7 Bobby Thompson Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world

Not sure about this one here. A little New York bias, perhaps. This is 7, but Mazeroski is nowhere on the list?

6 Wilt Chamberlain Wilt Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Single Game

I'll even forgive Wilt for going to KU and say this is of the greatest individual achievements in the history of sports. And if Kobe Bryant ever does it, it won't be the same.

Have you head the story about the immigrant from Eastern Europe, who lived in New Jersey. He attended one major-league baseball game in his life, and one NBA game.

Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the '56 series, and Wilt scored 100 points. Good timing, dude.

5 Cal-Stanford Cal-Stanford Play

Somewhere there is a Zapruder-like film showing an official picking up a flag. But for his safety, lets hope we never find out.

4 Jesse Owens Jesse Owens Debunks Aryan Myth

Was this really that big of a deal? Did anyone really even care back then? I'm not knocking Jesse. Hey, 4 golds in one Olympics. Great moment. But that's not what this is about? Hell, we depicted blacks as inferior. What did we care what Hitler thought?

3 Michael Phelps Michael Phelps wins 8 Gold Medals at the Olympics

I remember the '72 Olympics, because I had been to Munich as a kid. The only three things I remember about this (at the age of 7) was the hostage situation, the basketball game, and Mark Spitz. I'll take Spitz. Not to take anything away from Phelps, but it all seemed too manufactured.

2 Michael Jordan Michael Jordan’s Final Shot

This would deserve to be 2 if he hadn't come back. But he did. Still a great moment. But not 2. Popular doesn't mean great.

1 US Hockey Team 1980 USA Hockey Team Defeats Soviet

Rag tag bunch of mostly teen aged amateurs, barely together a few months and playing a sport invented and perfected elsewhere, take on the most polished, professional and unbeatable team in the history of international hockey, and win it. In exhibitions that year, Soviet club teams had gone 5–3–1 against National Hockey League teams, and a year earlier the Soviet national team had defeated the NHL All-Stars 6–0 to win the Challenge Cup. The Soviet and American teams were natural rivals due to the decades-old Cold War. In the final seconds of the game the crowd began to count down the seconds left. Sportscaster Al Michaels, who was calling the game on ABC along with former Montreal Canadians goalie Ken Dryden, picked up on the countdown in his broadcast, and delivered his famous call “…Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk…five seconds left in the game…Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” US won the game 4-3. This victory was voted the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century by Sports Illustrated.

Nothing to add on this one.

This is not my list, just one I found on-line, and I though I would comment on it. There are other great moments. What's great is every person would have a different list. It's not a bad list. It has some truly great moments, some popular choices and a few baffling ones. But 4 baseball picks out of 15. I guess that's okay.

Personally, I would have picked Ryan's 7th no-no, Barry Sanders resetting the record books, Doug Fluties Hail Mary, Edwin Moses and Michael Johonson, 'Nova over the Hoya's, and some of the ones I've listed above.

This would never make any one's list for obvious reasons, it its my top 10 of all time personal favorites. See the picture at the top. What a summer!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doing the important research

For some reason, the Centre for Cancer Education, at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, in the U.K. give us thier definition of baseball.

In other news, people in the States care what Europeans think about our presidential elections, and Mexicans and Canadians are Americans since they live on the North American continent.

Because it's important that a cancer center in Europe has a definition of baseball on its website.

A different point of view

This site is for the The London Cigarette Card Co. Ltd., which does sell baseball cards.

Somehow, I don't think they have anything as valuable as this.

Could you imagine Marlboro selling baseball cards in this day and age. You might as well have your local liquor store sponsor your kids Little League team.

It just shows how different we are at times. You can't smoke in a single building in this country, but you cigarette companies can sell trading cards. Which are mostly bought by kids.

It seems like a contradiction.

Now this is funny

Now, this was funny.

So, anyone reading, lets see how you do.

You can pick Europe, Asia, South America, the States. Hell, you can pick Antartica for all I care.

I'm working on a list right now. Lets see how you all do.


