Archive for November, 2013

Flash and Thunder

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Chapter 38

Flash and Thunder

September 12 – Reports out of Iran indicate lightening has struck and injured the President of Iran as well as the Ayatollah, sending the country deep into chaos. Both were standing at a dais speaking to a large crowd of supporters when the pair were hit from a flash of light streaking from the sky. Some witnesses to the event have accused the United States of initiating a laser guided drone attack in an attempt to kill the President of Iran and the Ayatollah. The United States has denied having any responsibility in the events that have led to the injury of the two leaders. Both are in the hospital where they are listed in critical condition with first and third degree burns over 50 percent of their body. Reports from the hospital state the biggest issue impacting their health is a weakened immune system because of their burns. Doctors are attempting to treat them for an unknown virus that has invaded their blood stream as a result of this weakened immune system. Since both seem to be fighting this same type of virus they are speculating the flash of light that struck them may have carried the virus. After the lightning strike a number of key high level military personnel have fled Iran, seeking asylum in Iraq. A crowd of protestors have descended upon the parliament, accompanied by a number of representatives from the military to declare the formation of a new government. It is unclear what kind of power they have to initiate change. They have declared the new leader will be elected by a vote of the people. The news out of Iran is still being filtered by what can be captured through social media since the international press is still not allowed into Iran.

In another piece of odd news a worker in Beijing, China appears to have been injured by a lightning strike. The China government had ordered the tree stump in back of the adoption center where Jason Woo was raised to be removed after over hundred people gathered there to listen to him pitch in a game against the New York Yankees the previous day. The government spokesman commented officials were concerned with the clutter being left by people visiting the tree stump, littering the area with flowers, wreaths and trash. When a worker threw a chain over the tree stump and hopped on his tractor to pull the stump out of the ground, lightning struck him just as he was about to start the tractor. The other workers fled in fear. It is unknown if the Chinese government will ask the employees to make a second attempt to remove the tree stump that is now reaching deity status in a country known to discourage religious activity..

“Have you heard anything about the dinner last night?” Larvell was searching the internet on his desk top computer for any news on the dinner with the President. The fact there was really no news was good news, indicating nothing too embarrassing had happened.

“Haven’t heard anything.” Rigo was sitting on the couch reading a hard copy tabloid. An automated tablet lay next to him powered off. This seemed backward to Larvell. Rigo never read hard copy material. Everything had to be on line or it did not exist. “Seems there was a kid who claims to have seen an angel descend from the sky just before the collision between Victor Murray and Kevin Beamer. He claims the flash that occurred at the game was an angel. The angel lifted Kevin up and threw him backward before any collision.”

Larvell did not want to tell Rigo about his conversation with John and their discussion of Moogie believing Jason was the son of an angel. He still had a hard time digesting that disclosure. “Kids have vivid imaginations. I only saw a flash of lightening and then heard the thunder. I didn’t see any angel. Did you?”

“I only saw a flash. There did not appear to be any bolts. But according to this kid, the flash was an angel coming down from the sky. Doesn’t it seem pretty weird when you watch the replays there is no flash or signs of a lightning strike when we all know it happened.”

“That same tabloid you’re reading also tried to convince us our President was an alien from another planet. I don’t know if I would believe anything that tabloid reported.”

“What they report they don’t always expect you to accept. The claims are from everyday people who have become exposed to strange stuff. These claims could have some validity if our minds were not always closed to logic we have been taught not to accept. How do you explain the tattoos from the arms of Victor Murray melting into one giant black ink spot and third degree burns on both his arms?”

“Lightening can create third degree burns.”

“But to obliterate all his tattoos? Lightening doesn’t do that. And why did Kevin not receive any burns. He came out of that collision pretty healthy. The Yankees are certainly suspicious something strange went on in the game yesterday. They have asked the Commissioner to investigate the events of yesterday and have requested Jason Woo not pitch anymore this season until an investigation is completed to explain the thunder that occurs after each game he pitches.”

“So the Yankees believe Jason Woo is responsible for the burns on the arms of Victor Murray. You know how preposterous that sounds? Do they really expect the Commissioner to conduct an investigation into Jason controlling the sounds of thunder of lightening strikes?”

“You have to admit, what happened yesterday was pretty weird.”

