Friday, February 27, 2009

Making a pitch

The IBF made its pitch in Tokyo, to get baseball back in the Olympics. Currently, baseball is competing with six other sports for two open spots. The other sports are: golf, karate, softball, rugby sevens, squash and roller speed skating. Yeah, that's the competition.

That's the proposal. So what will happen:

The seven sports are competing for a maximum of two openings on the 2016 program. The decision will be made in October at the IOC session in Copenhagen,
where the 2016 Olympic host city will also be selected from Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

In Copenhagen, the IOC general assembly will vote en bloc on the continuation of the existing 26 sports. The voting procedure for the potential addition of one or two new sports has yet to be finalized.
Rugby sevens, squash, golf, karate and roller sports were each considered for inclusion in the 2005 vote but all failed to win a required two-thirds majority. The system has since been changed to require only a simple majority for addition of new sports.

Here's what some of the other sports are proposing:

The International Golf Federation is proposing a 72-hole stroke play Olympic tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field. In the case of a tie, a three-hole playoff would be held to determine the medalists.The top 15 players in the world rankings would qualify automatically.Golf organizations have agreed to adjust their summer schedules to ensure that no major championships conflict with the Olympic tournament.Golf instituted regular drug-testing last year, putting the sport in line with Olympic requirements.

Rugby was played at the 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924 Olympics.The International Rugby Board is proposing rugby sevens tournaments for men and women with 12, 16 or 20 teams.While 15-a-side rugby union is the premier version of the game, IRB
secretary general Mike Miller said sevens has “unique attributes” that fit Olympic competition.Miller said the Olympic tournaments can be played over two or three days, “require limited infrastructure and overlay investment and can take place in existing stadia.”

The World Squash Federation says the sport is played by over 20 million people in 175 countries and could easily be integrated into the Olympics.“Requiring just two perspex courts that can be located anywhere, it is an extremely cost effective and highly exciting spectator sport,” the federation said. “Squash can also state with certainty that an Olympic medal would be the highest honor in the sport, bar none.”

The roller sports federation proposes five men’s and five women’s speedskating races over three days, with 50 men and 50 women competing in sprint and distance events. Speeds in sprint races can reach 60 kph (37 mph).“It is a young, dynamic, fast-paced and athletic spectacular sport,” FIRS secretary general Robert Marotta said.

The World Karate Federation claims 100 million members in 180 countries and says it is the most popular martial arts in the world.

Well, good luck to them. I can see how those sports should have a higher profile than baseball. As I said before, I think baseball and softball are out. Golf and rugby are in. The Europeans are running things now, and they don't want anything messing with soccer.

I think we're going to find out pretty soon how Bud feels about it all. I already know, I'm just waiting for him to confirm it.

Top 10 European prospects playing in America

I'm into international baseball. I live for international baseball. I'm all about international baseball. I'm going to play it, I'm going to coach it and I'm going to umpire in it. I think I've made my point. but Major League baseball is first and foremost. That's why I'm always interested in European players who are making it in the states.

From 'My World of Baseball' comes a list of the top-10 Europeans playing minor league ball right now:

1. Greg Halman, Mariners (Netherlands) OF - The one true legitimate prospect who may become the first European player to play in a major league All star game. He is the top prospect of the Mariners according to Baseball America. As a 17 year old in the Dutch Professional League he won the MVP award, almost winning the Triple Crown. The Mariners swooped in after that and signed him for $130,000. He advanced to AA this year, hitting .268 with 10 homeruns. As he develops, he has the potential to be a 30-30 player in the major leagues (29 homeruns and 31 stolen bases in 2008).

2. Shairon Martis, Nationals (Curacao) RHP - The talent level for real prospects drops off after Halman. Martis claim to fame was the no hitter he threw for the Netherlands against Panama in the 2006 WBC. He played for the Giants then, but the Nationals acquired him in a trade for left handed pitcher Mike Stanton. Martis does not have overpowering stuff so he is better suited for the back end of the rotation. He made his major league debut with the Nationals in 2008, getting five appearances and four starts and finishing with an unimpressive 5.66 ERA. Command was a big issue for him when he reached the majors.

3. Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Reds (Curacao) RHP - He got on the road map when he shut down the powerful Cuban team in the Honkball tournament in 2008, almost giving the Netherland Antilles an opening day upset. He went to high school in Florida so the Reds drafted him in the 30th round in 2008. He signed too late to play in any minor league games, but he will be starting for the Netherlands team in the WBC. The Reds paid him a $500,000 bonus to sign him so they must like what they see.

4. Roger Bernadina, Nationals (Netherlands) OF - He also made his debut with the Nationals and struggled with the 4-3 groundout, hitting only .211. He covers a lot of ground in centerfield, so if he can hit .351 like he did in AAA he will start in centerfield. He covers a lot of ground so any kind of offense from him would be a bonus. He’s got a good arm and excellent speed. All he needs to do is adjust to major league pitching and not try to pull everything.

5. Loek Van Mil, Twins (Netherlands) RHP - Loek was supposed to be the closer for the Netherlands Olympic team but a partial ligament tear led to thoughts of Tommy John surgery if rehab was not effective. He will probably miss all of 2009 if surgery is needed. At 7 feet one inch, he is the tallest pitcher in baseball. Loek throws a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider, which are both plus pitches and a changeup which is still in a developmental stage.

6. Hainley Statia, Angels (Curacao) SS - Another player from Curacao who went to high school in Florida and was drafted by the Angels in the ninth round of 2004. It has been a slow climb for Statia. He saw AA for his first time last year and only hit .242 in 59 games. His career minor league average is .281. With so many middle infielders already in the Angels system, the odds of him sticking is not good.

7. Alex Maestri, Cubs (Italy) RHP - The first player outside the Netherlands or Curacao to make this list. At 6′0″ with mediocre stuff the odds of him advancing are slim. Righthanders without good velocity standing at 6 feet or less do not traditionally have a lot of success in the major leagues. He does throw strikes, is athletic and has a good slider to complement his fastball so he does have a shot to fit at the back of the bullpen. In 2007 he had 12 saves with a 2.26 ERA, but he did not repeat that success in 2008, moved to the starting rotation where the velocity of his fastball drops to the high 80’s. He finished with a 3.69 ERA in 2008 after 14 starts and a 6.55 ERA in AA after two starts.

8. Curt Smith, Cardinals (Curacao) 1B - Curt Smith went to the University of Maine and was drafted by the Cardinals in the 39th round in 2008. He appeared in 58 games between between Rookie ball and Low A finishing with a combined .353 average and eight homeruns. Those are impressive numbers for a first year player, but at 22 those are numbers are not a surprise for a college level player. At 5′10″ he is not a big man for first base so if he can move to an outfield position it may increase his chances of success.

9. Sven Huijer, Red Sox (Netherlands) RHP - At 6′9″ he is another tall pitcher in the mold of Loek Van Mil. He made his debut with the Red Sox Gulf Coast League team, making eight appearances and finishing with a 2.81 ERA. In 16 innings he didn’t walk a hitter, remarkable for a pitcher of that height. On the downside, he only struck out four. The Red Sox must like him since they signed him to a seven year contract.

10. Kai Gronauer, Mets (Germany) C - You have to like the way he ran the German pitching staff in the pre-Olympic qualifier in Taiwan. And though the Germans did not qualify for the Olympics, Kai was one of the better players in the tournament. The Mets were impressed and signed him after the tournament and after his first minor league season he hit .356. Those are impressive numbers, but he was a 22 year old competing in the rookie league, so like Curt Smith, the key will be how his numbers evolve as he advances. He also threw out six of the 10 runners that attempted to steal off him. Kai has been playing for the German national team since he was 18 years old.
Of the 10, 4 are Dutch and 4 are from Curacao, home of Andruw Jones. I've already predicted the Dutch will make the 2nd round of the WBC, and the semi's of the World Cup. I am a betting man, so let me know if you want some action. The filed is rounded out by 1 Italian and 1 German.

Just as importantly, among the prospects are a catcher and a shortstop, what I consider to be the skill positions in baseball. Good stuff, guys.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fighting the good fight

Dr Schiller has recently interviewed by 70 members of the Japanese press, while in Tokyo to promote the drive to reinstate baseball in the Olympics. Dr Schiller has a plan to get major league players into the Olympics, which is where the exclusion of baseball is coming from. The European countries, afraid baseball will eclipse soccer, have come together to get baseball banned. Even though the best soccer players from Europe don't compete, as that would take away from the World Cup. How's that again.

