Friday, June 26, 2009

BaseballGB - a hub for the best British baseball writing

The latest interview is with Matt Smith, of Baseball GB, a site/conglomeration of the best of baseball writing in the UK. Matt is one of them of 6 that keeps the site going.

They have regular features every week:

My Sunday column: ‘Weekly’ hit ground ball,

Our ‘Weekly BST guide’ every Monday morning, providing details of games you can follow live at a convenient hour via,

A round-up of results and interesting developments from the British league,

‘You are the Scorer’ - a scoring question to think about every Friday lunchtime,

Joe’s ‘Web pick of the month’,

Book reviews - no sport can match baseball when it comes to the sheer quality of books that it inspires. We regularly add to our collection of comprehensive book reviews designed to help British baseball fans decide on their next purchases, covering classics that everybody should own, latest releases and quirky finds that we think you may enjoy as well. If you are a publisher and would like us to review any new offerings, please get in contact.

Full Articles - We do write substantial posts in the normal website format, but when we want to go into a bit more detail, especially with graphs, tables and pictures, we publish them in our BGB Full Article pdfs.
The purpose of the blog:

BaseballGB is a site dedicated to writing about baseball from a British perspective.

There are three broad aims:

to write about baseball in a way that will encourage sceptical (and often cynical) Brits to embrace this great sport,

to be a place where established British baseball fans can enjoy reading posts and articles about the sport written by their compatriots,

to provide an alternative view on the world of baseball, complementing the many other great websites about the sport, that will appeal to all baseball fans regardless of their nationality.
Their history:

BaseballGB began life on the Wordpress network back in February 2006 before moving to this domain in April 2007. Previous posts can be accessed via the Archive page. It started as my own blog about baseball, but I always hoped that other Brits would be encouraged to join in. One year ago, Joe Gray came on board bringing with him great expertise on scorekeeping and baseball in Britain. More recently, Mark George and Russell Dyas have also joined up so that we can offer more regular content and a variety of different viewpoints.
They are also deeply involved with other projects, to include the Great Britain Baseball Scorers Association website (which also has a Twitter feed), including stats for the British Southern League and GB National teams, as well as the Project Cobb site that aims to chronicle the history of British baseball.

What they cover:

While we have our own unique writing styles, what really makes BaseballGB stand out is the mix of baseball topics that we cover.

Major League Baseball is naturally the primary competition that we focus on, but
we also devote a substantial amount of words to the British scene (from the games played in the National Baseball League to off-the-field developments at British baseball clubs), international competition, fantasy baseball and life generally as a baseball fan in Blighty. We write about any news items or stories that capture our imagination as they happen, as well as producing useful resources (such as our Baseball Basics for Brits guides) and the occasional month-long season of articles and posts (such as our Keeping Score Season in February 2009), all alongside a host of regular features.
I'm at the site a couple of times a day or more, and have found out that as much as I think I know about baseball, I can still learn something new every day.

So, now on to the interview:

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

Well, my name’s Matt and I’m a twenty-six year old baseball fan from Norwich, England.

2. What is your baseball background?

I started watching baseball back in 1998 after seeing it in the TV listings one week. I was hooked from the start, in no little part due to Five’s excellent coverage, and have continued watching and learning about baseball ever since.

3. Why baseball vs. cricket/football/rugby?

For me, it’s not a case of baseball versus the traditional British sports. I’m a sports fan first and foremost and enjoy watching all four of those listed as well as others. I remember reading an article in the Sunday Times last year where a columnist was praising a baseball writer (can’t remember who unfortunately) and saying how wonderful they made the game sound, but that we (i.e. Brits) already have cricket: the implication being that we therefore don’t need baseball. I don’t understand that attitude for a second. Why settle for one great bat-and-ball game when you can enjoy two?

4. Can baseball coexist with those other sports and succeed?

I think the main point here is what is meant by “succeed”. I very much doubt baseball will ever match the popularity of those traditional British sports, but I certainly think it can live alongside them at a more modest level. There is a protectionist attitude in all established sports which can make them weary of others (like baseball) invading on their patch, but I think we now live in a society where people expect to have greater choice. Even if only a small minority of people want to be involved in baseball, it should be possible for them to have access to facilities to do so. If that means only having 59 football pitches in one area instead of 60, with the other space given to baseball, that should be achievable.

5. What is the biggest obstacle to baseball in Great Britain?

There are many factors that come into play, particularly logistical ones such as lack of funding and facilities, but it all comes back to the standard preconception many Brits have of baseball. Most just see it as a silly American game (‘glorified rounders’) and dismiss it without even giving it a chance. That’s probably the biggest frustration I have. There will always be a majority of people who decide that the sport is not for them, and that’s fine, but I’m sure that there are people out there who would get a lot of enjoyment out if it (watching, playing etc) if they would only look past their prejudice against the sport and give it a try. However, changing preconceptions is a difficult task.

6. What is causing baseball to move forward in Great Britain?

While I think BaseballSoftballUK does a decent job of pulling things together, it seems to me that the sport’s development still varies greatly from place to place. What moves baseball forward here is a group of people in any one location who have the dedication and ability to build up a successful club. Herts Baseball Club are a great example of this. They are gradually developing some very good facilities, they have built up their player pool so that they can field senior teams at all levels of the British league system and they run a well-organized Little League. Their efforts could well create a sizeable core of people in Herts who stay in baseball for years to come (as players, senior coaches, little league coaches, encouraging their friends/neighbours/children to take part etc). There are other clubs out there doing the same great work and it is they who will take baseball forward at a local level. If enough are able to do it, then the national scene will gradually go from strength to strength. It’s not easy and a lot of hard work is involved, but it’s possible to build up the sport here.

7. How much is not having baseball in the London Olympics going to hurt the game?

It is a massive blow for the game in this country. The benefits of baseball (and softball) being part of the 2012 Games would have been wide-ranging. Team GB would have automatically qualified for the tournament, which would in itself have been great for British eligible ballplayers. It would have been a way to showcase the sport to people in this country, helped in obtaining funding and sponsorship and possibly resulted in the legacy of a dedicated baseball/softball stadium in the capital (this was the plan originally, although some of the legacy facilities now seem to be under threat due to budget constraints so that might not have happened ultimately).

8. In 2008, Great Britain didn’t send its baseball team to the Olympics (even though they finished 2nd in the European Cup – I have to check those facts unless you know) because the committee said it couldn’t afford the £25,000. What do you want to say to that?

[Note: Team GB finished second in the 2007 European Baseball Championships, meaning they qualified for the Final Olympic Qualifying tournament – only the Euro winner, in this case the Netherlands, qualified automatically for the full Olympic tournament. The cost of attending would have been around £40,000-50,000]

It was yet another very disappointing development, following the de-selection of baseball from the Olympic programme. Team GB had performed brilliantly in the European Championships and had fully earned the chance to take part in the Final Qualifier. To have that opportunity taken away due to lack of funds was a great shame and the feelings of some of those involved were recorded in several Q&As we published at BaseballGB with Team GB representatives over the recent offseason.

