Friday, May 29, 2009

Rays to open Baseball Academy in Brazil

An expansion team expanding. Good news. Brazil is becoming a hotbed for baseball, and as the largest country in South America, and the 2nd largest in the hemisphere, this is a good thing. Someone needs to be taking advantage of it:
Could the next Ronaldo or Renzo Gracie or Gustavo Kuerten be wearing a baseball glove instead of a soccer shoe, Jiu-Jitsu gi or tennis shorts?

That might be premature, but the Tampa Bay Rays, by establishing a baseball academy in Brazil, believe they can tap into the sports-mad country of almost 200 million to find a few good players down the line. And help grow the sport in the process.

“Brazil has demonstrated through the years that it has produced tremendous athletes in almost any sport,” said Andres Reiner, the Rays’ special director of development. “There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be good baseball players.”
They're starting with the right frame of mind. It's not just about signing players who are ready now:
“Baseball is a game that can be taught to those with great athleticism,” said Reiner. “The goal is to get kids ages 6-13 playing, to popularize the game. Some will fall in love with it just like in other countries where they play it from early childhood.”
Another reason Brazil works:
With the success of baseball academies in Venezuela and Columbia, the Rays had been considering expanding their programs in places like China, South Africa and Ghana, according to Reiner, who instead suggested Brazil because of its relative proximity to the U.S. and other baseball-playing nations.
It's not just a publicity stunt, either:
They hope to point one day to Leonardo Reginatto, a 19-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil, who signed with the Rays earlier this year and is currently honing his skills at the team’s academy in Venezuela. Reiner has high hopes for Reginatto, though it is too early for him to predict how far he may advance in the organization.
More in-depth information from the original article.

Stop illegall immigration - UPDATE

An update on this from baseball de world. Not a lot of new information, but a little more in-depth.

As someone who is an immigrant myself, and needing a visa to live and work where I am today, I get that all the paperwork should be in order. But this seems a little harsh for the Mannheim Tornado's:
On Thursday evening and Friday morning the club released two press releases about a problem between the city Mannheim and the TORNADOS, which lasts since Spring 2008. Apparently the local attorney office pressed charges against Eddie Aucoin, Billy Hess and a father of a junior player because of immigration violations last year. They say they would play in Germany without a correct visa and would have been involved in illegal player deals. Additionally this spring the city of Mannheim would only allow a work visa to Justin Lazarus (member of South African national team), if he doesn’t play in the Bundesliga.

There is more to it than just a visa issue however:

The main issue between the TORNADOS and the city Mannheim is the status of the Baseball-Bundesliga. The city claims it is a professional league and foreign, non-EU players have to be paid at least €2,550 a month to get a visa to play. However in reality it is an amateur league in which most of the players also have a real job. The salaries are much lower and no club in Germany pays such an amount.

So who's right, and who's wrong. If it really isn't a professional league, all the players should have valid visa's regardless. But it if is, why is the city dictating a minimum wage for the players? Especially in Germany? It's a republic, and federal law applies everywhere. How is one city in the country doing this when the others aren't?:

All other 13 clubs in the Bundesliga doesn’t have these problems.

This is seriously affecting some of the players on the team:
Shortstop Billy Hess, which is in danger to lose his visa, is working as a teacher and as a coach and only plays in his free time for the team. As mentioned in last Friday’s article the government has stopped actions against Hess until the whole matter is solved. South African infielder Justin Lazarus, who is in Germany as a student, is still not allowed to play for the first team or he would lose his student visa. His father is a businessman, who is living in Mannheim. Similar to Hess, the city says Lazarus should also receive at least €2,550 a month to play in the Bundesliga.

This is all I really have on it right now. The main story is over at Mister Baseball.I'll provide updates as they happen, but this is very selective. Sounds like some politician wanting to make a name for himself, or someone in Mannheim just doesn't like baseball.

I don't advocate illegal immigration and fraud on visas, but c'mon guys, it's baseball. Or is someone really concerned that the foreigners are taking jobs away from German ball players?

Wonder what would happen if Cincinnati tried something like this?

Programming note

New article up today on Baseball de World.

The post below is my latest interview with Bob of My World of Baseball.


My World Of Baseball - an international baseball blog

The next blog I'm going to cover is My World of Baseball, written by Bob, a gentleman who prefers to retain his anonymity. Bob's take:

Baseball news from around the world.

Hey, I'm all for it. And what he's all about:

Welcome to my world of baseball. It is hoped that a little bit of your world will fit in this as well. This site will be updated with news on international baseball. Please feel free to contribute any news you can. Also, visit some of the blogs that also attempt to promote international baseball or a more focused feature on baseball in Taiwan, Japan or elsewhere.

Bob doesn't have a lot of extras on his site, as he goes for the simple look. But the content is everything you want it to be in international baseball.

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

There is a movie out there where the main character has his daughter kidnapped. He happens to get on the phone with the kidnapper and says 'I have these very special skills..." My skills do not reach the glamor of the movie, but they have been acquired over a number of years on the job and have allowed me to travel to more than 50 countries. The skills I have are in an area that I have no real particular interest in, but through luck and a fortunate set of circumstances, they have allowed me to make a nice living for myself. A number of people from around the world contact me for my expertise.

One of the reasons that I created this site was I started thinking of all this expertise I've acquired in an area that is of little interest to me, imagine what could be done in an area that I really enjoy and feel passionate about. So my job does allow me to travel quite a bit, from the tribal areas of Pakistan where the army is battling the Taliban now to the jungles of Rwanda, Cameroon and about all of Africa (eight countries in all). Most of the places I've been to are the places that tourists don't think about going, but it has given me a glimpse of the world that others do not see. So I feel fortunate for what I've been allowed to do.

The only areas of the world I have not seen a lot of are South America (Panama is as far south as I've been). My job rarely takes me to Europe, but I have seen that when playing in volleyball tournaments. I also have the unfortunate circumstance of living in D.C. and having to root for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals and prior to that living in San Diego and having to root for the Padres. You can never call me a front runner.

While living in San Diego I did get involved in volleyball and played in a couple of professional tournaments, almost getting the opportunity to face Karch Kiraly and Singing Smith in center court. Since the team who beat us got to play them and lost 15-2, it was probably best that my brother and I never got that experience to play them. When a number of tournaments resulted in $0 in winnings I decided I'd better look into another area for my career, went back to school, got a degree and stumbled into my present profession.

My baseball career ended just prior to my senior year in high school. The high school coach was also the defensive coach for the football team and a strict disciplinarian. He didn't want any of his players with hair over their ears and I had just moved from Pensacola, Florida. By the time baseball season came around my hair found itself quite a bit over the ears and when trying to make a choice between getting a haircut to play baseball or keep the hair to look cool, I chose to look cool. It has been one of the worst decisions I've made in my life.

I lost touch with baseball for a ten year period after that and only rediscovered it when a friend asked me to play on his softball team. One softball team led to two and after playing for six different teams I finally had to start saying no when teams asked me if I was available. But once I started playing in all those softball leagues it obviously led to baseball discussions and the interest was rekindled.

2. What got you interested in international baseball?

Actually, going to Japan and watching baseball there. The first time it was just a cool experience. The second time in Japan I had just been to Korea and the Dominican Republic and watched baseball games there so the shock of international baseball had worn off. So I thought it was pretty cool that these other countries also had a passion for baseball.

3. What is your best memory of international baseball?

Being in the Dominican Republic and watching the Licey Tigers play the Aguilas Eagles. Initially we had bought general admission tickets because that was all that was available, but some of the officials we were working with there became concerned about our safety in general admission. So they convinced us to buy the better tickets from the scalpers in the reserved section, negotiated the price for us and we were there.

In general admission they were throwing ice cubes at each other and there was some hand to hand combat going on. The people we were working with kept on pointing to those areas of the stands and reminding us "See - aren't you glad you are not in general admission" but I think it would have been a pretty cool experience. Also watching the Hanshin Tigers play the Yomiuri Giants in a game and sitting in the Giants cheer section. I was wearing a Hanshin Tigers shirt at the time and noticed this usher in a mad dash towards us.

I started thinking that someone must have done something terribly wrong for him to be in such a hurry. I didn't think much of it after I lost him, until this usher tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could take off my shirt. Fortunately, I had another shirt underneath. I was told that they were doing this for my safety. The Giants hit about five home runs, but the Tigers won the game 10-9. Those two games got me hooked.