To get baseball back in the Olympics, Dr Schiller has proposed:

a plan to shorten the duration of the tournament from the previous 11 days to 5 days. In addition, "I have requested all the owners to send their best players to the Olympics. I am confident about it." said he.
Dr Schilller reiterated that in order for baseball to be reinstated:

participation of MLB players is essential". A plan to shorten the duration to 5 days by tournament system will make it possible "to secure MLB players without interrupting the games. Number of people to stay in the Olympic village and associated costs can be reduced." explained he. (Japanese translation
That's good, but he needs to talk to Bud.

Commissioner Selig is said to have assured in writing "to send best players for the 2016 Olympic baseball."

After the joint press conference, President Schiller visited the JOC to pay respect to its President Tsunekazu Takeda. He asked for support to the reinstatement of
baseball and is said to have expressed his willingness to support Tokyo's bid to host 2016 Olympics.
All good stuff. Maybe an extended All-Star break, and the big guys all get to play. Just like in the World Baseball Classic. Yup, Bud is all for this.

An open letter

Dr. Harvey Schiller, Presiden to the International Baseball Federation, has published an open letter to the federation.

Some of the key points:

Today we also submitted our questionnaire to the International Olympic Committee for re-instatement to the Olympic Programme in 2016. The final document had almost 150 pages of facts and figures as to why baseball should be part of the Olympics again, and we are continuing to do everything possible to make that happen.
Some of the developmental stuff:

Baseball Kenya developing a project involving almost 1,700 children in impoverished areas of Nairobi to introduce baseball as a way to work together, resolve conflict and learn both life and athletic skills.

The announcement by Baseball Turkey of the establishment of 35 baseball teams, as well as serving as the host of European youth championships in Antalya.

The establishment of new baseball programs for as many as 40,000 school children in Phnom Penh , Cambodia.

The announcement that Spain’s Eric Gonzalez, a native of the Canary Islands and a top prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, was a recipient of a medal from the Spanish Government for his work growing the sport.

The introduction of Dominican Republic-born Gerardo Yassel Cabrera as Iran ’s national baseball coach.

Clinics for both umpires and coaches held across Europe , all designed to grow the game.
And a good finish:

In short, baseball has never been better positioned globally for success, and we have many people to thank for that, from the volunteers in the smallest of towns and the boys and girls of all ages who play the game, to those who play on the club and the professional level. It has been, and will always be a game for all. We are very excited about the WBC and the continued growth of the sport on all levels, and look forward to hearing from you about the stories of growth that you have seen. As always, please visit our website, ibaf.org for the latest information and a link to my blog. Feel free to contact us at any time and with any questions, thoughts or ideas.
Hey, it's like being interactive.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baseball is expanding again


Baseball is expanding again, in their ever ending search for major league talent. Expanding territorially, I should say, and not team wise. Because even though people are playing baseball all over the world, we still can't get two more teams in the majors, thereby eliminating the need for a division with 6 teams, and one with 4.






But I digress. Scouts are looking for talent in the Philippines.

Major League Baseball envoy Rick Dell recently paid a visit to the Philippines to evaluate 15 players aged 16-18 years old in hopes of possibly recruiting a prospect who is capable of eventually playing in the United States.

Baseball scouts have been in the Philippines before, so it's not a new thing. But it was the first evaluation of players at a tryout:
During the workouts, Dell asked the players in attendance to do drills that are done in professional standards such as a 60-yard dash, some fielding situations and batting practices.

15 players doesn't seem like a lot for a tryout before a major league scout, but I don't how many are playing in the Philippines right now. Players who do well will get an additional look:
If a player or two passes Dell’s evaluation, they will be invited to an MLB training camp in either Australia or China. And, Dell hopes to come back to the country and do more evaluations.

I know the success rate for tryout rates isn't really good for the states, so they shouldn't be too upset if any individual doesn't make it. The Philippines will get there eventually.

Pool D predictions for the WBC

The last of the pools. Some more upset specials. I'm not just picking these out of my ass and guessing at it. I really believe the clubs I'm picking will win. The funny things, if I'm right, all the 'experts' will proclaim, "Who would have guessed this could happen?". Well, me.

I'll keep checking, and if they fix the brackets, I will update accordingly.

Round 1 - Pool D

Netherlands
Dominican Republic
Panama
Puerto Rico



Netherlands vs. Dominican Republic

Netherlands over the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is missing too many players, and the dutch are the best team in Europe. I don't count this an upset


Panama vs. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico over Panama. Puerto Rico has the better pitching and more marquee players. Probably a good game that could go either way, but will go to the island.


Game 2 Loser (Dominican Republic) vs. Game 1 Loser (Panama)

Dominican Republic over Panama. The DR hits their way to victory. This will probably be the high scoring game of the Classic.


Game 1 Winner (Netherlands) vs. Game 2 Winner (Puerto Rico)

Netherlands over Puerto Rico. I'm probably wrong on this, and it's mostly a toss up, but I'll stay with Grandma's team.


Game 3 Winner (Dominican Republic) vs. Game 4 Loser (Puerto Rico)

Puerto Rico over Dominican Republic. I'll take the little island over the half-island. DR pitching doesn't match up to PR's, and both teams can hit.


Game 4 Winner (Netherlands) vs. Game 3 Loser (Panama)

Netherlands vs. Panama. I'll stay with the Dutch, who are mostly US high-minor leaguers, over Panama, which just doesn't have the combined talent to match up



The final results:

Netherlands 3 - 0
Puerto Rico 2 - 1
Dominican Republic 1 - 2
Panama 0 - 3



Netherlands and Puerto Rico advance to the second round.

Pool C predictions for the WBC



Okay, the second set of predictions. This pool is a little harder, as it has some good games , and there could be some upsets, which I'm predicting. I'm probably wrong on at least one of these, but I don't think I am.





Round 1 - Pool C

Canada
United States
Italy
Venezuela




Canada vs. United States

United States over Canada. I don't think this game is a gimme, but I'll give the US the edge. They seem like they actually want to win, and will make an effort. A good game, but the US wins.


Italy vs. Venezuela

Italy over Venezuela. Some people might laugh at this pick, but I'm not. Venezuela is missing too many of its top players, and Italy is better than people think. Especially with all the Americans playing for them.


Game 2 Loser (Venezuela) vs. Game 1 Loser (Canada)

Canada over Venezuela. Canada is at least the number 2 team, so they get on the winning track.


Game 1 Winner (United States) vs. Game 2 Winner (Italy)

United States over Italy. I don't care how many Americans play for the Italian team, the US is winning this game. No contest.


Game 3 Winner (Canada) vs. Game 4 Loser (Italy)

Italy over Canada. You have to have some kind of upset special, and as I said, Italy is better than people will think. and Canada doesn't really have all that much to impress me, as they're missing too many top pitchers.


Game 4 Winner (United States) vs. Game 3 Loser (Venezuela)

United States over Venezuela. I know Venezuela has some great players, but they're missing all the front line pitching, and just won't be able to do it.



The final results:

United States 3 - 0
Italy 2 - 1
Canada 1 - 2
Venezuela 0 - 3




The United States and Italy advance to the second round.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rockin' the diamond



Do you like baseball and good rock music? Or at least, baseball and music, because I don't know how good it is. Check this album out:








The Baseball Project

If you are a fan of baseball and Rock and Roll Music than 'the Baseball Project' is a must for you! Four musicians share the passion of our beautiful sport and made an album 'Volume 1. Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails'. A mix of country,pop, folk and rock. Thirteen songs of our heroes telling their stories. Scott McCaughey (Minus 5), Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck (yes, the one from R.E.M) and Linda Pitmon on drums first appeared at David Letterman.

Among the songs is the Spanish ballad of former L.A. Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. 'Broken Man' tells the story of Mark McGwire. "Past Time' is a musical tour where all the heroes appear. A comic song called 'Ted Fucking Williams' and 'Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays'. The last song of the album is 'The Closer' and tells the lonely life and hunger for pressure of those who played only a few minutes in the game.

We cannot wait for Volume 2!!!

Hey, a song by Fernando! Its worth the price just to see what he can do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pool B predictions for the WBC

Pool B predictions. Just as a headsup, I don't think the brackets are done correctly. And its not a real round-robin. Each team is not guaranteed to play the other. I'm not sure why they did it like that. But the way this thing is being run, its a wonder its happening at all.