The British Baseball Federation did all they could to try and raise the funds, even getting some media coverage in the national press (The Daily Telegraph covered it for one), but the sport’s low standing in Britain made it a very difficult task. Apparently it was considered unlikely that Team GB would qualify for the full Olympic tournament, and particularly to win a medal when they got there, so funding wouldn’t be released from most of the likely channels. Both assumptions were probably fair enough, but making the Final Qualifier itself was a big step for the sport in this country and it was very sad that this was not recognised.

9. What American team do you support, and why?

Oakland A’s. They were one of the first teams I saw on TV (may have just been on the highlights rather than a featured live game) and I was instantly caught by their uniforms, which included green and gold. My local football team, Norwich City, play in green and yellow and as I had no other reason to pick an MLB team, that seemed as good as any!

10. What British team do you support and why?

I’ll be smarmy and say I support them all.

11. Who is your favourite player?

Not sure I’ve got one really. I guess Tony Gwynn would be up there for retired players that starred when I started watching. He was a great hitter and genuinely seemed like a good guy who just loved playing baseball. I remember watching a feature on him talking to Ted Williams about hitting, which was absolutely fascinating. As for current players, the A’s don’t have anyone that stands out at the moment so I think I’ll go for Albert Pujols.

12. What is you first baseball memory?

I remember watching a game on Five during my first season back in 1998 when Randy Johnson was on the mound (I wrote about this on BaseballGB recently). The combination of his name and unique appearance (very tall, ‘mullet’ hair style etc) immediately caught my attention but it was one pitch that he kept throwing that really grabbed me. The announcers kept referring to his ‘slider’ and at the time I was only beginning to learn about the game, but I knew just how devastating that pitch could be after that game had finished.

13. What is your best baseball memory?

Seems strange to say this as an A’s fan, but seeing the D-Backs win the World Series in 2001 would probably be the top memory. I had seen three World Series up to that point and all had been won by the Yankees. To see Arizona finally break the run was a great moment. That was a classic series.

14. What is your all-time line-up?

I’ll limit this to players that I’ve watched since 1998 (not necessarily the best players, but the ones I’ve enjoyed watching)

C: Ivan Rodriguez
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Craig Biggio
3B: Eric Chavez (when not injured!)
SS: Omar Vizquel
LF: Manny Ramirez (recent drug-taking allegations aside!)
CF: Ken Griffey Jr
RF: Tony Gwynn

Pitchers: Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Johan Santana, Barry Zito (the Cy Young version!), Mariano Rivera.

15. How did you get involved in the blog?

I’ve always been a keen writer so it was probably inevitable that I would end up writing about baseball at some point. I started a blog in March 2006 designed to be a forum for my own views on the latest news and to write about life as a British baseball fan, but I always intended for it to turn into something much broader, with other British writers coming on board. Like most ventures, it started with me looking for something, not finding it and deciding to do it myself.

16. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

My aim is to make BaseballGB a website that touches on all parts of baseball that may interest a British fan, all in one place, whether they are new to the sport or have been following/playing it for years. We write about MLB, British baseball, European/International baseball, fantasy baseball, baseball coverage in the UK, life as a baseball fan in Britain and much more. Over the last year, the site has developed with the additions of writers like Joe Gray, who is heavily involved in British baseball, and Mark George, who plays in the British league and is also an experienced fantasy baseball manager.

Although it’s run on blogging software, it’s now rather un-blog like in the sense that we have regular features (weekly columns about MLB every Sunday, a guide to ‘early’ MLB games every Monday, ‘You are the Scorer’ every Friday lunchtime etc) and other resources (longer articles, book reviews, my ‘Baseball Basics for Brits’ series).

Baseball is very much a minority sport here and I think encouraging the growth of a baseball community is also extremely important. Five’s MLB coverage was instrumental in this, as are other websites such as the UK MLB Supporters Forum and the FantasyBaseballUK competition. Hopefully BaseballGB also plays a part in building up that community, with British baseball fans being able to read British baseball writers. If we can in any way help fellow Brits to enjoy the game, and particularly to encourage inquisitive newcomers to the sport, we’ll be happy.

17. What is the future of British baseball?

It’s difficult to say. There have been many false dawns over the years and the lack of Olympic funding will continue to count against the sport. I do think there is a place for baseball in Britain though and it’s up to those of us that enjoy the sport to do all we can to help it grow.

18. A European league: fantasy/reality/necessity?

It sounds a good idea in theory but, like anything, it depends on exactly how it is organized. Having some regular baseball that brings together the best players in Europe would be a good thing both for the development of the players and as a drawing card for fans. Maybe even Eurosport would support it? The sticking point would be, as ever, financing the competition and the logistics (where would it be played? over what time period? etc).

19. What is your opinion of Channel 5 not showing baseball this year due to ‘financial’ reasons?

It’s terrible news. Not only does it mean that the sport has no presence on free-to-air TV in Britain (making it very difficult to draw new fans to the game), but the previous coverage was fantastic and is greatly missed.

Five’s decision came as a shock in some respects as they have backed baseball (and other North American sports) for many years. However, we’re all aware of the impact that the current economic climate is having on broadcasters (advertising plummeting etc) and if baseball and the rest of the sports didn’t pull in many viewers, you could understand why they were cut. It’s much cheaper to run rubbishy repeats at two in the morning rather than pay for a studio, presenters, production crew etc. Personally I feel cutting some of the few pieces of unique coverage in your portfolio is a false economy, but there we go.

Matt, many thanks for taking the time to do this. It's very much appreciated. Good luck with everything, and my personal thanks for keeping me entertained, and on my toes, with the information.

I would like to point out, again, that another all-time team has no DH. Life can be sweet at times.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One more programming note

No posts today. A friend who runs a hotel asked me to help paint the bar and I was there until 5:30 this morning.

I just woke up and the last thing I want to do is write anything.

On the bright side, I have cash in hand and the bars are open. Life is sweet at times.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another myth busted

They say that hitting a baseball is the hardest single action in the sporting world. Outside of bull riding, but that's an entirely different story. But we've all heard the numbers. Even the best player is a superstar if he succeeds 40% of the time, and the average player succeeds less than 30%.

I've played baseball. I just played a semi-pro game last month. My first actual baseball game in about 2o years. 2 walks and a strikeout. I did hit 3 foul balls, so I feel I was successful. But it was hard. It is all about the timing.

However, a Japanese samurai seems to have the opinion that hitting a baseball isn't all the hard. Because he can do it with his sword.

I don't care what anyone says, that's impressive. Remember, his sword is sheathed and he has to pull it and still make contact. And it's a flat blade that has to make level contact to slice the ball, not a round bat. There is very little margin for error on this.

For those of you who don't think this is that hard, please go buy a sword and a pitching machine and try this yourself. I'll call the emergency room.

After I stop laughing at you.

Link from Sports

The interleague MVP

Again, under the headline of you learn something new every day, the Japanese professional leagues have just completed their 5 weeks of inter-league play. That's not unusual. Both the US and Japan, with two leagues each, participate in inter-league play, whether or not it's a sign of the apocalypse. It's become a common event, and most people don't question the two leagues playing each other. In fact, some revel in it and think they're the only games worth watching throughout the year. I kind of feel the World Series is the perfect example of inter-league play, but no one is really listening to me.