4. Which team is your favorite international team, and why?

I'm a Rakuten Golden Eagle guy because I saw them play in their first season. It was only natural that I latched onto them. I've been following the Cuban League a lot and I've latched on to the Holquin Dogs because of Aroldis Chapman. I tried to become attached to Sancti Spiritus just to root for a team, but you can't really just pick a team, the team has to pick you. The Licey Tigers are probably the only front runner that I've grabbed onto because many of the Nationals play for them. Their cheerleaders are top notch too.

5. Who is your favorite international player, and why?

I have to vote for Rick Short. He played for the Bowie Bay Sox so I saw him play a lot there. Then he hooked onto the Nationals AAA team and hit .400 for most of the year before being called up to the major league team in September. The Nationals didn't give him a fair shot, so then I come to Japan and see the Rakuten Eagles for the first time and who should be playing for them but Rick Short. I'm also becoming quite fond of Hisashi Iwakuma with the Rakuten team and Aroldis Chapman for Holquin.

6. What is your favorite international ball park, and why?

The obvious answer is the Hanshin Tigers stadium, Koshien. It has a lot of character and the all dirt infield is something you don't always see. I also liked Seibu's stadium with the umbrella like dome. So you feel like you are outside watching the game but you are actually protected from the elements. Or at least it appears you are. I've never been there when it actually rains, but it looks covered.

7. What is your all-time international team?

Just from some of the performances I've seen I would have Kai Gronauer C (I voted him to my all Olympic qualifier team based on his performance in Taiwan and then the Mets sign him shortly afterward),

Alex Cabrera 1B,
Emilio Bonafacio 2B,
Kaz Matsui SS (one game I saw in Japan he hit three home runs and threw a guy out at home),
3B Yulieski Gourriel
Lf - Vladimir Guerrero,
CF - Norichika Aoki,
RF Ichiro Suzuki
and pitching Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Aroldis Chapman, Shairon Martis and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

My bullpen guy would have to be Marc Kroon from the Padres - didn't make it in the U.S. but is a hit in Japan. It is not the best of the best, but they are guys I would enjoy watching.

8. Why did you start the blog?

I was sitting in the baseball restaurant outside the Giants stadium and thought that a website on international baseball would be pretty cool. When I went back I surfed the net to see if any sites really devoted themselves to international baseball and the only one I saw was the Talking Texan. Everyone else seemed to focus on one particular area of the world. It was also supposed to be a website and not a blog, but the blog became the most fun part of the experience, allowing me to pass on the news in an easier and more user friendly environment than the website.

9. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

Right now it is just a hobby and by writing about international baseball I increase my knowledge of it. Since I have a job that I have to devote myself to for the next two and a half years before I can retire it is something I'm doing to see if I want to get even more involved. If I still enjoy it after two and a half years then I can put a lot more effort into the site. Right now, I feel I'm living in an empty house absent any furniture. I'd kind of like to spruce that house up a bit, but that takes time, and what time I take is devoted to the blog. Most of the writing is done after 12 midnight, and then I wake up at six to begin the work day. If you see misspellings or sentences that don't make sense, it is probably because I was writing with both eyes half closed, nodding off in sleep.

10. What American team do you support?

I haven't fully embraced the Nationals yet, but I am a fan of the Orioles, since I've lived in this area for awhile. While living in San Diego I never became that passionate about the Padres because most of my focus was on volleyball during my time there. I moved to Los Angeles and could never like the Dodgers and couldn't embrace the Angels. So I'm hoping the Nationals do the right things that don't drive me away. Not paying rent to the city for their stadium is not the best start, but they haven't driven me away yet. When the Nationals play the Orioles I root for whoever has the best chance of making the playoffs, and based on their performances these last couple of years, that has meant a lot of silence.

11. What is your first baseball memory?

My first little league experience with my dad as a coach. We played a number of exhibition games and my dad asked me why I had yet to swing at a pitch in any of my at bats. It was either a walk or a strike out. I told him I didn't want to waste any of my swings on exhibition games and when I swing the games had to count. My dad then informed me that if I didn't start swinging and showing the coaches I could hit that I probably wouldn't be in the starting lineup. Whoops. I never thought of that. I also remember when I was ten years old and pitched a perfect game no hitter against the best team in the league. I can remember that after each strikeout I would turn my back toward the opponent dugout because I wanted the manager to see my uniform number so that he remembered who beat him. Even though our team finished in the middle of the pack the coaches voted me MVP. I guess showing him my number may have helped with that. My baseball career went downhill after that.

12. What is your favorite baseball memory?

Watching a game between the Angels and Tigers in Anaheim Stadium. The Tigers were up 12-5 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Angels kept getting hits and the friends that I was with kept joking that the Angels were coming back without any real hope that it would happen. Dick Schofield ended the game with a grand slam home run and the fans went wild. No one would leave the stadium and the authorities had to turn the lights off a couple times and ask the people to leave to move them from their seats.

13. What is your opinion of the World Baseball Classic?

I think it is a shame that the U.S. players don't take it seriously enough. But they know who pays the bills. If they had the same attitude as the Cubans, Japanese and Koreans it would certainly be more interesting. Unfortunately, in the long run major league baseball will be the ruination of any attempt at globalizing baseball, because major league teams will have most of the best players under contract and they don't want them getting hurt while representing their country.

14. What do you say to those who don’t like it?

Get out of your shell. Having played volleyball I got to be pretty good and I competed internationally in a number of tournaments. You think you are pretty good and then you realize there are a lot of players out there that play the same sport as you in different countries and they are pretty good as well. So don't think that while you are in the United States you are watching the best players in the world. There are some pretty good players in Japan, Korea and Cuba. You start to support the globalization of baseball and you will get the opportunity to see them play.

One thing I regret is not seeing Sadaharu Oh play. I finally got to meet him last year and it was awesome to get to see him. He is an icon. My thanks to Wayne Gracyk and Bob Bavasi for that opportunity. What do you say to those who like it? I share your pain. Because in the United States the real avid baseball fans don't support it and they complain about how their best players aren't in spring training because they are in the WBC. They also complain that the WBC is the cause of their poor season, but if they are doing well no one credits the WBC for that.

15. What is your opinion of baseball in the Olympics?

Idealistic if they want to get the best major league players involved. It is quite bold of them to expect baseball to stop their business every four years so their best can compete in the Olympics. It's two billion dollar industries at odds with each other. They are an agency that is making tons of money off the athletes who are performing, yet they don't want to share in any of the risks by promising to pay for the contract of any player that gets injured while participating in the Olympics. They would like their cake and eat it to.

The problem is that many countries trying to develop baseball leagues owe their livelihood to the Olympics because their government pays them a stipend as long as baseball is an Olympic sport. Once baseball is removed from the Olympic schedule those payments stop. So if major league baseball wants to see the sport grow internationally, they must work with the Olympics to get their athletes to participate or replace the Olympics with payments to these countries to keep their baseball leagues in operation.

16. Will baseball being in the Olympics help the international game?

Yes, for the reasons mentioned above. Will baseball being excluded hurt the international game? Yes, because relying on major league baseball alone to support the growth of the globalization of the game is not going to happen as long as they have their own selfish interests to meet. They will promote the international game as long as it meets the best interest of major league baseball.

17. There has been talk of a European professional league. Any thoughts on if it would work/how it would work best?

I think it would help others focus more on European baseball. It is very hard right now to really follow the 12 or so leagues they currently have in France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, etc. Give me one league with the best players available for each country and let them duke it out. At the start Italy and Netherlands would dominate the league, but as the other countries play against the best that should improve their game. I'm trying my best to follow the sport in Europe, but with so many leagues it is just too difficult to embrace in its current format. The problem Europe has is the travel and many of their players have day jobs because baseball by itself is not enough to support them. So someone will have to come up with the money to support the league.

18. Should MLB play more regular season game internationally, and where?

I'd like to see them play in places where a country would support them. Some of those areas where they are just starting to play baseball, or where it is becoming more popular like Brazil, China, Netherlands or Italy. The problem is that most of those countries don't have stadiums that meet the major league specifications. It's kind of like the Queen of England coming to your house to spend the night and how do you fix your accommodations to meet her expectations. You certainly want her to have the best, but at what expense. Major league baseball is like royalty when they go to a country to play and the facilities have to be stellar before major league baseball would agree to play.

