Tag Archive | "Moore or Less"

European Baseball Leagues Title Races


EUROPE – Sant Boi parlayed a slew of free agent acquisitions last winter into their first Spanish League title since 2003 with a pair of victories against F.C. Barcelona this past weekend. However, the championship races in the other leagues in Europe remains littered with speed bumps and obstacles for both the favorites and the dark horses.

AUSTRIAN LEAGUE
Favorite: Vienna Wanderers
Contenders: Attnang-Puchheim Athletics and Union Kufstein Vikings.
The Wanderers are the reigning ABL champion, but a pair of recent setbacks to the Stock City Cubs indicates that the race to the league crown remains wide open. The Athletics possess the talent to reclaim their 2008 championship, while the Vikings have a history of turning up the volume once the postseason arrives.

BELGIAN LEAGUE
Favorite: Hoboken Pioneers
Contenders: Port of Antwerp Greys
The Pioneers have looked awfully good in their quest to win back-to-back titles with 19 wins in 21 games. It’s way, way too early to count out the Greys…but Hoboken appears to have an iron-clad grip on the Belgian trophy.

BRITISH LEAGUE
Favorite: London Mets
Contenders: Bracknell Blazers
London seems primed to win another championship, and the reigning title-holder Bracknell appears to be the only road block facing the 2008 NBL champion. Still, upsets have been plenty in Great Britain this season.

CROATIAN LEAGUE
2010 Champion: BK Nada SSM Split

CZECH LEAGUE
Favorite: AVG Draci Brno
Contenders: Technika Brno
The longest dynasty in Europe faced a stiff test in 2009 when the Ostrava Arrows took 13-time defending champion Draci to the brink. This year, the reigning Czech champion must overcome an even bigger challenge as a trio of foreign imports has Technika eyeing the league trophy.

FRANCE:
Favorite: Rouen Huskies
Contenders: Savigny Lions, Montpellier Barracudas and Senart Templiers
Rouen remains the smart bet to finish atop the French League, but Savigny and Montpellier have both gained enough confidence to challenge the reigning champ. Senart remains a very, very dangerous squad capable of making some noise in the playoffs.

GERMANY:
Favorite: Buchbinder Legionaere
Contenders: Heidenheim Heidekoepfe and Solingen Alligators.
The only question remaining in Germany is if it is a two or three horse race to the title? The Legionaere and the Heidekoepfe both have powerful offenses, and capable pitching corps, while the Alligators are seeking “respect” for a North Division that has been less than impressive in recent poseseasons.

ITALY:
Favorite: Cariparma Parma and Telemarket Rimini
Contenders: T&A San Marino and UGF Bologna
Parma has been on a roll over the last two months, and Rimini has a well-balanced squad of talented hitters and pitchers which are second to none in the IBL. But, San Marino proved in both 2008 and 2009 that catching fire at the right time is the key for an Italian Series berth.

NETHERLANDS:
Favorite:
DOOR Neptunus
Contenders: Corendon Kinheim
It should be illegal for one team to possess as many quality arms as the reigning champion from Rotterdam. However, since it is legal, the only obstacle remaining for Neptunus is a dangerous batting lineup in Haarlem.

SPAIN:
2010 Champion: C.B. Sant Boi

SWEDEN:
Favorite: Stockholm
Contenders: Karlskoga Bats, Sundbyberg Heat and Tranas.
Parity is alive and well in the Swedish League, and three squads are legit threats to Stockholm’s reign in Sweden. The Bats and Heat both get the majority of the ink, but Tranas has a solid group as well.

SWITZERLAND:
Favorite:
Therwil Flyers
Contenders: Zurich Challengers and Bern Cardinals.
Anything less than a second consecutive championship will be a disappointment in Therwil, but both the Challengers and Cardinals have the experience to wreack some havoc in the playoffs. The key to the Swiss title hunt hinges on Zurich’s ability to upgrade a subpar pitching unit.

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

Photo courtesy of Diego Lazaro

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2010 European Baseball Cinderella Teams


The Croydon Pirates and the Valencia Astros combined to celebrate just one win in 60 games during the 2009 season. What a difference a year makes.

The Pirates shocked reigning British League champion Bracknell last weekend to continue their trek from obscurity, while the Astros completed an amazing turnaround this season to finish just four games under .500. And, these are just two of BaseballdeWorld’s 2010 European Baseball Cinderella Teams.

The Embrach Mustangs of Switzerland have come from seemingly nowhere to contend for a national championship, while a trio of 2009 non-playoff teams in Germany – Bonn, Haar and Pulheim – are all eyeing postseason play this season. In Austria and Belgium, a pair of promoted clubs – Stock City Cubs and Deurne Spartans – are making more than just a little noise.

1. Valencia Astros, Spanish League
Arguably Europe’s worst team in 2008 and 2009, when the Astros captured just one win in 50-plus games, Valencia finished this season 16-20 behind the solid efforts of a pair of American Imports. Kevin Malone hit .394 with six homers and 31 RBIs, while John Dunn posted a 9-7 record with a 3.60 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 125 innings.

2. Croydon Pirates, British League
The Pirates were on top of the NBL mountain just a few years ago, but hit rock bottom a year ago when the squad went 0-24 and were outscored by a 281-70 margin. However, Croydon improved to 6-12 in 2010 with a thrilling 12-11 victory against the Bracknell Blazers on July 4th.

3. Embrach Mustangs, Swiss League
Formerly the Rainbows, Embrach finished a 13-15 campaign last year on a winning note with two victories. Little did anyone know that 2010 would be a breakout season for player/coach Roger Savoldelli and his troops. The second-place Mustangs dealt the previously unbeaten Therwil Flyers their first loss of the season last weekend to improve to their record to 14-4.

4. Bonn Capitals, German League
The Capitals have rebounded from a subpar 7-17 record in 2009 to become one of the top squads in the North Division with a 15-7 card. National team right-hander Tim Henkenjohann (8-1, 1.86 ERA) anchors the pitching staff, while East Texas native Jonathan Marshall is batting .352.

5. Deurne Spartans, Belgian League
It’s uncommon for a promoted club to do well in their debut foray into the top league, but the Spartans have done that, and more! Deurne has already booked their postseason ticket with a 13-9 record.

6. Haar Disciples, German League
The post-Eddie Aucoin days have not been too kind for the Disciples, which finished 8-16 last year. But, 2010 has seen the Disciples (13-10) join the playoff hunt behind the American tandem of Calvin Brutus and Ty Eriksen.

7. Stock City Cubs, Austrian League
Another promoted club which has made some noise this season. The Cubs (6-8) are riding a three-game winning streak including an eye-raising twinbill sweep over the top-ranked Vienna Wanderers last weekend.

8. Cariparma Parma, Italian League
Sure, Parma advanced to the playoffs last year, but leap-frogging Bologna, Rimini and T&A San Marino is a tall task. Juan Camilo & Co. enter the final weekend of the regular season with the inside track to the postseason top seed, and the six first round home games that come with it.