What is unusual, at least as far as the US leagues is concerned, is the naming of an MVP:

Softbank Hawks left-hander Toshiya Sugiuchi was named interleague MVP on Wednesday after helping the team have the best interleague record for the second straight year.
I tried doing a search of MLB players to see who would be the US inter-league MVP. Oddly, it's almost impossible for someone like me to find this stuff. Sure, it's out there somewhere, but it's not easy to find just doing a casual search. However, I don't think there is much doubt that after what Albert did last weekend in Kansas City that he would have to be the unanimous choice.

Anyhow, the inter-league MVP isn't something that happens in the States yet. But I'm willing to bet it will catch on soon. If only for this reason:

Sugiuchi, who was 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in six starts, won 2 million yen in prize money after five weeks of interleague play.
2 million yen is approximately $21,000. How much longer before some agents finds out about this and starts getting it written into a player's contract. With all the other incentives added in these day, this can't really be that far off. The fact that it isn't an official award and not knowing who would vote on it probably isn't a drawback.

Somehow, this seems to be a perfect advertising tie-in with some smart company out there.

Some people might laugh about that comment, but give it 5 years and lets see what happens?

Link from

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A trivia contest

Another one of those slow days, when there wasn't really a lot out there.

So, Kevin from the DMB Historic World Series Replay is offering up a trivia contest, with an actual prize and everything.

If' you remember, I interviewed Kevin here about 2 months ago. Go check it out.

Here are the rules for your chance to win this one of a kind piece of Baseball Americana:

1. Correctly answer the trivia question in the comments section.

2. The 1st correct answer is the winner.

3. One guess per person.

4. No googling……I’d like a gentlemen’s agreement that your answer will be strictly based on a guess.(I…….state your name…….promise to guess and only guess the answer to this trivia question)

5. Tell a fellow baseball fan(or several) about this blog, and have them submit a guess. (Again….I’m trusting you on this one)

6. The winner will be announced at the end of the 1889 World Series.

7. The winner will have to contact me via email with your address, and the ball player(s) that you would like displayed on your label.

8. The answer to the trivia question is based on my research, so there is a slight chance my research could be flawed. Hey…mistakes happen !!

9. In the event that nobody gets the correct answer, the person closest to the actual answer will be the winner.


If you’ve been following this blog, then you know I have a thing about the high percentage of mustaches on the 19th century ball player. So of course this question has nothing to do with mustaches, but it does have something to do with beards.

There are 286 plaques hanging in the Hall of Fame, a lot of which have the person displayed with a mustache, some with glasses, some with a full beard, and one displaying a female(Eppa Manley).

How many people are wearing glasses?(if any)

How many have a full beard?(if any)

When placing your guess in the comments section answer the question like so:



Your Name

Remember these are only people that have plaques: players, executives, pioneers, and umpires.

This does not include writers or announcers.

Good Luck……No Googling……..and tell a friend

Monday, June 22, 2009

2009 All-Europe baseball team

I've written about high school baseball a few times, as related to Europe and Asia. Not Europeans and Asians playing high school ball, but American service kids living in those areas attending Department of Defense schools. I think it's great that DODDS finally got baseball in as a school sport, and not just the posts running them as youth activities. The kids have it rough at time over here, and it's nice to see they can get a slice of home now.

DODDS Europe has just completed it first season of high school baseball, and crowned its champions. To top it off, they named 24 players to the 2009 All-Europe baseball team:

The 24 players selected for DODDS’ first All-Europe baseball team might well have left lasting marks in their sport.

Of the 12 selected for the first team, five batted .400 or better, four surpassed .500 and two, senior Jimmy Drago of SHAPE and junior Matt McDonald of Ramstein, hit safely better than 60 percent of the time — Drago hit .618 and McDonald, a pitcher, went 20-for-32 for a school-system best .625.

On the mound, eight of the 12 first-team selectees who pitched were just as productive.
But it wasn't all just hitting or pitching:

Buffington, a catcher and third baseman when not anchoring the Vicenza staff with a 1.96 ERA, had just three errors or passed balls all season according to his coach, Mike Wilson. Drago booted just three chances during his stints at short and second base, reported SHAPE coach Kenneth Goff, while Tucker made just five errors in 66 chances at shortstop and catcher. His .974 fielding percentage cemented his leadership position with a young Bitburg club, according to coach Matt Lawhun.
Pretty good defense for some high school kids. And there is will always be something special about this year's selections:

Even if their numbers are erased in future seasons, the 2009 All-Europeans will retain forever the distinction of being the first.

"The first time for anything," Patch second-teamer Quinton Austin said, "is really special."
The 2009 All-Europe baseball team:

First team

Jack Buffington
1.98 ERA, 51 K in 27.1 IP. .572 BA, .666 in tourney.
“Every coach we played against commented on his prowess.”

Cavan Cohoes
.419 BA, 2 HR.
“Captain, led team on and off field. Well-balanced defensive player with impressive BA.”

Jimmy Drago
.618 BA, 10 doubles. 26 K, 2 BB, 5 saves in 12 IP.
“Team captain, astute leadership abilities. 3 errors all season.”

Tyler Hall
.468 BA, 10 RBI, 10 SB.
“Our spark plug. We went as he went – 13-4 season record.”

Kyle Krajcovic
5-1, 1 save. .488 BA, 10 RBI, 2 HR, 15 SB.
“One of best pitchers in Europe. Beat Phelps. Held Ramstein to 1 hit.”

Matt McDonald
2-0 with 30 K in 13 innings. .625 BA, 3 HR, 13 doubles, 9 SB.
“Matt is the complete baseball player.”

Justin Phelps
3.13 ERA, 44 K, 14 BB in 31.1 innings, 1 no-hitter. .553 BA, 2 HR, 27 RBI.
“Led team in every offensive category.”

Jamal Pope
.493 BA, 8 RBI.
“Undeniably the best pitcher in Europe. Powerhouse of a team player.”

Andre Porterfield
22 K in 15 IP, 8 H, 4 BB. .463 BA, 16 SB.
“Go-to guy in tourney. Fastest, smartest runner I’ve seen this year.”

E.J. Ruiz
3-1, 2 saves, 1.56 ERA, 58 K in 27 IP. .533 BA, 15 RBI.
“Could basically shut down any offense in DODDS-Europe.”

Josh Sloan
.556 BA.
“Strong arm from 3B, very few errors. Second-leading batter on our team.”

Tyler Tucker
3-3, 1.91 ERA, 60 K in 33 IP.
“Spellbinding performance in tourney. Fanned 29 of 55 batters faced. .416 BA.”

Second team

Quinton Austin
.313 BA, 26 RBI, 2 HR. 5-2, 40 K in 23.2 IP, 2.66 ERA.
“Def. Vilseck twice, shut down Lakenheath in tourney semi.”

Kaden Baum
.421 BA, 18 RBI, 7 SB. 4-1, 1 save.
“Ended season as our best individual player. 2-for-2 in tourney semifinal.”

Matt Benoit
.540 BA, 16 RBI, 10 SB. 4 wins, save.
“Best player on team. First time he’d played baseball in 8 years.”

Cameron Henry
.571 tourney BA. 2-0 as starter in tourney. Batted .444 vs. D-I pitching.
“Supportive of all players on field.”

Nick Holba
4-0, 13 K, 5 BB in 13 IP. .333 BA.
“Always in control pitching. Long reach made saves at 1B. Always hustles.”