“The fact the Orioles won the game was pretty weird. Anything else is just conjecture. I’d be surprised if anything is done about the Yankee complaint.”

Larvell opened his top desk drawer. There were two envelopes sitting inside. A larger envelope was given to him by his father. It supposedly contained all the information a prosecutor would need to indict Mr. Hwa. The informer had given his father copies of emails, names of companies and social security numbers used by Mr. Hwa to siphon off millions of dollars from the United States government. His father had now passed this information to Larvell. If they chose not to indict Mr. Hwa when they received the envelope the information inside would still be damaging enough to thwart any attempt by Mr. Hwa and his group to get approval by major league baseball to own the Oriole franchise. Larvell had also included in this envelope the organizational tree Rigo put together, highlighting the common names from the pharmaceutical company and the company owned by Mr. Hwa to show that these two companies are one and the same.

A smaller envelope contained a one way ticket to Mauritius, a small, little island country off the eastern coast of Africa. It was a place Larvell always wanted to travel, a good place to disappear for a while. He had read it was a popular vacation spot for Europeans. Not many from the United States travelled there because it took almost a full day to get there. It was a perfect place for him to get lost, until things got peaceful again. Larvell did not want to be here if some sex video came out with him as the star after this damaging information about Mr. Hwa and his company is disclosed.

He closed the drawer. “I got a call from Gus Corona yesterday. He is the agent for the Cuban pitcher Pablo wanted to sign. He is also the agent for Troy Harper.”

“He’s asking for a raise already? Troy hasn’t done anything yet.”

“No. He’s asking for a deal. He’ll give me a discount on the bonus for signing this Cuban pitcher if I can guarantee Kevin Beamer will catch him in the minors just like he caught Jason Woo this year.”

“Can you guarantee something like that? Kevin is going to be a six year minor league free agent, unless you plan on keeping him on the 40 man roster. We don’t know if he wants to spend his time mentoring another pitcher in the minor leagues. Have you talked to him?”

“Not about this but we have talked about his future in the organization. But I hope to have you raise the subject with him.”

Rigo’s voice rose an octave. “Me. Why do I have to talk to Kevin? You’re his contact.”

“Because I’m leaving today for a vacation and will be away for a couple weeks. You have my email. If anything comes up about the team you can email me. Until then, you are in charge of the Orioles in my temporary absence.”

“Me!!!” The pitch in Rigo’s voice went to whine level. It did not sound pretty. “Where are you going? The season isn’t even over yet. This isn’t like you. How can you go…” Rigo rambled on, his voice becoming white noise as Larvell thought of Mauritius. He didn’t know when he would be back. It would all depend on any release of videos and the reaction from those videos. The ticket for his one way flight was for tonight. The large envelope would be mailed to Trevor Wilson, the Oriole beat reporter, as he was on his way to the airport.

Larvell needed to get away from life for a little bit. Let the world go on without him for a while. Mauritius seemed to be a good spot for that. He only hoped no angels would find him there and strike him down over some trysts with prostitutes.

Australian Update

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Myworld has returned from our cross country travels and now it is time to go through each of the winter leagues to update their progress.  The first report will be the Australian league since last year’s champions, the Canberra Cavalry have returned from Taiwan as champions of the Asian Series.  They have created a little controversy with their back up catcher making allegations of receiving a $30,000 offer at a bar to lose the semi-final game by seven runs against the Korean team the Samsung Lions.  They beat the Korean lions as well as the Taiwan Uni-President Lions to win the championship.  They have also started the new year in first place, winning their first three games after returning from Taiwan only to lose yesterday.

Canberra Cavalry (8-3)

Jack Murphy (.317, 0, 6) was voted the MVP of the Asian Series because of his two homeruns in the playoffs.  He has yet to hit a homerun in the ABL.  Casey Frawley (.364, 2, 8) hit two homeruns in his first game back from Asia to take the team lead in homeruns.  He also leads the team in batting average with two or more hits in six of the 11 games he has played and runs scored with 11.  Jeremy Barnes (.351, 0, 11) leads the team in RBIs while Michael Crouse (.250, 0, 7) leads the team in stolen bases with five in six attempts.

