Archive for April, 2013

It’s the President’s Office (cont - 8) - end

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Misty Xeng did not like Lindsey Graham. Anyone who wore pressed suits costing more than her weekly salary, kept his teeth an ivory white, straight and perfectly in line like a keyboard, with every inch of hair combed in place, spending as much for his haircuts as she did for hers, clearly thought too much of himself. Every inch of his body was chiseled with purpose. It was apparent he liked to work out, jogged each day and wasn’t afraid to be seen walking outside with his shirt off, constantly admiring his abs and pecs while he cooled off outside after his jog, selecting the perfect time to be waiting by the entrance, just when lunch was about to end and everyone would be returning to the building to admire his physique. She also had a problem with his name, which sounded more like a girl’s name.

Her boss Congressman Tommy Helms had given her a head’s up on the request. “That Jason Woo character was a big topic of conversation at the staff meeting.” He was referring to the President’s meeting with members of the House Ways and Means. These were weekly meetings. Misty was not allowed to attend those meetings. “It seems the Chinese Premier wants to see him pitch when he comes to the United States in September. Your friend Mr. Graham has been put in charge of making it happen.”

Congressman Helms put the emphasis on the word “your friend” since he knew how much Misty disliked Lindsey. He had probably dated every single attractive female staffer in the building and then some that were not so attractive or so single. A relationship would only last a couple months at most before his interest moved to a new girl who entered the building unaware of his reputation. He had tried to ask Misty out a long time ago when she was first hired but she would have none of that.

Many of her friends were envious of Misty when they learned of Lindsey’s interest in her. They were also disappointed when she told them she was not interested. “Honey, he works for the President. The President of the United States! That’s a no brainer girl. You could go places with someone like him,” Brandi had told her. Misty remembered Brandi had a few dates with him, before they got to know each other.

Misty did not ask Brandi where he took her on those couple dates before dumping her for fear of hitting a sensitive chord. “He’s not my type.”

“None of the men are your type. I haven’t seen you out with a man in at least two years.”

“I’ve been busy.” Working on the hill had kept her busy and the men she worked with just didn’t attract her. Her best male friend was gay and anytime she needed a man to accompany her on a date she asked him. It was a more comfortable arrangement to enjoy the evening without having to worry about some man keeping his hands off your private parts.

She didn’t really know what to do with the information her boss gave her. The only person she knew who worked for the Orioles who had any influence was Larvell Blanks, but she had only spoken to him twice. He seemed like a nice guy who had the interests of Jason Woo at heart. She thought she would call him to give him some warning before Lindsey called. She didn’t really know what it accomplished, but it was something she felt she had to do.

end of chapter 23

Tide Takes Eleven to Down Mudhens

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

It rained most of the day in Norfolk.  Fortunately for the Tide the rain stopped a couple hours before the game.  The Tide jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Mudhens were true to their name, rallying for three in the eighth to tie the game.  Chris Robinson, hitting less then .200 entering the game, collected the clutch hit, a two out single in the eleventh to give the Tide a 6-5 win.

The Tide scored quickly off Mudhen starter Shawn Hill.  Two walks and two singles scored two runs, Russ Canzler stroking an RBI single and Yamaico Navarro lining one up the middle for an RBI single.  The Tide could have scored more but Danny Valencia was thrown out at third on the Navarro single, having the presence of mind to get into a run down to allow Canzler to cross the plate with the second run.

The Tide built the lead to 4-0 in the third on two solo homeruns.  Jason Pridie led off the inning with a solo shot that went over the patio in right field.  With two out Danny Valencia slugged an opposite field homerun into the bullpen in rightfield.

Steve Johnson pitched well through the first five innings, giving up only two hits and one walk.  He tired a bit in the sixth, walking the leadoff hitter Quintin BerryNick Castellanos hit a one out double into right center to move Berry to third and Jordan Lennerton drove them both in with a single down the right field line.