This is off the top of my head and what I can think of right now:

United States:

Hershey Chocalates


London Blitz
Dresden Firebombers
Paris White Flags
Den Hauge Justices
Berlin Brown Shirts
Stockholm Syndromes
Rome Gladiators
Hamburg Lers
Bonn Fire
Augsburg Bankers
Seville Barbers
Limerick Poets


Durban Turbans
Pretoria Marchers

Friday, January 16, 2009

Okay, from Jason @ It IS About The Money, Stupid, this is the newest, latest poll. This is one that actually makes sense.

Go take a look and get your votes in, because you get to be Commish for a day!.

And remember, anti-DH votes are always welcome.

A baseball quiz

This is an interesting baseball quiz.

You need to be able to name all 30 teams in 3 minutes or less.

I got 29 in 1 minute and 35 seconds. Then spent the next 1 minute and 25 seconds not being able to remember the Marlins.

Thanks to Baseball Reflections for the link.

Will the Japanese have to drive down the Pearl Harbor highway

The Chicago White Sox are being replaced. In Tuscon, that is. And the Japanese are coming.

So what's happening:
The Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority has spent months in discussions with Baseline Group, a Massachusetts-based firm that focuses on player evaluation and development. The firm also helps American teams establish relationships with Japanese and Korean teams.
The idea behind this:

Baseline CEO Adam White sent a proposal to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to try to create a year-round, international training facility at TEP. Under the proposal, a Japanese team would play 13 to 15 Cactus League games. Baseline would also establish an extended spring training and instructional league team to compete against squads run by the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, Tucson's two spring training clubs.
How does Bud feel about this:

Dan Schneider, a former big-leaguer and member of the authority, said the group met with Major League Baseball representatives in December during the Las Vegas Winter Meetings.

He said the league was "very, very open" to a Japanese team in the Cactus League, but "there is still a lot of negotiations and agreements to be made before there is a commitment to that concept."
One other idea:

Baseline also wants to create and own a minor-league team composed of a Japanese player base to compete in America.
I don't see the Japanese liking that very much. They're already losing too many players to the majors, and having some their minor leaguers play against American competition regularly would only seem to make the problem worse.

There is a lot more information in the article, mostly financial and future planning issues. I lived near Tuscon for 2 years, and spent quite a bit of time there. I even watched some minor league baseball there. Its a good town, and it would be a good place for the Japanese play. This is probably a good idea, but it seems a little strange that a private corporation is doing this, and not MLB. But you can bet Bud will take advantage of it, if the situation comes up.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Democracy is a good thing

There are at least 51 people so far who think Bud will actually listen to them. Now, I'm all for trying, but what is the point of this. Even if 1,000,000 people signed this, its still not going to happen.

Impose a Salary Cap in Major League Baseball

Hey, good luck.

Going back to the basics

There really isn't a lot to say about this video. Its a group of guys who are playing village ball, using 1860's rules, old-style uniforms, and no gloves.

And no DH, no artificial turf, no wild card, no interleague games, no organ music, no wave, no mascots ... I could go on forever. But I won't.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Doing the right thing

There is a girl who wants to play baseball, and I have mixed feeling about this issue. One is the fact that her parents filed a lawsuit to allow her to try out. Can't we stop the insanity?

In a way, I'm all for this. I have 4 nieces who are all great athletes. One of them was a swimmer and kind of gave it up, but she was good. The other three play (or played) basketball, softball, volleyball, participated in track, pretty much anything they could.

Of those three, the middle one plays youth football. She's the only girl in the league, and is the best player. Middle linebacker, because she likes to hit, and running back. They don't really keep records at that level, which is probably good, but she would have most of them. The youngest one throws a baseball harder and more accurately than any boy her age, or even a few years older. If she wanted to play baseball, she would be the best pitcher in the league. I hope my daughter plays sports, as she will be tall and athletic like her cousins. The one who plays football wants to play in high school, but her size might limit her.

But this is where I have the dilemma. I'm all for her playing football, if she wants. Because my hometown doesn't have a football team for girls. They play volleyball in the fall. So, if she wants to play, let her. As far as the younger one, she doesn't want to play baseball because she plays softball with her friends. To her, its more of a social thing than being competitive. Until they start to lose, then slowly back away from the 10-year old.