19. What is your dream International League? City/country/team? As many divisions/teams as you want.

Take the Konami Cup and just expand it to all the league winners. Then have a 2 out of three elimination and see the teams advance. So the Phillies would represent the United States, the Seibu Lions would represent Japan, the President Lions would represent Taiwan, the Licey Tigers the Dominican Republic, etc. I would actually have that replace the WBC. I think fans follow teams and organizations more than players and you would get more support from the players if they know they were representing their team as well as their country. If you wanted to attract more stars to the game you could have a rule that each team could expand their rosters and add 3-5 players from other teams to reach a 28-30 man roster.

20. What else would you like to say, on any baseball subject?

I think I've said enough. But my offer holds that if anyone is in D.C. and they show me an international passport I will take you to a ballgame, buying you your ticket. They won't be the best seats in the house, but it will be baseball. At some point in time some person with enough capital will try to put together an international baseball magazine. Or perhaps a website. There are enough blogs out there and writers that it could be pretty successful. Baseball America started with a guy in his garage sending out the magazine. I was one of the early subscribers, not the original. Who would have thought that a magazine written about minor leaguers would become so successful. The same will some day happen for international baseball. The big decision would be what language should it be printed in.

Bob, many thanks for doing this. You've got a unique perspective on the international game. Sounds like an interesting life also.

Let us know when the autobiography comes out. That's one I want to read.

2 noteworthy things. Bob's not a Yankee fan, and no DH listed on this all-time team. The word is spreading.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stop illegal immigration

As someone who is an immigrant myself, and needing a visa to live and work where I am today, I get that all the paperwork should be in order. But this seems a little harsh for the Mannheim Tornado's:
On Thursday evening and Friday morning the club released two press releases about a problem between the city Mannheim and the TORNADOS, which lasts since Spring 2008. Apparently the local attorney office pressed charges against Eddie Aucoin, Billy Hess and a father of a junior player because of immigration violations last year. They say they would play in Germany without a correct visa and would have been involved in illegal player deals. Additionally this spring the city of Mannheim would only allow a work visa to Justin Lazarus (member of South African national team), if he doesn’t play in the Bundesliga.
There is more to it than just a visa issue however:
The main issue between the TORNADOS and the city Mannheim is the status of the Baseball-Bundesliga. The city claims it is a professional league and foreign, non-EU players have to be paid at least €2,550 a month to get a visa to play. However in reality it is an amateur league in which most of the players also have a real job. The salaries are much lower and no club in Germany pays such an amount.
So who's right, and who's wrong. If it really isn't a professional league, all the players should have valid visa's regardless. But it if is, why is the city dictating a minimum wage for the players? Especially in Germany? It's a republic, and federal law applies everywhere. How is one city in the country doing this when the others aren't?:
All other 13 clubs in the Bundesliga doesn’t have these problems.
This is seriously affecting some of the players on the team:
Shortstop Billy Hess, which is in danger to lose his visa, is working as a teacher and as a coach and only plays in his free time for the team. As mentioned in last Friday’s article the government has stopped actions against Hess until the whole matter is solved.

South African infielder Justin Lazarus, who is in Germany as a student, is still not allowed to play for the first team or he would lose his student visa. His father is a businessman, who is living in Mannheim. Similar to Hess, the city says Lazarus should also receive at least €2,550 a month to play in the Bundesliga.
This is all I really have on it right now. The main story is over at Mister Baseball.I'll provide updates as they happen, but this is very selective. Sounds like some politician wanting to make a name for himself, or someone in Mannheim just doesn't like baseball.

I don't advocate illegal immigration and fraud on visas, but c'mon guys, it's baseball. Or is someone really concerned that the foreigners are taking jobs away from German ball players? Wonder what would happen if Cincinnati tried something like this?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hall of Fame doesn't address Mexican American experience

From the Los Angeles Times come the story of how the Hall of Fame doesnt' address the Mexican-American experience. Oh, those hyphenateds, how I love them:
One issue the national Baseball Hall of Fame doesn't yet address is the Mexican-American baseball experience, a subject that has received a great deal of academic attention in Southern California in the last few years.
Because when it happens in Los Angeles, it really is important to the rest of the country. And you thought there was an east coast bias for the Red Sox and Yankees?
Although the Southland was a hotbed for Mexican baseball between the 1930s and late 1960s, little information had been collected until Terry Cannon of the Baseball Reliquary, a small nonprofit in Pasadena dedicated to exploring art and culture through baseball, pitched the theme to Cesar Caballero, the librarian at Cal State Los Angeles.
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but the baseball Hall of Fame is actually a 'National' Hall of Fame, which would seem to me that it would cover American baseball, and not Mexican. Doesn't Mexico have a Hall of Fame?

Obviously not, as this has happened:
That led to "Latino Baseball History Project: The Mexican-American Experience," a collection of oral histories, photographs and artifacts later displayed at Cal State L.A., L.A. Trade Tech and more than half a dozen other libraries and museums, winning a prestigious national humanities prize along the way.Portions of those exhibitions will be on display at Cal State San Bernardino's John M. Pfau Library this summer. For more information on "Latino Baseball History Project: The Mexican-American Experience," contact JoAnn Oliver at (909) 537-5118 or at
I'm not against honoring anyone involved with baseball. Its a great sport, and there are lots of people who should be honored. This issue has probably sprung up from the fact that Hall of Fame is currently doing an exhibit honoring Latin American players from the Caribbean. I think that's a good thing, and it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to do something honoring Mexicans (actual Mexicans, you know Fernando and Vinnie), but I don't see how Mexican-'Americans' should get any special treatment. After all, they are Americans, and already have the chance to be honored through election to the Hall.

Honoring Caribbean players is great. Honoring Mexican players is great. And how about the Japanese and South Korean and Taiwanese and Australian and Europeans and Canadians who play the game? Do they all get a special exhibit?

But I don't get why American players need a special exhibit because of an American background. Joe DiMaggio is honored as an American player, not an Italian. Stan Musial is honored as an American player, and not as Polish. What about Ed Porray, who was born on a ship on the Atlantic Ocean, but was raised in the states? Does he get his own exhibit?

I played baseball in the states, and no one is giving me as special exhibit. Why should any American be honored in the Hall just because of where he lives at or what his last name might be?

Live coverage

I written a few times, and many others have written even more, about the fact that we don't get Major League baseball on television here in the UK. Picking it up from a satellite feed isn't broadcasting it here. It's a shame, as there are a lot of baseball fans in the UK who want to watch, but don't get the chance. It was purely a business decision to do so, as they don't think they can afford it during the recession/depression/downturn/economic hard times?

So what irritates me the most about this is, major league baseball can't be shown here because it won't turn a profit, yet the Czech Republic has amateur and national teams on live television:

Between the days 23rd and 27th June a traditional tournament Prague Baseball Week takes place in a stadium of Eagles Prague. The tournament is special in one thing; it is preparation for organizers of the World Cup and, of course, for players as well.

Two Czech National Teams will take part in it: National team under 21 that consists mainly from players preparing for European Championship Juniors in Bonn (3rd to 9th April) and Czech National Baseball Team that consider Prague Baseball Week to be a quality preparation for World Cup (9th to 12th September).

The Czech Television will broadcast two games that we will be able to see on its sport channel. One of them is the game between the Czech Republic and Croatia that should be played on Thursday in 5 pm. Another one is a final game planned to be played on Saturday in 5 pm.

So we don't get major league baseball and the Czech Republic gets a local tournament featuring their national teams. Maybe I will start having to re-think this fringe sport comment of mine.

Something just seems wrong here. I'm sure FIFA and the fact that baseball is perceived to be an American sport over here has nothing to do with any of this.

A league of our own

I've been trying to find as many former major leagues as possible who are playing in Europe or Asia. I don't know how successful I've been, but I'm trying.

In an interview I did for a student at a university here in the UK, who was writing on baseball, I answered that baseball was more than a fringe sport here, and some people disagreed and thought that it was. Might be, might not be. That's a good debate for another day.

But I wanted to do something different than highlight former big leaguers today. BaseballGB has an excellent, comprehensive list of British players playing in different leagues around Europe:

Country: The NetherlandsDivision: HoofdklasseTeams: Eight

Aeden McQueary-Ennis (ADO, 7th place)Aeden has been batting clean-up in recent games as ADO’s designated hitter, and so far this season has accumulated a league-leading .442 batting average to go with a .744 slugging average. His eight doubles puts him joint first in that category. He has also pitched in a few games, amassing 7.17 strike-outs per 9 innings and 1.89 strike-outs per walk, good for 14th and 15th place in those respective categories.