9. Pulheim Gophers, German League
The Gophers resided in the cellar a year ago with a 6-18 mark, but has become a playoff contender this season. Daniel Lamb-Hunt is the best hitter for a squad that is 9-13, and in a four-horse race for the final postseason berth.

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.com

Photo courtesy of Embrach Mustangs

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Bohol Island Baseball Gaining Popularity


PHILIPPINES – The three year-old Philippines League seems to be in trouble. The fledgling league, which goes by the name of Baseball Philippines, was supposed to start a new season on April 10. However, the league website has not been updated in more than two months.

Unlike most Asian countries, baseball is not even among the Top 5 sports in the Philippines. Boxing, billiards and basketball have the fancy of most Filipino sports enthusiasts.

With limited space available for baseball in an overcrowded Manila, the game has become an elitist sport for kids of middle income families and foreigners. But things are different on Bohol Island.

Baseball is being played in local high schools and a pick-up league plays games each weekend beside the historic Baclayon church. Although lacking uniforms and in dire need of baseball equipment, Boholanos have a rich history of playing baseball.

With home-made bases made from rice sacks, one bat, two batting helmets, and 1-2 “old” baseballs, 25-30 guys (ages 15-40+) assemble every Saturday and Sunday to test their skills in the global game of baseball.

Due to a lack of supply, the only baseballs on the island cost nearly seven dollars each at the mall. It’s a quality ball – but seven bucks is ridiculous.

If anyone would like to donate some used baseballs, please contact me at mjmoore@baseballdeworld.com

SOFTBALLDEWORLD TO DEBUT MAY 12…REALLY!
The launch of our new sister site, SoftballdeWorld.com, has been delayed due to a gardening accident and an arthritic elbow. I cut my left hand working in the garden, and my right elbow – which swells up 2-3 times a year for a week or two – decided to act up at the wrong time. These days, putting on a shirt is a painful ordeal for me.

This past week has been a huge challenge to learn to type with one FINGER! Even though the number of articles (and, probably the quality, too) have been reduced, the show went on. But my portion of responsibility at SoftballdeWorld, mainly the design, is way off schedule.

Throwing thousands of pitches during batting practice for so many years, combined with the typing habits of a workaholic sports writer, is a good recipe for a bad elbow.

Marvin Moore is a former European baseball coach and is the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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European Baseball 2010 Opening Dates


EUROPE – Although the Spanish League in Spain has already completed five weeks of action, the upcoming European baseball season will kick into high gear over the next two weeks as some of the top leagues on the old continent unwrap their 2010 schedules.

The Italian Baseball League (IBL) will open the gates on Thursday, April 1, with four games. The reigning IBL champion Fortitudo Bologna will begin defense of their crown against the North East Knights.

The 2010 German League will get underway on Saturday, April 3, and the reigning Bundesliga champion Heidenheim Heidekoepfe will begin defense of their title the following day against the Saarlouis Hornets.

Below are brief capsules of some of the top baseball leagues in Europe:

AUSTRIAN LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 17
2009 Champion: SUPERFUND Wanderers
Teams: Attnang-Puchheim Athletics, Rohrbach Crazy Geese, SUPERFUND Wanderers, Schwechat Blue Bats, Stock City Cubs, Schwaz Tigers, Union Kufstein Vikings and Vienna Metrostars.

BELGIAN LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 10
2009 Champion: Hoboken Pioneers
Teams: Port of Antwerp Greys, Hoboken Pioneers, Brasschaat Braves, Deurne Spartans, Namur Angels, Merchtem Cats and Mortsel Stars.

CZECH LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 11
2009 Champion: AVG Draci Brno
Teams: Kotlá?ka, Technika, Praha Eagles, MZLU Express, Ostrava Arrows, Navisys Hroši, AVG Draci Brno and Skokani Olomouc.

DUTCH LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 10
2009 Champion: DOOR Neptunus
Teams: Konica-Minolta Pioniers, Corendon Kinheim, L&D Amsterdam, Sparta-Feyenoord, Mr.Cocker HCAW, DOOR Neptunus, ADO and Almere Magpies.

FRENCH LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 11
2009 Champion: Rouen Huskies
Teams: Senart Templiers, Savigny Lions, Montpellier Barracudas, Paris Universitie Club, Montigny Cougars, Rouen Huskies and STB Toulouse.

GERMAN LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 3
2009 Champion: Heidenheim Heidekopfe
Teams: Solingen Alligators, Paderborn Untouchables, Pulheim Gophers, HSV Stealers, Bonn Capitals, Cologne Cardinals, Dortmund Wanderers, Buchbinder Legionaere, Heidenheim Heidekopfe, Mannheim Tornados, Mainz Athletics, Saarlouis Hornets, Gauting Indians and Haar Disciples.

ITALIAN LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 1
2009 Champion: Fortitudo Bologna
Teams: T&A San Marino, Telemarket Rimini, Montepaschi Grosseto, North East Knights, Cariparma Parma, Fortitudo Bologna, Danesi Nettuno and Catania Warriors.

SPANISH LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: March 27
2009 Champion: Tenerife Marlins
Teams: Valencia Astros, Sant Boi, Pamplona, Viladecans, FC Barcelona, Tenerife Marlins, Navarra and Vigo Halcones.

SWEDISH LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: May 1
2009 Champion: Stockholm
Teams: Karlskoga Bats, Eskilstuna Hammers, Stockholm, Leksand Lumberjacks, Tranås, Sundbyberg Heat, Göteborg Hajarna and Gefle.

SWISS LEAGUE
2010 Opening Day: April 10
2009 Champion: Therwil Flyers
Teams: Bern Cardinals, Sissach Frogs, Therwil Flyers, Lausanne Indians, Zürich Barracudas, Zürich Challengers, Luzern Eagles and Embrach Mustangs.

Photo courtesy of Ferrini/FIBS

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Scam Artists Targeting Free Agent Players


It is a good bet that the majority, if not all, of the free agent ballplayers spotlighted at BaseballdeWorld have become the target of one or more con artists. Fortunately, the guys who have alerted me to these scammers were not impressed with promises of contracts and hefty salaries.

Preying on the dreams of aspiring baseball players also resulted in a group of Dominicans getting ripped off recently. In an elaborate scam, players attended a training camp to prepare for a tryout in the Netherlands and an unidentified European (alleged team owner) visited the players. However, when it was time to go to Europe, the players cash and passports disappeared along with the organizer and team owner.

There are numerous “warning signs” for aspiring free agents to check for when reading emails allegedly from prospective employers. Some of the most obvious ones are listed below:

• Club Website
It is probably safe to assume that if a club does not have a few bucks to start a website, they cannot afford the services of a foreign player. Any claims that the club website is undergoing maintenance or will be operational on a certain date is purely fabrication.

