MontanaRon

Just another ordinary English teacher eclectic expat blog about nothing in particular.

Category: Baseball (page 1 of 12)

Baseball in Laos? Yes!

Although in it’s early stages, baseball has been gradually growing in popularity in Laos. This past weekend there was an international tournament played in Vientiane, with 10 teams from 5 countries competing for a trophy and other prizes. The teams were from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Korea, which had the most teams here.

An article in the Vientiane Times yesterday gave a nice overview of the sport in the country. It seems that this was actually the 5th annual Korea-Laos International Baseball Tournament, but it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it. The tournament was played at the football (soccer) field, an all-grass setting, so no infield dirt or pitcher’s mound. However, the article stated that through funding from Korea, two new “stadiums” will be built before the end of 2019. I imagine that there won’t be two stadiums built, but, rather, two fields at a new baseball complex with seating. You never know, though.

So, I went to the football stadium this past Saturday to check it out. Here are a few photos from the event. One note: the sight lines were terrible, so I was unable to make any good photos. The “dugouts” were opaque plastic boxes which you couldn’t see through, the officials’ and umpires’ tables were directly behind home plate, there was a large schedule board blocking the view from another angle, and a concessions table also blocked the view, along with various protective nettings. I hope the new fields will not include these kinds of encumbrances to viewing the games.

The Times didn’t have the results of the tournament in yesterday’s edition, but I’ll check in today’s paper. I’ll update this post if there is any further news about the event.

UPDATE: The Tuesday Times reported that the Laos team tied for first in the tournament with a team from Seoul, South Korea, with each getting 33 points. Hmmm, I have no idea what the points represent. Run differential, perhaps? Anyway, congratulations to both teams.

(A further note on the photos. For a better view of an image, right click on the photo and select View Image. To get back to the post, you’ll have to click the Back Button on your browser.)

Laos baseball
Players from one of the Korean teams do a few warm-ups before their game. There were very few interested spectators at this particular game. The stands were mainly populated by friends of the players or by players from other teams. The Laos team was scheduled to play later in the afternoon, but I left before that particular game. Perhaps there were more people watching then.
Laos baseball
Kids are getting more and more interested in the game. I hope, eventually, that the sport becomes much more popular.
Laos baseball
Girls are involved, too. Check out the very long hair on this young lady.
Laos baseball
Because there is no pitcher’s mound built into the field, a portable mound was used. I’d never seen one of these before. Also, because of the grass infield, there weren’t too many stolen base attempts. Players were sliding into the bags, but I think they were using plastic-cleated shoes, not the metal spiked ones, which would probably have stuck in the grass, allowing for potential injuries.
Laos baseball
It’s a hit! Or was it? I think this guy knocked a single. They were using metal bats, which I hate, but, due to the cost of breakable wooden bats, I suppose the metal ones are a necessity.
Laos baseball
A minor collision at home plate. It was a bad throw, so the runner was safe.
Laos baseball
The Laos team was getting a pep talk from their manager or coach before their game, which was an hour or so from starting. I took off before then, so I didn’t get to see any of the action.

I’m Crying

Literally. I’m so sad. The great Mariano Rivera, closing pitcher extraordinaire for the New York Yankees, took a tumble while shagging fly balls during batting practice today, and tore up his knee to an extent that it could mean the end of his season and of his career. Mo was, perhaps, going to retire after this year, but this is one of those things that just shouldn’t happen. Not just another selfish, rich athlete, he is a marvelous example of the combination of humility, excellence and spirituality. Here’s a New York Times article that kind of sums it up – Imagining the Ninth Inning Without Its Star, and here’s a post I wrote after I met him at the Yankees’ baseball academy in The Dominican Republic.

Mariano Rivera

Mo

(I’d like to give credit to whoever took this photo, but I found it on many different websites, including Flickr, so to whoever originally took the shot–Thanks!)

It seems like Rivera’s amazing career is over, but if anyone can come back from this extreme injury, Mariano can. Let’s hope that he’ll be shutting down the opposition in the 2012 play offs. Let’s Go Mo!