Country: GermanyDivision: Bundesliga SouthTeams: Seven

Chris Falls (Mannheim Tornados, 3rd place)Chris has played 13 games at second base and one at catcher. His .986 fielding average at second base in 74 chances puts him second in that category in the division, behind a fellow GB player (see below). He is tied for fifth in the division in runs scored with 18, and is hitting .310/.414/.382.

Richard Klijn (Buchbinder Legionäre, 1st place)Richard has appeared in two games for the the division-leading team, spending most of his playing time so far with the club’s second-tier team. In six games at shortstop, he has made just one error in 26 chances (for a .962 fielding average), and scored 8 runs (third in the league) and driven in 6 runs (fifth) while batting .278/.389/.480.

Will Lintern (Gauting Indians, 6th place)Will has caught in all 16 of the Indians’ games and is batting .172/.172/.234. He has been catching for GB team-mate Paul Waterman.

Craig Pycock (Mannheim Tornados, 3rd place)Playing on the same team as Chris Falls, Craig has played in seven games at third base, six at catcher, and one at second base, and has made two appearances on the mound (10.13 earned-run average). He is batting .275/.294/.413 and has struck out just four times in 64 plate appearances.

Paul Waterman (Gauting Indians, 6th place)With GB team-mate Will Lintern as catcher, Paul has pitched 44.0 innings (third in the division) and has a 2-5 record. He has an earned-run average of 3.27 (eighth), and has struck out 37 hitters (tied fourth), which gives him ratios of 7.57 per 9 innings (fifth) and 2.47 per walk (also fifth).

Sam Whitehead (Heidenheim Heideköpfe, 3rd place)Sam is batting .275/.294/.373 from 15games, all at second base. He is the only second baseman in the south with at least 8games who has has not made an error (58 chances). From the mound, he has picked up two saves (tied fourth in the division) from three appearances but has an earned-run average of 10.80.

Country: FranceDivision: Championnat de France - EliteTeams: Eight

Jason Holowaty (Montigny Cougars, 7th place)Jason has played in three games at second base and is hitting .125/.250/.300.

Alex Malihoudis (Templiers de Sénart, joint 4th place)Alex has made six appearances at catcher, three at second base, and one at shortstop and is batting .266/.266/.435 .
Ian Young (Rouen Huskies, 2nd place)Ian, who was part of the 2008 Templiers de Sénart squad, has moved to the Huskies, who are the defending champions. He has played all of his games so far in the outfield and is hitting an impressive .380/.380/.480.

Maybe baseball is a fringe sport here. I tend to think it isn't, but can't really back up that argument with any solid evidence. But it looks to me like there are a lot of good ball players in the UK, and the other leagues are wanting them. Maybe it is a problem, if they have to go to another country and play, instead staying at home. There isn't a viable professional league here, as such. It's definitely something to work on. But with players like this, we do have hope.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another programming note

A death in the family has left without the willingness to make an effort.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Programming note

Sorry, no posts today. Work, you know.

Monday is a holiday, so I don't know yet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Direct, via satellite, my little corner of the world

Finally, something good for MLB fans overseas:

Intelsat, Ltd., the world’s leading provider of commercial satellite services, announced that Major League Baseball International (MLBI) signed a contract for international distribution to its rightsholders in Asia, Europe and Latin America, providing local viewing access to games and highlights of the upcoming season.

Standard and high definition feeds of the League’s games will be transmitted into Asia, Europe and Latin America using five Intelsat satellites. Intelsat will pick up the signals via its major video switch interconnects, transport the programming to its teleport facility in Ellenwood, Georgia, and uplink the games to the Intelsat satellites for transmission to the broadcast receive sites in Asia, Europe and Latin America. In addition to regular season games, this contract also calls for transmission of The American League Championship Series, the World Series and The World Baseball Classic in March 2009.
For those of you in the states who can it free on local channels, or through your cable or satellite package, you don't know how hard it is to get games outside the U.S. Yeah, I know there are issues between Direct TV and Dish Network, and the MLB channel, and Fox and all those problems.

The thing to remember, however, is that you do have access to the games. You might not like the particular channel or the package, or the price, but you have the option. I was in the states until last year and went through the same thing.

But it's different outside the states, or at least the America's. Not a lot of people really want to show baseball on television, as they don't feel there is enough advertising revenue to make it profitable. Here in the U.K., there is no baseball on television. There used to be, but Channel 5 dropped it this year for economic reasons. Our choices are limited to ESPN, which doesn't actually show a lot of games, or on the internet. And none of it is free.

MLB doesn't really care about its fan base outside the states, and we all know that, except where it makes them money. So they are talking a good game:

“Major League Baseball enjoys an avid fan base around the world, and we are continually seeking ways to increase the profile of the franchise. As we continue to increase our distribution, we chose Intelsat because it offered us a seamless, one-platform solution for our international broadcasting needs,” said Russell Gabay, Vice President and Executive Producer, International Broadcasting. “The Intelsat satellites provide coverage and access to video neighborhoods that help us expand distribution of our programs.”
They can spin it however they want, as long as there is the chance I can get games.

Just as an aside, here is something I didn't know:

Major League Baseball International (MLBI) focuses on the worldwide growth of baseball and the promotion of Major League Baseball and MLB Club trademarks and copyrights through special events, broadcasting, market development, licensing and sponsorship initiatives. MLBI is committed to showcasing the world’s best baseball talent through international events around the globe. Broadcast in 229 countries and territories, Major League Baseball game telecasts are re-transmitted in 13 different languages. MLBI executes and supports game development programs targeting players and coaches from grassroots to elite levels. With an extensive list of marketing partners worldwide, MLBI continues to grow its position as a leader in the international marketplace. MLBI is supported in its mission through presences in Beijing, New York, London, Sydney and Tokyo.
What MLB cares about is selling the game overseas to make money. But try getting them to spend some of the money on development, equipment, fields, instructional leagues, etc. It's not happening. But they sure do talk pretty.

Anyhow, the main point is, if this all works out, people outside the US might have a better satellite package than people living in the states.

Now that would be funny.

This little piggy went to the ball game

Swine flu is sweeping the world, and it is effecting baseball. Games have been cancelled due to too many players being sick, or the fear of spreading the flu during contests. All of these things make sense. The flu, any flu, is dangerous, and people die from it every year.

It is also causing economic problems, not just in business, but in baseball as well. Or is that an oxymoron? Anyhow, the flu is causing problems with baseball in Japan:
As we all are aware by now, the swine flu epidemic is causing problems all around the world and is even affecting baseball and baseball fans in Japan. Along with the economic climate, the flu epidemic will be another problem teams will need to fight through during the season to maintain their attendance.

The most immediate loss caused by the outbreak will be the sale of jet balloons. One of the traditions in Japanese baseball, especially at Koshien Stadium is the jet balloons that fans shoot during the 7th inning stretch and after a victory. The risk has gotten too big to allow the fans to continue the tradition and three teams have already prohibited the use and sales of jet balloons in the ballpark including the Hanshin Tigers.
Somehow I don't equate this with being as serious as people dying in Mexico and other places. I'll be honest and state that I don't necessarily understand the fan culture in Japan all that much. It's kind of like college football and the NHL, as much as I can tell.

I don't understand the issues with the jet balloons, and how they are helping to spread the flu. But sometimes being cautious is okay:
Cautious fans are protecting themselves by wearing masks at the game and players are also doing the same while traveling on the road. Despite this, NPB has not yet taken the measure of actually cancelling games. NPB may need to prepare for the worst, if the situation does not improve, as many sporting events and concerts have already been cancelled in Japan.
I have a hard time the fans understanding fans being so dedicated to a toy that they would boycott games because they are prohibited during a health crisis:
Tigers fans who have already purchased tickets are asking for refunds at Koshien Stadium. The longer the swine flu is around, the more it will affect the game of baseball.
Sure, it's baseball, and I love the game, too. But these seems a little ridiculous to me. How about someone who understands the culture of the Japanese fan commenting on this.

They're voting on the MVP awards now

I guess the big difference between baseball in a capitalist society and a communist society is the lack of money, especially for incentives. Cuba doesn't have the problems with contracts that other leagues have, particularly in the scope of incentives for post season awards:

The baseball playoff season is also a time for individual post-season honors, and Cuba is certainly no exception. It is, however, a little more difficult to find comprehensive lists of past-season winners, and that is due largely to a strange gap in the Cuban League record books. The annual guides (perhaps due to severe space restrictions and printing costs) do not carry any season MVP or Rookie-of-the-Year lists for bygone campaigns, although both these distinctions are annually announced in the Cuban sporting press.