• Processing Fee
Besides a monthly salary, air transportation, and housing – European clubs also take care of the visa costs for their foreign players. However, it is up to the free agents to secure their American passports from their local Passport Office. If you are asked to pay a processing fee – you are dealing with a con artist.

• Passport Scan
Although clubs will need your personal information, this information could also be faxed or mailed. Thus far, every scam attempt has asked free agents to send a scanned copy of the information page of their passport.

• Club History
Besides a club website, prospective employers will also give potential players and/or coaches a brief history about the club and its teams. How did the club teams fare in 2009? What are the expectations the club has for their new employee? Thus far, all the scam emails were allegedly sent by newly established clubs or teams with no name.

• URGENTCY
Similar to infomercials – with their limited time offers – con artists want and need to close the deal (take your money) quickly. Emails with the words “hurry, immediately, and soon” should be ignored and deleted.

Finally, the best tip to free agent ballplayers is to do your research and NEVER send money in hopes of getting a job.

Photo courtesy of Trevor Caughey

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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European Top 10 Minor League Prospects


While soccer lords over the sports terrain all across Europe, numerous baseball clubs and federations on the old continent are quietly developing major league-caliber prospects who are honing their skills in the U.S. minor leagues.

The Netherlands, arguably the “hub” for potential big leaguers in Europe, continue to churn out talented young ballplayers at an impressive rate. In Italy, a restructured league with a farm system similar to the major leagues should bolster an already stellar player development program.

Although just a small fraction of players in the minor leagues ever reach the “show” – it is almost inevitable that a few of the gifted athletes on the 2010 BaseballdeWorld Top 10 European Prospects will reach the pinnacle of their professions.

2010 BASEBALLDEWORLD TOP 10 EUROPEAN PROSPECTS:

1. GREGORY HALMAN, NETHERLANDS (MARINERS)
The 22-year-old speedy outfielder struggled at the plate (.210 BA/187 K) and on the base paths (nine steals) last year at Double-A West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. However, the Dutch prospect still managed to smack 25 homers and tally 72 RBIs in 457 at-bats. Although another 1-2 years in the minors should help improve his plate discipline, Halman could become trade bait if Mariners 2009 top draft pick Dustin Ackley reaches the big leagues in 2011.

2. LOEK VAN MIL, NETHERLANDS (TWINS)
The 25-year-old right-hander, who at 7-foot-1 would become the tallest player in MLB history, rebounded from a torn ligament in his throwing arm to put together a solid season with stops in the Florida State League (A) and the Eastern League (AA). The fifth-year minor leaguer fanned 28 batters and walked 23 in 43 innings with a 2.66 ERA.

3. ALEX LIDDI, ITALY (MARINERS)
The 21-year-old third baseman enjoyed a “breakout” season in 2009 when he claimed the George M. Trautman Award as the best player in the California League. The San Remo native, who was also named the Mariners’ Minor League Player of the Year, batted .345 with 44 doubles, 23 home runs, 104 RBIs and scored 97 runs.

4. ALESSANDRO MAESTRI, ITALY (CUBS)
The 24-year-old right-hander turned in another strong season for the Tennessee Smokies (AA) going 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings. While the fifth-year pro from Cesena did issue a whopping 52 walks, the reliever has a career 19-12 minor league record with a 3.41 ERA, 16 saves, and 267 strikeouts in 300 2/3 innings.

5. TOM STUIFBERGEN, NETHERLANDS (TWINS)
The 21-year-old right-hander, who missed all of 2008 with an arm injury, posted a 5-2 record with a 3.28 ERA during stops at Elizabethton Twins (Appalachian League) and Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League). The fourth-year starting pitcher has registered 81 strikeouts in 94 2/3 career minor league innings with just 10 walks.

6. ALEX SMIT, NETHERLANDS (FREE AGENT)
The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 4-3 record with a 3.04 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 71 innings for the Carolina MudCats of the Southern League (AA) before getting released by the Reds. He logged 559 2/3 innings in seven minor league seasons while going 33-31 with a 3.43 ERA and 621 strikeouts.

7. KAI GRONAUER, GERMANY (METS)
The 23-year-old catcher (pictured) endured an injury-marred 2009 campaign but still managed to erase 37 percent of would-be baserunner. Offensively, the former Solingen Alligators standout batted .243 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 67 games with the Savannah Sand Gnats of the South Atlantic League.

8. ERIC GONZALEZ, SPAIN (PADRES)
The 23-year-old right-hander went 4-2 with 76 strikeouts and 21 walks in 85 innings during stints at Single-A Fort Wayne (Midwest League) and Single-A Lake Elsinore (California League). The Canary Islands native has a career minor league record of 6-2 with a 3.68 ERA that includes 110 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings and just 26 walks.

9. ANDREI LOBANOV, RUSSIA (TWINS)
The 19-year-old left-handed reliever finished his second solid season in the minor leagues with a 2-1 record and an 0.82 ERA. The Moscow native, who also notched seven saves, fanned 35 batters and surrendered just a lone walk in 22 Gulf Coast League innings. Lobanov has a professional record of 5-2 with a 2.03 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings of work.

10. MARIEKSON GREGORIUS, NETHERLANDS (REDS)
The 19-year-old middle infielder was named to the 2009 Pioneer League All-Star squad after batting .314 with 16 RBIs and 28 runs scored in 50 games for the Billings Mustangs (Single-A). In 103 career minor league games, the Amsterdam native has fanned only 46 times while hitting .261 (97-for-372).

Photo courtesy of Solingen Alligators

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Zurich To Debut New Ballpark in 2010


SWITZERLAND – It has been a long, long time coming but the baseball field in Zurich is nearly complete. And, the decade-long wait was definitely worth it.

When I left the Therwil Flyers after four seasons in 1997 to coach the Zurich Challengers, the Heerenschuerli field was my biggest challenge. My entire hitting philosophy revolved around my players hitting hard groundballs and line drives, and suddenly my home field was a box-like facility surrounded by a 15-feet chain link fence.

During my time with the Flyers, I loved taking my offensive-minded squad to Zurich because from top to bottom, my batting order could go yard in that smallish park. But, to clear the “high” fences, players needed to get under the ball which often resulted in bad fundamentals and an increase in popups and flyballs in future games.

From a pitching perspective, Heerenschuerli highlighted mistakes – especially during the days of aluminum bats. Changing speeds to keep hitters off-balanced while keeping the ball low in the strike zone was not always enough. Watching lazy, aluminum-propelled popups sail over the short 240-feet porches for ground rule doubles was more than nerve-wracking.

The “new” Heerenschuerli is not only the best baseball facility in scenic Switzerland, but appears to be among the best ballparks in Europe. Zurich is a first-class city and hopefully this new baseball jewel will lead to more young Swiss from the region picking up a bat and a glove.

PRO PITCHER SEEKING SHORT-TERM CONTRACT IN SPAIN

Current independent league pitcher Alex Smith is interested in playing for a Spanish League club until May 1. The former Virginia Cavaliers (Division I) left-hander would be an excellent addition to the starting rotation of a Spanish team for two months, and could also play a vital role in the development of young pitchers within the club. Please contact Alex directly at: alex.smith1227@gmail.com.