Russ Canzler led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot deep into the left centerfield bullpen.  For Russ it was his second straight game of hitting a homerun.

The Mudhens rallied off the Tides bullpen, Chris Jones giving up a double and two singles to start the eighth inning in his third inning of work.  Alex Burnett came in to pitch and hit John Lindsay with his first pitch to load the bases.  A ground out to first scored the second run of the inning.  Argenis Diaz slapped one up the middle.  Jonathan Schoop made a nice dive for the ball to stop it, but could not get the force at second, allowing the tying run to score.

Travis Ishikawa led off the eleventh with a double.  Trayvon Robinson pinch ran for him, eventually scoring on the Chris Robinson two out single.

Game Notes: After each homerun the scoreboard shoots off cannons from the carrier to celebrate the event.  Norfolk is the home of the aircraft carrier…The Norfolk Tides are going to have a Star Wars day on May 4th, bringing in a number of Star War characters to celebrate the day.  They are encouraging fans to also wear Star Wars regalia.  They are calling this day “may the fourth be with you.”….Harbor Park was opened in 1993.  It is a concrete structure that still has an old fashioned feel to it.  Because of all the rain the announced attendance was 2,589.  There seemed less than that inside the stadium….L.J. Hoes also has the Denard Span walkup song, which Adam Jones also had, but has now changed…Jose Ortega looked impressive in his bullpen outing for the Mudhens, striking out the side in the eighth as he hit 97-98 on the radar gun.  He worked two perfect innings, striking out four.  Danny Valencia swung at and missed at three breaking pitches…Evan Reed was also hitting 97-98 for the Mudhens in relief.  His breaking pitch was consistently bouncing in front of the plate…Yamaico Navarro doesn’t seem to have the arm to play shortstop on an extended basis.  Defensively he may be a more consistent shortstop than Schoop, but Schoop has the better tools…Argenis Diaz fell face first when rounding the first base bag after taking the ball to the wall.  He was able to take second, but that should be on some blooper highlights if a video captured his fall…The game yesterday lasted just 1 hour and 59 minutes.

Top Dominican Prospects - National League

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Myworld arrived in Norfolk to watch a baseball game and see a bit of Norfolk.  It has been raining all day so we spend the day in a new city stuck inside a hotel room.  This gives us an opportunity to write about the top Dominican prospects in the National League.  The rain has stopped, the ground is wet.  Only two hours until game time.

1. Oscar Tavares OF (St. Louis Cardinals) - He was born in the Dominican Republic but lived in Montreal, Canada for a number of years.  This gives him the opportunity to be on top of two prospect lists, the Canadian and the Dominican Republic.  Don’t be surprised if he plays for the Canadian WBC team in 2017.  He is considered the best hitter in baseball, though his bat is more conducive for batting titles than homerun titles.  Defensively he is a better fit in right field than center, but he lacks the cannon for an arm like many rightfielders.  Myworld saw a lot of him in spring training, but we failed to see him impress with the bat.  We were not convinced of the hype but it was a small snap shot in time.

2. Carlos Martinez RHP (St. Louis Cardinals) - His arrival to spring training was delayed by a visa issue.  He has already had one incident where he had to change his name from Carlos Matias to Carlos Martinez.  He stands only 6′0″ but he is one of the Cardinals hardest throwers on a roster filled with hard throwers.  His fastball lights the radar guns in the high 90s and his curveball has tremendous break.  He could turn into a Pedro Martinez type of starter or his physical limitations could move him to the bullpen as a closer.  He has yet to throw over 104 innings in a season, so time will tell if his small frame will limit the number of innings he can pitch in a year.

3. Rymer Liriano OF (San Diego Padres) - The Padres had expectations a good spring would allow him to fill their right field job this year.  They will have to wait until next year to achieve those expectations due to an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery putting an end to his 2013 season.  Rymer adds the potential for power to his speed to give you a five tool player.  He has yet to hit over 12 homeruns in a season, but he has 97 stolen bases in the last two years.  The power should come, the speed may decrease as he fills out.  His speed allows him to play center field and a strong arm makes a shift to right a possibility.  He still needs to work on improving his patience at the plate.