Cuba has no other major individual awards--such as a Cy Young Award for pitchers--and there is no "official" designation of a playoff MVP. The top post-season performer has, however, been "unofficially" recognized for the past dozen seasons by Havana's Radio COCO, one of the top Cuban media outlets for coverage of the national game.

Post season awards, and the incentives for winning them, are so ingrained in MLB culture right now, that there is no going back. The off season awards are considered necessary, and MLB drags them at a snail-like pace to keep the game fresh in every one's minds during the winter. Even though they don't really need to.

I find it interesting that in today's world, a baseball league doesn't really do awards. Even little leagues hand out post season awards. Of course, Cuba doesn't have all the distractions that other countries have, and doesn't really do team sports on a large scale either. I guess when you're the only game in town, you don't have to worry about the frills. For those interested in past winners of the awards:

The complete listing of Cuban League MVP, Rookie-of-the-Year, and Post-Season MVP award winners will be available this week on the Playoff Page of our website at The list can also be accessed at
Some interesting facts:

Only a small handful of ballplayers have tacked together multiple MVP seasons, and fewer still have captured the top rookie designation and then later taken MVP honors. The only three-time winner of the MVP laurels is Omar Linares, but with Yulieski Gourriel only now reaching his peak years this may soon change.

In nearly a half century there have been but six players who have repeated as National Series league MVP, with Omar Linares the only three-time honoree. Yulieski Gourriel and earlier Wilfredo Sánchez are the only pair to wear the MVP crown in consecutive years, while the trio of Lourdes Gourriel (Yulieski's father), Cheito Rodríguez, and Michel Abreu (later in North American professional baseball) were Rookie-of-the-Year selections who later also earned the MVP distinction.

Outfielders make up the largest proportion of MVPs, with Havana's Industriales not surprisingly having produced more winners of the honor than any other single ball club. Players from Pinar del Río (including that club's several appearances under the name Vegueros) can claim seven MVPs and thus Pinar stands a close second in the team category.

With all the hype and hoopla surrounding the MVP/Cy Young/Rookie of the Year awards in MLB, this is definitely a different way of looking at it. Obviously, the Cuban League isn't too concerned about it. But I'll bet the players still are.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New article up

New article up on baseball de world.

New interview below.

Hope you enjoy them.

DMB World Series Replay - a historical baseball blog

The next blog I'll be covering is the DMB Historic World Series Replay, written by Kevin Graham, a native of Pennsylvania, and doing historical replays of the the World Series using Diamond Mind Baseball.

Kevin's take on what he's doing:

A baseball blog asking the question: What if? What if the World Series was
played in the 19th Century? What if they played the World Series in 1904? What
if the 1919 White Stockings played to win? These answers and more will be found
on this blog. It's not time travel, but it's the next best thing.

Right now, Kevin is in the mid-1880's, so we'll cover 19th century baseball this time around.

Kevin gives us box scores, game recaps, analysis, and timelines of the years being played, as well as a review of the league(s) that year.

Kevin has only been at this for a couple of months, but I think he will be here for awhile.

It gives a good example of what might happened if the Series had been played back then, and what might happen with a new manager calling the shots.

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Northeast PA. and have lived here all my life. I have been married to my wife Kathy for 26 years, and I have 2 children, Jessica(25) and Adam(20). I have been a fan of baseball since I was 9 years old. I am a voracious reader, with interests in history, especially Roman history as well as biographies, science, Star Trek, but not Star Wars. I have been known to read Shakespeare as well as Stephen King, and of course baseball.

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, and they have a website:, that was looking for people to submit podcasts that would be played, 1 per day, for the entire year. My inner geek forced me to submit a podcast, and I was surprised when they accepted it and played it on Jan 27.
I even managed to get a small baseball reference into an astronomy podcast. How’s that for an atypical alliance?

2. Why did you start the DMB World Series recap?>

I didn’t have a computer until about 11 years ago, and the 1st thing I did when I got onto that internet thing, was to type in the word baseball in the search engine. 25 million + sites came up! I think I actually heard angels singing. There was definitely a rainbow!!!!

I started looking at baseball history websites, and eventually started looking for a baseball simulation game that I could play on the computer. I had Stratomatic when I was a kid, and I was looking for something that would be similar, that would allow me to play older seasons. I found the Diamond Mind Baseball website and I was hooked.

I got involved in some online leagues that were replaying different years and one of them was set in 1885. The league eventually folded, but I wanted to continue replaying seasons in the 19th century and I started to play the What If game. What if they had a World Series back then, who would win? So I started goofing around with that.

3. What was your interest in 19th century baseball before?

I didn’t have a lot of interest in the pre 1920’s game of baseball, but when Ken Burn’s BASEBALL came out in 1994 I was really drawn in by the early years of the game and started reading up on it. It’s really an interesting time in the game.

4. Which team has been your favorite so far, and why?

The Boston Red Caps.(77, 78, 79) They had the unbelievable pitching of Tommy Bond, and some of the players were on the 1869 Cincinnati team, such as George Wright, Harry Wright and Andy Leonard.

5. Who has been your favorite player so far, and why?

Tommy Bond has been the most dynamic player in this replay so far. It’ll be interesting to see how someone like Christy Mathewson compares to him during his World Series appearances.

6. What is your favorite classic ball park, and why?

Most of the parks in the 19th century were big, and wooden, and not unlike an open field. So there’s not a lot to admire there. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium, and Fenway, and I still need to get to Wrigley, but I wish I could have gotten to the Polo Grounds, Ebbett’s Field and the Baker Bowl before they were demolished.

7. What is your all-time 19th century team?

The Baltimore Orioles of the 1890’s were dominant, and had a bunch of great ballplayers. John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, and local favorite Hughie Jennings among others made for an interesting cast of characters. I can’t wait to see how that team shakes out.

But my sentimental favorite would have to be the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. The worst team in the history of the game. They had a 24 game losing streak, they won 2 games in a row only once during the season, finishing with a record of 20-134, a mere 84 games out of 1st. How do you not love that team? When I get to 1899 I might have them challenge the winners to a best of 7. I wonder how that will turn out?

8. What is your all-time 19th century DMB replay team?

This is similar to question 4.

9. What comes next?

I’m going to continue to move chronologically through the seasons, with a goal of reaching 1994. I don’t think I’ll go later than that, because that was the year the players and the owners took away the World Series, and I’m still PO’d about that. It will be interesting to see how many World Series turn out differently.

10. Why did you start the blogging about the replay?

I didn’t even know what a blog was until 6 months ago. But when I started looking into them there didn’t seem to be a lot that focused on baseball history. I thought about doing strictly a baseball history blog, but then I thought I could have the best of both worlds and combine the history with the replay. On the DMB forums there are a lot of guys doing replays that they’re discussing on the forums but I didn’t know of anybody doing it in a blog format, so I figured I’d be the 1st. I have since come across a couple of other replay blogs: and both of which I highly recommend.

11. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

One of the wonders of the internet is how it let’s you communicate with people all over the planet that have the same interests as you do, people that you would never have the chance to get to know otherwise. I’ve been involved in several online leagues that have had members that were from Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and a US ambassador that switches countries every 2 years(Hey John L.) That’s pretty cool. I was in a league with David Nemec, the author of several baseball books including The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Baseball, How cool is that?

While on business in St Louis I had the opportunity to eat at Ozzie Smith’s restaurant with one of the GMs in an online league(Hey Jim, thanks for the meal) That’s pretty cool.

2 months into this blog and I’m doing an interview with somebody that lives in the UK. That’s pretty cool.

I’d like to see the blog continuing to grow in readership, so that I can get to converse and exchange ideas with all kinds of baseball fans.

I’d like to continue to improve the blog, and hopefully come up with some different ways to keep it interesting so that people will continue check it out. I’m trying to add a little humor to the blog as well. I thought some of the headlines for the Beaneaters’ series were hilarious……to me anyway, but I’m easily amused!!!

12. What current team do you support?

I have been a Yankee fan since 1967.

13. What is your first baseball memory?

In the 5th grade at St Patrick’s Elementary, I snuck my transistor radio into school so that I could listen to the 1968 World Series through a set of earphones. If the nuns found out they would have killed me. This was when they still played day games. The Cardinals were my favorite NL team, and I was a big fan of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. I was crushed when they lost that Series to Detroit.