Matt Less
18 K in 14 IP. .288 BA, 8 RBI.
“Developed into closer as season progressed, dropping ERA from 9-plus to 4.36.”

Johnnie Mesch
.442 BA, 23 RBI. 3 wins, save, 3.10 ERA.
“.600 tourney BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI, game-winning 3-run HR in game for 3rd.”

DreShawn Murray
.390 BA, 10 SB.
“Like a general on the field. Keeps ball in front of him, cat-like reactions, 3.8 30-yard dash.”

Justin Patrick
.352 BA, 15 RBI.
“Versatile player who can play any position well, a player that team cannot do without.”

Logan Porchie
73 K in 8 games, 2 1-hitters. .475 BA right-handed, .600 left-hander. 21 SB.
“Baseball IQ at a very high level.”

Zachary Saunders
2 CG wins. .468 BA, 21 RBI, 5 HR, 2 grand slams.
“Can be played anywhere on the field and do well.”

Fletcher Taylor
6-for-9 to open season, 16 SB.
“Led team with 29 assists. His hands are as good as they come in the pivot.”

It's not important to know where all these places are, or even who the kids are, but it is important to know that they are getting the chance to play. Again, not to turn this political , but many of these kids have parents caught up in what's happening in an area covered by my first blog of the day.

My first school was the DODDS school in Vicenza, and I remember my older brother playing youth league baseball there in the '60's. It's taken 40 years since then for the kids to be able to play high school baseball, but it's there for them now. Congratulations to all of them and I wish them the best of luck in the future.

Link from The Stars & Stripes

Keeping the devil out of Japan

With the amateur draft recently concluded, and all the speculation and anticipation surrounding the new picks, and the prices they will command, a lot of the focus of the media and blogosphere has been spent on the agents. How they are great for players, how they are the scourge of the game, and how the game is better/worse because of them. I have my personal opinion of agents, but I'll choose not to share that today.

However, something interesting that I didn't know (and see, we can all learn something new every day, even if we don't want to) is that agents are not that prevalent in Japan. Like most topics, it was something I just never thought much about. I would have assumed that they had 'invaded/become part of' the game just like in the states.

But they really haven't:

On the other hand, in NPB, player agents are still a fairly a new idea and agents are known as Dairinin (representative). One agent that comes to mind, having received national attention is Don Nomura (the son of Sachiyo Nomura, and step-son Rakuten Golden Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura). He was involved in negotiating a minor-league deal for Mac Suzuki and was a big part of Hideo Nomo crossing the Pacific.
That would make sense that an agent would be involved with any player headed to the states. It's pretty much automatic, and the days of players representing themselves at negotiations are far and few in-between.

But it still isn't that common in Japan yet:

Players were still hesitant to embrace the idea of using agents, as only 2.2 % (14/633) of the players answering the surveys stated they would definitely like to use one.
Probably the biggest deterrent to agents/the saving grace of the game is this:

The biggest difference in the role of agents between MLB and NPB is that an agent can only represent a single player. This restriction reduces the appeal to become a player agent as not many people will be able to live off of the five percent commission from one player.
That would make it much harder for agents, as they are obviously having their earning potential reduced. That would actually seem to me to be a 'restraint of trade' issue, but I'm not a lawyer or a business person, so I don't know the specifics of how that works. Of course, the fact that the Japanese leagues can limit the amount of foreign players shows they don't want to/have to/need to follow the rules most Americans are used to dealing with.

It's not happening right now, but the idea does seem to be growing:

However in recent years with agents being well-known for representing players negotiating for major league deals, the idea of agents is gaining ground with the players. A new development we’ve seen is established lawyers adding player representation to their resumes. “Lawyer Kitamura Joining the Baseball World” is
one famous recent example.
It will interesting to see what happens in 5 years. As more Japanese players go to the states, there will be more of an effort to keep them at home playing. Which will probably lead to higher salaries and bidding wars. Which are all tailor-made for agents. And who will be involved.

I can see the Japanese excluding American agents from the league, when it does become more prevalent. Better the devil that you know (insert your own Steve Boras joke here).

Link from NPB Tracker.

Is the media mis-leading us?

Not to turn this into a political blog by any means, but it always interests me when I read stuff about Iraq. According to most press and media stories you hear, the country is filled with chaos, every other person is a suicide bomber, and nowhere in the land is there peace and happiness. Not at all. Not anywhere. It's complete anarchy and the US is all to blame for what ever has happened there.

But according to my friends who are there, that just never seems to be the case. They tell me that in a few places like Baghdad and Mosul, it's still dangerous at time, and everyone should always be watchful. But according to the boots on the ground (soldiers), Iraq is about 95% peaceful, guys are doing okay, beyond missing thier families, and life isn't really that bad in the country.

So it always amuses when I read stories like this:

Eighteen athletes will represent Iraq in the upcoming West Asia Youth Baseball-Softball Tournament, which will take place in Pakistan in September 2009, the head of the Iraqi central federation for the game said on Saturday.

“The tournament will start on Sept. 1 and end on Sept. 9, 2009,” Ismail Khalil al-Qaisi told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.“The team will have a 20-day training camp in Arbil city – Iraq, preparing for the competition,” he said.“Also, there will be a three-week training program for the team in Iran,” he added.Al-Qaisi pointed out that the federation, in coordination with the team’s coach, will name the 18 athletes.
I mean, seriously, if Iraq is the quagmire that the press lets it out to be, how is that anyone has time to play baseball. Safely. Unless the park and practice is being guarded by battalions of soldiers to ensure their safety, I would have to assume it's safe for these guys to get together and play games and practice. Which would be strange, because what would be a better target for the insurgents than the locals playing an 'American' game.

Unless the situation isn't as bad as the media is making it out to be, and there is actually peace and tranquility in the country. But that couldn't be true. The media would never lie or mislead us. And all those guys on the ground over there seeing it every day. They must be mistaken.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of the situation. Our soldiers are still there, it is still dangerous in spots, and some Iraqi's are still having a lot of problems. But it would seem to me that if the Iraqi's can field a youth team and practice for tournaments, something good must be happening.

Link from Aswat al-Iraq.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Way Back and Gone - a historical baseball blog

The next interview is with tHeMARksMiTh, the author of Way Back And Gone, a historical baseball blog.

Mark's reasoning for the blog:

Way Back and Gone is intended to be a blog dedicated to baseball history, but it will be occasionally transported to the present when the author, who is obnoxiously referring to himself in the third person, feels the need to rant about the Braves or another preposterous event in modern baseball. The blog, however, will mainly go Way Back in history and uncover or recover or discover what is seemingly Gone -- baseball history. One must remember, and this is crucial, that history has never really left the present and continues to influence it both overtly and covertly.
Mark runs a few regular features, such as Sunday Frivolities, This Day in Baseball History, and Rounding the Bases. He also does regular biographies of Hall of Famers and pioneers of the game, as well as whatever strikes his fancy.

He hits the modern aspect of things from a historical view, covering the draft and the College World Series recently. For someone like me, who studied history in school, and baseball every where else, it's worth taking a look.

The interview:

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Mark Smith, and I am a history student at the University of Kentucky. I've been a big baseball fan since I was old enough to swing a wiffle ball bat. Honestly, I'm a big sports fan overall. Football probably comes second and college basketball third (I do go to UK). I play golf and wish I bowled more. Outside of sports, I like video games, watching House and Chuck, and going to awful movies (Crank 2!) with my friends. What else do I have to do? Study?