They have been getting good starts from Ethan Cole (1-1, 1.83) and Brian Grening (1-1, 1.96).  Sean Toler (1-0, 1.59, 3 saves) has been having success as their closer contributing to half of their team victories.    

Sydney Blue Sox (7-3)

Veteran Aussie Trent Oeltjen (.417, 4, 12) has been the spark to lead the Blue Sox in the early going.  His bat leads the team in batting average, RBIs and runs scored.  He is tied for the top spot in homeruns with Joey DiMichele (.195, 4, 5).  Jacob May (.257, 2, 4) leads the team in stolen bases with five in six attempts.  Keon Broxton (.325, 2, 7) is the only other player with a batting average above .300 and is 3 for 3 in stolen bases.

Connor Whalen (2-0, 2.35) has been their ace in his three starts.  The KBO Korean veteran Koo Dae-Sung (1.59, 4 saves) at 44 still brings it as their closer. 

Perth Heat (6-5)

They were the two time defending champion before being dethroned by the Cavalry last year.  Joey Wong (.364, 0, 5), a 24th round pick of the Rockies has been their top hitter.  He also has four stolen bases in his seven attempts.  Brandon Tripp (.357, 2, 8) has been the big power bat, leading the team in RBIs and runs scored.  Tucker Nathans (.333, 0, 7) is 5 for 5 in stolen bases and is the double play partner for Wong.  Matt Kennelly (.217, 2, 5) also has a couple homeruns but has played in four fewer games than Tripp.  Sam Kennelly (.200, 0, 1) is the youngest in a stream of Kennelly siblings who have chosen baseball instead of cricket or rugby in Australia.  He signed with the Pirates in 2012 and is 17 years old.

Mike Ekstrom (2-0, 0.41) has been the Heat’s top starter, but in the Asian Series he was loaned out to the Cavalry and was their top starter in Taiwan.  He has only given up 10 hits in 22 innings with a 5/25 walk to whiff ratio.  Jack Frawley (1-1, 2.12) has given the Heat two complete games in his two starts.  Scott Mitchinson (1-0, 0.00, 1 save) has yet to allow a hit in three appearances covering five plus innings.  He has had trouble finding the plate walking seven hitters.  Brendan Wise (0-1, 13.50, 1 save) is the Heat closer but recently lost an eight inning shutout by Eckstrom by giving up five runs in the ninth inning to ruin his ERA.  

Adelaide Bite (4-7)

The only two players hitting over .300 are Ben Lodge (.381, 0, 6) and Joe Sclafani (.333, 1, 5).  Sclafini leads the team in runs scored with nine and his seven walks place his OBA at .420.  He has also been successful in all four of his stolen bases.  James Baldwin (.273, 0, 4) has also been successful in all four of his stolen bases.  Chris Adamson (.225, 1, 8) has been the big RBI bat.

Kyle Brueggeman (2-1, 2.41) and David Holman (1-1, 1.72) have been their top two starters.  Kyle has pitched a complete game shutout in one of his victories.  Taiwan native and ex-major leaguer Fu-Te Ni has made two appearances and not allowed a run.  He is the only Taiwan player to have pitched professionally in the CPBL prior to pitching in the major leagues. 

Brisbane Bandits (4-7)

Logan Wade (.378, 0, 7) leads the team in batting average, but Joey Rickard (.359, 2, 5) has caused the most disruption, leading the team in runs scored with 9 and stealing four bases in six attempts.  Joey has a 8/7 walk to whiff ratio to put his OBA at .400.  Ryan Battaglia (.250, 3, 7) is the early leader in team homeruns.  The RBI man is David Sutherland (.190, 2, 10).  Justin O’Conner (.056) struck out in 11 of his first 19 at bats but is making better contact now.  His 15 strikeouts in 38 at bats leads the team.

Starting pitching has been a problem with no starter with an ERA below 4.50.  Mickey Jannis (0-1, 0.00, 1 save) and Andrew Aizenstadt (1-0, 0.96, 1 save) have been sharing the closer role.  Andrew has closed out five of the team’s 11 games.   

Melbourne Aces (3-7)

Brad Harman (.241, 2, 6) is the veteran Aussie bat who played a short spell for the Phillies.  He leads the team in runs scored.  Scott Wearne (.381, 0, 2) is the only hitter on the team over .300 in batting average.  Their other veteran Aussie bat Justin Huber (.161, 0, 0) who played professionally in both Japan and the major leagues has been slow to get out of the gate.