14. What is your favorite baseball memory?

Unfortunately, you might not want to here this Ron. But being a Yankee fan, beginning in 1967, I went through some pretty horrible Yankee seasons. Bobby Murcer was their only saving grace. So when Chris Chambliss hit that home run off Mark Littell to send the Yankees to their 1st World Series since I started watching them, will be something I’ll never forget.

15. What do you hope to take away from your experience of doing this?

I look forward to the research that will be involved. I look forward to learning about some of the more obscure players that I’ll run into. I look forward to getting to know people from all over the planet that share the same passion for baseball and it’s history.

16. A lot of people particularly sabermatricians, criticize 19th century ball and don’t consider it to be ‘Major League’ baseball. Your response?

The National Association formed in 1871, and was pretty much a train wreck. There were a lot of growing pains in that league. I can understand why a lot of people don’t consider that a Major League. A ton of different teams, no set schedule, teams folding in the middle of a season, players jumping from team to team were among many of their issues.

But in 1876 when the National League was formed, these problems were addressed, and it became a pretty good progenitor of the league we see today. It was definitely a Major League.

When they finally get around to building that time machine, we’ll be able to go back to the 1880’s and watch a baseball game that is very similar to today’s game. A lot more errors, a lot less home runs, but definitely a firm example of what Major League baseball was in it’s infancy.

17. What aspects of 19th century baseball would you like to still see in the game today?

No steroids, more triples, more inside the park home runs, and definitely more day games.

18. What aspects of 19th century baseball amaze you in that it happened/was allowed/was part of the game?

Early on you were allowed to “soak” the runner(hit him with the ball) in order to make an out. That must have been painful. Catching a ball on one bounce for an out must have been very frustrating for the hitters. The abuse of the umpires was amazing, as well as all the dirty tactics that were used on the field. The number of times that games were forfeited because teams would just walk off the field was incredible. Also the segregation of the game was just terrible. There should never have been a need for a Jackie Robinson. The amount of talent that was never witnessed on the ball field must have been enormous.

19. What’ is/are the most interesting things you’ve learned from doing this?

I didn’t realize that doing a blog is a lot of work. Fun, but a lot of work.

20. What else would you like to say, on any baseball subject?

If you are a fan of the history of the game of baseball, you have to get to the Hall of Fame. Do not go during an Induction Ceremony(way too hot, and only about a billion people to rub elbows with) But go in April or May when it’s not too crowded. The museum is great, and the village of Cooperstown is fantastic. And bring lots of money.

Thanks Ron for the opportunity to ramble on about myself and baseball. Good luck with your blog, and here’s hoping for a lot more readers.

Kevin, thanks very much for taking the time to do this. Except for being a Yankees fan, and some comments about Chris Chambliss we won't print here - I like the way you think about baseball.

We'll come back in the future, after Kevin has gotten a few more seasons in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A baseball petition

This is mostly for fans in the UK only, but feel free to read along. And sign up to help out the cause.

Channel 5, which used to air baseball here, decided this year not to do it because of monetary issues.

Baseball is still available via ESPN (if you have the right satellite package) and the internet (via, but they both come at a cost. Channel 5 is free view, but no luck this year.

There is an on-line petition to get baseball back on the air. I don't really think it's going to make a difference, but lets support it regardless. There's something about baseball and television that just go together.

Baseball on Channel 5 UK 2009

View Current Signatures - Sign the Petition


To: Channel Five Television / RTL
We, the undersigned, are deeply dismayed at the choice made by Channel Five to discontinue the coverage of Baseball on Sunday and Wednesday nights. We would sincerely appreciate the reintroduction of baseball on free-to-air television, rather than subscription based channels, like Setanta Sports or Sky Television.

For 12 years, the presenters have provided the following of Baseball within the United Kingdom with knowledge and entertainment unblemished against the more rigid standard forms of watching this glorious sport on television.
We, the Undersigned, would like to have fairness and equality and have terrestrial television stations in the United Kingdom broadcast the game we love.


The Undersigned

View Current Signatures


The Baseball on Channel 5 UK 2009 Petition to Channel Five Television / RTL was created by and written by Mark Hendrikx ( This petition is hosted here at as a public service. There is no endorsement of this petition, express or implied, by Artifice, Inc. or our sponsors. For technical support please use our simple Petition Help form.

Putting butts in the seats

The posting fee paid by major league teams to allow them to negotiate with Japanese players is a source of contention. The fact that the Red Sox paid $51mil to deal with Daisuke Matsuzaka is - amazing - to say the least. That's the record, so far, although hefty fees have been paid for other players to allow them to move to the states to play MLB. But the income from the huge fees doesn't always pay off for the team losing the player:

teams like the Tokyo Yakult Swallows has not been able to recover after allowing Akinori Iwamura to leave and Hanshin Tigers seem to always be missing the inning-eating starter that they had in Kei Igawa
But not all is lost, however:

The Seibu Lions are one of the few teams that have generated a win-win situation using the posting fee system.
What did they do with their windfall:

•Constructed new concession stands and seating
•Resurfaced the playing field
•Installed an enormous video scoreboard
•Built magnificent bathrooms with electronically warmed toilet seats

As well as making sure that the fans got something out of posting fee, they have remained successful on the field as well:

The young pitching talents of the Seibu Lions were able to pick things up where Daisuke left and become the NPB Champions for the 2008 season.
Even though they allowed their superstar to leave for MLB, the Lions were able to set up a win-win situation in the aftermath.

So not only have the Lions been able to put butts in the seats with a championship, they've allowed them to stay warm as well.

Nice. I'll bet Yankee Stadium doesn't have electronically warmed toilet seats. Of course, that's because the taxpayers paid for that.

Two great past times

Because it means something to me:

United States soldiers on active duty in Baghdad helped teach the local children the game of baseball. In coordination with Pitch In For Baseball, an organization that spreads the sport of baseball to the world by sending donated equipment to areas in need, the kids of Baghdad spent the afternoon learning America’s favorite pastime.

The mission, Operation Home Run: Baseball in Baghdad, saw soldiers quickly demonstrating the game of baseball using the equipment donated to the North West Baghdad Youth Centers. Also, the Deputy of Ministry and Youth Sport in Baghdad said a league will be organized, and the U.S. soldiers would be invited to the first exhibition game. To find out more about Pitch in for Baseball, log on to their web site here.

Politics don't matter here.

Soldiers and baseball. The two American past times.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Proving my point

Hey, this is a good thing:

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 17-year-old Daan Cornelissen of the Dutch 1E Klasse club PSV Eindhoven. Last year he played for the second team of DOOR Neptunus, DOOR Tridents. He reached an agreement over the standard seven-year-contract and will report to Brisbane, Australia on June 15 to start his professional career. He will stay there for six weeks to train with other talents in a kind of instructional league, getting used to the higher level and everyday baseball. Cornelissen was recommended by PSV coach Martijn Nijhoff, who also is a Dutch scout for the Pirates in Europe.
But why does he need to go to Australia to play in an instructional league when they play baseball all over Europe.

Is there any more doubt that there needs to be an instructional league in Europe?

C'mon, Bud, lets get this thing going.

Bud isn't going to like this

I think there might be a new editor at pretty soon, especially if he keeps letting news like this get published:
Baseball gains popularity in Europe

Interest grows as World Cup competition nears
Did Bud forget to tell him that MLB has absolutely no interest in baseball in Europe at all. Because from what I've seen, minus a few teams making an effort individually, there has been no effort made at all by the front office to promote or do anything at all about baseball in Europe.

Even after the Dutch and Italians proved that the game is played at a high level over here, there still isn't any sign of MLB wanting to take advantage of the popularity of baseball over here.

How popular is it, you might ask:
• Enrollment in Little League baseball is up 10 percent across the continent.

• The participation in Major and Minor League baseball of a record number of 40-plus natives of nine European countries -- England, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands and France.

• Reflective of the demand for baseball information, IBAF recently debuted two country-specific Web sites ( and, with more planned for the near future.
Seems to me baseball is getting popular over here, and it's time to take advantage of it. I feel that there should be major league games played over here. It's been done in Japan, China, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Why not somewhere in Europe.

The only drawback right now, that I can see, is a lack of a true baseball stadium. But that shouldn't be an issue. If MLB, or Bud and his boys really wanted to do something about it, they could. Major League teams play regular season game all the time in parks that aren't of major league quality. San Juan, Monterrey, Las Vegas, Disneyland, etc. Good parks, but not major league quality.