But isn't this what Title 9 is all about. The girls being given an equal opportunity to play sports as well. I'm all for that, but I'm concerned about a couple of issues here when boys team are forced to let girls play for them, when there is an alternative.

1. Most high school freshman are 14 or 15 years old. What about the boy who doesn't make the team because this girl does? What about his rights? What are his options? Does he get to then try out for the girls softball team?

2. Are the courts really prepared to rule on this, and if so, what will it be?

That the sports are equal and there is no gender bias allowed. If that's the case, then don't they have to let the boys play on the softball team. I can see that being a big issue.

Or that boys (or men/women for college) sports are of a higher level than the girls, and in essence, its a move up to go from the girls team to the boys team, and boys can't go down? I can see that going over well with the women's groups. I'm sure Oprah will be all over it.

3. How about a freshman boy who doesn't want to play football, but does want to play volleyball? Will he be allowed? How would that lawsuit go?

I hate to use the phrase "separate but equal" because of the image it conjours up of Jim Crow, but is it necessarily a bad thing when its gender based sports that are readily available for either sex. I'm not trying to equate softball and baseball. I've played both and they are unique variations of the same basic game. And the lawsuit says:

that baseball and softball aren’t really the same sport, so girls should be able to try out for baseball.

The suit seeks to have the IHSAA rule thrown out based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and Title IX, the federal law that mandates equal educational opportunities for boys and girls.

I'm not the smartest guy in the world, I just think I am. I'm pretty sure the idea behind Title 9 was to give girls the opportunity to play also. My high school didn't have girls sports until 1976, and only then because of Title 9. And while there have been court cases in the past that ruled that girls could play a boys sport if there wasn't a girls team available in that same sport (which is okay with me), I don't think the intent was to start mixing the sports.

And what happens to any boy who sues to be able to play on the girls team? Is that what we really want out of high school athletics?

As of today, this really probably isn't an issue, because there really aren't that many instances of girls wanting to play on the boys teams in baseball and basketball (or the others both genders play), and I'm actually okay with her getting a chance. Maybe she does have the "right" to play. But what about the rights of the kid she knocks off the team? Doesn't he have some rights also?

The Cuban Cy Young

There is a new all-time leader in career wins in the Cuban baseball league. At 240 wins, it isn't exactly quite in the same vein as Cy Young and his 511, or even Walter Johnson with his 417

At least on the surface, but its a lot more impressive than people might think. I don't have the exact information, but when you consider that they only play about 80 some games a year (help on that?) and there is a mandatory 90-pitch limit in the Cuban league.

Regardless of the league, where it's played, the limits put on the game, he's still the top winning pitcher in the history of that league. And he's the top winning Cuban pitcher of all time, topping Luis Tiant by 11.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where RBI's don't matter for the Most Valuable Player

Too many people think the league leader in RBI's is automatically the Most Valuable Player. Now, while I like the RBI, I don't agree that leading the league is a good indicator of who is the most valuable. There are way too many different stats, and differrent things a player can do.
So how do you get past this bias. Easy, just do what they did in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam Baseball League, as voted on by the league coaches.
They voted two utility players as co-MVPS. And picked a 3rd utility player to the All Island first team.

So I've been thinking about this, and maybe Dayton Moore is really a genius. Maybe he's seen something in future MVP candidate Willie Bloomquist that the rest of us have missed.

Language lessons

This is from the New York times, and is an interesting look at the Chinese Olympic team and how they are progressing in their pursuit of baseball.

As someone who has lived in several different countries, I definitely understand the language issue, and trying to explain anything to anyone.
Something interesting I didn't know about:

Chinese officials asked for help with their baseball team five years ago, and
since then, Major League Baseball has paid the salaries of Lefebvre and the
other American coaches who round out his staff. The league has also subsidized
the team’s training trips to the United States since 2003, when Lefebvre became
manager of this group.
I guess with over 1 billion people in the need of baseball merchandise, Bud can afford to be a little generous.
Some problems with the program:

Tom Lawless, one of China’s coaches, said his team had only six players who
could play in the minor leagues. Major league scouts rated the players mostly
2’s on a scale of 1-8. The former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, another coach, said the players’ talent rated at about a high school or a college level. “They are knowledgeable about the game, but have no attention to detail,” he said.