SCAM ARTIST TARGETING FREE AGENTS

BaseballdeWorld would like to alert ballplayers listed as free agents on the website regarding scam artists posing as representatives of certain teams and/or leagues. Recently, a guy claiming to represent an Australian team contacted a free agent player and asked for a scanned copy of his passport and a $300 processing fee. Please note that if a team is interested in your services, players will not be asked to pay any type of fees. It is a also a good bet that if you are asked to pay a processing or any other type of fee – YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED!

OFF-SEASON WORKOUTS

Coaching in Europe often means training 2-3 different club teams on the same day at times. And, nothing has changed for me this baseball offseason. It has been a challenge working on three websites at the same time this winter, but our “new” Travel Magazine will be launched later this month, and we will debut another Sports Magazine on April 1.

BaseballdeWorld is currently on “cruise” control but our flagship website is preparing for unprecedented growth this upcoming season. Besides introducing a “new” design, we will be expanding our coverage in Asia and certain leagues in Europe. Our dedicated readers will also see a renewed emphasis on feature articles that we feel will promote international baseball in a unique way.

Finally, GO TEXAS LONGHORNS AND DALLAS COWBOYS!

Photo courtesy of the Zurich Challengers

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Major Leaguers And Thanksgiving Day Blessings


UNITED STATES – The aromatic scents of Thanksgiving – turkeys, pies, buttered rolls – along with the National Football League is a holiday tradition in America. However, that does not mean that baseball has hibernated for the winter.

The 2009 season was filled with delightful performances from an array of superstars. A pair of familiar faces, Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer, took home the Most Valuable Player Awards in their respective leagues. Yet, many more MLB stars (and owners) have plentiful to be thankful for this time of the year.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are just a few of the personalities of the game who have reason to be thankful on this Turkey Day.

• TIM LINCECUM, GIANTS
The reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner should be thankful that U.S. drug laws are determined by size instead of potentcy. A Major Leaguer with West Coast connections most certainly toke some “killer” weed.

• AROLDIS CHAPMAN, FREE AGENT
The soon-to-be multi-millionaire should be thankful that MLB clubs value 100 mph fastballs more than loyalty. Dropping Athletes Premier International in favor of Hendricks Sports Management might turn out to be a good business decision, but would you really want this guy as a good friend?

• TOM HICKS, RANGERS
The “I love hockey more than baseball” owner of the cash-strapped Arlington franchise should be thankful for a loyal core of Texas baseball fans that suffered mightily the past decade. Now, that Nolan Ryan & Co. have the ship headed in the right direction, Hicks likes being a MLB owner, again. Boo!

• TONY LARUSSA, CARDINALS
Baseball’s best skipper should be thankful for one of the best gigs in all of MLB. With the ultra-talented Albert Pujols and a pair of Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers on board, did anyone actually believe Tony was leaving? I didn’t think so.

• C.C. SABATHIA, YANKEES
The biggie-sized southpaw should be really, really thankful that the Bronx Bombers reached the pinnacle of the Major Leagues this past season. The retirement package-like deal is his to keep, but history tells me that Yankee fans will be cursing their staff ace and his mega contract in the next 2-3 years.

• ANDRUW JONES, WHITE SOX
The former All-Star outfielder should be very thankful to still be wearing a big league uniform. All but forgotten after a horrible stint with the Dodgers, former Rangers hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo resurrected Jones’ swing and career last year. Wanna bet that Jones has Jaramillo’s mobile number?

• JOE MAUER, TWINS
The Twin Cities superstar should be thankful for the Twinkies new stadium, Target Field, that will debut next season. The revenue-generating outdoor ballpark will enable Minnesota to give the All-Star catcher a ferry load of cash while squashing the Yankees replacement plans for the aging Jorge Posada. Sweet!

• EDWIN JACKSON, TIGERS
The right-hander who contributed to the Tigers’ collapse by fading down the stretch should be thankful that Detroit will have to unload some salaries this winter. With so much “dead” money accumulated on non-productive players, leaving Motown before the ship sinks is a blessing.

• CHAD BILLINGSLEY, DODGERS
The former staff ace should be more than thankful that football – not baseball – is the top sport in the U.S. during the holiday season. How a healthy Major League pitcher can start the year with a 9-3 record and then fail to win a game after Aug. 18 remains a mystery to me.

• ADRIAN GONZALEZ, PADRES
The Mexican slugger should be thankful that new ownership will undoubtedly unload his contract during the impending rebuilding mode. If the sweet-swinging lefty can hit 40 dingers in San Diego’s spacious surroundings, imagine what he might do in a hitter friendly stadium? That’s scary.

Marvin Moore coached baseball in Europe for six years and is Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

Photo courtesy of britannica.com

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Top European Baseball Leagues


It’s no secret, anymore, that the Italian Baseball League (IBL) and the Dutch Major League are the top two leagues in Europe. But what about the other circuits dotting the old continent?

Unlike in Asia and Latin America – where the game has a storied past – most European baseball leagues struggle to attract even a paltry 100 spectators on any given weekend. However, in areas like youth player development and facilities, significant strides are evident.

Similar to the “big” boys of Major League Baseball (MLB), money seperates the have and have nots in Europe as well. The most successful clubs, more often than not, are the ones generating the most revenue.

Now, here’s a brief capsule of some European Leagues which recruits American ballplayers:

• ITALIAN LEAGUE: Complete with cozy fields and minor league-like salaries reaching US$2,000 monthly for certain foreign mercenaries, the IBL is a well-organized circuit with the most competitive brand of baseball on the continent.

• DUTCH LEAGUE: The Netherlands is arguably Europe’s epicenter for up and coming minor league prospects, and the Dutch League is the training ground for the hugely successful Dutch national team. Although the title race is usually a 3-4 team affair, these elite teams feature an abundance of talented ballplayers.

• SPANISH LEAGUE: Expect to see more standouts from the Spanish League inking contracts in Italy over the next few years. A pitching-rich circuit with a trio of elite teams in the Tenerife Marlins, FC Barcelona, and Sant Boi.

• GERMAN LEAGUE: Europe’s sleeping giant continues to underachieve while possessing the potential to be so much more. The sport would gain much more credibility in Germany if the eight best squads were battling every week. Instead, most weekends in the Bundesliga is filled with routs and predictable sweeps.

• FRENCH LEAGUE: The Rouen Huskies continue to be one of the most successful clubs in Europe and the French League is reaping the benefits with a higher level of competition. If this circuit ever features five title-contending teams annually, the balance of power on the old continent will be altered permanently.

• BELGIAN LEAGUE: A solid league which has seen its top team compete well against the elite squads at the European Cup competitions. While immigration restrictions on foreign players and the high costs involved for youth players are serious concerns, this remains a circuit capable of being one of the top five leagues on the continent.