So why doesn't Bud take some of that money that MLB has made and build a decent, 20,000 - 25,000 seat stadium somewhere in Europe, that is quality enough to host a game, as well as being used for World Cup and WBC games? I'm not talking about New Yankee Stadium and it's $1,000,000,000 price tag. $10,000,000 could get a decent park over here, and the money made in hosting games and selling merchandise would pay for it in a few years.

The biggest obstacle to that would be that Bud and his boys wouldn't be able to get any government funding for it, and have the taxpayers pick up the cost instead of an owner doing it, but that's bull.

To be fair, this also is happening:
The enthusiastic reactions to MLB-sponsored European Academy tryouts in six countries. MLB, in concert with IBAF and the European Baseball Confederation (CEB), will also conduct coaching and player clinics in 10 countries (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) through early 2010.
Seems to me that Dr Evil, excuse me, Bud, is just throwing them a bone. Clinics are a good thing, but it doesn't prove any concerted effort on the part of MLB. You want to make an effort over here, Bud.

Start a developmental league

Open an academy over here

Play games over here

That's making an effort. The sport is growing over here. It's money in the bank. But nothing is getting done.

Meanwhile, the NFL is planning on playing two regular season games over here, and the NBA is all over Europe.

Clinics don't really seem to compare to that.

Good job, Bud. Let's keep the good times rolling.

Baseball rears it's ugly head again

Baseball, the bane of all good Englishmen who believe in the sanctity of cricket, has reared it's ugly head again and injected it's self into the hallowed game again. A new form of cricket, Twenty20 is taking over, and becoming very popular in the UK:

Cricket's newest format is gaining popularity because of the frequency of big hits and Harper said this was putting umpires at greater risk due to their proximity to the batsman.
Because of this, some umpires have suggested going to an American-style umpires mask:

"I guess it's only a matter of time before you see us using those," Australian umpire Daryl Harper said.

"The bats are getting heavier, the shots are hit with more ferocity... I can bet umpires have to be very careful," he said, suggesting a baseball helmet with a full face cover would act as a good form of protection.
Cricket umpires are feeling the heat, as well as the ball:

"Given the pace with which some of the players hit those shots, it's becoming really dangerous for us.

"In one of the games, Sanath's (Jayasuriya) shot hit me so hard that I was feeling breathless for a while.

"And (Matthew) Hayden's hits have brushed my ears a few times as well."
Those who know me might think I would take this opportunity to criticize or make fun of cricket, and the umpires decision to go to masks. But I'm not going to. I've umpired for 30 years, and I've lost count of the number of games I've done behind the plate. I've taken more foul balls off of more body parts than I can remember, to include foul balls directly into the mask. I've also been nailed with some line drives out in the field.

I fully understand their concern, and think this is a good idea, if they want to do it. If they think they need to wear masks, then they should. The only problem I see with it is cricket fans not liking it, and making fun of the umpires for wearing them. Which might cause some umpires not to do so. That's not good for the safety of the umpires.

Another problem with this are the complaints of the 'baseballification' of cricket. This will not help any. But it might prevent serious injury. And since the batters and some of the fielders in cricket already wear mandatory facemasks and helmets, why not the umpires?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Down, but not out

What is my last really hard day at work, after which I'll have much more time, coupled with the onset of what I hope isn't the flu, had got me down a little.

That, or its exhaustion from chasing a 5-year old over 2 counties yesterdays. I didn't think it was possible, but I think I finally tired her out as well.

Add that to a 596 page visa application that has to be in the post today, and I'm done for the done.

Tomorrow will get me back on track.

Friday, May 8, 2009

True Stories of Korean Baseball - a Korean baseball blog

The next blog I'm going to cover is True Stories of Korean Baseball, a site run by an ex-pat American living respectively in Daegu, South Korea, and covering the Korean Baseball Organizaiton.

Or as Matt says, "A foreign perspective on baseball in Korea", or "The poor, confused foreigner reporting on the KBO".

Matt doesn't do much in the way of self-promotion. I don't know what he's trying to prove by that. He'll give the rest of us a bad name.

During the season, Matt does mostly game recaps, but in-depth. He knows the teams, players, managers, and fans well, and can comment on them all equally well. He will also so posts on other topics during the season, and covers the off-season like it is covered in the states. Anything baseball related of interest.

Good daily recaps that don't take a lot of time to read, with good analysis. And he knows his subject matter. Extremley well.

He's been at it for a year and a half. I come to the site every day and hope he can keep going for many more.

Here's the interview below:

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I'm 29 years old and I was born in Chicago, IL. I've lived in Daegu, SK for about 3 years. I was a film and video production major at Columbia College in Chicago. I lived in LA for a year while I tried to get a screenplay made. I got close, but I ran out of money and came home to finish my degree. After that I worked in the admissions department at a university in Chicago. My first year in Korea I worked at an English academy. Now I work a public school job at an elementary school in Daegu.

2. Why are you in Korea?

Originally I was bored and unhappy in Chicago. My job was essentially a dead end and I wanted to change. I also wanted to learn a language and do some travelling before responsibility set in. That was 3 years ago. Now, I love my job and I love my girlfriend. I really can't imagine being anywhere else right now.

3. What was your interest in Korean baseball before?

Nonexistent. I was barely aware of the KBO before I moved here.

4. What is your best memory of Korean baseball?

Last year's playoffs. My beloved Samsung Lions upset the Lotte Giants in the first round of the playoffs. I couldn't believe they won a game against Lotte, let alone the series.

5. Which team is your favorite,and why?

The Samsung Lions. I live in Daegu and they're the local team. I've attended enough games and followed the team closely enough to get myself attached. I've got two different jerseys in my closet. The 1985 throwback and the current road. To me, jersey ownership is the official sign of fandom. Once I did that, I became a Samsung fan.

6. Who is your favorite player, and why?

The Samsung Lions' closer, Oh Seung-hwan. His nickname is "Iron Mask." He never smiles, unless Samsung wins a championship. His icy, cool demeanor was a huge selling point. I don't think he has the stuff to make in the MLB, but he's been a lights out reliever since 2005. He also has a really cool cheer. Before he starts an inning, the ladies of the cheering section scream out "Sarang haeyo!"(I love you) and the men yell "Oh Seung-hwan!" immeadiately after. It sounds awesome every time I hear it. As of yesterday he recorded his 150th KBO save. He's the youngest pitcher in KBO history to reach that landmark.

7. What is your favorite Korean ball park, and why?

I've never been to Incheon's stadium and I've heard that's the best. Of the stadiums I've been to I would have to say Busan's Sajik Stadium. The rabid fans create an awesome atmosphere. It's THE place to watch baseball in Korea. It's the perfect size. Big enough to sell out, but small enough so there isn't a bad seat in the place. Unless you're stuck behind the scoreboard in center field. Those seats are brutal.

8. What is your all-time Korean team?

My knowledge of the history is a little lacking because English resources don't exist and I haven't taken the time to research info in Korean, but I'll give this a whirl.

Catcher is easy. Lee Man-soo. He was the Babe Ruth of Korea. He hit 252 homers during his career. He was the league MVP in 1983 and won the triple crown in 1984.

At first base is Lee Seung-yeop. The former Samsung Lion and current Yomiuri Giant holds the Asian single season record for homeruns with 55.

At 2nd base, give me current SK Wyvern Jeong Geun-woo. I think he'll finish his career as one of the best 2nd basemen in the history of the KBO.

At third, I'd like WBC star Lee Beom-ho on my team. A little pop, a little speed, a good clutch hitter and a solid glove.

At short I'll go with Samsung Lions/Hyundai Unicorns vet Park Jin-man. He's been on every incarnation of the national team for the last 10 years except this year's WBC team. He missed the WBC because of a shoulder injury. In his prime years, few were better with the glove.

In left, I'll put Doosan's Kim Hyeon-soo. I think he has a chance to be the next great KBO hitter. He won a batting title last season and he was only 20 years old, but he only hit 9 homers. I think his power will develop as he gets older.

In center, I'll put SK's Park Jae-hong. He's the first KBO player to reach 250 stolen bases and 250 homers.

In right I'll put Hanwha Eagles great Song Ji-man. Early in his career(late 90's) he was a power/speed guy. Usually over 20 homer and 20SBs. After 2000 he turned into more of a middle of the order masher.

