Results tagged ‘ usa ’

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First of all, welcome to all the new MLBlogs created while I was out of the country. We’ll start with Hot Air From a Born Again Giants Fan, aka The Shrimps.

Hey, crew, we just started an MLBlogs Facebook Page and you are invited to join it as fans. Have fun with it, and use it as another way to alert other baseball fans about a post you just saved. Just remember to include your full URL anytime you post something. Spread the word!

IMG_8344.JPGSo, I am back from Beijing. It was incredible. Climbed the Great Wall, went to Forbidden City, laughed at the Giant Pandas at the Beijing Zoo (I love how they grab a branch of bamboo and then roll onto their backs and eat it like little kings), turned the dog meat page really fast on a restaurant menu, bartered for a suit at the Silk Market, couldn’t believe what I was seeing at Opening or Closing Ceremony, and in between just soaked up a great Olympiad including an awesome baseball competition that proved the sport belongs in the Games. If you go to my Beijing Memories article, you can find my Olympic Scrapbook on the top of the page.

Here are some extra baseball pics.

Some of the two-dozen Major League prospects I got to know quite well. It will be fun to watch their progress now. Also, I was standing next to pitcher Shairon Martis and infielder Yurendell de Caster of the Netherlands in line at Customs (we were surrounded by Russian Olympians), and Shairon told me both of them were on their way to Louisville to rejoin their Columbus Clippers Triple-A team and that he expects both of them to be with the Washington Nationals on Sept. 1. I recognized them by their big, bright orange luggage. A bunch of these guys will be up, too. I think Terry Tiffee needs to be playing first for the Dodgers fast. What a glove and bat.

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See the guys in the middle in navy blazers in the picture below? It was the bronze medal game between USA and Japan, behind home plate for dignitaries/Olympic Family, and the one second from right is IOC president Jacques Rogge. This was the day I broke the news story that Rogge is mandating Major Leaguers be used if the sport is to be considered for 2016, and that there is “no heirarchy” among the seven contending sports (two will be chosen). No one previously had known specific reasons why it was removed and whether MLB players were good to have or a requirement. Knowing Rogge’s PR person was a gatekeeper and that there would be no prayer of her facilitating an interview with all the media there, I climbed through the tape, climbed over the CEO of Mizuno and whoever else was in my way and sat next to Harvey Schiller (the one of those three on the right) in that empty seat next to him, he shook his head indicating not now, I went back to my seat, and 10 minutes later a volunteer came over to me and said, “Dr. Schiller wants to see you.” He then introduced me to Rogge, and I proceeded to ask eight questions, starting with: “Eighty million fans want to know why you removed baseball from the Olympics and whether it will be back.” He left after a couple of innings, talking to no media as I expected.There’s my Journalism 101 reporting tip for baseball bloggers for the day. Be persistent.

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Being around the Cuba guys was like being around the Yankees. The exact equivalent. They are rock stars. They have this aura. Below is Pedro Luis Lazo’s fourth Olympic medal, this one silver. He is such a friendly guy. And a competitor, as you could see from Nixie’s left eye. I will always remember the scene after Cuba dusted the U.S. team the last Friday night to deny the Americans a shot at gold. The bus was pulled up next to the Cuba clubhouse, and it sat there for a long time, and the side luggage compartments were opened and Cuba players were sitting in them, their own makeshift party, some drinking beers, socializing with a handful of females who wore Canada Olympic attire. People just wanted to be around them.  Anyway…take a good look at the word “BASEBALL” on this medal. You won’t see it again for at least eight years.

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I have to give a special shout-out to my friend and YOUR friend, Murray Cook. He is the person responsible for the Wukesong Miracle, the creation of three Major League-caliber ball fields in a place where no one really knew what baseball was. Murray is one of the original MLBloggers, and it was my first chance to meet him in person. He created his blog on the same day that Tommy created his — April 2005. Murray, thanks for always being able to lend a hand to another Western visitor and introducing me to Yang Yang’s dad, the groundskeeping father of the China backup catcher who stole the show one night.