4. Gregory Polanco OF (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Polanco had a breakout 2012 season where he hit .325 with 16 homeruns in his first exposure to full season ball.  He also stole 40 bases in 55 attempts.  He only signed for $175,000 as an international free agent and in his first couple years could not hit better than .267.  Gregory is also a five tool talent, but one who makes contact and shows good patience at the plate, drawing 44 walks for a .388 OBA last year.  Next year will be a big year to prove 2012 was not a fluke.

5. Marcell Ozuna OF (Miami Marlins) - Marcel is one of those all or nothing players.  He swings hard and can hit it a mile, or have it settle in the catchers mitt for strike three.  He has struck out 237 times in his last two years, but he has also slugged 47 homeruns.  He hasn’t shown the motivation to steal a lot of bases, despite an impressive 25 for 30 success rate over the last two years.  With a cannon for an arm, his ideal position is right field, though he has the speed to play center.  He will be playing AA next year.  With a decimated Marlin’s roster he is not too far down in the depth chart to wait long if the Marlins need major league help in their outfield.

6. Alen Hanson SS (Pittsburgh Pirates) - A teammate of Greg Polanco, he also had a breakout year last year.  One position the Pirates are lacking for their major league roster is shortstop.  Alen has all the defensive chops for the position except for a strong arm.  That may play better at second.  His bat is certainly not an issue with a .309/16/62 slash line.  Last year Alen got the triple/double, smashing 33 doubles, racing for 13 triples and depsiting 16 balls over the fence for homeruns.  He was also 35 for 44 in stolen bases.

7. Wily Peralta RHP (Dominican Republic) - Wily has had many opportunities to make the Brewers starting rotation.  This should be the first time he will get enough starts to knock him off the prospect list.  Willy has a mid-90s fastball, but is more comfortable in the low 90s.  His big strikeout pitch is his slider.  Last year he made his major league debut, getting six starts for a 2.48 ERA.  As with most pitchers who face major leaguers for the first time, his strike rate decreased to a career low 7.1 strikeouts peer nine innings

8. Daniel Corcino RHP (Cincinnati Reds) - The Reds have a surplus of pitching with Robert Stephenson and Tony Cingrani ahead of Corcino.  Dan is a small righthander, standing just 5′11″ but his fastball can hit the mid-90s.  He also has a slider that can be a strikeout pitch and a developing change.  Last year Daniel skipped High A, starting in AA and aqcuitted himself well.  In 26 starts he was 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA.  Corcino is a couple levels ahead of Stephenson, so if the Reds need a pitcher to fill their starting rotation Corcino will get the call ahead of Stephenson.

9. Luis Mateo RHP (New York Mets) - The Mets have a number of Dominican pitchers in their minor league system in Rafael Montero, Jeurys Familia, Domingo Tapia and Hansel Robles.  Mateo seems to have the more consistent stuff.  In the two years with the Mets opponents have hit him at a .202 clip.  His fastball glides to the plate between 92-97 and his slider is considered to be his best pitch.  The Mets only signed him for $150,000.  He should get his first season in full season ball and is a couple years away from making the Mets roster.

10. Arodys Vizcaino RHP (Chicago Cubs) - He’s bounced around from the Yankees to the Braves and now to the Cubs.  A balky elbow make general managers worry about his durability.  Dynamite stuff make other general managers want to acquire him.  He already has had some success pitching in the major leagues, getting 17 appearances in 2011 before missing the 2012 season because of Tommy John surgery.  He has that small 6′0″ frame, but can hit the mid-90s with his fastball.  Time will tell if the surgery will slow down that velocity.  His curveball has good break, sometimes making him overly dependent on it during games.  He’ll miss the first part of the early 2013 season, pitch some rehab and if he has success may see some time in the Cub bullpen for the summer.