Round 1 - Pool B

South Africa
Cuba
Australia
Mexico




South Africa vs. Cuba

Cuba over South Africa. The Cubans are just as eager as the Japanese to get this thing started, and avenge their lose. South Africa, while getting better, will serve as a sacrificial lamb.


Australia vs. Mexico

Mexico over Australia. I think these teams are probably evenly matched, but Mexico gets the nod for playing at home, and wanting to prove their better than the 2006 Classic showed.


Game 2 Loser (Australia) vs. Game 1 Loser (South Africa)

Australia over South Africa. Supposedly, Australia looked pretty good over Taiwan in their series, if maybe giving up too many runs. Chinese Taipei is probably better than South Africa, at least for now.


Game 1 Winner (Cuba) vs. Game 2 Winner (Mexico)

Cuba over Mexico. I would like to see the Mexicans win this one. Probably the best game of this pool, but the Cubans are better.


Game 3 Winner (Australia) vs. Game 4 Loser (Mexico)

Australia over Mexico. I think the brackets might be wrong on the sight, because they would be playing for the second time. Not my problem, I'll take Australia in the rematch.


Game 4 Winner (Cuba) vs. Game 3 Loser (South Africa)

Cuba over South Africa. Same thing with the bracket, and the rematch. No contest, really.




The final results:

Cuba 3 - 0
Australia 2 - 1
Mexico 1 -2
South Africa 0 - 3



Cuba and Australia advance to the second round.

Pool A predictions for the WBC


The Classic is almost upon us. Yeah, baseball!!! So I'm going to get my predictions out early, so I can prove how smart I am, and how I know more about baseball than anyone else. Because that's what its really about, isn't it.




Round 1 - Pool A

China
Chinese Taipei
Japan
South Korea



China vs. Japan

Japan over China. The Japanese are already practising as a team, and they're ready for this. They've won it before, and they plan on winning it again.


Chinese Taipei vs. South Korea

South Korea over Chinese Taipei. The Taiwanese just played a 9-game series vs the Australian team, and finished 2-6-1. South Korea is a becoming a baseball nation, and this isn't the Little League World Series.


Game 2 Loser (Chinese Taipei) vs. Game 1 Loser (China)

China over Chinese Taipei. I'm going with the upset special and taking the Chinese. There is a lot of national pride involved in these games, particularly in Asia. Taiwan isn't playing well, and the pressure might be too much. This could go either way, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. One of these teams will win one game, and the other won't win any. It's a toss-up, but I'm taking the upset.


Game 1 Winner (Japan) vs. Game 2 Winner (South Korea)

Japan over South Korea. This could be an upset, but not a major one. Four years from now, it might just happen. I think the Japanese will win, but again, a lot of national pride, and it might be the best game of the Classic.


Game 3 Winner (Chinese Taipei) vs. Game 4 Loser (South Korea)

South Korea over Chinese Taipei. It might be a game, but I don't see the Koreans losing this one. Regardless of the past, South Korea is the 2nd best team in Asia.


Game 4 Winner (Japan) vs. Game 3 Loser (China)

Japan over China. National, regional, and Asian pride on the line, with the final in Tokyo. There are no sure things in life, but it would take an epic melt-down for the Chinese to win this game.



The final results:

Japan 3 - 0
South Korea 2 - 1
China 1 - 2
Chinese Taipei 0 - 3



Japan and South Korea advance to the second round.

Another look at the rosters



Just quickly, another rundown of former major leaguers playing in the European leagues.


Manny Alexander - playing for the DANESI NETTUNO, of the Italian League:

Manny Alexander played 593 games in the big leagues, batting .231 (OBP .282/SLG .324) for the Orioles, Mets, Cubs, Red Sox, Rangers and Padres.

Alexander was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic and signed as an amateur free agent with Baltimore in 1988. He made his MLB debut in 1992 at the age of 21 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He batted .265 (.312/.376) in 1259 Minor League games from 1989 until 2007. Last winter he signed with RIMINI and led the club with a .331 batting average (.399/.423) with two homeruns, a triple, seven doubles, 30 runs scored and 20 RBI. NETTUNO plans to use him as shortstop.
Greg McCarthy - new pitching coach for reigning Austrian champion Mosquito Athletics Attnang-Puchheim.

Abraham Nunez - outfielder for DANESI NETTUNO, of the Italian League:

No, he is not the longtime infielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates with the same name.
However the Abraham Nunez, who will join DANESI NETTUNO of the 2009 campaign in the Italian Baseball League, also played in the MLB. The outfielder, who was born on February 5th, 1977 in Haina, Dominican Republic signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 1996. He stayed with the club until December 1999, when he was traded to the Florida Marlins. In Miami he finally made his Major
League debut in September 2002 against the New York Mets.

Two years later again he was traded, this time to the Kansas City Royals. 2004 also
was his most accomplished season in the big leagues, as he played 117 games for
Kansas City and Florida. It was also his last. The following years he was with Minor League teams of the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals. Following his release after the 2007 season, Nunez joined Chinatrust Whales of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan last year.

He celebrated his 32nd birthday ten days ago and looks back at a total of 136 MLB games, batting .209 (OBP .288/SLG .308) with six homeruns, 42 runs and 35 RBI. During his Minor League career he had a line of .268/.365/.452 with 134 homeruns, 622 runs, 581 RBI and 162 stolen bases in 1068 games. Nunez is capable to play all three outfield positions, but spent most of his career in the corner spots.
Giovanni Carrera - pitcher for DANESI NETTUNO, of the Italian League:

a former Major Leaguer himself, returns for a third straight season with NETTUNO. The 40-year-old veteran, who had a career ERA of 4.69 in 313 MLB games for five teams, had a 8-2 record with an ERA of 2.35 in 14 games (12 starts) for DANESI last season. He struck out 49 (23 walks) in 72 innings. During the winter he pitched for Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League, going 3-3 with an ERA of 6.14 and 24 strikeouts (21 walks) in 51 1/3 innings. Carrara also has an Italian passport and doesn’t block a foreign spot on the roster.
Must of gotten that passport through his grandparents, because he was born in Venezuela. Good luck, guys.

The competition



I didn't realize it, but Baseball Think Factory has an International Newsbeat section. I do read at BTF, but I never really noticed this before. I guess if I had known about it, I might have thought twice about starting a blog on international baseball.


I encourage everyone to check it out, but I hope you still keep coming here. I'm a little more off-beat than they will be.

The Prince of Baseball



This is a great post form Seamheads, this is a great post about The Baseball Prince of Italy. It's the story of Giorgio Castelli, who is the greatest player in the history of the Italian League.




I don't have much to add to it, but if you're interested in baseball in Europe, or in Italy, it's a great story, and you should read the whole thing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Can you spell 'boondoggle'


Have you wondered why the Braves haven't been able to sign any premium free agents the last couple of years. Well, the reason is clear. They're spending all of their available cash on development leagues. In the Canary Islands. Uh huh, the Canary Islands. Now, given a choice between the Canary Islands, Pittsburgh in the summer, and a left handed bat for the outfield, this isn't a bad choice.

And this isn't just for the Director of Player Development:

A slew of important dignataries will be present from the Atlanta Braves organization, Canary Island government officials, Tenerife town hall members, Port de la Cruz city council officials as well as representatives from both the Royal Spanish Federation of Baseball and Softball, and the Canary Federation of Baseball and Softball

The Braves will be represented by Jose Martinez, Special Assistant of the General Manager. Director of Scouting and International Operations Johnny Almaraz and minor league hitting instructor Jose Tartabull will also be in attendance for the MLB organization.
I'm all for the explosion of talent in International Baseball, and the Braves have been a leader in this, I think. But the Canary Islands? You have to wonder.

Back in the day, working at the embassy, we just to get CODEL's (Congressional Delegations) to come into countries at taxpayers expense (on the weekends) for what they called "fact-finding missions" at the 4-star boutiques and restaurants.

We just called it a boondoggle.

The Hollywood All-Stars



A great post from RootZoo, and there list of The All-Time Baseball Movie Team. While I disagree with the batting order a little, it's still a pretty good lineup. Lets get some of the statheads to figure out their numbers, and get them in a simulation league. I think they can compete. So lets take a look.


Further description can be found at the original post.