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And then there was one of the most likable bunch of guys you could be around. The Korean team was a perfect 9-0. Nine, the perfect baseball number. Their manager was just someone you looked forward to talking to, even through a translator. Ryu (99), their big
pitcher who almost went the distance in the finale, was a big teddy bear afterwards and he bit his gold medal after obliging my request to check it out. It meant the world to them. It meant the world to baseball. You could see how strong baseball is around the globe, growing stronger every year. The U.S. now knows it will have to field a SERIOUS team for the next World Baseball Classic. You could take either of this summer’s All-Star teams and would not win the next World Baseball Classic unless it has a togetherness and total commitment. One other thing I really noticed at the Olympics was that it was an aberration to see a 90-mph readout for non-USA pitchers. You face heat only as a “changeup”, really. I saw mostly high 70s, lots in the 80s, and many different release points, sidearmers, three-quarters, so much off-balance stuff. That had to be tough on the U.S. guys, who typically look at 90s all the time. Now they go back and will see 90s all the time. International ball is definitely an adjustment. Congrats to Korea.

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It was a beautiful experience. The hardest part was trying to do my daily MLB.com Olympic show, where I would call into our studios and you would get my voice and picture of me in my peasant hat along with other imagery. I was always 12 hours ahead of New York time, and when there were night games over there, filled with drama and then deadline writing, it was not exactly easy to find a time to break away and talk on the phone with the U.S.! You also should check out Brian Duensing’s final blog post; he played a role in bringing home a bronze, after a touching scene in which the Twins helped raise funds so that his wife could fly there and be with their Triple-A pitcher.

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OK, your turn to post summertime pics. And make sure you join that MLBlogs Facebook Page!

I was just curious what happens when you do a tag search on the MLBlogs homepage for the word “baseball.” Here you go. You’ll find lots of cool MLBlogs that you probably didn’t know about. Check ’em out! Also have to give a shout-out to Cub Fans, which continues to hold the MLBlogs record for most comments on a blog with just a handful of words posted. Great example of someone who knows how to get his own circle of influence to check out the blog. Just makes it happen.

Ni Hao from Beijing

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Hello, MLBloggers! Am over here at the Summer Olympics and back at the end of August, so hold down the fort while I’m away. Got here a couple of days before Opening Ceremony, am with the USA Baseball Team the whole way. So Wukesong Stadium is pretty much my office. What you notice most are the volunteers — about 100,000 kids mainly college-age, wearing the familiar uniforms with blue “Beijing 2000” tech shirts, khakis and yellow-striped running shoes. They are everywhere. My “Taxi Cards” are a lifeline — just show what you want/where you want to go, and each has Chinese lettering symbols on the card as well as my phonetic pronunciation. Gradually learning some Mandarin that I will forget in a few weeks, and yesterday spoke the universal language when I went on a 2-hour training run along Badaling Expressway and stopped 1:30 into the run to watch 5-on-5 hoops (basketball is huge here thanks to Yao) at a park. A man asked me if I want to play (he didn’t really ask, he gestured), and I said by all means I would love to with all my heart (I didn’t really speak, I gestured). They were great games and at the end I did a Cal Ripken lap around shaking every man’s hand. In that moment everything was perfect in the world, and we all spoke the same and believed in sports. You can find my coverage around the clock at MLB.com, as our “Baseball at the Olympics” writer over here. Keep the blogging going strong, and pardon the interruption in watching it all happen but I’m following a quest for the gold and seeing the sights. Remember to leave lots of comments here with your URL as another way for people to find your blog. I am looking forward to seeing the Men’s Marathon on the final day, I am still looking forward to a scrumptious Peking Duck, I still have to see the Great Wall and compare it to the Green Monster, and the two things that have struck me most are (a) how much BS the overblown hype about air pollution was as I am marathon training just fine in it, and (b) they actually grew ivy outside the building structure of Wukesong Field 2 because our friend Murray Cook told them about Wrigley ivy. By the way, get to know Murray — he’s one of our four original MLBloggers circa April 2005, and he is the person who created the baseball experience here in Beijing, turning a parking lot into Major League caliber ball fields and teaching people who didn’t know what “base” meant how to groundskeep. My BlackBerry has smoke coming out of it because of the constant updates from MLB clubs about their latest announcements as well as every USOC event update from Michael Phelps to pistol to rowing…and I am loving it. As they say here: “Bye-Bye” (I had a hard time learning that one).

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