And of course, there are problems with the Chinese officials also:

He and Shen, a serious woman who often wears mirrored sunglasses and a black
sweat suit, butted heads. Shen, a former military officer, preferred long practices. Lefebvre wanted more efficient ones.

They disagreed over lineups. Shen once chose seven relievers and only one starting pitcher for the roster, Lefebvre said.

Nothing too exciting about it, but a decent, if brief, look at how hard it can be at times to get the game going.

World baseball rankings

Thanks to Baseball de World, we have the complete world rankings in baseball.

They used the following criteria to determine the rankings:

The winning team in the World Cup, Olympics and World Baseball Classic receives 100 points, second gets 90, third 80 and so on. In the World University Games and the Intercontinental Cup, the points drop in half–winner gets 50, second 45, etc. There is also a category for the latest qualifying tournament - for most confederations it is the Olympic qualifying tournament. For teams in the Americas, the rankings will be updated following the Baseball Cup of the Americas.
Because of their showing in the big three, Japan leads the way with 245.5 points. The US is second with 239.9, followed closely by Cuba with 234.7. I don't think the top 3 are any big surprise to anyone.

Rounding out the top 10 are:

South Korea (231.4)
Taiwan (157.64).
The Netherlands (150.47)

Hey, a European team at #6. And since my grandmother is Dutch, or more actually Friesan, then I'll really happy its the Dutch. But I'm surprised they finished ahead of the Canadians. I would have never guessed that.

Canada (131.6)
Mexico (96.5)
Australia (77.31)
China (51.65)

Missing from the top 10 are the Dominicans and the Venezuelans. The rest of the list:

11. Spain-51.5
12. Venezuela-47.2
13. Germany-47
14. Great Britain-45
15. Italy-40.3
16. Dominican Republic-38.1
17. South Africa-35.82
18. Puerto Rico-32.8
19. Czech Republic-32
20. Panama-31.98
21. France-30
22. Sweden-25,
24. Nicaragua-20,
26. Philippines-17.5
27. Croatia-15,
29. Brazil-14
30. Columbia-12
31. Ecuador-11
32. Aruba-10,
35. Russia-9,
37. Austria-8,
39. Guatemala-7
41. Ireland-6
42. Belgium-5
46. Slovakia-4
Hong Kong-4
52. San Marino-3

The thing that's great about this is there are 56 countries who accumulated points.

Maybe the Hall of Fame needs to look at this system instead

In honor of the Hall of Fame voting announced today, and the Gold Glove voting, and the Cy Young arguments, I thought I would provide a look at an alternative way to give out honors and awards.

It looks as though the Italian Baseball League has found a solution to it's post-season awards that hasn't quite been embraced in the United States yet.

From the website, "Mr Baseball", comes this announcement: has asked the last two weeks and now are the results in. More than a record 500 readers participated in the online voting of the Italian Baseball Website and we now can present you with the ‘ Awards’. For the ninth year in a row they determine the All-star team of the Italian Baseball League and honor winners in 18 different categories.

Some of the interesting votes:

Overall pitcher
Best foreign pitcher
Best Italian pitcher
Best Italian relief pitcher

I want to see them try that one here. Maybe in 2001, Ichiro was the Foreign MVP, and Bret Boone was the American MVP. Nah, I don't really see that happening in the States.

Then there is Martin Vasquez, who was voted the best Left Fielder and Utility Player. This gives hope to my dream that one day a knuckleballer will win the Cy Young as a starter with 35 starts and the Fireman of the Year award with another 40 relief appearances and 30 saves. It could happen.

And the most interesting vote of all (to me) was for Alessandro Cappuccini, who was voted best umpire. As someone who has been umpiring for over 30 years, its nice to see the guys in blue get some recognition. But as someone who has umpired for over 30 years, you really don't want to be noticed one way or another. But kudos to him.