How Do You Like Me Now

Monday, April 29th, 2013

The Miami Marlins signed a number of big name free agents in an attempt to excite a Miami fan base with a new stadium and a perception of improved players.  They even traded a couple journeyman players to the White Sox to bring over a flamboyant manager in Ozzie Guillen.  Like bamboo growing under their fingernails, the Marlins could not win and midway through the season they cried uncle, trading away many of the players from their roster to build for the future.  The majority of their free agent signings or veterans still left on the team were traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of the season to obtain a haul of prospects.

The Boston Red Sox felt they needed more sizzle with their players, going on a free agent spending spree with the signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.  They had a television base to entertain and you can’t do that with vanilla players like Dustin Pedroia.  They also hired a flamboyant manager in Bobby Valentin to add spice to the glitz.  Bobby was just the opposite of their two time World Series manager Terry Francona.  They felt Francona had lost control of the locker room.  Before the season ended they would have a better definition of losing control of a locker room.  By the time mid-season arrived many of their free agent signings were traded to the Dodgers as their second collapse in two years proved that last year was not the anomaly but the norm.

Now that the season is almost one month old the Toronto Blue Jays are finding out the same players who lost for the Marlins are also losing for the Blue Jays.  Jose Reyes is injured for a couple months, something the New york Mets were very familiar with and Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are not making the Jays starting rotation the juggernaut many had thought it would be.  It appears some things never change no matter what laundry you pick to wear the next day.  The Jays find themselves in last place with a 9-17 record, nine games behind the first place Red Sox.

The Marlins are not winning, but no one expected them to win.  They picked up a number of good players in Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino and Adeiny Hechavarria to help them for the future.  The current ownership group has burned their bridges with the fan base and it may be in the best interest of the Marlins that they sell the team before they have an opportunity to screw up this rebuilding process.  They currently have the worst record in baseball at 6-19 with one of the most entertaining power hitters in baseball in Giancarlo Stanton.  They claim to be spending money in other areas to help build the franchise, but they are at the bottom in signing international talent and last year they almost lost first round pick Andrew Heaney because they didn’t want to pay him the first round slot bonus money they were allocated.  Myworld would like to know in what area they are spending resources to improve the team?

The Dodgers found that acquiring Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Rameriz and Josh Beckett did nothing to their team to add to the win total in 2012, but it did do a lot to make them the second highest salaried team in the major leagues.  It was felt next year once the players got used to each other the wins would come.  Next year has arrived and the Dodgers are no closer to winning, finding themselves just above the San Diego Padres in the NL West with a 12-12 record, 2.5 games behind the leader.  If I’m spending over $200 million for my team I would want a team playing better than .500.

The Dodgers believe that when Hanley Ramirez comes back from the disabled list they will be much stronger since he will fill the shortstop hole.  When Hanley Ramirez played winter ball last year the team he played for did not put him at shortstop despite the Dodgers objections.  The same was true for the championship Dominican Republic WBC team.  The Dodgers feel they can win with Hanley at shortstop, even though his Latin compatriots felt their teams could not win with Hanley at shortstop.

The Boston Red Sox seem to be the only team to have benefited from the roster shakedowns.  Relieved of huge salary burdens by trading Crawford, Gonzalez and Beckett to the Dodgers they have been able to tinker with their roster and found that signing vanilla role players to fill their lineup can lead to victories.  Vanilla players like Daniel Nava, Mike Carp and Mike Napoli have been added to the 25 man roster to play alongside their previous players of vanilla quality like Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia to put the Red Sox in first place in the AL East.  Myworld does not see that lasting as the season progresses, but it is better than the view they had in the standings the last couple years.

So what can be learned from these salary dumps and acquistions.  To paraphrase a Martin Luther King statement,  ”It is not the dollars in a contract but the content of a player’s character that will help create a winning atmoshere for a team”.  Large contracts generally build complacency.  You want players who are not driven by large contracts, but deserve them just the same, players who are driven by their will to win even after they earn the big bucks.  And you don’t want those players who just talk about their will to win, but show it on the practice fields and the batting cages.  Talk is cheap.  Action is defining.