Joe Burns (1-0, 2.95) has been their most consistent starter.  Justin Erasmus (0-2, 6.35, 2 saves) has had his struggles in the closing role. 

Bribery Attempt in Asian Series

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 reports that an Australian player, backup catcher Matt Blazynski was approached at a bar and offered $30,000 if his team would lose by at least seven runs.  Since Samsung was favored to win the game the gamblers wanted to take advantage of a point spread.  The player notified his coaches who then notified the CPBL.

Australia pulled a shocker by upsetting the Lions and then defeating the Uni-President Lions for the championship.  It is unclear why two people would approach a back up catcher who had yet to play a game for his team with an offer to lose the game by seven runs.  Perhaps these individuals thought this back up catcher would have the most to gain from a bribe.  Or perhaps they would have approached any player at the bar with the offer.  The reality is that it would be difficult for a back up catcher to convince the rest of his team to lose a game by seven runs.  He certainly was not going to be able to influence the events of the game from the bench.

The CPBL has vowed to take a stern approach to any bribery schemes that tarnished the professional game in Taiwan was late in addressing the issue.  It only took an article in an Australian newspaper that forced them to admit that a bribery scheme had happened.  The CPBL assumed the matter had been reported to the police, who when contacted stated they were not investigating any bribery issue with the Asian Series.  It appears the agency responsible for pursuing bribes stumbled in their investigation assuming the Taiwan police had taken on the case. 

Unfortunately, the player could not properly describe the men who had approached him since he was drinking and he did not know the name of the bar.  Without a little more information it would be difficult for any investigation to be pursued.  The Criminal Investigation Bureau has vowed to keep tabs on the local baseball betting rings to see if they were involved in the bribery attempt.

The article that brought the bribery scheme to light is here:

Hanshin Tigers Sign Korean Closer Oh

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

There were some major league teams interested in Seung-Hwan Oh, including the Yankees, but the team that signed him was the Hanshin Tigers from Japan.  They signed him to a $8.4 million two year contract or $3 million a year with a $2 million signing bonus.  About $500,000 went to the Samsung Lions as a transfer fee.  That would seem to be a high figure for a major league team to throw at a reliever who had yet to prove himself in the major leagues and had a down year in 2013 in the KBO.

The Tigers also signed Mauro Gomez to a one year contract for about $1.2 million.  That would be more than Gomez would make on a minor league contract.  Gomez played his only major league time in 2012 when he hit .275 with two homeruns in 37 games.  In 2013 he bounced around waivers, starting with the Red Sox, picked up on waivers by the Blue Jays and then the Nationals.  The Nationals recently released him so he could play in Japan.

Gomez had a season high 29 homeruns last year playing in the minor leagues in Buffalo, but he only hit .249.  In 2012 Gomez hit 24 homeruns in the minors but batted .310 in ten less minor league games.  Gomez is just another of a boatload of big first baseman who are getting too old to decompose in the minor leagues because of a lack of opportunity, stuck behind a talented major leaguer.     

Puerto Rican Update

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Myworld has stopped in Fort Smith, Arkansas to shield ourselves from the rain.  We were almost swallowed up by the clouds of a cold front in Amarillo, Texas, but managed to arrive in Fort Smith before the rains came.  The temperatures dropped twenty degrees as the cold front swooped in.  Now that we are boarded up it is time to do our first review of the Puerto Rican League.

Gigantes de Carolina (8-4)

This team lacks top prospects in the offense.  The 34 year old veteran Jesus Feliciano (.371, 0, 5) leads the team in hitting and runs scored with 9.  He has walked five times and struck out only once in 40 at bats.  Anthony Garcia (.243, 2, 8) is only 21 and the Cardinal outfielder leads the team in RBIs.  The two homeruns were hit in the first two games he played and he has not homered since.  He also drove in five of his eight runs in those two games.  Shuhei Fukuda (.195, 1, 6) comes from the Softbank Hawks in Japan.  He is finding the Puerto Rican league a challenge in the early going.