My DH is current Samsung Lion and future career HR leader, Yang Joon-hyeok. Yang tied the KBO career mark for homers at 340. His next is the record breaker.

My closer is Oh Seung-hwan, but if I had to pick a starting pitcher I'd go with Oh's current manager, Sun Dong-yeol. He finished his career with a 1.20 ERA, 146-40 career record and 132 career saves. He also racked up 1698 K's in his 11 year KBO career. He finished his professional career in Japan's NPB with Chunichi. His career ERA is still a record.

9. Will you continue to follow Korean baseball when you go back to the states?

Who says I'm leaving?

editor's note (that would be me): good point. no reason I should assume any ex-pat is leaving and going back to the states. I'm not either.

10. Why did you start the blog?

Because I was frustrated over the lack of day-to-day info about the KBO in English. If the local newspapers were too lazy to do it, I'd just do it myself. I also wanted to study Korean by reading box scores and game recaps. I've thought about doing translation, but I find the work tedious.

11. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

It gives me a chance to write everyday about something I'm passionate about. As long as it continues to be fun I will continue to do it.

12. What American team do you support?

I have been a militant Chicago White Sox fan since 1992. Before '92 I just liked baseball. Frank Thomas, the black uni's and the new ballpark figured prominently in my choice. I can't imagine supporting another team. I'm also a casual Redbirds and Brewers fan.

13. What is your first baseball memory?

Watching the ball roll between Leon Durham's legs in 1984.

14. What is your favorite baseball memory?

2005 World Series. I was in the stands for game two with my dad. We watched Scott Podsednik hit a walk off homer in the freezing rain. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face when the ball went out and I'm sure he'll never forget the look on mine. The A.J. Pierzynski game in the ALCS is a close 2nd. That was a wild, wild scene.

15. What do you hope to take away from your experience of Korean baseball?

The same thing I look for in western baseball. Enjoyment. I'm happiest at the ballpark. It's fun to go to games. It's fun to write about games. The KBO gives me that opportunity.

16. What is the general feeling of baseball players in Korea getting military exemptions?

Happiness. Playing ball is better than going into the military.

17. Any knowledge of baseball in North Korea?

As far as I know baseball is not played in North Korea. It doesn't fit in to the Juche Idea of working together. Soccer is the sport of choice. Baseball is viewed as American, capitalist and individualistic.

18. Ever been to the DMZ, and what did you think, if so?

I have. It's an interesting place.

19. How do Koreans really feel about baseball?

I think they enjoy the game, but it's not taken quite as seriously is in the states. If you ask any of my 5th or 6th graders to name a player on the Samsung Lions, they probably couldn't. The focus is on the national team. Koreans get really excited when the national team does well. Games against Japan are especially intense.

20. What else would you like to say, on any baseball subject?

Is this the part where I get to confess my mancrush on Carlos Quentin? Actually, I'm going to outline my plan for fixing the KBO. Welcome to bizarro world. I, Matt Dewoskin have just been named commissioner of the KBO. 1st things first. All names on the jerseys will be in English. First two initials followed by family names for Korean guys and last names only for foreign players. Speaking of foreign players, in addition to the 2 foreigners on each roster, I'm allowing teams to add two additional roster spots for Asian ballplayers. The goal here is to build awareness and cooperation with neighboring countries while improving the roster depth in the KBO. Next up is the national anthem. It will be sung at every game. No more recordings. Actual live singers before the first pitch. There are a lot of churches in Korea and they all have choirs. You could probably recruit enough from churches to fill 66 home dates for each team. Also, the all-star game participants will be the previous seasons champions vs. an all star team with the starters voted in by the fans. The all-star weekend will also be changed. The homerun derby will be foreigners vs. Koreans. We're also going to try a celebrity softball game. Softball isn't widely known, but I think it would be a hit. A few former players, a few cute pop stars and a few wacky comedians tossing a round a Chicago-style 16-inch softball. I'm excited. Also, no more ties. We finish games in the KBO or we don't play them. We're also going to actually market ourselves in an attempt to actually make a profit. I've never seen an organization try as hard as the KBO to ignore its fans. Better facilities and better marketing are needed. Most children couldn't name a single player on a roster of a KBO team. That needs to change if the KBO is going to survive. I hope these are enough.

Matt, many thanks for taking the time to do this. I like some of the ideas for when you are commissioner of the KBO. Just no kimchi in the stands please.

Matt can be found at

Two new firsts

This is an update to this post:

It seems it was mentioned that Alessandro Maestri is the first Italian-born pitcher to be signed by a Major League team. He's not. There have been others: wrote about pitcher Alessandro Maestri as “a rarity in Italian baseball”, because he is the first pitcher from Italian school having reached the American minor leagues. Without this Italian school, however, four Italian boys started to play baseball at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and made it to the pitching mounds of the Major Leagues:

1) Louis Americo Polli was born in 1901 and debuted in 1932 for the Chicago Browns,

2) Julio Bonetti was born in 1911 and debuted in 1937 for the Chicago Cubs,

3) Marino Piereti was born in 1920 and debuted in 1945 for the Washington Senators

4) Rinaldo Joseph Ardizoia was born in 1919 and debuted in 1947 for the New York Yankees.
Two years after this last Italian pitcher, also an Italian infielder debuted in the Majors:

in 1949 Henry Arcado Biasatti played first base in 21 games for the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1922 he was born in a small village in the Italian province of Udine and died in 1996.
It's translated from an Italian site, so we'll forgive them for thinking the Browns played in Chicago. Bastados!!!

Anyhow, it wasn't my screw up, but we do need to present accurate information.

In an effort that shows how the game is spreading internationally, more and more Europeans are making it into professional baseball in the states, joining the Latin and Asian players already there. While very few of them, mostly the Dutch, have made the majors, they are being given the opportunity to play in the minors. We can only hope they make it to the big's, and perform at a high level. That, more than anything else, will help baseball spread.

Two more European players have made it into the minors, each being the first from his country in many years. In the early years, when immigration was still going on at high rates, it wasn't unusual for a player to be born in another country, move to the states, and play major league baseball. Since WWII, this hasn't really happened with the Europeans all that much. But we have hope:
Then there's pitching prospect Alessandro Maestri, who, get this, is with a Major League organization -- the Cubs -- and is actually from Italy. Back in 2006, Maestri was signed by Bill Holmberg, who works for the Cubs and is the talian National Team's pitching coach. Maestri was on the Italian team for the first rendition of the Classic, appearing in two games. He is the first Italian-born pitcher to be signed by a Major League team. After he'd started out as a reliever, the Cubs moved the right-hander into the rotation last year for multiple purposes, to have him work on all of his pitches as well as to see exactly what they had in the 23-year-old. He went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA over 89 innings, getting shut down conservatively when he experienced some shoulder soreness.
There have been lots of hyphenated-Italians to play baseball, but I''m surprised to learn he is the first pitcher. I wouldn't have thought that at all. Then, even better, is the fact that a player at a so-called "skill position" has made it:
The Kotlarka Prague baseball club recently announced that catcher Martin Cervenka has signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians. Korlarka competed
in the second division baseball league in the Czech Republic last year. Cervenka, just 17-years-old, is the first European prospect to sign a professional contract with the Indians organization and will continue to play for Korlarka this upcoming season. The promising backstop hit .214 in six games with the Tegola Titans in the Czech Republic’s top league a year ago.
Catching is hard at any level, but for a Czech player to have mastered the skills well enough to sign a pro contract means he must have some good skills. A lot of people are complaining about the number of Latinos and Asians playing major league baseball right now. I'm sure they'll have the same complaint about the European players. Right?

I don't know why they have a problem with it. Unless they want baseball to be just a localized, American game, played by citizens, then they should be embracing the fact that more and more people around the world are good enough to play pro ball. I don't know about other people, but I'm a Royals fan. We need all the help we can get. I don't care where they were born. I just want them to be good.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New article up

Hi, sorry about the low content this week. Still get settled in at the job, and had some outside stuff going on.

My newest article at baseball de world is up. I'll admit, this isn't my best effort, and I didn't go nearly into the depth I wanted on it, but I was pressed for time. I make a good point, but don't go far enough towards developing it or making the conclusion. I might try to do a revision to it at a later date.

Meanwhile, a 3 day weekend here. I'm playing a double header on Sunday in Bristol, so that's a dead day as far as getting anything done, but between laundry and spring cleaning the other two days, I'll be able to get caught up on things and get some posts ready for the week.

Thanks for you patience.