It is still early in the season and a lot can happen to change things.  Time will tell if the Dodgers and Blue Jays can turn things around despite their big acquisitions.

Balentein Slugging Swallows to Victory

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Wladimir Balentien got off to a late start to the season as a result of injuries he suffered playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.  Now that he is healthy and bashing balls out of the park the Yakult Swallows have moved themselves from the basement of the Central Division with a six game winning streak.  Part of that six game winning streak was a sweep over the first place Yomiuri Giants.

After beating the Giants in the first game 4-2, Balentien drove in all four of the runs in the second game in the Swallows identical 4-2 win.  His big hit was a 3-run homer in the sixth, his fourth of the year.

In the third game to complete the sweep the Giants held a 1-0 lead going into the eighth.  They brought in Scott Mathieson, a fireballing Canadian to protect the lead.  Balentien took him deep for a 2-run homerun to give the Swallows a 2-1 win and a sweep over the Giants.

Balentien made it three straight homeruns in his first two at bats in the opening game the next day against the Yokahama Bay Stars, then hit his third homerun of the game in his fifth at bat, after a fly out and a walk intervened to end his homer streak.  The three homeruns gave the Swallows their sixth straight win 12-3.

Balentien is now hitting .333 with eight homeruns in his 15 games he has played.  During that time he has driven in 22.  The homerun leader in the Central League is Tony Blanco of the Bay Stars.  He hit his 14th homerun in his 27th game, but he will have to be more prolific if he expects to stay ahead of last year’s homerun champ.

With the six game winning streak the Swallows have moved to third place in the Central with a 13-14 record, five games behind the Giants.  It would not surprise me if some of those players are looking in the rear view mirror after they were ambushed by the Swallows in their three game series.

It’s the President’s Office (cont - 7)

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

At the ball parks it was becoming more common for four or five people to ask Jason Woo for his autograph, look at Kevin Beamer, realize who he was and ask for his autograph too. The two had become like Batman and Robin, the Green Hornet and Kato, only Kevin was Robin or Kato, the sidekick behind the hero. Kevin began to notice that not every camera in the ballpark with an Asian standing behind it was taking a picture of Jason. Some were taking pictures of Kevin. He hadn’t really paid too much attention to this before. Or perhaps it just wasn’t there.

The difference between Kevin and Jason is Kevin didn’t think he had the patience of Jason to tolerate the constant interruptions. Up until now his life was lived in anonymity. He didn’t know if he could accept the spot light as calmly and stoically as Jason. Not once did Kevin see Jason get angry at a fan or photographer who came up to him requesting an autograph or a photo, even if he was in the process of shoving a spoonful of food into his mouth. For Kevin, the roles were being reversed. Kevin was now looking at Jason for guidance at how he deals with all the attention from the fans and the media. Earlier in their relationship Jason had been dependent on Kevin for survival in America. He had learned his lesson well. Now Kevin would be dependent on Jason for surviving this brief visit with fame. Kevin only hoped he would be just as good a student as Jason.

They were driving back from the game. At least now he had Jason in the car with him to keep him company on the long ride back. No more singing to himself, or even talking to himself on those late nights when he was trying to keep himself awake.

“I got good news today,” Jason said in English to break the silence. They were comfortable with each other. They could drive the whole length of the trip without speaking if they had nothing to talk about. It was one of those relationships where words were spoken to convey thought or news, not just to create mindless conversation about the weather neither of them cared about. There was no obligation for the two to speak unless one had something to say.

“Can’t imagine what that would be,” Kevin said, his head swaying back and forth to the country song twanging from the radio, his eyes focused on the road. “You get promoted without them telling me?”

“Not baseball news. Emily moving to Vagina.” In his English Jason made Virginia sound like a female body part.