Batting leadoff, and playing center field...Willie Mays Hayes (Major League)

Batting 2nd, and playing shortstop...Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez (The Sandlot)

Batting 3rd, and playing left field...Kelly Leak (Bad News Bears)

Batting cleanup, and playing right field...Roy Hobbs (The Natural)

Batting 5th, and playing 1st Base...Jack Elliot (Mr. Baseball)

Batting 6th, and catching...Crash Davis (Bull Durham)

Batting 7th, and playing 3rd Base...Roger Dorn (Major League)

Batting 8th, and playing 2nd Base...Marla Hooch (A League of Their Own)

Batting 9th, the starting pitchers...Billy Chapel (For Love of the Game)


Now, personally, I might switch Marla and the kid in the batting order, and go Hobbs, Leak, Elliot, for the left, right, left matchup, but that's quibbling. One thing I do like: no DH. At last, someone gets its.



The rest of the staff:

Steve Nebraska (The Scout)
Henry Rowengartner (Rookie of the Year)
Ryan Dunne (Summer Catch) - L
Henry "Author" Wiggen (Bang the Drum Slowly)

Closer - Rick Vaughn (Major League)


The bench:

Bobby Rayburn (The Fan) - CF
Bump Bailey (The Natural) - LF/RF
Stan Ross (Mr. 3000) - PH/1B
Joe Hardy (Damn Yankees) - PH/1B
Dottie Hinson (A League of Their Own) - C
Jake Taylor (Major League) - C/1B/3B



The staff:

Manager - Jimmy Dugan (A League of Their Own)
Pitching Coach - Phil Brickman (Rookie of the Year)



Now, by my count, that's 6 pitchers and 14 hitters. We need to round out the roster, with at least 4 pitchers, and 1 utility infielder. So here is my list of nominees to fill out the roster.

Utility infielder:
Tanner Boyle (The Bad News Bears) - he just wants to play baseball. You have to love the attitude

Pitchers:

Nuke LaLoosh (Bull Durham) - SP -- how can you not have a guy with a million dollar armBingo Long (Bingo Long) - SP - innings eater
Joey Turner (The Bad News Bears) - short relief -- not afraid to back someone off the plate
Carmine Ronzonni (The Bad News Bears) - long relief -- better than we think


Staff:

General Manager - Ira Lowenstein (A League of Their Own) - hey, this guy cared about his team.
1st base coach - Larry Hockett (Bull Durham) - guy has his priorities straight.
3rd base coach - Red Blow (The Natural) - not afaid to send the runner
Bench coach - Morris Buttermaker (The Bad News Bears) - he can drink with Jimmy. Before, during and after the game.
Hitting coach - Roy Turner (The Bad News Bears) - he'll get the most of the players, if he has to slap them to the ground to do it


Broadcast team:

Harry Doyle (Major League)



Rest of the 40-man roster:

Bruce Pearson (Bang the Drum Slowly) - C -- hit close to .300 in his last season
John Kinsella (Field of Dreams) - C -- hey, he was good enough to play with the Black Sox
Pedro Cerrano (Major League) - LF -- not every pitcher can throw breaking stuff
Heywood (Major League) - 1B -- because we're afraid to tell him no
Leon Carter (Bingo Long) - C -- would edge out Crash on my team
Esquire Joe Callaway (Bingo Long) - OF -- too much natural ability not to be there
The Whammer (The Natural) - 1B -- wasn't he the greatest
T-Rex Pennebaker (Mr 3000) - OF -- great talent
Elmer Kane (Elmer the Great) - 1B -- simply the best
Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) - UT -- you all know we would want Homer on the team
Mike Englebert (The Bad News Bears) - C -- 2nd best hitter on his team

Rudi Stein (The Bad News Bears) - short releif -- some one has to take one for the team
Kit Keller (A League of Thier Own) - long relief -- everyone needs a Livan Hernandez-type pitcher
Professer Vernon K Simpson (It Happens Every Spring) - short relief -- simple unhittable



So that's the rest of the 40-man roster. We're a little short of pitching, particularly left-handers, but aren't we always.
If I've forgotten anyone, let me know.

Big river, roll on

An update to this post:

the ballpark of BASEBALL NAVARRA in Burlada was damaged through a flood. The
government of Navarra, the city of Burlada and the Baseball Federations in Spain
and Navarra agreed this week to rebuild the ballpark as soon as possible and the
clubs CD ARGA, BASEBALL NAVARRA and CD PAMPLONA can play in the new ballpark as
soon as May or June. Until then the clubs will use different venues in the
Pamplona region.


Again, keeping you informed, as best we can.



That's the flood of Crosley Field, on the left, when Mill Creek overflowed it's banks and put the playing field under 21 feet of water.





The one on the right is the stadium of the Baseball Navarra club, in Burlada, Spain. It's not clear if they'll be able to return to playing there this year. Pretty nice stadium.

Here are some more pictures of the damage. My Spanish ain't so good, but there's one thing I'm willing to bet on. They won't get any public funding.

Fade to black


A partial list of MLB players not going to play in the World Baseball Classic, for a variety of reason. Injuries, blocked by their team, because they don't want to, or they're not guaranteed a roster spot or starting spot:



Albert Pujols - Cardinals (Dominican Republic)
Miguel Olivo - Royals (Dominican Republic)
Francisco Liriano - Twins (Dominican Republic)
Placido Polanco - Tigers (Dominican Republic)
Juan Rivera - Angels (Venezuela)
Scott Kazmir - Rays (USA)
Edgar Gonzalez - Padres (Mexico)
Joel Piniero - Cardinals (Puerto Rico)
Melky Cabrerra - Yankees (Dominican Republic)
Oscar Villareal - Royals (Mexico)
Eric Gagne - Brewers (Canada)
Jorge Julio - Brewers (Venezuela)
Aramis Ramirez - Cubs (Dominican Republic)
Derek Lee - Cubs (USA)
Johann Santana - Mets (Venezuela)
C.C. Sabatthia - Yankees (USA)
Eddie Guardado - Rangers (Mexico)
Luis Mendoza - Rangers (Mexico)
Ryan Rowland-Smith -Mariners (Australia)
Grant Balfour - Rays (Australia)
Rich Harden - Cubs (Canada)
Carlos Pena - Rays (Dominican Republic)
Hideki Matsui - Yankees (Japan)
Chan Ho Park - Phillies (South Korea)
Alfredo Aceves - Yankees (Mexico)
Jarr Jurrjens - Braves (Holland)
Carlos Ruiz - Phillies (Panama)
Cole Armstrong - White Sox (USA)
Carlos Quentin - White Sox (USA)
John Danks - White Sox (USA)
Carlos Zambrano - Cubs (Venezuela)
Pablo Sandoval - Giants (Venezuela)


Remember, these are guys not on the provisional 40-man rosters. There will still be a lot of cuts made.





From Dictionary.com:

Irrelevant:

 /ɪˈrɛləvənt/ [i-rel-uh-vuhnt] –adjective

1. not relevant; not applicable or pertinent.



Obscurity:

 /əbˈskyʊərɪti/ [uhb-skyoor-i-tee] –noun, plural -ties.

1. the state or quality of being obscure.
2. the condition of being unknown: He lived in obscurity for years before winning acclaim.
3. uncertainty of meaning or expression; ambiguity.
4. an unknown or unimportant person or thing.
5. darkness; dimness; indistinctness.



Fade into:

 /feɪd/ [feyd] fad⋅ed, fad⋅ing, noun –verb (used without object)

1. to lose brightness or vividness of color.
2. to become dim, as light, or lose brightness of illumination.
3. to lose freshness, vigor, strength, or health: The tulips have faded.
4. to disappear or die gradually (often fol. by away or out): His anger faded away.



World Baseball Classic:

see above

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who's on first


The Cubans, fresh off of their loss three years ago, are ready to go for this year's WBC. They are the first team to announce their final 28-man roster:



Catchers:

Ariel Pestano* (Villa Clara),

Rolando Meriño (Santiago de Cuba),

Yosvany Peraza (Pinar del Río)

Outfielders:

Frederich Cepeda* (Sancti Spíritus),

Alfredo Despaigne (Granma),

Yoennis Céspedes (Granma),

Leonys Martin (Villa Clara),

Leslie Anderson* (Camagüey)

Infielders:

Joan Carlos Pedroso* (Las Tunas),

Alexander Mayeta (Industriales),

Yulieski Gourriel* (Sancti Spíritus),

Eduardo Paret* (Villa Clara),

Michel Enríquez* (Isla de la Juventud),

Héctor Olivera (Santiago de Cuba),

Luis Miguel Navas (Santiago de Cuba)

Pitchers:

Right-Handers:

Pedro Luis Lazo* (Pinar del Río),

Norge Luis Vera (Santiago de Cuba),

Yuniesky Maya* (Pinar del Río),

Luis Miguel Rodríguez (Holguín),

Miguel Lahera (Habana Province),

Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila),

Ismel Jiménez (Sancti Spíritus),

Yolexis Ulacia (Villa Clara),

Ciro Silvino Licea (Granma),

Dany Betancourt (Santiago de Cuba).