Now, to be honest, I'm not really sure if letting the fans vote is the way to go. But could we actually do any worse. The only drawback I can see is that it would turn into a popularity contest, but isn't that what the writers have been doing for about 60 years. (re: Ted Williams and a Triple Crown season with no MVP).

This is a good thing for a European league, to get the fans interested and take an active part in what is happening. Maybe baseball should go to this system and let the fans vote. Because anything that could cause Jay Marriotti's head to explode is always a good thing. After all, it is our game. Isn't it?

Being the better person ... maybe?

By now, most people have seen this story about the lady who almost sold the 1869 baseball card for $10. But what I'm curious about is what my own reaction and that of others would be?

I've been to yard sales, and garage sales and flea markets and looked for baseball cards and other memorabilia. I know enough about the stuff that I would have probably recognized what the card was. So the question I've been asking myself is:

What would I have done?

And I'm not really sure. It seems to me there are only really 3 courses of action that could have been taken.

1. Tell the lady what she had and let her keep it so she can sell it herself.

2. Buy the card, sell it, then give the lady a portion of the proceeds as a nice gesture.

3. Buy the card, sell it and keep all the money for yourself.

They each present interesting dilemmas, and there isn't really a clear cut answer.

In #1, that's perfectly acceptable to me, if someone does it. It's a nice thing to do, and of course, we all want to think we are the kind of person who does that.

In #2, that's a nice thing also, but unfortunately, with the way things are today, I can see some kind of lawsuit being filed for the full amount, because that's what people do these days, and then both sides lose.

In #3, I don't have any issue with this at all. If you're going to sell something, isn't it up to the seller to be aware of the value of what the item is? And isn't this what the flea market/garage sale mentality is about? Finding a bargain, or something valuable that other people want to get rid of? The old saying is, "let the buyer beware". By proxy, doesn't that count for the seller also.

So, as much as I would like to think I'm the better person, and would do the right thing, I'm not sure if there is any one "right thing" to do here. Being the person I am, especially one who is in dire financial straits, I'm probably going to buy the card and sell it, then keep all the money for myself.

Unless I knew the people and they were friends.

Or I didn't have the $10, which is always a likely proposition, and then I would tell them because it wouldn't matter to me anyhow.

But I think I would go sell some blood and get the $10, then cash in on the big bucks. That's me. I'll be most people would do the same thing, if they were to say it out loud.

An old look at an old topic

There have been many articles and posts and conversations about the differences cricket and baseball, and which is best. There are many in the UK who despise baseball, and want it banished from the earth, because it offends their British sensibilities. Mostly that anything American can be popular and good.

This article from the New York Times is about the formation of baseball leagues in England, and how popular it is becoming. It even states that baseball

makes cricket seem dull
Pretty radical.

One of the selling points about baseball over cricket was that it could be played in 2 hours and not drag out over 3 days, and still end in a draw.

The most interesting thing about the article.

Check out the date!

Learning something new every day

I didn't realize this, but there has been a Baseball World Cup since 1938. I'm hoping, that with the advent of the World Baseball Classic, that it won't go by the wayside. Kind of like everyone forgets that they played an NFL championship for 40 years before the Super Bowl started.

Anyhow, it was played yearly through World War II and up until 1953, in the western hemisphere mostly. There was then an 8 year gap, when it started again, being played every 4 years, for exactly 8 years. It was then played every year until 1974, when it was then played every other year, until... never mind, just look at the sight.

It was dominated by the Caribbean countries, mostly Cuba, as they were the ones who played the most outside of the US, which did pretty well also. Starting in 1976, the Asian countries got in and have done fairly well also. The European teams, will hosting several cups, have not fared so well as of yet. The next cup is scheduled for Europe.

Amateur players were only allowed until 1996, but the cup has now been opened up to professionals.

The Baseball World Cup has been going for 70 years now, but it remains to be seen if Bud runs it out of business. The WBC is a good thing, and sometimes you have to tear down an old building to make way for a new one. But it will still be a sad day when it happens.