P.S. I just read this morning (May 5th) that Rivera says he’ll be back for the 2013 season. He said that he’ll not let his career end this way. That’s great news. I still hope he’ll be back for the playoffs this year, though. 🙂

A Long Winter–Yanks Lose

Well, nothing to cheer about in the baseball world for me, at least. The Yankees came up just short against the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series, losing the final game 3-2. They can join the Red Sox on the golf course, I guess. I knew I shouldn’t have gloated about the Sox’ collapse. I’m such a jinx. 🙂

In the days ahead, the Tigers play against the Texas Rangers (Strangers) for the AL Championship. Do I care who wins? Nope. I won’t be rooting for either team–I really couldn’t care less. I will, however, cheer on whichever one goes to the World Series, since I detest the National League. There were a couple of great games today in the NL, though, with St. Louis knocking off Philly in a classic 1-0 pitchers’ duel, and Milwaukee winning 3-2 over Arizona on a walk-off hit, which put an end to both of those division series.

I probably won’t be paying as much attention to the games as I have recently, now that the Yanks are out of it, so I should have more time to do other things rather than be glued to the MLB TV feed of the games on my computer. Hmmm, maybe I should take up ice skating. Bring it on, Old Man Winter!

Go, Red Sox!

Go home, that is. Yeah, what an epic, colossal failure! This almost–ALmost–makes up for the Yanks’ horrendous crash of 2004. So, Red Sox Nation (more like a failed state), bundle up for a long, cold winter, go cry in your beer, and wait for the equipment truck to rattle and scrape and crawl its way down to spring training.

Oh, and a big tomahawk chop to Atlanta, too. Nice crash, as big as the Red Sox collapse. Fortunately, I’m not a National League fan, so I’m kinda ho-hum about the Braves. But, a big guffaw to them, too.

Now, Go Yanks. Onto the playoffs and, eventually, I hope, the 28th World Championship of the team’s illustrious history.

Fairy Tales Can Come True–Jeter’s Big Day

What a fantastic day for the Yankee Captain, smashing a home run for his 3,000th hit, going 5 for 5, and driving in the winning run. Just awesome, beyond words, really. Congratulations to a very classy, all-time great Yankee. I watched the replay on MLB TV, since the live game started at 2 a.m. our time. I didn’t subscribe to MLB TV this season until just a few days ago. I originally thought that Jeter would reach the milestone while I was on vacation, but that quest was delayed when he went on the disabled list. The main reason I purchased the subscription was to see him get that hit; it was certainly worth the $24.99 a month that I paid.

The other feel good story coming out of the game is that the fan who caught the home run ball decided to just give it back to Jeter. Many people would have kept it and sold it at auction. Some estimates of its worth range close to $250,000. This guy said it deserved to go to Jeter because of all his hard work–he earned it. I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations also, then, to lifelong Yankees fan Christian Lopez for being such a classy guy. Overall, a great baseball day, a great game, a great story.

Opening Day!

Now I know it’s spring–it was Opening Day of the 2011 Major League Baseball season yesterday. Fittingly (and hopefully portentous), the Yanks knocked off the Detroit Tigers 6 to 3, with ex-Tiger Curtis Granderson providing the fireworks (a 3-run homerun) and making a couple of great catches in centerfield. Most of the so-called experts seem to have written the Yankees out of the playoff and/or World Series picture, mainly due to the perceived inadequacies of the starting rotation. I have great hopes, however, that the starters, including young Mr. Super Nova, will be more than up to the task and that the team will go all the way. That’s the nature of a true baseball fan–optimism. On opening day, all teams are equal. 🙂

(And, by the way, a big CONGRATULATIONS to Ivan Nova for becoming a member of that elite five.)

Baseball Thoughts

After posting yesterday about the great weather we’ve been having lately, of course it’s been raining all day. According to the KMA (see South Korea links on the sidebar to the right), we’ve been blessed (!?) with almost 3 inches of rain, so far, with a bit more predicted to fall from now through tomorrow. I gave a tour of parts of Yeosu today to one of the new teachers, who has a car, but, tonight, with the rain still coming down, my thoughts have turned to the upcoming baseball season.

Yesterday, spring training games bloomed in Florida and Arizona, harbingers of the baseball season to come. The Yanks seem to have been shut out in the free agent market this past winter, but they picked up a few bargains. The starting rotation appears fragile, but youngsters, such as Ivan Nova (one of my former students at the Yankee baseball academy in the Dominican Republic), and aged veterans, like former Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, may yet salvage the starting five. The bullpen, however, is deep, and Mo (Mariano Rivera), the best closer in history, is back to nail down the late inning wins.