Left-Handers:

Aroldis Chapman (Holguín),

Yunieski González* (Habana Province),

Norberto González* (Cienfuegos)

Coaches:

Higinio Vélez (Manager),

Benito Camacho (General Manager),

Francisco Escaurido,

Carlos Cepero,

Lourdes Gourriel,

Pedro Pérez,

Eduardo Martin,

Humberto Arrieta,

Jorge Fuentes.

I don't know anything about the team, and I'm willing to bet most peope don't. A couple of interesting tidbits:

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this year’s Cuban roster is management’s decision to enter the tournament with a pitching staff manned by only three southpaws among the thirteen hurlers. Cuba is very never short on hitting, but a sometimes shaky bullpen corps proved a major Achilles Heel in tournament loses (Puerto Rico in round one, the Dominicans in round two, and Japan in the finals) against the big league all-stars back in 2006.

WBC and international fans looking for unknown gems among the Cuban arsenal are likely to be most impressed next month by mammoth slugging backup catcher Yosvany “Gordo” Peraza (who blasted 25 homers in an injury-shortened 2008 season), along with a pair of slugging 22-year-old outfielder teammates from the cellar-dwelling Granma ball club. Alfredo Despaigne and Yoennis Céspedes last season became the first Cuban League players from the same club to smash 50-plus homers between them. Céspedes is getting his first crack at national team stardom, mainly thanks to the collapse of Alexei Bell; Céspedes was a late cut from both the 2006 WBC team and last summer’s Olympic squad. Despaigne debuted with a bang in the 2007 World Cup and was considered by many big league scouts to be the most dangerous bat in the Cuban lineup during last summer’s Beijing festivities. Despaigne and Céspedes should lead a Cuban slugging display (along with Peraza, Pedroso, Cepeda and Gourriel) that could carry this team all the way to Los Angeles, if only the pitching holds up even moderately well.

Anyhow, I don't think the Cubans are quite over the defeat in 2006, and they're ready to go. Beisbol, anyone?

Looking for a job

baseball de world is looking for baseball writers. If you think you have what it takes, check it out.

You will have to register with the site, and leave a comment. As of right now, the hyperlink is not working. I have notified them.

Good luck.

More on the Classic

I'm loving the World Baseball Classic. Mostly. It's gotten a little ridiculous with the amount of star players not representing their countries. Or representing another country, but that's a different story. I mean, this was all Bud's idea, wasn't it. Then he doesn't even allow his biggest stars to participate. I understand that their is an injury risk, but there is in spring training. If he's not going to take the classic seriously, how is the classic supposed to take itself serious.

As much of a fan as I am, I've always felt it wasn't being done properly. This will never supplant the World Series as the biggest baseball event in the world, but it is the biggest thing in international baseball, or should be. Joe Connor, for Mister Baseball agrees:

The year 2009 will prove to be a defining moment for international baseball. Soon, 16 countries will compete in the second-ever World Baseball Classic (WBC) while this summer, the 38th Baseball World Cup will be held throughout the continent, serving as a prelude to the October vote by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on whether to reinstate baseball for the 2016 Games. While one hopes the IOC will come to its senses, that’s a best case scenario and the worldwide baseball community must brace itself for a worse case scenario: never participating in the Olympics ever again.

It’s imperative that Major League Baseball (MLB), the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the International Amateur Baseball Federation (IBAF) – and baseball fans across the world – maximize the exposure of this year’s events to demonstrate that the sport is indeed a global game with a long-term vision that highlights: 1. it has become all-inclusive, and 2. has an innovative growth strategy moving forward.
So is there a solution:

To that end, MLB, MLBPA and IBAF should start by announcing sometime during the 2009 WBC that the next event, in 2013, will be more all-inclusive. The WBC has been a 16-country, invitation-only professional-level event since inception, and while the majority of invitees are well-deserved, this concept has snubbed other countries in Europe and the Americas from even getting a chance to participate, most notably Nicaragua where baseball is the number one sport in that country.

I agreed with that from the beginning. It all seemed kind of thrown together in 2006, and all done at the last minute. I always wondered why just 16 teams, and the ones picked. The attitude seemed to be - lets do it and get it over with as soon as possible.

You can’t argue with the WBC invitations of the super powers of the sport such as the U.S., Japan, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and Korea. And you also can’t really argue with the invitations of Taiwan, Panama and Puerto Rico either where baseball is either the No. 1 sport in these countries and/or has a tremendously rich tradition. The Netherlands, with its two Caribbean island hot beds of Aruba and Curacao, would also be hard not to invite. And although hockey and soccer are number-one sports respectively in Canada and Mexico, both are deserved of invitations given their long baseball history and contributions to the game.

Yeah, there are counties that kind of deserve automatic invitations. If they're a baseball country, they should be playing. Korea, Japan, & Taiwan should have to compete against each other for spots. They should be there. but what about other countries:

But inviting China, Australia, Italy and South Africa over a Nicaragua and Colombia just isn’t right. Sure, you don’t need to be a marketing major to understand why MLB has pumped millions in coaching and training into 1.3 billion strong China, trying to find the Yao Ming of baseball. And you have to admire Australia for producing 80 plus MLB Minor Leaguers despite having a population of just 20 million and when its best athletes choose cricket, Australian Rules Football, rugby, golf or tennis over baseball.

Mr. Connor has a solution for fixing these problems:

But there need to be some sort of qualification process. My suggestion would be for the three teams with the worst record in the 2009 WBC (I’m guessing China, Italy, South Africa, or either Australia, Taiwan or the Netherlands) would have to earn their place in a 2013 WBC. Why not have three quasi-continental qualifiers – one in the Americas; one in Europe; and the final one encompassing Africa, Asia and Oceania? The governing amateur bodies of each continent, in cooperation with MLB, MLBPA and IBAF, could determine the set-up of each qualifier, with six-to-eight of the historically top teams in each geographic region competing. The winner of each of these three tournaments would then land spots 14, 15 and 16 in a 2013 WBC. Assuming a March 2013 WBC, the qualifying tournaments could be held on each continent(s) sometime from late September to early November of 2012, enabling those players competing in pro leagues in Asia or U.S. Minor League or independent leagues to have a chance to go home and participate.

His reasoning:

The benefits of this idea ensure that multiple countries from multiple continents have at least an opportunity to land one of three spots in the WBC. And isn’t that the point of baseball’s global growth strategy – to grow the game in as many places as possible? What better way to do that then to motivate the “unsung countries” with at least a chance to earn a coveted WBC bid?

Think about the possibilities. Brazil, with a dozen players signed to MLB contracts (albeit, minor league ones), would have a chance to compete for one WBC bid against the likes of Nicaragua and Colombia in the Americas qualifier. No two countries deserve the right to compete in the WBC more than Nicaragua and Colombia and it’s an utter travesty they’ve been excluded in the invitation-only WBC up to this point. Nicaragua and Colombia boast winter leagues and each has a long, rich baseball history. Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua, and the fans are almost as fanatical as the Cubans and Dominicans – trust me, I’ve been there, I know. Along Colombia’s Caribbean Sea Coast, no sport rivals baseball. The likes of Spain, Germany, France, Sweden and Britain, among others, would have an opportunity to compete for one separate WBC berth in a European qualifier. As for the Africa/Asia/Oceania qualifier, this leads me toward my second point made at the outset: getting innovative.

While that's a much better idea, I still disagree. Why have qualifiers at all? Why not an open tournament, open to all comers. Even if if the there is a play-in round, with the big boys getting a bye. 4 pools of 4 teams each, with the top 3 in each getting byes, and all the other countries holding a mini-tournament to determine the final teams. Works for me. I agree all the big boys should get in, but if you start excluding countries because of tradition or history, then we're doing a disservice to them. And seriously, what would be better for the game than for one of the non-traditional baseball countries to get in with the big boys, and maybe pull off an upset.