2. What got you interested in history of baseball?

As I said, I'm a big baseball fan, but before, I had mainly been interested in what was going on in today's game. But as a history major and baseball fan, I decided that I should know more about baseball history.

3. Which team is your favorite team, and why?

I am an Atlanta Braves fan and have been since 1994 or 1995. TBS made it easy to follow them, and Chipper Jones was my favorite player since his rookie season (the second one). Now, I use MLB.TV to yell at Francoeur when he swings at a bad first pitch and Bobby when he makes inexplicable bullpen moves. But I still love them, like you still love your kids when they do something stupid.

4. Who is your favorite player, and why?

Chipper Jones is my favorite player. I started really paying attention to baseball around 1995. When he had his official rookie season, he stood out because he was different by switch-hitting. After Hideo Nomo won the Rookie of the Year Award, I found myself defending Chipper, and I became a fan of his. A Hall of Fame career later, I still love him. He's a good player, teammate, and leader, always putting the Braves first.

5. What is your favorite ball park, and why?

I'm a little biased. I like Turner Field. But I really don't have too much to choose from. I've been to Wrigley Field and the old Busch Stadium, but I don't really remember them too well. Other than that, I really only have the Cincinnati ballparks, and those aren't the greatest. Cinergy was awful, but GAB is pretty good. But I like Turner Field better.

6. What is your all-time team?

This will be fun. Starting Lineup:

C - Joe Mauer (I think this guy will be an all-time great by the end)
1B - Lou Gehrig (Pujols makes me think twice, but Gehrig was just a tad more unbelievable, just a smidge though)
2B - Nap Lajoie (I did a post on him vs. Hornsby, and it wouldn't be right for me to go against it now)
3B - Mike Schmidt (You want me to say Chipper, but I can't ignore the 10 Gold Gloves)
SS - Honus Wagner (And I'm not sure it's terribly close, though Mr. Cub is a nice option)
OF - Babe Ruth (Duh)
OF - Willie Mays (One of the best center fielders ever, and I would almost say he's the best baseball player ever)
OF - Hank Aaron (Gosh there are a lot of good outfielders)


Barry Bonds (Steroids and all, he was an amazing player regardless)
Ted Williams
Ty Cobb (Bad temper and all, he was an amazing player)
Mickey Mantle
Johnny Bench (Hard to sit him on the Bench)
Rogers Hornsby (All my middle infielders can play anywhere)

Starting Rotation: (not necessarily in any order)

Pedro Martinez (Circa 1997-2005)
Walter Johnson (Would have loved to see him pitch)
Lefty Grove
Mordecai Brown (What could he have done with 5 fingers?)
Cy Young (Decent fifth starter. Eats innings)


Roger Clemens (Coming out of the bullpen? Yeah, baby.)
Randy Johnson (See Clemens)
Christy Mathewson
Sandy Koufax
Bob Gibson

Mariano Rivera (You need a closer, right?)

On second thought, this was really hard. Had to leave out a lot of good players.

7. Your all-time Kentucky team?

C- Me (I was pretty good. Honestly, I just couldn't think or find anyone)
1B- Don Hurst (he was good for a while)
2B- Dan Uggla (I'm looking for some pop)
SS- Pee Wee Reese (duh)
3B- Travis Fryman (I loved this guy)
OF- Earle Combs (One of the few Hall of Famers)
OF- Jay Buhner (life will be more interesting)
OF- Pete Browning

SP- Jim Bunning (pitcher, not politician)
SP- Brandon Webb (I still cheer for him, hoping wins still count so that he gets some Cy Young's) SP- Paul Derringer
SP- Carl Mays
SP- Jesse Tannehill

RP- Scott Downs

8. Why did you start the blog?

I started the blog for a lot of the reasons in question 2. In my opinion, writing is the best way to learn something. You have to read about it, comprehend it, write about it, make an argument, and then read it over while digesting the material. I figured that I might as well let everyone else learn while I am.

9. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

I just want to learn. If it helps others learn, then that's just a bunch of cherries on top (the number depending on how many people learn). I like readers, but I know that I probably won't change anyone's life or make a lot of money from it.

10. How long do you anticipate doing this?

Don't know. As long as I want. I've gotten a few more readers and, especially, commenter's lately, and that helps with the motivational part. As long as that continues and I have time, I'll do it.

11. What is your first baseball memory?

Playing wiffle ball. My brothers played it, and I would go out to watch and play. When I and my friends were old enough, we would play out in my front yard. In all my years of Little League, those days in my front yard were the best.

12. What is your favorite baseball memory?

Favorite? Hmm, I lost so much. I guess it would be catching the final out in the one championship I ever won. Ground ball to short, and I caught the ball at first. We lost the first game of the series, and we came back to win as underdogs.

13. Why is the history of the game important for those of us watching today?

People often look at history as a bunch of names and dates, but those aren't what's important. The evolution of the game and the reasons they occurred are what's important. The influence of the game on American society (and vice-versa) is what's important. Without history, we wouldn't be who we are today. Baseball wouldn't be what it is today. Baseball would look a lot different if Alexander Cartwright came to watch a game today, and history explains how we got here. To be a true fan of the game itself, you should know about all of it, even the stuff that happened a long time ago, because it still very much influences what happens today.

14. What is the most interesting thing you have found out about baseball looking at the history of it?

The most interesting? I don't know that I can point to one thing. I would love to go to a game in the early 1900's. What a different experience it would have been! All the changes to the game is just amazing. We call games played then and now by the same name, but they are quite different. How we got to now is really interesting to me.

15. What historical aspects of the game would you like to see in today’s game?

I can't think of anything right now. But I have to say that I like the game the way it is, even with its imperfections, and the changes are just a necessary evolution. I guess I'd like to see the All-Star Game go back to being an exhibition, no DH, and four man rotations, but I don't have to have any of them back.

16. A lot of people downplay the importance/greatness/ability of early baseball, for many reasons. What do you have to say to those who discount the history of the game?

I'd say you better be glad it was so awesome. Without its early success, it wouldn't be around today. Maybe it would be like soccer and no one would really care. Because of its ability to capture the American imagination, it became the great game it is today. It's no longer the American Pastime, and in some ways, I think it still lives a little bit off of the gigantic success that it had in the early years. Go ahead and ignore history if you want, but you're ignoring a lot of great players, people, and teams. Don't be a mindless drone. Learn why things are the way they are. It makes everything make so much more sense.

17. You’ve focused on early 20th century/deadball era history a lot, but not much 19th century baseball. Was that a conscious thing, and if so, why?

It's not really a conscious thing. I started doing a lot of the Hall of Fame posts, and most of the other random posts were off-shoots of that. Because of where I am in those posts, a lot just happens to be in that area. Be patient. The blog is just a few months old. There's plenty of time to get to everything else. I only have so much time, and I don't want to run out of topics. Seriously, I will get to other things, but right now, I find this stuff really interesting and worth exploring.

18. The statistical/sabermetric revolution of 21st century baseball doesn’t do justice to the early players, and we can’t evaluate them the same way. Does not being able to evaluate them statistically lessen their greatness/legends because we can’t put a number to it?