The offense is still one of the best in baseball, led by Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada and, hopefully, a resurgent Derek Jeter returning to form. Many baseball pundits predict that the Yanks won’t make it to the World Series, but I have high hopes.

Here’s a shot of young Mr. Super Nova that I took when some of the players gave a workshop on a visit to a Santo Domingo, D.R., orphanage. You can read my comments about that visit in November of 2007 in this post that I wrote at the time.

I usually subscribe to MLB TV to watch the Yanks play either live or at my leisure. It’s a pretty good deal if you live outside the country and can’t watch the games on local TV.

Another big baseball event, for me and other fans of computer text simulation baseball games, is the impending release, sometime in April, of version 12 of Out of the Park Baseball (OOTPB), an incredible simulation that lets you become the manager or general manager of a fictional or real baseball team. It’s very engrossing and realistic, and, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan, you’ll find yourself playing (wasting?) hours on the game. Until its release date, you can get it for $29.99 ($39.99 after it’s released). I already reserved my copy. You can download a free version, OOTPB8, to try it out. Click on the link in the side bar for more information about this great game.

See ya at the (virtual) ballpark.

Theme Shots and Last Gasp

Here are a few more “theme” photos from walking and bicycling around Yeosu.

First, more chicken–“Mexican” chicken. No, it’s not Mexican food, unfortunately. It’s merely spicy, as in “hot.” Too bad. I can actually make my own Mexican food–it’s not too difficult to find, in larger cities, taco shells and taco and fajita mix, “real” cheese, nacho chips, jalapenos, etc. A few days ago I brewed up a nice big pot of chili to acknowledge the imminent coming of winter. As a matter of fact, I’m just about to go warm up the remainder of that delicious concoction–winter’s definitely on the way when I start percolating some batches of chili, and there has been a bit of a chill in the night air lately.

It’s a big thumbs up for chicken around here.

And how does all that chicken get here? Why, by truck, boat and train, of course. Here’s a shot I took of the “blue train,” cars that transport petrochemicals, I assume, from the gigantic industrial area located over the mountain just north of the university. One of these days, I promise to hike up that mountain and take some high-up shots of the complex. I’m pretty sure they don’t process chicken there. 😉

If you follow baseball, you probably know that the Yankees are on their last gasp for advancing to the World Series. They’ve been totally thrashed by the Texas Rangers, and tomorrow’s game is their last chance to continue in the American League Championship Series. If they lose, they’re out. A long winter for New York fans is in the offing. More games later, hopefully.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom, if you read this, and best wishes for many more to come.

A Few Photos

Here’s a couple I took earlier this summer, and did some HDR processing with them. The first one is the golf course across the highway with the watering system going full blast, shot with my telephoto zoom lens, which I don’t use all that often. Hmmm, don’t see anyone running for cover. With fall here and winter not too far behind, they probably won’t have the water on too much any more.

And here’s one of the few sunrises or sunsets that I’ve been able to capture here, for one reason or another. I’m gonna try to get down to the ocean early some morning and get some sunrise shots. This one is looking north from the balcony outside my dormitory apartment around sunset.

In case you didn’t see it, the Yanks stunned the Rangers in the first game of the AL Championship Series, coming back from 5 runs down to win 6-5. Agonizing to watch at first (with Texas up 5-0 early on), it got fun in the 8th inning when New York scored 5 runs. Next game–tomorrow. More of the same, I hope.

Fall Time–Beautiful Weather and Yankees

Yikes, I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve posted. Time flies, eh?

Not much going on in Yeosu, except for some beautiful fall weather. Crisp clear days and chilly mornings have replaced the high temperature and humidity of summer. As a matter of fact, I’m heading out the door in a few moments to enjoy the remainder of a gorgeous day.

First, though, I had to watch the Yankees close out the Twins by sweeping the 3-game division series. The defending World Champs will continue their march toward a 28th World Series title next Friday against either the Texas Rangers or the Tampa Rays. Don’t wanna jinx ’em, so I’m making no predictions.

Well, I’m off to wander around Yeosu and take some photos along the way. I’ve taken a bunch recently, so I hope to post some soon. More later.

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