Kevin had to laugh. “Vagina?”

Jason ignored Kevin’s retort. “You member Emily?”

“Sure I do.” They hadn’t really talked too much about Emily since Jason left Florida. Kevin did chastise Jason after he got back when he learned Jason emailed Emily multiple times while he had disappeared in China but waited until the day he decided to return before contacting Kevin. Jason tried to explain to Kevin that Emily is a woman and women need constant reinforcement to show you are thinking about them. Guys can go months without talking to each other and it won’t bother them. That was something Kevin had explained to Jason earlier in their friendship. Jason was throwing it back at him.

“She tired of heat and humidity of Flow-e-da. She also tired of working in Chinese west-a-want. She has chance to work at Kow-ean west-a-want in place called Annandale at the place of her aunt.”

“That would make more sense, a Korean working at a Korean restaurant.”

“She be moving here in couple week.”

“That’s great.” Kevin was excited for Jason. He looked happy.

“I bit worried. What if all not work out? We see each other only couple time before I leave for China. I no want her come all this way and be disappoint.”

“Did you ask her to come out here?”

“No.”

“Then don’t worry about it. She is coming of her own free will. You have no responsibility if things don’t work out. She has her aunt here to keep her company if things don’t work out between you two and besides, you need someone else to hang out with. Now we can double date, instead of you being the third wheel.”

“What third wheel?”

Jason still had trouble understanding American slang. “The third wheel is not necessary when two wheels can properly control the vehicle.” Kevin still saw the confused look on his face and added, “A bicycle normally runs well on two wheels. The third wheel on a bicycle is kind of awkward. So now we will have four wheels, which is better.”

Jason still looked confused. “I awkward?”

“Forget it. It is good she is coming to Virginia.”

When they got home it was past one in the morning. Kevin tried to sneak in the bed without disturbing Shu. Most nights it worked. Tonight it didn’t. This time Shu seemed like she was waiting for him. As he crawled under the covers Shu turned over and before he could get fully comfortable under the covers she had her head resting on his chest. Kevin was impressed how she accomplished this feat. She must be a contortionist. Now, the contortionist wanted to talk.

“Did you win?” she asked in a sleepy whisper.

“Of course we did. Jason was pitching.” Kevin knew she didn’t care about the outcome of the game. Winning or losing baseball games had no concept to her game of life. The only important thing about winning is it put Kevin in a better mood.

“That good,” she said while letting out a yawn. “Do you think Jason happy?”

“I think Jason is content. Why do you ask?”

“He seem alone. When he not with you he on laptop on in-tah-net or playing video games. He not seem to have fwiends. I wah-wee bout him. All people want piece of his life, but no one care bout him as pah-son.”

“We care. Jason will be fine. Besides, Emily is moving out here in a couple weeks.”

Shu quickly pulled her head from his chest, got up on her knees and looked excitedly at Kevin. Her shirt hung down exposing her naked swollen mosquito bites she had for breasts. “Emily? Weally? Who Emily?” but before Kevin could respond she continued “That exciting. I happy for him. We have to invite Emily to dinnah.”

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Let things sort themselves out and then we will let Jason invite Emily to dinner.”

Shu lay back in the bed with her head now on her pillow. Kevin could sense she was not sleeping. She was probably trying to figure out what she was going to cook for the dinner Emily would be eating when she came over to the house in a couple weeks.

>>>>>>

Attendance Down in Korea

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Those who were resistant to expansion will say “I told you so” as they argue expanding the KBO would water down the game and force fans to watch inferior talent.  It is hard to swallow fans would react so quickly to expansion.  Perhaps the real culprit is their disappointing showing at the World Baseball Classic where the team did not advance past the first round despite a 2-1 record.  Combine that with the departure of their best pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu for the major leagues and a couple years ago their top hitter Dae-ho Lee signing with a Japanese team.  It is difficult to be enthusiastic about your league when your best players depart for the challenge of what they feel is a better league.