I think it does in some ways. We are more scientific now, and we like concrete answers. It's hard to compare Lou Gehrig and Albert Pujols. We can see Pujols and use all of these metrics to value him, but we can't with Gehrig. How do we measure his defense? How do we evaluate how much a different ball or different rules affected him? It's hard. But if we know history and understand the differences, we can put things into context. If we can put things into context and have an open mind, we can, indeed, make proper evaluations. But not being able to make them makes older players into "legends". Babe Ruth seems more like Paul Bunyan than an actual player. We want to look at his numbers and assume that they were the result of people not being able to keep track. "They must have been exaggerating or not paying as much attention." Context and understanding, people. Context and understanding. Sabermetrics is good, but it's not perfect yet.

19. If your commissioner for a year, what changes do you implement?

1) All-Star Game becomes an exhibition again.

2) Playoffs condensed (no days off during the series) and World Series games start at 6:30.

3) Create own awards, and put the coaches, players, beat writers, BBWAA, and other selected, revered journalists in charge of voting.

4) Put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame as a player.

5) Stop the unbalanced schedule and change Interleague Play. Playing the same teams 18 times a season is stupid. As for IP, the games are spread out, and no "rival games". You play 1 team from each division, and the other 2 or 3 teams are decided from how we predict the other teams will play in order to even things out.

6) Call for immunity for all steroid users before 2007. I want to know what happened and when, but you won't be punished. I won't even tell anyone you told me or that you used. Closed door meetings at the All-Star Game, World Series, and certain other games "when I happen to be in town". I want to know how it happened to prevent it in the future.

7) Those suspended cannot play in All-Star Game.

8) Suspensions for PED's become one year for first offense and life for second. I'm not messing around. This is a clean sport, and you need to take all precautions. There are no excuses. If the call system for players is broken, we'll figure out how to fix it. Know what you put in your body. The team has medical professionals. Ask them, or pay the consequences.

9) MLB Network needs to be available to everyone.

10) My suspensions for players are appropriate. Pitchers will lose position player equivalent. 15 games for what would be three game suspension for position player, for example.

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

Steroids occupies our news and minds, and we think it's the end of the world. It's not. Baseball is around 150 years old. Don't you think it's seen its share of scandals? It made it through those, and it will make it through this. After another 15 years, this one will be relegated (perhaps unfortunately) to the pages of history. It won't kill the game. It will make it evolve. If you know history, you understand that this is what will happen. Make the changes that need to be made and continue forth. When you look back at the statistics, don't put asterisks. Remember. Teach. If you and your kids know baseball history, they'll know to take what occurred into context. We do it for the Dead Ball Era. Why can't we for the Steroid Era?

This blog is a must-read for me each day. I know a lot about the history of the game, but I learn new things each day.

Mark also runs a trivia contest of sorts each day. Open to all readers.

Mark, thanks for taking the time to do this.

I would just like to point out that once again, there was an all-time team with no DH listed. Yup, spreading the gospel, one convert at a time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When bad things happen to good people

The first women pitcher in Japan has suffered her first professional loss. I still think it's a publicity stunt more than anything else, and not a serious attempt to actually have a a woman play the game.

But regardless, she is on the team, and she's had to go out and pitch. I've played a game or so of semi-pro recently, and it's still not an easy game. So you have to wonder if the loss was because she's a side-arm knuckleballer or because she just can't physically get it done:

Eri Yoshida, a 17-year-old who throws a sidearm knuckleball, took the mound in the ninth inning with the score tied 2-2.
While she did throw a wild pitch to allow the winning run to score, that's not unusual for a knucleballer. Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield, and the Niekro's had it happen to them. She also recorded a strikeout, so I would venture this isn't a good indication of whether she's actually a good pitcher.

The reason I think it's a publicity stunt:

The 5-feet, 114-pound Yoshida has appeared in only three of the Cruise 9's 22 games this season.
Of course, her size and her age may very well have something to do with her limited appearances. It will interesting to follow this throughout the season and see what she can do.

One thing to remember, however, is that even if this is a publicity stunt, she's has more professional decisions than most of us do. We're reading about it, she's doing it.

Link courtesy of the Honolulu

Albert Spalding’s World Tour-1888/1889

Kevin, over at the DMB Historic World Series Replay has a look at Albert Spalding’s World Tour-1888/1889

He's got some pictures, line-ups, results, some interesting facts and trivia, and some additional links.

Straight from Kevin:

This is one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog. This World Tour has been all but forgotten by today’s fan. It’s stuff like this that sets baseball apart from any other sport. It’s history, is really a part of American history.
I still haven't read the book, but I need to get it. Not everyone cares about the history of baseball or the international game. But if you are, it's a must-read.

More than you ever wanted to know about filling a bottle

From CJ Nitkowski, at his blog CJBaseball, is his take on drug testing, filling a bottle, dealing with foreigners, and a bunch of people who want to do anything else.

Normally, like most bloggers, I would cut and paste a few quotes from the blog, but the format he's using doesn't allow that. But it's not a long post and it's worth the time, just because of what's happening in the world of baseball today.

As an aside, having spent 20 years in the Army, I know what this is all about. I've had to fill more bottles than it was possible to keep count of. At one point, we were doing a random 10% test of the entire battalion every week. But everyone had to fill the bottle at least once a quarter, so you could get lucky for awhile, but not for long.

There was nothing worse than standing out in formation, getting ready for physical training, when the 1st Sergeant would grab a soldier out of the hallway, and tell him/her to pick a number out of a hat. Because at that point, if you got called, you were in for the duration. You could drink water, but that was it. No coffee, no soda, nothing that would actually make you go. And of course, this was the first thing in the morning, and what's the first thing you do when you get up?

The difference between the Army and baseball (one of them at least) is that the Army's going to get the sample out of you no matter what you want. They'll give you a certain amount of time to fill the bottle, but after awhile, you're going to the hospital. The threat (and yes, they can do it) of a catheter is enough to get most people to go. Oh, but those poor souls who just couldn't squeeze out enough.

Even worse than having to fill the bottle, I was also an observer. Yes, it means what you think it does. There's nothing worse than getting pulled out of the bunk at 4:00 am to go watch a bunch of swinging, well, soldiers, fill little bottles. And it wasn't here's a bottle, go fill it it in the stall, and bring it back to me. Observe means observe. Oh, the things we do for our country.

Which actually triggered something in my mind, and now I'm curious. We were required to observe, and we always caught people trying to get out of the test, have someone else do it for them, or use 'instruments' to help them. If they were caught, and they always were, it was automatic punishment the same as if you came up hot.

So how come no one is getting punished in baseball for trying to get away with something? And how come so few major league and big name players? Is anyone actually watching them? Are they allowed to 'proceed' on their own and hand the bottle to some who's waiting outside the stall? Are they being checked to see if they have a friends sample with them when they go in? If steroids is such a rampant problem in baseball, how come so few players have actually been caught?

I'm really curious now, and I have to wonder if baseball is as diligent as they claim to be. The Army has a good drug testing system, and a soldier might get away with it for a one-off thing, but prolonged use was always caught. Always. And so were the guys trying to get an edge.