The ace of the Gigantes staff has been Hawks starter Yuya Iida (1-0, 1.59).  He has started three games and has given up only one run in each of those three games, going at least five innings in each of his starts.  Opponents are only hitting him at a .161 average.  His teammate Daichi Hoshino (0.90, 2 saves) has been impressive in a bullpen role.  Orlando Alfonso (1-0, 1.98) has had two solid starts for the Gigantes.  The 6′5″ 230 pound 24 year old has not played with an affiliated team since 2011.  Nao Higashihama (2-1, 3.86) is the third Hawks pitcher on the Gigantes roster.  He leads the team in strikeouts with 12.

Indios de Mayaguez (7-5)

Michael Taylor (.378, 2, 4) is providing the big bat for the Indios.  He also has two stolen bases in three attempts.  His two homeruns also came in his first two games played when he also drove in all four of his RBIs.  Jerry Sands (.282, 3, 6) last played in the major leagues with the Dodgers in 2012.  He is now with the Pirates and is drawing some attention as he leads the team in homeruns.  Eddie Rosario (.000) has been suspended for 50 games for a violation of the drug policy.  He has not gotten a hit in 11 at bats.

Steve Smith (4-0, 0.00) has been getting some vulture wins in his eight bullpen appearances.  His victories account for more than half the teams wins.  His bullpen mates Nelvin Fuentes (2-1, 3.00) and Alex de la Cruz (1-0, 2.35) account for the other three wins.  Jeremy Kehrt (0.00) has given up three unearned runs in his two starts.  Tyler Herron (0.00, 6 saves) has saved six of the seven Indios victories. 

Criollos de Caguas (7-7)

Johnny Monell (.286, 3, 10) and Ramon Castro (.302, 0, 10) have been sharing the catching duties as well as the team RBI lead.  Ramon has ripped seven doubles to make up for a lack of homeruns.  The veteran Jorge Padilla (.354, 0, 6) sets the offense up, his 9 runs scored tied with Monell for the team lead.

Michael Nix (1-0, 1.26) has given up a lot of hits but has yet to walk a batter in his three starts covering 14 plus innings.  That ended today when he gave up seven runs in just three innings, walking two.  Saul Rivera (0-1, 2.08, 3 saves) has taken over the closer role for the Criollos.  He has had trouble finding the plate, walking three and hitting a batter in four innings of work.  Shaun Garceau (1-0, 0,00) has yet to give up a hit in five appearances covering seven plus innings, four outs away from an extended no hitter.  Daniel Bard (108.00) has struggled, walking nine, hitting three while only recording one out. 

Leones de Ponce (6-9)

The Dodgers have another prized prospect in Puerto Rican outfielder Jon Garcia (.385, 1, 3).  He has only played five games but three of his five hits have gone for extra bases.  The Tigers added Jordan Lennerton (.333, 3, 6) to their 40 man roster and traded Prince Fielder so there could be room on their major league roster for a first baseman.  Christian Colon (.246, 1, 6) was the fourth pick in the 2010 draft.  Bryce Harper (first) and Manny Machado (third) are major leaguers and Jameson Taillon (second) should be in 2014.  The verdict is still out on Colon.  He has stolen three bases in five attempts.  Ivan De Jesus (.314, 0, 2) is looking for a utility role.  His 11 walks have resulted in 9 runs scored and a .435 OBP. 

Ryuji Ichioka (2-0, 0.00) has not given up a run in his two starts covering 11 innings.  He plays for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.  Pete Parise (1.08, 2 saves) has gotten the role as the closer.  He last played affiliated ball in 2011 for the Cardinals.  Alex Claudio (0-3, 8.59) is racking up the losses in his six bullpen appearances.  He has given up three homeruns in seven plus innings.

Cangrejeros de Santurce (5-8)

Jonathan Singleton (.279, 3, 4) has been swatting homeruns.  He has a good shot of winning the Astros first base job in 2014.  Billy Hamilton (.158) has six stolen bases in eight attempts.  His inability to get on base (.238 OBP) has restricted his stolen base opportunities.  He still leads the team in runs scored with 8.  Jack Lopez (.278, 2, 7) is causing a lot of scouts mouths to drool.  The Royals drafted the Puerto Rican shortstop in the 16th round of the 2011 draft.