Perhaps the owners have gotten complacent with the continued increase in attendance, believing the fans will come regardless of what they do.  Owners have to make it fun for the average fan to come to the park.  Teams can not rely on  the fervent fan for their survival.  The owners did sour the fans with their resistance of expansion.

Below are the average drop in attendance for each of the teams, with only the Kia Tigers seeing an increase:

LG Twins - close to a 2,000 fan per game drop.

SK Wyverns - a 4,700 fan per game drop.

Doosan Bears - a 5,000 fan per game drop

Lotte Giants - an 8,000 plus fan per game drop

Kia Tigers - a 1,000 increase in fans per game.

Samsung Lions - the defending champions have seen a 2,000 plus fan per game drop

Hanwha Eagles - Despite the loss of Ryu they have seen a slight drop of about 100 fans per game

Nexen Heros - a 3,000 plus fans per game drop.

The expansion team NC dinos is not making up for the decrease averaging only about 6,700 fans per game.

Complete info can be found at http://www.mykbo.net/KBO_news

Donald Lutz - First German to the Major Leagues

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Donald Lutz was born in Watertown, New York, but moved to Germany soon afterwards with his German mother.  He didn’t pick up a baseball bat until he was fifteen.  He had a tryout with the Friedberg Braves and made the team.  That led to a stint on the German youth national team where the Reds saw him playing in Holland in the European championships.  He went to the major league academy in Italy where the Reds signed him in 2006.

He played for Germany in a qualifying round for the World Baseball Classic that was eventually won by Canada.  While Germany handled the Czech Republic and Great Britain by 16-1 scores they lost both their games to Canada 16-7 and 11-1.  He went 4 for 13 with two RBIs in the qualifier.  In the minor leagues he is playing for AA Pensacola where he is hitting .211 but he has five homeruns.

Originally a first baseman, the Reds have Joey Votto at first base so he was getting some left field experience on his resume in Pensacola.  With the injury to Chris Heisey the Reds found they had a need for a leftfielder.  It is interesting Lutz bats lefthanded.  The Reds greatest need seems to be for an outfielder who hits from the right side.  Lutz is only hitting .053 against lefthanders playing in AA and already have Xavier Paul who bats lefthanded who can play left field.

Fujinami Creates Milestone; Other Japan Notes

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Hanshin Tigers Shintaro Fujinami picked up his third win today in the Tigers 5-3 win over the Yokahama Bay Stars.  The third win set a record for most wins by a rookie drafted out of high school for April.  Fujinami gave up three runs in his six innings of work, the first time he has given up more than one earned run in four starts.  After losing his opening start he has won his next three.  This was his second start against Yokahama.

Kosuke Fukudome signed a big contract with Hanshin after major league teams showed no interest in him.  He has not been living up to that contract, rooted forty points under .200.  Last night he slugged a 2-run homer to get the scoring started for the Tigers, but it was his only hit of the day.

Another ex-major leaguer Tsuyoshi Nishioka is struggling.  He went 0 for 5 from the lead off spot for the Tigers dropping his average to .314.

In other Japan News, the 15 consecutive on base streak by the Hiroshima Carp’s Jun Hirose ended the next day with a 0 for 4 day.  That dropped his average to .471.

Michel Abreu, who got a late tryout from the Nippon Ham Fighters and “made the team” hit a homerun for his fourth straight game to drive in three and lead the Fighters over the Orix Buffaloes 4-3.  His nine homeruns now lead the Pacific Coast League and he is hitting a respectable .302 with a slugging percentage over .600.

The Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee drove in two runs for the Buffaloes in the loss and is now hitting .380.  The Buffaloes were hoping for a little more than three homeruns from him at the end of April, but he has a .568 slugging percentage with eight doubles.  His 17 RBIs is second to Aarom Baldiris, who has 18 RBIs with three homeruns.