• CZECH LEAGUE: Sometimes mistakenly called the Draci Brno League (17 consecutive titles) and home to Europe’s longest dynasty. However, Draci’s reign has been challenged in recent years and the Czech Baseball Association has enjoyed success executing their youth development program which bodes well for exporting future talent to the U.S. minor leagues and top European circuits.

• BRITISH LEAGUE: A small but competitive league seems to be on the rise after an exciting post-season in 2009. Hopefully, British baseball can build on the momentum of this past campaign to expand the number of teams in the top league next year.

• SWISS LEAGUE: One of Europe’s best kept secrets, the top teams in Switzerland have consistently performed well against B-Pool level countries in recent years. While the league has serious depth issues with just three quality teams in 2009, the emergence of another two clubs could elevate Swiss baseball to an even higher level.

• AUSTRIAN LEAGUE: Three years ago it appeared the ABL was primed for unpecedented growth. While the top teams failed to reach the next level on the international stage, parity has come to Austria which has made for some exciting playoff baseball.

Wanna play baseball in Europe in 2010? Click here.

Photo courtesy of Henk Seppen/L&D Amsterdam Pirates

Marvin Moore coached baseball in Europe for six years and is Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Top 10 International Baseball Websites


The days of scouring search engines and non-english websites for international baseball news has become a distant memory. And even though the majority of American baseball fanatics have yet to take notice, the game is growing at unprecedented levels all across the globe.

Baseball continues to flourish in Asia where the sport enjoys a rich history. The Korean League has developed into a top circuit capable of standing toe-to-toe with the best teams in Japan. And, while gangs make a mockery of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, the game remains the most popular sport on the island.

Although the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup was never expected to jumpstart the sport in Europe, new facilities and increased media exposure will undoubtedly help the game continue its growth on the old continent.

BaseballdeWorld.com has been on a mission to promote the international baseball scene to Major League Baseball (MLB) fans in the United States, while at the same time promoting some of the best baseball blogs with a global flavor on the internet. Below are some of my favorite international baseball websites:

INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL FEDERATION (IBAF)
The source for international baseball news.

BASEBALLDECUBA
Ray Otero & Co. opens the doors to the Cuban League.

JAPAN BALL
Bob Bavasi’s website has all the latest baseball news from Japan.

TAIWAN BASEBALL
The best source for Taiwan baseball news at all levels.

TRUE STORIES OF KOREAN BASEBALL
Matt has all the bases covered in the Korea Baseball Organization.

MY WORLD OF BASEBALL
Bob has an informative and entertaining site with an int’l flavor.

• GRAND SLAM STATS AND NEWS
Marco Stoovelar’s Dutch baseball blog remains a classic.

FEDERATION OF ITALIAN BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL
A first-class website that is easy to navigate with loads of data.

BASEBALL MEXICO
Bruce Baskin covers baseball South of the Border like no one else.

HONKBALSITE (NON-ENGLISH)
A top-of-the-line Dutch baseball news website.

Photo courtesy of Nippon Ham Fighters

Marvin Moore is a former int’l baseball coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.com.

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Therwil Flyers Back On Top Of Swiss Baseball


How ’bout them Flyers?

For the first time since 2003, the Therwil baseball team captured the Swiss League title. And, in the process, prevented a talented Bern Cardinals’ squad from equalling the Flyers record-setting five consecutive titles (1991-1995).

The road back to the top of the mountain has been a long one for a proud Flyers team which endured some lean seasons in recent years. Even from afar, watching the once mighty Flyers sink towards mediocrity was disheartening. But, a blast from the past arrived a few years ago and things quickly changed.

During my four seasons at the helm of the Flyers, I had the chance to work with the best club president a foreign coach could ever wish for in Europe. Lothar Seinige is a “master” organizer who played a key role in keeping Switzerland’s largest baseball and softball club running smoothly in the 1990s. It was truly an art how he juggled so much – especially the in-fighting between club teams.

The Flyers made great strides in 2008, but needed a little more seasoning before emerging as a legit title contender. This past season, player/coach Sam Faeder did an excellent job of handling a trio of talented young hurlers AND foiling a valiant upset bid by the always tough Zurich Challengers in the opening round of the playoffs.

The legendary wrestler “Nature Boy” Ric Flair used to say, “to be the man, you have to beat the man.” Well, the Flyers disposed of the four-time Swiss champion Cardinals in stylish fashion, and have the pieces in place to stay on the top of the heap for years to come.

Bravo Flyers!

TOO MANY RUMORS, TOO MANY HALF-TRUTHS

It seems that there is a misconception that BaseballdeWorld has changed management which is totally false. But to set the record straight – and to stop the confusing emails – let me provide a few facts.

A couple of months ago, BaseballdeWorld entertained a serious merger offer that would have added 10-12 new writers to the website. However, a proposed reduction in Asian and European articles was a “deal breaker” for me.

Although it is true that I have been developing a new online sports magazine-type website, BaseballdeWorld is not for sale. While the website has been listed at several website brokers for more than a year, the purpose for this is purely analytical.

The grind of working on two seperate websites had me interested in a merger that would allow me to be more of a sports editor/writer than a webmaster and internet marketing/advertising guy. But, BaseballdeWorld has enjoyed significant growth this year, and the Asian and European Leagues are an integral part of the success of the website.

Photo courtesy of www.sgfoto.ch/Sacha Grossenbacher

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Politics Depriving Cuban Ballplayers Of Opportunities


Thousands of American athletes, especially men and women basketball standouts, travel overseas each year to pursue their dream of playing pro ball. Now, imagine if these athletes could not return back home.

Major League Baseball’s “The Show” has become the dream of young ballplayers all across the globe, and the U.S. minor leagues this past season was stocked with a record number of international prospects. However, for political reasons, Cuban players remain on the outside looking in.

It’s one thing for politics to dictate that Taiwan has to be called Chinese Taipei at international sporting events. It’s a total different beast that Cuban players have to leave behind their families to pursue a dream of competing in the big leagues.

Aroldis Chapman walked away from the Cuban national team a few months ago while playing in a tournament in the Netherlands. But he also walked away from his family. His parents, two sisters, a girlfriend and baby daughter. That’s just not right.

Some would say that Cuban baseball players who defect have a choice. But that’s like saying a Filipino school teacher who earns $150 a month has choices when they decide to become house maids in Japan, Singapore and South Korea for twice as much pay.

The lure of millions of dollars is without a doubt a huge incentive for walking away from one life to a new one. But how many people do you know who would put a price tag on the head of their loved ones? Athletes are a different breed of people. Competing in games – the bigger, the better – is addictive. Following dreams should not come with such a high price.

As a 13-year-old boy in Texas, I often awoke in the wee hours of the morning on weekends, put my uniform on, and rode my bicycle to the house of my coach. I stretched on the couch until morning came too excited about the upcoming game to sleep.