Just looking back at if from previous experience, if so many guys were using, then the number caught should be so much higher than it is. It really should be. Unless everyone went cold turkey, which they obviously haven't, because players are getting suspended.

And I'm here to tell you that sending a guy into a closed stall to fill a bottle isn't a drug test. All that does is collect urine. Either the problem wasn't as serious as it was made out to be, and I doubt that, or something isn't being done correctly. The numbers just don't add up.
Of course, I want to find the technician that's going to put a catheter into Randy Johnson. Because that was a brave man.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

British Baseball Hall of Fame launched

The guys at Baseball GB bring us the news:

Yesterday, the official announcement was made on the BBF website that the British Baseball Hall of Fame is finally off the ground. The idea has been proposed numerous times in the past, but for a variety of reasons it has never come to fruition, until now that is.
More details can be found at the official site:

Full details of the project can be found on the official webpage: It is anticipated that the inaugural class will be announced in the autumn.
There are obviously a lot of players who can be considered for various reasons, to include many major leaguers or pioneers who were born in the UK, to include Henry Chadwick. Hopefully, they'll do much better with the selections than has been happening in the states for a few years.

At least they won't have beat writers for teams making the decision for them.

Something you don't see every day

Hitting a baseball is hard. Hitting it off of an experienced, major league pitcher is even harder. Hitting the ball consistently off of a major league pitcher is even more difficult. The The Tokyo Yakult Swallows accomplished a feat that has never happened before, and would likely to never happen again in a major league game:

On Sunday Yakult couldn’t quite manage that, but they did manage to do something that Chiba couldn’t. They got hits in 11 consecutive at-bats for their own new NPB record (for consecutive hits.)
I think the Royals and Nationals this year have even combined for a dozen games where they've had 11 hits, and the Swallow's did it consecutively. Here's how:

1. Aoki pokes one through the middle for a single.
2. Guiel hits to centre to put men on the corners.
3. Ihara (pinch hitting for Yuichi) hits a single to left, one run scores and men are on first and second. 3-2 Tokyo.
4. Miyamoto puts down a surprise bunt but Orix can’t turn the play and he gets himself an infield hit to load the bases.
5. D’Antona singles to left scoring two runs, 5-2 Tokyo. Miyamoto later steals third to put men on the corners.
6. Aikawa then also singles to left, one run scores to put men on first and second. 6-2 Tokyo.
7. Kawashima Keizo hits to left to load the bases.
8. Takeuchi hits a chopper to first and is safe, one run scores and the bases are loaded again. 7-2 Tokyo.
8. Tanaka hits to centre, one runs scores and Kawashima is run-down between third and home for out number one. 8-2 Tokyo Men on second and third. With first base open, next man up Aoki is then walked on five pitches to load the bases.
10. Guiel smacks a huge one into the second tier in right to bring home four runs and clear the bases. His second hit of the inning. 12-2 Tokyo.
11. Ihara doubles for his second hit of the inning, and the last hit for the Swallows in a record-breaking 6th inning.
Now, there was a walk in the middle of the streak, but 11 official at bats, and 11 official hits.

I think that's former Royal Aaron Guiel playing for the Swallows. I'll have to check. Any way you look at it, it's an impressive feat.

Of course, the fact that the Nationals haven't allowed this type of streak themselves is impressive, also.

Original link from the guys at The Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

European Cup Qualifiers will start today

From CEB:

Today in four cities in Europe the European Cup Qualifiers will start. 24 European Club teams coming from 22 different countries will compete to qualify for the European Cup 2010 tournament.

The tournaments have each 6 participating teams and will take place at:

Ostrava, Republic Czech
Trnava, Slovakia
Attnang Puchheim, Austria
Antwerp-Hoboken, Belgium
And some good news for those who want to follow along:

For the first time CEB, the Confederation of European Baseball, will now also transmit the 64 games of the four Qualifiers tournaments in "play-by-play" on the CEB website under Competitions - 2009.
Who needs the Olympics?

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Japanese draft

In light of the American amateur draft going on, the guys at NPB Tracker give us a look at how the Japanese draft works.

The Japanese draft is a little different in scope and timing:

The NPB Draft occurs at the end of season in October and two different types of draft take place. The regular draft where teams select high school graduates, college graduates and industrial league players; and the ikusei player draft, for players for the Ikusei System
The post explains who is eligible and what they need to get signed up for the draft, of which there are several different categories. It breaks it down to high school, college, and industrial league players, which is much more involved in the criteria for the American draft.

One interesting note about the Japanese draft:

Player who refuse to enter the NPB Draft and elect to play overseas will not be eligible for the draft for three years if going overseas after high school, two years for all others
I can only assume this is a response to keeping the better younger players from signing minor league contracts in the states and getting into the minor league system.

We, of course, have a similar rule, even it only lasts for one year instead of the time period listed for the Japanese draft. They are obviously protecting their league, but it seems a little harsh to me. If a Japanese kid out of high school was lucky enough to be signed to play in the states, and only made it one year, then he is in essence banned for two years from playing in the Japanese leagues. Since they don't have a very viable minor league system, which is were the industrial leagues come in, it might not be much of an issue.

Interestingly enough, this is a new rule:

There’s also a new regulation known as the Tazawa Rule…
The rest of the post covers the basics of the draft itself, which is much shorter than what happens in the states. Again, because they don't really have a minor league system that compares with ours.

You have to wonder if this might lead to the development of a minor league system in Japan, or if they are content to let it go the way it is?

The numbers game for baseball in Asia

Baseball is set to explode in Asia, and I'm not just talking about Japan and South Korea. All over the region, the game is growing and becoming more popular. As well as Japan and South Korea winning the first World Baseball Classics, and the South Korean's winning the last Olympic Gold Medal in baseball, the Chinese beat the Taiwanese, the Indonesians winning the World Cup qualifier for Asia, and the growth of the game in Thailand and Sri Lanka, in spite of all their political issues.

From the IBF, here are some of the recent accomplishments:

• China’s announcement last week of a ten-year, fully funded grassroots program to further develop the sport among young people, combined with Major League Baseball’s continued extensive grassroots programs for coaches, players and officials in the country.

• The Chinese Taipei government’s announcement earlier this spring to fully fund extended baseball programs for youth and elite teams for boys and girls.

• The emergence of Pakistan and Indonesia on the international baseball landscape, with Indonesia winning the Asian Cup qualifier over Pakistan 3-2 in Thailand two weeks ago.

• The establishment of school programs and coaching certification programs in cities throughout India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other emerging nations.

No one, to include me, is ready to say that any of these countries are ready to compete with the big boys yet. They are still in the beginning stages and have a long way to go.

From Dr Harvey Schiller, president of the IBF:

“What is really encouraging is seeing the growth in baseball programs for both boys and girls in countries like China, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and India. Exposure to the game of baseball in these countries through broadcasting, clinics and even in new media is steadily raising interest, participation and the level of play to levels never before seen. It once again shows the continued global nature of baseball as a sport for all with a very bright future.”
I think Dr Schiller has nailed it. You have to start with the kids and get the game ingrained into them at an early age. There will always be talented athletes who can play the sport from anywhere, as recent signees from South Africa, Nigeria and the Canary Islands show.

But it's important to get programs going, not just pick out a talented ball player here and there. The only competition right now is soccer and national sports that many of us don't know much about. But I don't think anyone can deny that the game is going to explode in Asia.