It’s the President’s Office (cont - 6)

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Shu’s mom was fascinated with all the intrigue. Life was never this exciting back home in China. “You should see all the press,” Kevin overheard her telling her husband over the phone. “They are like mice at a cheese convention. You’d think we were living with a movie star.”

Shu had also spoken to her father. According to Shu’s dad, it didn’t take much for the Chinese press to latch onto the fact Kevin Beamer appeared to be catching all of Jason’s games and Jason was now living with Kevin. Many of the press were getting bored with the Jason Woo phenomena and looking for another angle to his story. There is only so much you can write about someone with very little past before it gets repetitive. Now there was interest in the stories surrounding the people around Jason Woo, and no one was around Jason more than Kevin Beamer. Who was he? What was his background? What made him tick? That interest only got greater once it was found he had a wife from China.

This also interested many of the women in China, especially when it was reported that he faithfully called his wife every night after a ball game at seven PM when the team was on the road. The need for pictures of both Kevin Beamer and Shu gained in popularity. Now, not only were these photographers interested in taking photos of Jason as he left the house, they were also interested in taking photos of Kevin and Shu. There was now more reason to stalk in front of the house. Some of the pictures they took started appearing in the gossip magazines. The simple pony tail hair style worn by Shu upraised like the tail of a horse became very popular in China. Kevin bet none of them could make their hair bounce like Shu. He imagined television hosts talking for hours conjecturing on what Shu did to make her hair bounce. Life at the Beamer household was beginning to look like a bowl of paella. Jason was not the only tasty dish embedded in the rice.

Shu tried to curtail her enthusiasm, but Kevin could see she was excited about all this interest in her. He would tease her, bragging about all the women in China who wanted a “du like Shu.” Of all the famous movie actresses in China none of them were getting quite the play in the papers as Shu. At least according to her father. Kevin warned Shu that her father could be embellishing much of this interest. “After all, you are his daughter. He is a little biased.”

Shu showed him one of the magazines her father sent incorrectly reporting Shu was married to Jason. Shu also showed him another newspaper article conducting a survey asking who was the most responsible for Jason’s success in the United States. Kevin Beamer received 33% of the vote, Jason Woo received 29 % of the vote, a combination of the two received 37% of the vote and Shu got a 1% write in response. It was a little strange now for Shu to be reading all the gossip magazines from China and finding her the subject of these magazines.

“Don’t you go getting a big head,” Kevin counseled his wife. In reality, if those people who took the survey knew the details Shu should get all the credit for Jason’s success. If not for her he never would have learned Mandarin. If he had never learned Mandarin there would be no reason for the Orioles to call him to be the personal catcher for Jason. No telling who would be helping Jason adapt to the American lifestyle if he had never met Shu. Fate twists and turns in many strange directions. Did it ultimately have a plan for the direction they were going?

“I find this all strange,” was all Shu could say. “You guys do all work. How I get dwag into this? I know nothing bout baseball.”

Since Shu’s father was the only one in China the local press could talk to he was quite popular. Or at least so he said. He sent them tapes of two television shows he appeared on as a guest to talk about Kevin, Shu and Jason. One of the interviewers had an obsession about Shu and Kevin, how they met, who they were. Kevin could see Shu’s father telling them everything in embellished hues.

“You think he’ll ever tell them he didn’t like me at first,” Kevin commented.

When Shu told her mother what Kevin had said she replied in Mandarin “That is not true. He was just a little uncomfortable because you are a foreigner. After he met you he thought you were a very nice young man. If he didn’t Shu would still be back in China.”

Shu’s mom even talked about going back to Shanghai soon. She was a little concerned that her husband was alone in China with all the press talking to him. She felt she needed to be there to help him wade through the chaos. That conflicted with her joy of being with Jasmine. It was a tough choice for her. “Sometimes I miss not being with him.”

“He’s a grown man,” Kevin would argue. “Jasmine needs your help more than him.”

Especially now that Shu had returned to work. They would need her to stay at least through the baseball season.