But this was no phase. During my six years coaching in Switzerland, I still jumped out of bed before sunrise on game days too excited to sleep. Fortunately, I never had to choose between the game I love and my family.

“I was very nervous when I saw the guy in the hotel, and he told me this was the moment,” Chapman told Yahoo! Sports in a telephone interview recently. “I didn’t know what to do, but I had decided to take that step and I went for it.”

In America, we seek advancement opportunities and celebrate job promotions. For Cuban baseball players, reaching for the stars and striving for a better life means isolation from loved ones and being labeled a traitor. That’s just not right.

“It was a stressful time when I left the team and my family behind, when I had to worry that Cuban security may come after me. But all that’s in the past,” added Chapman.

The candidate Barack Obama promised change. Hopefully, this meant that ineffective and outdated policies towards Cuba will end. Punishing the people of one communist nation while constantly appeasing another communist regime is more than unfair.

That’s just not right.

Photo courtesy of cubanblogspot.com

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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USA Nears Baseball World Cup Title Game


ITALY – With the finish line at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup in sight, the only thing certain is that Team USA is in all likelihood one win away from advancing to the Gold medal matchup on Sunday. But the race between Cuba and the Netherlands remain a heated contest with three games remaining in the final round.

The Cubans plated two early runs against Australia and then leaned on their standout pitching corps to stay in the hunt for the World Cup crown. The Dutch teed off against Taiwan and now will embark on a tough three-game set against a trio of solid squads (Australia, Canada and USA)

Canada still has a remote chance at reaching the title game. The Maple Leafs, who need the United States to drop their final three games, must run the table against Venezuela, the Netherlands, and Cuba. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s World Cup matchups.

UNITED STATES (4-0;10-1) vs PUERTO RICO (2-2;8-3)

Team USA can all but wrap up a berth in Sunday’s title game with a win over an inconsistent Puerto Rican group. But that might be easier said than done. Puerto Rico struggled to beat lightweights Great Britain (5-4) and South Korea (3-2), but knocked off Cuba (5-2). Now, the big question is if this squad can rebound quickly after a heartbreaking loss to Canada? The Americans feature a bevy of offensive contributors, and a talented cast of starting pitchers that have successfully masked a suspect bullpen. Winning 10 games in a row is never easy – claiming 14 wins in a row (and the Gold medal) is an even more daunting task.

CHINESE TAIPEI (1-3;6-5) vs CUBA (3-1;10-1)

The Big Red Machine will be looking to get back on track with the lumber after Australian starter Dushan Ruzic retired the final 17 batters on Tuesday. Alfredo Despaigne, whose two-run dinger was the only offense Cuba could muster up against the giant 6’8″ Aussie right-hander, has cracked seven long balls while hitting at a .447 clip. Taiwan has struggled at the plate against quality pitching, and the Cubans have a surplus of talented arms. This game might be close early, but expect Esteban Lombillo’s squad to finish strong with a barrage of extra-base hits.

NETHERLANDS (3-1;7-1) vs AUSTRALIA (1-3;7-4)

The tough-luck Aussies will be looking to stay in the hunt for a medal when coach Jon Deebles’ squad meet the Dutch in a key World Cup matchup on Wednesday. Australia, which has surrendered just 14 runs in their last five games, should pose a big threat to a Dutch squad whose pitching depth will be tested with upcoming games against Canada and the United States. Middle infielder Hainley Statia looks more polished at the plate than in previous stints with the Orange and Black, and SF Giants farmhand Sharlon Shoop has upgraded the Dutch offensive lineup in a significant way. Still, Australia needs a win in a bad way and should scalp a solid Dutch team.

CANADA (2-2;9-2) vs VENEZUELA (0-4;6-5)

Pitching – not hitting – has the Canadians on course for a medal in this year’s World Cup. Take away the 35 runs that Canada posted against the Netherlands Antilles and Italy, and Ernie Whitt’s group averaged just three scores an outing in the second round. However, the Maple Leafs allowed just a whisker more than four runs a game on the mound while limiting four second round opponents to three runs or less. Don’t be fooled by Venezuela’s record. This remains a dangerous foe for opposing teams and Canada’s medal hopes will suffer a severe blow if Rene Tosoni and Co. strand too many runners in scoring position.

FINAL ROUND SCHEDULE:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Cuba 2 – Australia 1
Canada 3 – Puerto Rico 0
United States 6 – Venezuela 3
Netherlands 11 – Chinese Taipei 2

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Canada (G) vs Venezuela (F)
Australia (G) vs Netherlands (F)
Puerto Rico (F) vs United States (G)
Chinese Taipei (G) vs Cuba (F)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

United States (G) vs Cuba (F)
Chinese Taipei (G) vs Puerto Rico (F)
Canada (G) vs Netherlands (F)
Venezuela (F) vs Australia (G)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

Cuba (G) vs Canada (F)
Venezuela (F) vs Chinese Taipei (G)
Australia (G) vs Puerto Rico (F)
Netherlands (F) vs United States (G)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

Pool F 4th Place vs Pool G 4th Place (7th-8th Place Game)
Pool F 3rd Place vs Pool G 3rd Place (5th-6th Place Game)
Pool F 2nd Place vs Pool G 2nd Place (3rd-4th Place Game)

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

Pool F 1st Place vs Pool G 1st Place (Championship Game)

Photo courtesy of Marco Vasini/IBAF

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

Posted in Tournaments, NewsComments (1)

Italy Seeking Win At Baseball World Cup


An old coach in the mid-80s once told me that “for every a**-kicking a team gives, expect one in return down the road.” If only he was still alive today to watch the squad that USA Baseball assembled for this year’s Baseball World Cup.

Betting against Cuba in an international tournament is as ridiculous as betting on the New York Yankess to trim their payroll to a $100 million annually. But,  if Team USA keeps showcasing dominant pitching and an abundance of extra-base hits – Cuba might find itselves the underdogs if both teams reach the title game.

What about the job that former Tenneessee Vols skipper Rod Delmonico has done with the Dutch squad? The days of this European powerhouse sneaking up on over-confident opponents are history, yet the Orange and Black keep posting wins.

I still have my doubts about the depth of the Australian pitching staff, but the Aussies have some legit hitters who will not fade away easily. Canada has gotten off to a rough start in the second round, but this is another solid team that could get hot and make a title run. I would not call it an upset, but Canada should rebound against Mexico in a big way.

POOL G MATCHUPS:

• NETHERLANDS ANTILLES (0-2/2-3) – ITALY (0-2/0-2)

If familiarity breeds confidence, Italy should be in good shape with a Dutch Antilles squad littered with players from the IBL’s T&A San Marino club. The Italians are in a must-win situation against a good-hitting Caribbean team who would like nothing more than to engage the host in a high-scoring affair. This should be the game when italy’s hitting and pitching finally starts clicking.