Anyhow, that's just my idea. There are plenty of other ways to do it. The main point is, it's not going to last the way it is. There need to be serious changes to it. To include the big stars playing, or it will fade into irrelevance. Bud has created this thing, and is now treating it as an afterthought. But remember, even if this thing doesn't work out, there is still the World Cup. Your choice, Bud. Make it work, or it goes away.

I know I'm going a bit heavy on the WBC today, but I think it's a great idea. I just don't think they're taking advantage of it and doing it properly. I'm a big advocate of international baseball, so you'll be hearing more.

The WBC will only be run every 4 years in the future, and in an off-year from the Olympics. It's done on purpose, to serve as a counter to the Olympic snub. In light of that, and the fact that it's only every 4 years, Bud has to do something to get the players involved. If the biggest start aren't playing, people will stay away. That's the entire Olympic issue. Why is it one here?

The lineup



So people might think it's a little early to start talking about the World Cup, when the WBC is just heating up, but that's my point. If you do decide to actually pay attention to the WBC, I want you to pay attention the way it's run, then stayed tuned here for updates on the World Cup. See the difference.

Here is the official lineup for the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup, and how they got in:

1. OLYMPIC GAMES: The eight participants of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games automatically received an invitation for the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup (BWC). These teams are Korea, Cuba, USA, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei, and China.

2. HOST NATIONS: The seven host nations for the 2009 BWC automatically qualify. Germany, Sweden, Spain, Russia, and the Czech Republic each host first-round pool play; and Italy and the Netherlands are second-round hosts.

3. AFRICA: South Africa represented the Africa region in advancing to the Final Olympic Qualifier, thus automatically qualifying it for the 2009 BWC.

4. AMERICAS: The top five teams from the 2008 Baseball Americas Cup in Venezuela automatically qualify for the 2009 BWC. In order, these five teams are Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Mexico, Antillas Holandesas, and Venezuela.

5. ASIA: The top three teams from the 2007 Asian Cup in Chinese Taipei automatically qualify for the 2009 BWC. In order, these three teams are Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei (all three nations are already qualified as Olympic Games participants).

6. EUROPE: The top four teams from the 2007 European Baseball Championships in Barcelona, Spain automatically qualify for the 2009 BWC. In order, these four teams are the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, and Germany (the Netherlands, Spain and Germany are already qualified as host nations).

7. OCEANIA: Australia represented the Oceania region in advancing to the Final Olympic Qualifier, thus automatically qualifying it for the 2009 BWC.

It seems to me that the Olympic qualifying is basically the qualification for the World Cup, outside the America's (regional Cup in 2008) and Europe, which is going back to it 2007 championships to determine the qualifiers. When you add in the countries getting an automatic bid as a host, I'm a little lost on that one. Two years seems a long time to go as a qualifier for the World Cup. I'm also against host countries getting automatic bids. I do understand that the Cup is in Europe for a purpose (to increase baseball's profile here), but 7 countries getting an automatic qualifier is a little too much. Maybe Holland and Italy, as they have strong programs, and will host 2nd round games. But 7 automatic qualifiers is a lot, to me.

So here are the groups:

Group A - Prague:
Czech Republic
Mexico
Taiwan
Australia


Group B - Barcelona:
Spain
Puerto Rico
Cuba
South Africa


Group C - Stockholm:
Sweden
Korea
Canada
Dutch Antilles


Group D - Moscow:
Russia
Great Britain
Japan
Nicaragua


Group E - Regensburg:
USA
Germany
China
Venezuela


The italicized teams are my picks to make the 2nd round. The top 2 from each group, plus 4 of the top 5 3rd place finishers will go to the next round. The Netherlands and Italy get a bye into the 2nd round, as hosts. That will leave 16 teams:


Mexico
Taiwan
Australia
Puerto Rico
Cuba
Korea
Canada
Dutch Antilles
Great Britain
Japan
Nicaragua
USA
China
Venezuela
Holland
Italy

There is a really convoluted schedule in the 2nd round and beyond, so I won't get into, but here are my final 4, just for shits and giggles:

Korea
Japan
Holland
Canada

Look for the Canadians to surprise in the final. I don't know why. Its just a guess. If Japan and Korea don't play each other in a semi-final game, I would like to see a Holland/Canada final. Nothing against the Asian team, I just think it would be good for the sport if other teams won it.

The stage is set




The planning for the World Cup of Baseball (no, not the WBC) is in full swing, and things are looking good.






The first round games will be held in Moscow, Prague, Regensburg, Sundyberg (Stockholm), and Barcelona Spain. The second round will be split between Italy and the Netherlands, while the final round will be in Italy on 27 September. In total, 22 nations will compete for the coveted world championship.
Yup, the US will be there also. No pro players, at least at the Major League level, but it's going to be good.
Ticketing, television and media accreditation information for all venues will be announced in the coming few weeks. The first venue to put tickets on sale in Regensburg, Germany has already sold over 10,000 tickets.
Okay, did you get that. Regensburg has sold over 10,000 tickets for first round games. A round robin featuring 4 teams. Of course, it's several games, but the Pirates are a major league franchise and they can't sell that many for a single game.
One of the good things about this is that MLB isn't really involved. We already seeing how they can't get the WBC off the ground, and getting the best players in the world to participate. This is being run by the IBF, so is should go a little more smoothly.
You'll be seeing lots more on this in the coming months.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Baseball Things



Because Shyster said we should. And that's all reason I needed.

1. I've attended games at the following parks: Municipal Stadium; Kaufman Stadium; Busch Stadium (old); Busch Stadium (new); Fulton Country Stadium; Turner Field; Camden Yards; Veteran's Stadium; RFK Stadium; The Ballpark in Arlington; Coors Field; Jack Murphy Stadium; Dodgers Stadium; Anaheim Stadium (or whatever the hell its called today); Safeco Field. The best bar none, is still Kaufman Stadium. I know I'm a little biased, but it's true. Safeco Field is the 2nd.

2. The best baseball experience I've ever had was working security for the Mariners. I got to be at the park every day, watch the games, and get paid for it. I didn't meet a lot of the players, but I was behind the scenes and loved it. I've been on a a major league field, and was at field level during a game. Until you've done it, you can't understand it.

3. I've only been to one minor league game, in Tuscon, and I regret not going more. But in the times and places I was near enough to a team, no one ever wanted to go. I should have went, even if I had to go by myself.

4. The first game I was ever at was in May 14th, 1972, at old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. It was doubleheader against the Tigers. The Royals split, and I saw Al Kaline play. He was the first Hall of Famer I ever saw, even if I didn't know it at the time.

5. Frank White is my favorite player of all time. He was a sprinter, who went to Ewing Kaufman's Baseball Academy, and become a perennial All-Star and World Series hero. He didn't have the greatest baseball talent in the world, but through hard work, he succeeded and become a good player. You have to admire that.

6. While Safeco is one of the best parks I've ever been to, the fans are the worst. They are complete jerks and assholes. The fans in Philadelphia aren't great, but we expect that. I love the park, and the city, but the fans are terrible in Seattle.

7. The best fans I've ever seen are in St Louis. They're good in Kansas City, but St Louis is better.

8. My father grew up as a fan of the Browns, but followed the Cardinals also. Because of that, and growing up in Kansas City, I'm a Royals fan first and foremost, but still follow the Cardinals. I don't believe in the "second-most favorite team", like I'm a Pirates fan, but I like the Brewers also. Doesn't make sense. I've lived in lots of cities with major league teams, but you have to choose. No jumping back and forth. However, growing in Missouri is one of the few cases where you can actually be a fan of two different teams. Sorry, that's the way it is. Deal with it.

9. These things I know:
Frank White was the best fielding secondbasemen of all time.
George Brett was the best hitter of his generation.
Amos Otis was the smoothest outfielder I've ever seen.
Willie Wilson was the fastest that's ever played the game.
Dennis Leonard would have been a Hall of Famer.
Dan Quisenberry is.
Hal McRae played the game with more passion than anyone I ever saw.
Whitey Herzog was that good of a manager.

10. I've always wanted to be a major leaguer, but wasn't really good enough to play Little League. I had a severe eye injury when I was 3 years old (from a baseball, how's that for irony) and it screwed up my depth perception. I was always an inch or two off, so I couldn't field and I couldn't hit. I could throw hard, but had no control, so I couldn't pitch.