Well, Bud and his boys. They'll definitely miss out on it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More reading for Project COBB

An addendum to yesterday's post about Project Cobb. They've been playing baseball in England (United Kingdom/Great Britain) for a long time, as evidenced by this article.

The article was written in 1909.

As mentioned before, baseball was very popular in the UK at the turn of the century, and ended up being killed off by the war.

If you read the article, you might notice the references to the 'colonies'. I guess some things just die hard. Even now, I still hear it. They think it's an insult, but it isn't to Americans. We just think it's funny.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Project COBB

This probably means a lot more to me than most people reading here, but this is a good project a few people have going on:

Aims of Project Cobb

The Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball (Project Cobb) was established in October 2008 with two overarching aims:

1. To unify and support the various efforts to publish historical details of baseball played in Britain under modern rules.

2. To promote the preservation of baseball history in Britain as it happens.

I'm into baseball, of course. Where ever it's played. While I prefer major league baseball, I've always participated in some form or other from t-ball up to semi-pro. These guys are dedicated to baseball in Great Britain. Showing how the game has been popular and developed over the years will only help it continue to grow.

Some of the achievements so far:

Creating an archive of standings, play-off results, and more for post-World War II baseball in Britain Mark Tobin is always looking to add and cross-check information in his invaluable online archive. If there are gaps that you can fill or facts that you can back up or dispute, please contact Mark here.

Creating an archive of domestic statistics and feats. This archive includes full southern top-tier stats back to 2001,additional, single-season and career records, a list of individual champions where known, and a catalogue of feats. If there are gaps that you can fill, please email the address at the top of this webpage.

Creating an archive for the Great Britain national team. Building on a large body of research by Josh Chetwynd, this archive includes a full year-by-year history, player biographies, and lists of performances and players. If there are gaps that you can fill,please email the address at the top of this webpage.

Detailing Britain's classic post-World War II finals. This subject has been covered in a 10,000-word article that draws together game reports and other details for a number of classic finals played since World War II.

Remembering the London Twilight Baseball League of 1976. A Project Cobb article looks at the London Twilight Baseball League of 1976, a project led by Jeff Archer. While the league was short-lived, its innovative nature gives it historical importance and also provides lessons for baseball today. Think of it along the lines of retrosheet and Baseball Reference for Great Britain.
I realize that baseball in the UK isn't every one's thing, but if you have a few minutes, check out the site. It's worth a few minutes of your time.

Additionally, here are some of their on-going projects:

Baseball in Folkestone and Hythe during World War I.
Andrew Taylor is gathering information on baseball played in the Folkestone and Hythe area during World War I.

Domestic baseball in the 1950s.
British Baseball Data is trying to gather as much information as possible on domestic baseball in the 1950s.

Individual British champions from 1890 onwards.
While it would be unrealistic to aim for a full list of batting and pitching category leaders back to 1890, the Great Britain Baseball Scorers Association hopes that some of the gaps can be filled.

Baseball in World War II.
Baseball in Wartime is collecting information on baseball relating to World War II, including that with a British connection
They also have some monitoring projects:
Preserving baseball history as it happens can include:
- scoring games;
- collating statistics;
- writing reports
- taking photos.
If there is a particular aspect of baseball in Britain that you wish to monitor or if you require advice on any of the above areas, please contact Project Cobb using the email address at the top of this webpage.
A discussion about a British Baseball Hall of Fame:

The idea of having a Hall of Fame for British baseball is one that has been discussed at various points in the past, but no formal plan has ever materialized. If you have any views on how a Hall of Fame could be set up and then maintained, please send your views to Project Cobb using the email address at the top of this webpage.
A links to books about baseball in Great Britain.

Personally, I would liken this to the efforts that are currently going to get the accurate history of Negro League baseball recorded in the states.

The life and times of a ball player

CJ Nitkoswki, who has his own blog, CJBaseball, tells us about some of his experiences on the diamond. In this particular post, he explains to us the need for protective equipment.

I like a lot of sports, but it seems like only baseball players come up with things like this. Which is what makes it such a great sport.

Caution: semi-veiled references to the male anatomy.

This is an All-Star team I could compete with

This is a list of major leaguers who played a game, or even more in Great Britain. Some were just single game appearances, and some were tours of the country. People forget that from the late-1880's, until just before World War II, that major leaguers used to tour Europe in the off-season on a regular basis.

This would have been a pretty good team, particularly in the outfield and with the starting pitching.

I would take any of these guys over what the Royals are putting out there every day.

Read up on Roland Gladu and John Foster. They were pretty good ball players, even if you never heard of them.

Position players

Catcher — Jerry Grote, New York Mets
First base — Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates
Second base — Quilvio Veras, San Diego Padres
Shortstop — George Wright, Boston Red Stockings
Third base – Roland Gladu, Boston Braves
Outfielder — Cap Anson, Chicago White Stockings
Outfielder — Tris Speaker, Boston Red Sox
Outfielder — Sam ―Wahoo Crawford, Detroit Tigers
Utility — Jim Thorpe, New York Giants

Starter — Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians
Starter — AG Spalding, Boston Red Stockings
Pitcher — Urban Faber, Chicago White Sox
Reliever — Tug McGraw, Philadelphia Phillies
Reliever — John Foster, Atlanta Braves

Manager — John McGraw, New York Giants
Coach — Hughie Jennings, Detroit Tigers
Umpire — Augie Donatelli

Honourable mentions
Outfielder — Billy Williams, Chicago Cubs
Outfielder — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs
Starter — Christy Mathewson, New York Giants

You can see more of their individual achievements in Great Britain here at the great site Baseball GB.

I think I would actually switch Cap Anson to 1B, and put Pops in LF. People forget, he started out as a decent outfielder.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I want to Major in baseball

Now this is too cool. If they had this back in the states, I might have actually stayed in college and finished. All 3 times I went:

Some background first, from NPB Tracker:

Shikoku Gakuin Daigaku is installing the major system, which is the most common college academic system in the United States. Starting from the 2010 academic year, the university is restructuring its academic system and installing the major system providing 19 majors and one minor of the students’ choice. This differs from the typical Japanese university system, where students choose a curriculum prior to entering the school, and in the event they want to change majors, have to basically re-apply to the school.
How does that affect us here:

What is interesting about this new development is that the Shikoku Gakuin Daigaku is adding the major of Baseball Science, which is the first such program in any Japanese university.
Yep, in Japan, you can go to college and major in baseball:

The main subjects the students will be able to study majoring in Baseball Science will be:

History of Japanese Baseball
Baseball Information Analysis
Baseball Methodology
Baseball Management
Health and Sports Nutrition
Introduction of Baseball Communication
This isn't a frivolous exercise in itself. There is a purpose to it:

The dream of the university is for one of their alumni to become a major league player and expand the business of baseball and develop more “Baseball People” who can contribute to the industry. The school hasn’t produced many NPB players. One of the few baseball alumni from Shikoku Gakuen Daigaku is former Hiroshima Toyo Carp Kouichi Amano, currently the manager of the Fukui Miracle Elephants in the Baseball Challenge League.
All those years I spent in school worrying about Political Science and History, and other people get to study baseball. Sometimes life just isn't fair.