• AUSTRALIA (2-0/4-1) – CHINESE TAIPEI (1-0/3-1)

The Aussies won the first matchup against Taiwan by a meager two runs and this encounter should be another tussle between a pair of squads who look solid enough to advance to the next round. It will be interesting to see if Australia’s bat can catch fire against a young Taiwanese pitching staff that has been much stronger than expected. Still, the Aussies should have too much offensive firepower for the Asian squad to match.

• CANADA (0-2/3-2) – MEXICO (1-1/4-1)

This game will test the character of a Canadian squad that played well enough to win against Australia, but came up short. Mexico’s bats have cooled off significantly in the second round and Mexican pitchers have struggled against good-hitting lineups like the one Canada has. Canada is the favorite but the South of the border squad is a dangerous bunch when Jesus Cota and company are smacking long balls.

• JAPAN (1-0/3-1) – UNITED STATES (2-0/4-1)

The Americans appear as though they are hitting softball-size baseballs, and Japan’s pitching thus far in the tourney has been decent at best. Baseball is a funny game, and it’s rare for so many guys to be swinging the bats so well at the same time. There remains a hiccup or two along the championship road, but this group is starting to look like a “special” team.

Photo courtesy of Ratti/Fibs

Marvin Moore is a former European baseball coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Venezuela Still Perfect At Baseball World Cup


The opening day of the second round featured every home team winning except Italy. The odds of this happening, again, are slim but the race to the next round will be anything but predictable.

Team USA and Cuba remain the favorites to reach the title game later this month, but teams like Venezuela, Australia, Nicaragua, Mexico and Canada are “in it to win it” as well. One huge question mark is if both the European bets have enough hitting to reach the third round?

A win by the Dutch against Puerto Rico today will give the Orange and Black the inside track to the next round, but Italy does not have it so good.

The Italians will have to hit much better than they did against Taiwan on Sunday, and a win against Mexico tonight is crucial for the final round host. However, the only things certain in long tournaments are the uncertain.

POOL F MATCHUPS:

• GREAT BRITAIN (1-3) – SOUTH KOREA (1-3)

The British are struggling at the plate which has overshadowed some decent pitching outings by Brian Essery and Stephen Spragg. Can the young Koreans, which had the Dutch on the ropes until L&D Amsterdam Pirates backstop Sidney de Jong rescued the host with a late three-run bomb, regroup in time to stay in the hunt for the third round? I think so.

• VENEZUELA (4-0) – SPAIN (1-3)

Unbeaten Venezuela has been the surprise of the tournament thus far. The fifth-place squad in last year’s America’s Cup has knocked off both the USA and Nicaragua, but could be primed for an upset against a Spanish squad that has more than a few capable hitters. If Spain can avoid allowing Venezuela the big inning – which doomed Germany – the Baseball World Cup will have one less undefeated team.

• CUBA (4-0) – NICARAGUA (3-1)

This should be a fun game to watch with so many free-swinging hitters eyeing the fences. Nicaraguan third baseman Jimmy Morales did not go deep against Venezuela, but he did rack up four hits. Cuba’s Alfredo Despaigne and Yulieski Gourriel are both due for a “monster” game. This matchup has all the makings of Texas shootout, but it’s not smart to bet against Cuba.

• PUERTO RICO (3-1) – NETHERLANDS (0-1)

The Dutch would have been hard-pressed to reach the next round with a loss to South Korea on Sunday, and now an inconsistent but talented Puerto Rican team will challenge American skipper Rod Delmonico’s squad. It is shaping up to be a five-team race for the four third round slots so the loser of this game will have an uphill battle to advance to Italian soil.

POOL G MATCHUPS:

• ITALY (0-1) – MEXICO (3-1)

Call me dumbfounded that Italian starter Tiago Da Silva did not shutdown Taiwan. Italy finds itself in an early must-win situation, and Mexico is a much better hitting group than the youthful Asians. A slugfest favors the Latin sluggers so this matchup will be won or lost on the mound for the Europeans.

• AUSTRALIA (3-1) – CANADA (3-1)

This is an interesting matchup between two squads who both have good shots at advancing to the third round. Australia took batting practice against an overmatched Netherlands Antilles group, while Canada will be happy to face any pitcher not named Cory Luebke. The Aussies played in a much tougher group than the Canadians in the first round and will take the field as slight favorites.

• CHINESE TAIPEI (2-2) – JAPAN (3-1)

This All-Asian matchup has some bragging rights on the line, but Japan’s squad of industrial leaguers are gaining more confidence with each win. The competition in the Baseball World Cup keeps getting stronger, but Japan’s amateurs keeps on winning. Taiwan has a dangerous squad but Japan is playing too well for an upset.

• UNITED STATES (3-1) – NETHERLANDS ANTILLES (2-2)

What can you say about the starting pitchers of Team USA? Two years ago, the Americans thought they could dethrone Cuba before they actually won the Gold. It’s a good bet this year’s team is looking forward to meeting the Big Red Machine. The Netherlands Antilles can hit the ball, but USA baseball has put together a talented bunch to try and repeat as World Cup champion.

Photo courtesy of Diego Lazaro

Marvin Moore is a former European baseball coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

Posted in Tournaments, NewsComments (1)

Key Matchups On Tap At Baseball World Cup


With the first round of the 38th IBAF Baseball World Cup concluding in five European nations today, a tantalizing lineup of key matchups with serious second round ramifications headline the slate of games on tap Saturday.

An eye-raising 14 of the 20 teams competing in the opening round will join second round hosts Italy and the Netherlands. Thus, with just one more game left for each team in the first round, some teams are in serious trouble:

1. CZECH REPUBLIC: Must beat Chinese Taipei to stave off elimination.
2. CHINESE TAIPEI: A win over the Czech Republic should send the Asians to the next round.
3. SOUTH AFRICA: Needs to upset Puerto Rico to avoid an early exit.
4. SWEDEN: A victory over a solid Canadian bunch is too much to expect.
5. GREAT BRITAIN: Might make it to the next round with win over Croatia.
6. CROATIA: Beating Great Britain not impossible, but doubtful.
7. CHINA: An upset over Team USA will jumpstart any fledgling baseball program.

Now, here are the top matchups on the final day of the opening round.

• AUSTRALIA (2-0) VS MEXICO (2-0)

Both Pool A teams have already qualified for the second round, and will meet again on September 20 in Macerata, Italy. Mexico’s pitching staff has tossed two shutouts, and boasts an offensive group that is averaging 8.5 runs per outing. The Aussies torched the Czech Republic but struggled to beat a youthful Taiwanese bunch.

• JAPAN (2-0) VS NICARAGUA (2-0)

The winner of this Pool D showdown will earn a ticket to the Netherlands for the next round, while the loser will be rewarded with a trip to Italy for second round action. Nicaragua has used a balance attack to dispose of a pair of European squads, and will be the favorite against a Japanese industrial league all-star cast that has not disappointed thus far.