11. I know a lot about the game. The history, the stats, the strategy, etc. I firmly believe that there might only be a dozen people who know as much about the combined aspects of the game as I do. Yeah, that's a little arrogant, but I don't care. I know I could successfully manage or GM a team to a World Series championship.

12. Jay Buhner and his wife are the nicest people you could ever meet in the world, Alex Rodriguez knows he Alex Rodriguez, and Larry Bowa looks pissed off before the game, during the game, and after the game. However, I don't care a hoot about the players as people. They are ballplayers, and that's what I want out of them. Effort on the field. I don't care if they are alcoholics who sit at the bar every night, chasing 18 year old girls, and I don't care if they go to church 47 times a week and give all their money to charity. What they do in their personal life is none of my business and I don't want to read about it or see it on TV. The only thing I need to judge them on is how they play the game.

13. I think we need more people like Bob Uecker, who understands that is it a game; Jack Buck is the standard by which all broadcasters should judge themselves (2nd place to Vin Scully); and Denny Matthews and Fred White were a part of my childhood I'll never forget. If you never got the chance to listen to them on a summer's night in Missouri, back in the 70's, before cable television and the internet, then you truly missed something. They could tell you more about what was happening than any computer graphic or sabermetric formula ever invented.

14. The greatest moment in the history of baseball was the top of the ninth, two out, in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. We were a flyball away from winning it all, after all those years. Strangely, I didn't want the game to end. As much as I wanted to celebrate, I wanted that moment to last longer than it did.

15. The worst moment in the history of baseball was the bottom of the ninth, at Yankee Stadium, in Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS. Chris Chambliss can still kiss my ass.

16. The Dodger Dog is nothing special. If you want ballpark food, what you need is Boog's BBQ in Baltimore; the clam chowder in Seattle; the beer in St Louis; and anything at Coors Field, sitting a mile up and looking out at the Rockies.

17. I will attend a game (or games in Chicago, New York, etc) in every major league city before I die, and spend an entire week at Cooperstown.

18. I think I've seen the following Hall of Famers in person (yeah, I had to look up some of them):
Hank Aaron
Luis Aparacio
Wade Boggs
Orlando Cepeda
Dennis Eckersley
Rollie Fingers
Catfish Hunter
Phil Niekro
Jim Palmer
Tony Perez
(I'm sure there others)

19. I know I've seen the following Hall of Famers in person:
George Brett
Lou Brock
Carlton Fisk
Rich Gossage
Tony Gwynn
Reggie JAckson
Feguson Jenkins
Harmon Killebrew
Al Kaline
Paul Molitor
Eddie Murray
Gaylord Perry
Kirby Puckett
Cal Ripken
Brooks Robinson
Frank Robinson
Nolan Ryan
Jim Rice
Dave Winfield
Carl Yaztremski
Robin Yount
Rod Carew

20. These are the guys I've seen that will make it:
Mike Piazza
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Mark McGwire

21. I used to collect baseball cards like crazy, until it was ruined by being commercialized. It lost all its luster for me. But in spite of my mother throwing away hundreds of cards, I still have several thousand, dating back to the year I was born. I will always keep them, but would sell one if it had any real kind of value. (I need the money) In place of baseball cards, I read (collect?) any and all baseball books I can find. And they're all in storage right now.

22. Baseball places I want to go to that I haven't been to yet:
Wrigley Field
Fenway Park
Dyersville, Iowa (Field of Dreams, but you should know that already)
Cooperstown
Havana (wouldn't it be great to have a team there)

23. Things I would change about the game, if I were in charge (be glad I'm not):
No DH - everyone hits
No interleague play - that's what the World Series is for
No domes - retractable roofs are okay
No artificial turf - if a horse can't eat it.....
Expand by two teams (4 divisions per league, one winner of each, no wild card - but no one makes the playoffs with a record below .500)
Reconstitute the league offices and make it two separate leagues, not what it is now

24. Fantasy baseball is an abomination, and should be outlawed. It is for geeks and dweebs who don't really know anything about the game at all. They should step away from the computer and go outside and play. That being said, I'll probably end up in a league this year, so I'm a hypocrite. Bite me.

25. I used to read every box score, every day, and anything I could now. At one time, years ago, I could tell you the entire 25 man roster for each team, their lineup, and the top prospects. Now I'm not even sure who half the players are anymore. It's not that I care any less, but working full time didn't allow me the time to be as involved as I once was. Maybe this year I'll get back into it.

This was harder than I thought. I was struggling to get to 20, then when I got there, I had a dozen more. But these are the first 25 I though of, so I'm sticking with them. I could expand on each of them more, probably a lot more, but I'll leave it at this for now.

A little respect please

Seems the Kansas City Royals have made the front page of The China Post, an English language newspaper from Taiwan. Not only do we make the front page, we're the headliners:

Monday, February 16, 2009
Royals minor leaguer suspended for drugs
Kansas City minor league outfielder Jarrod Dyson was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for an amphetamine on Saturday.

Santana, Angels agree to 4-year, US$30 mil. deal
Right-hander Ervin Santana and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a four-year contract worth about $30 million on Saturday, a day after their scheduled arbitration hearing was postponed.

Rivera confident of rebound from shoulder surgery
The way Mariano Rivera sees it, the New York Yankees won't be looking for a closer for quite a while.

Yeah, we're a proud franchise. Even when we manage to get international attention, its for something negative. Because in light of Alex Rodriguez's confession, spring training starting all over the world, and the WBC about to kick off, it's important that a Royals minor leaguer makes the headlines in Taiwan.

Thank you, David Glass.

Wanted: ball players

There are lots of ways to find players for your ballclub. Set up a farm team and have them supply players. Trade for them, sign them as free agents, invite them as non-roster invitees. Hell, take a page from the early days of the game, and just steal them from another team.

But this is one of the most innovative ways I've ever seen for getting new players. This isn't, and shouldn't be taken as, a joke. The London Mets are very competitive, and play a good brand of baseball. They are two-time defending champs. Many of them have played college ball, and some have played minor league ball.

So, even though spring training has already started, call up the British Embassy, apply for your visa, and get on over here. Unless you're already here, in which case you should be there already.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Baseball has already started


That's right, baseball has started. Actually, contrary to popular belief, it never really stops. At least not in the international sense. Many people are only interested in major league baseball. I don't blame them. I love the game, and if I'm going to watch, I want to see the best playing.

But I love the game. I've watched minor league ball, I watched college ball, and I've always coached or umpired in Little League, high school, Babe Ruth, etc. I like being on the field. I like participating. When I'm out there, there aren't any issues with the ex. I don't have to worry about not having a job, or how the bills are going to get paid. No, I just get to be involved.

While many people focus on MLB, I'm learning quickly that the game is much more than that. Even by the end of the World Series, the winter leagues in the Caribbean are starting up. The Australian league is kicking off. They're playing in South Africa. It's not the Yankees/Red Sox, or the Cardinals/Cubs, but it is baseball. Obviously, most of these games aren't on TV, but you can pick up the broadcasts via radio or the internet. If you really want to.

I understand why a lot of people don't necessarily follow anything but major league ball. Some only like college, while others live in a minor league town and that's the focus. Others only follow the game while the kids are playing, then go back to whatever they were doing before. That's all good. To each his own. I would rather watch Albert Pujols bat than some unknown Venezuelan or Aussie player who will never make the minors, let alone the majors.

But if it comes down to a choice of watching that versus listening to everything that is going on with Alex Rodriguez and the steroids issue. Frankly, I don't care, and it's beginning to bore the hell out of me. I'm jonesing for some game action. Hey, we all are. We're baseball people. And with spring training kicking off, and games less than 2 weeks away, most people don't really care about baseball outside of the states. But next you're bitching about Rodriguez, or steroids, or Bud, or Boras, or any of the other distractions, just remember there is baseball to watch that doesn't have all that. It's something to consider.

In light of that, the XIX International Indoor Baseball Tournament “DZIALDOWO CUP 2009” has just concluded.

Among the 12 participants (from Poland, Russia, Belorus, Moldova and Rumania) three teams from Lithuania took part in the Tournament. The participant teams were divided into two groups: “Sporto vilkai”I from Lithuania was the first in group A; “Botosani CSS” from Rumania won group B. The score standing at 7:4, “Sporto vilkai”I from Lithuania won the Final and the Polish President Cup.
I'll best most people have never even heard of Belorus or Moldova, let alone knew they played baseball. That's because you haven't been reading here. This is great. Baseball is taking off in Eastern Europe. I read somewhere recently that Russia might have developed a better baseball program under Communism, as a counter to the US. But it seems to me they are doing fine without the Soviets.