• SOUTH KOREA (1-1) VS NETHERLANDS ANTILLES (1-1)

The winner advances to the next round as the Pool C second-seeded squad. South Korea has a talented but inexperienced team while the Netherlands Antilles feature one U.S. minor leaguer and a bevy of European professionals. The loser of this game will also have a shot of moving on, but if the Caribbean bats come alive the Koreans are in trouble.

• VENEZUELA (2-0) VS GERMANY (1-1)

How the Germans fare at the plate in the Pool E finale will go a long way towards telling how far this group has come under Georgia State skipper Greg Frady. Venezuela does not have a pitcher with the “stuff” of Atlanta farmhand Todd Redmond, but Germany still must prove it can hit above-average international pitching. On the other hand, the South American squad have some bashers who will enjoy the spotlight of a large Saturday night crowd in Regensburg.

• PUERTO RICO (1-1) VS SOUTH AFRICA (0-2)

Unlike the other Caribbean squad, Puerto Rico entered the tournament as one of the strongest teams on paper. But, a 10-0 drubbing at the hands of Cuba combined with an upset scare against Spain, and Puerto Rico needs a confidence-building game in a bad way. However, South Africa plated five runs against Cuba and will enter this game riding an emotional high that their opponents are lacking.

• USA (1-1) VS CHINA (0-2)

Team USA learned the hard way that with the IBAF extra-inning rule – in which runners are placed on first and second to start the frame – anything can happen. The loss to Venezuela served as a quick wake-up call that retaining the Gold will be a battle, but the Americans have a solid lineup of hitters that make this team a strong contender to repeat. However, the success of this group will depend on a bullpen that has been inconsistent prior AND during the Baseball World Cup.

• CHINESE TAIPEI (0-2) VS CZECH REPUBLIC (0-2)

Taiwan will be the heavy favorite to advance and with good reason. But the Czech Republic will try to ride the wave of emotion from a large Saturday night hometown crowd to an improbable second round berth. Unlikely, but still possible.

Photo courtesy of Ratti/Fibs

Marvin Moore is a former European baseball coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Home Runs On Display At Baseball World Cup


Although the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup has just begun, it is quickly becoming crystal clear that the “long” ball will play a key role in determining which teams advance to the second round. A whopping 30 home runs have already been launched in the first 10 games of the 22-nation international tournament.

Pool A teams in the Czech Republic have smacked a combined nine dingers in just two games. In Regensburg, Germany, seven homers have been jacked in Pool E with Venezuela and the United States swatting a tournament-high six long balls Thursday in a 11-inning affair.

MOST HOME RUNS (GROUPS)
• Pool A (9)
• Pool E (7)
• Pool D (5)
• Pool B (5)
• Pool C (4)

Heading into the third day of the event, six of the first 10 games had three or more home runs sailing out of the ballparks. Historically light-hitting European squads were involved in three of the four contests that featured two or less round-trippers.

The Spanish-speaking nations of Mexico (4), Cuba (3), Nicaragua (3) and Venezuela (3) accounted for 13 of the 30 homers hit thus far, while the four Asia squads (1) and six European teams (6) combined for seven long balls.

MOST HOME RUNS (GAME)
• USA-Venezuela (6)
• Australia-Czech Republic (5)
• Mexico-Taiwan (4)
• Croatia-Nicaragua (3)
• Cuba-Puerto Rico (3)
• N. Antilles-Sweden (3)
• Spain-S. Africa (2)
• Japan-Great Britain (2)
• Canada-Korea (1)
• China-Germany (1)

Four players enjoyed multi-homer games in their opening matchups. Mexico’s Jesus Cota hit three round-trippers against Taiwanese, while Tim Kennelly (Australia), Jimmy Morales (Nicaragua), and Justin Smoak each went yard twice.

MULTI-HOME RUN GAME (INDIVIDUALS)
• 2 – Tim Kennelly, Australia (vs Czech Republic)
• 2 – Jimmy Morales, Nicaragua (vs Croatia)
• 2 – Justin Smoak, USA (vs Venezuela)
• 3 – Jesus Cota, Mexico (vs Taiwan)

With 20 first round games remaining, and a possible shortage of well-rested arms this weekend, the odds are high that the baseballs will continue flying out of the ballparks all across Europe.

Photo courtesy of Ratti/Fibs

Marvin Moore is a former European baseball coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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Bern Earning Respect For Swiss Baseball


Former Texas Rangers skipper and current Lotte Marines (Japan) manager Bobby Valentine once said he was born to coach baseball. So was I.

The obsessed 13-year-old who used to wake up at 5 AM and ride his bike three minutes to coach Jim Gonzalez’ house on tournament weekends and sleep on the floor until the family awoke still exists within me. Although I enjoy writing about baseball, I love coaching. And, I miss developing championship teams every single day.

When I arrived in Switzerland in 1993, Swiss baseball was a joke. The national team was so awful, I left the first base coaches box after only a few innings of watching guys who could not even hit the ball out of the infield. However, that embarrassment of a nightmare ended in a hurry.

I fought – and won – a silly rule that required each Swiss team in the top league to have two representatives on the national squad. When I took over the task of leading the Swiss at international competitions, I was criticized for stacking the squad with players from my club team. But the door mat of European Pool B tournaments quickly became a respectable unit capable of advancing to the A Pool level.

My sweetest moment in Europe came in Llubjana, Slovenia in 1994 when the Swiss knocked off a more talented Ukraine bunch. For six innings, I was the master politician, Oscar-winning actor, and used car saleman all rolled into one. My Swiss players needed to think we could actually win even though the odds were stacked against us.

The learning disorder that I had expertly hid from everyone for so, so long became my greatest weapon. The little boy whose thoughts wandered like cars on roads with no street lights became a world-class maestro. I struggled to stay focus on the “now” while my thoughts were consumed with strategic decisions that had yet to materialize. My madness was a strange bliss.

The final out was almost as good as scoring on a date that was once a fantasy. My body was numb with exhaustion. The thousands and thousands of lonely moments away from family and friends back in Texas seemed worth it…now. Overhearing a British coach tell someone that the Swiss was 3-0 on a cellphone made me proud of Swiss baseball.

I felt an “arrogant” sense of pride last year when the Bern Cardinals won a European Cup Qualifier. Swiss baseball will never be able to compete with revenue-generating clubs in Italy and the Netherlands, or talent-rich countries like Spain. But take away the foreign mercenaries from the U.S. and South America, and the best ballplayers in Switzerland can compete with their European neighbors.

More than a decade later – it still feels great to say, “I told you so!”

Photo courtesy of Tino Keller/Therwil Flyers

Marvin Moore is a former international baseball coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.com.

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Polls

Who will win the 2017 World Baseball Classic?

  • Puerto Rico (31%, 27 Votes)
  • Dominican Republic (13%, 11 Votes)
  • USA (13%, 11 Votes)
  • Mexico (11%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Cuba (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Venezuela (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Netherlands (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Japan (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Chinese Taipei (1%, 1 Votes)
  • South Korea (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Canada (0%, 0 Votes)

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