The only problem I have with this is it was played indoors, and that's not supposed to happen. However, considering they get about 5 feet of snow in Poland during the winter, I guess this okay. In the winter time. But regardless of indoors or outdoors, its baseball. And that's all that matters.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wondering what to do


In an effort to keep people entertained, I have an idea, but would like to know what the readers think of this. There aren't a lot, I know, but the people who do read are loyal, and I don't want to bore anyone.

In two weeks, the Great Baseball Umpire Association will be holding its annual certification clinic. I plan on attending that, as I want to umpire in the league here in the UK. Additionally, that is the first weekend of spring training. I have also been asked to assist in coaching the local team. I've been assured there is no conflict of interest, as they need people to do this, so anyone and everyone is welcome.

What I would like to know is, from the people who check this site out, would a season log be of interest to anyone. Something along the lines of how practices go, and what i see. I recap of the games, either from a coaching or umpiring standpoint, and how I see things developing.

I don't know what kind of format this would take, or any content, or have any clue about it anymore than just an idea. But is this of interest to anyone? Would it be worth reading? Or should I stick with what I'm doing? Or go in a different direction?

I'm open to any and all ideas, so let me know what you think.

Thanks.

Ron

Friday, February 13, 2009

Programming note

Sorry, but I've been having some connection problems, and didn't have too much for today. So I've thrown a couple of posts together for the day. I'll be back on track by Monday.

From Cooperstown to Tokyo, with a prolonged stop at 18th & Vine



If you're a baseball fan, and if you're not, why are you here, then it is time to recognize the Holy Trinity of baseball. Regardless of recent election results and any particular controversy, Hall of Fames are important. They are more than just a list on the wall of great players. They are, rightly so, named Hall of Fame's and Museums. And that is the point.

These places are the keepers of our flame. They are the recorders of the history of our game. They are the Babe's uniform, Brett's bat, Rickey's spikes, Schilling's sock. They are a blast from the past, and a reminder of what the game used to be, both good and bad, and the men (yes, men, not demigods) who played the game.

They are a memorial to the players who served their countries during times of war, the women who tried, and the people who help make the game a possibility (executives, owners, broadcasters, writers, umpires, etc). They are a reminder of the good times (Maz's homerun) and of the bad (the '94 strike).

They are a collection of the best the game has ever known:

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

A tribute to those excluded, but who still gave everything they had for the game they loved:

Negro League Baseball Museum

(technically, it's not a "Hall of Fame", but I've been there. It is)

And a reminder that the game is truly global and played at high levels in other places:

The Baseball Hall of Fame
and Museum


Personally, I've only been to the Negro League Museum, and it's a great place. I never made it when Buck O'Neil was there, and that's one of the great regrets of my life. Cooperstown remains my dream. Someday I will make a pilgrimage there, and spend an entire week. I don't know that I'll ever get to Tokyo, but I know what my first stop will be.

These three places should be on any true baseball fan's list of 10 places they should visit. They are the heart and soul of the game. I defy anyone to find any other connection between Cooperstown, Kansas City, and Tokyo, outside of baseball. I'll bet it can't be done.

One thing to remember. These particular places honor the best the game has known. There has been a lot of controversy about the American Hall, and people are debating whether it is still relevant. It is. Remember, the Hall has allowed an outside organization to vote on inductees. Shun them, if necessary. But the Hall should, and does, stand above the votes of people not qualified to make those decisions.

But as I said, they're more than just a list of names on a wall.


I know there are other Hall of Fames out there, and I'm not trying to slight any of them. But to me, these are the big 3. Please don't be offended if I've left yours out.

My top 11 baseball places to visit


This is just a quick list of my top-11 baseball destinations. In no particular order.



1. Fenway Park - one of the few old ones left.

2. Wrigley Field - same thing

3. Cooperstown - the Hall of Fame

4. Tokyo - the Japanese Hall of Fame

5. Dyersville, Iowa - where Field of Dreams was made

6. Cuba - I want to see a game there. It's a religion as much as anything else.

7. Brooklyn Avenue & 22nd Street - site of the old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, where I saw my first major league game.

8. Omaha - the College World Series

9. Williamsport - the Little League World Series

10. Hoboken - where Elysian Fields was located, site of the 'first' baseball game played

11. England - the exact spot where baseball was invented. Hah, just kidding.


This is a list of places I haven't been. There are a lot of places I wanted to see, but never quite made it. Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, Comiskey Park, etc. But you can only visit so many plaques.

So that's my list. What is yours?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Backward K's and the 6-4-3 double play

One of the things I've always remember from the games I attended as a kid was keeping score. I loved doing it, and did at every game I could. Back then you could buy the scoresheet separately from the program, for about $.50, I think. Now you have to buy the program for $10 to get a scoresheet, unless you bring your own. I don't know of any park that still offers just the scoresheet, but they missing out on a great opportunity:



For non-scorers, the obvious question to ask is "why bother"? The official account is placed on record and all of the details and statistics are published on-line for future reference, so is it really worth the effort to keep score yourself? As someone who has scored games as a fan for nine years and counting, I know how it can increase your enjoyment of a game whilst improving your understanding of the events that take place on the field.

Learning how to keep score helped me learn a lot more about the game. Sure I loved the action, but baseball is made for keeping score. There are enough pauses between pitches and plays that you have time to record the action, and is actually a great way to fill those pauses. A lot of people complain about the length of games. Next time you're watching one, at home or at the stadium, try keeping score. I'll bet you don't even notice the time. The game will fly by, and you'll enjoy it much more than you could ever imagine.

Having a clearer understanding of the rules is worthwhile in itself, but scoring can also provide you with an insight into the tactical decisions that are a fundamental part of the game. This is particularly beneficial for a non-playing British newcomer to the sport. Consider the following familiar scenario:

The road-team‟s manager makes a pitching change and the home-team‟s manager counters by bringing in a pinch-hitter. The hitter gets a walk and jogs to first base and then the next thing you know, one of his team mates is stealing second base! Once that half of the inning is over, the guy who stole second is standing in centre field, the person who was previously in centre field is now in left field and the person who was previously in left field is sat on the bench!
This article is from the website, Baseball GB, a hub for the best British baseball writing. I fully agree. They are doing great things in advancing the game in the UK, and do more than just talk about. They provide several features, such as blogs and instructional articles to teach people more about the game.

They don't want people to just watch games, they want them to experience them. Keeping score is a great way to do this:

Your memories preserved

The above are all valid reasons for keeping score, yet they mainly focus on the process rather than the outcome. For some people, the best part about keeping score is the completed scorecard that you produce. It would be natural to think that the scorecard is of only minor interest, particularly for MLB games. All of the information you record can be accessed on-line via many different websites, accompanied by a vast amount of additional data about the game in question. If it is all there to refer to anyway, doesn't your unofficial version become a bit redundant?

The answer is an emphatic „no‟. Precisely because of the factors mentioned above, the scorecard is your record of the contest. As such, referring back to it doesn‟t only allow you to recall the action on the field, it also conjures up your personal memories of watching the game. In this sense, a completed scorecard is similar to a photograph. When you look at a photograph taken while on holiday several years ago, you don‟t just see what is in the picture.

You are immediately taken back to the moment when the shutter clicked down. What you did before and after the photo was taken. The other things you saw at the time. The conversations you had with your friends/family. The sounds and smells, feelings and emotions; they all come flooding back. Just like a photograph, a fan‟ scorecard can be a portal back to a moment in time.
I couldn't agree more with that. Unfortunately, over the years, I got away from scorekeeping. Mostly due to the fact that I was old enough to start enjoying the more adult beverages offered, or spent too much time dissecting the game with family and friends. Not that that's a bad thing either, but I haven't kept score in years.

It is a different way of seeing the game, and adds something to it. The first game I ever attended was a doubleheader between the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers in 1972, the year the Tigers won the division. I was too young to keep score that day, but I wish I could have.

Along side Hall of Famer Al Kaline would have been the names of Bill Freehan, Willie Horton, Amos Oits, John Mayberry, Paul Schaal and Richie Scheinblum. That would be a scorecard for the ages, at least for me.

I think next time I go to a game, I'm going to give it a try again.


I didn't realize until after I had written this that Lar from wezenball had done a similar post. I've already written, and we we have some different readership, so I'm going to post it anyhow. If this was of interest to you, check out the other one also.