James Houser (2-0, 1.76) was their top starter but he got knocked out of today’s game in the fourth inning.  He last played for an affiliated team in 2010.  Cuban Jorge Martinez (0-1, 1.50) has given up three unearned runs.  He is looking for a major league team to call his own.  He played for the Matanzas Crocodiles in 2011/2012 (11-5, 2.94).  Arik Sikula (1.50, 3 saves) has taken over the closer role.       

Top Ten Foreign Players

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Myworld is bunking for the night in Clovis, New Mexico as we head east to Virginia.  We drove through the White Sands and Roswell, New Mexico.  Since there is not a whole heck of a lot to do in Clovis myworld thought we’d put out a top ten foreign players list.  These are players who we watched and admired because of their ability to perform in the clutch or over a season.

1. Nelson Figueroa (Puerto Rico) RHP - He doesn’t hit 90 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball and his major league career is pretty spotty, but he has pitched in some pretty big games in his career.  He was also born in Brooklyn, New York, but is of Puerto Rican descent.  He is a hero in the Dominican Republic, Taiwan and Puerto Rico because of the big games he has pitched there.  It started in 2007 in Taiwan where he won three games in the Taiwan Series to give the Uni-President Lions the CPBL championship.  That same year he went to the Dominican Republic and pitched Aguilas to the Dominican championship but couldn’t participate in the Series del Caribe because he had pitched for a team in Mexico earlier in the year.  In the 2013 World Baseball Classic he shutout the United States for six innings in Puerto Rico’s 4-3 win to eliminate the United States from advancing to the final four.  Finally, like bookends he pitched a complete game for the Uni-President Lions in their 4-1 win over the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the 2013 Asian Series played in Taiwan.

2. Rob Cordemans (Netherlands) RHP - Rob Cordeman is another right handed pitcher who is unable to break 90 miles per hour with his fastball.  Call him the Cuban slayer.  With perhaps the best changeup in baseball he beat the Cubans in the championship game of perhaps the last World Cup of baseball.  He also played for the Uni-President Lions in Taiwan in 2007 but did not have the success of Figueroa.  His success in the Netherlands is unprecedented.

3. Seong-Yeop Lee (Korea) 1B - No Korean has hit more than the 500 plus homeruns he has hit between the KBO and the NPB.  While those homeruns are impressive, it is the homeruns he hit in the WBC, the NPB playoffs and the Olympics to win ball games that are the most remembered and those don’t count in his career total.  Lee hit homeruns in the semi-final and finals of the 2008 Olympics to defeat both Japan and Cuba to give Korea the last gold medal of the Olympics.  He negotiated with both the Yankees and the Dodgers to play in the major leagues, but contract details could not be agreed to so he never achieved his goal of playing in the major leagues.

4. Hisashi Iwakuma (Japan) RHP - He pitched for the expansion team Rakuten Eagles, competing with Yu Darvish for the best pitcher in Japan.  In 2008 he won the Sawamura award to distinguish himself as the best pitcher in Japan with a 21-4 record and an ERA of 1.87.  He was posted by his club in 2010, with the Oakland Athletics bidding the highest price for his services.  They showed no real interest in signing him and the next year he became a free agent and signed with the Seattle Mariners.  In 2013 he finished third in the American League Cy Young voting.  He would have looked good in an Oakland Athletics uniform last year when they were in the playoffs.

5. Aroldis Chapman (Cuba) LHP - He pitched for the cellar dwelling Holquin Dogs, but he had a fastball that hit above 100 miles per hour.  He had major league scouts drooling at his velocity in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.  He defected in 2009.  The criticism was that he only had one pitch, lacked command and was not coachable.  He has developed an effective slider, which makes him a good closer.  In 2010 he threw a fastball 105.1 miles per hour, a speed no pitcher has reached since pitches have been clocked.

6. Masahiro Tanaka (Japan) RHP - He replaced Iwakuma as the ace of the Rakuten Golden Eagles.  He has lived up to that billing, especially last year when he finished 24-0, 1.27.  No pitcher in any professional baseball league has won 24 games in a season without taking a loss.  He also won 26 consecutive regular season games between 2012-2013, another feat no professional pitcher in any league has accomplished.  If Rakuten allows it and Japan and the major leagues can come to a posting agreement he will be playing in the major leagues in 2014.

7. Alfredo Despaigne (Cuba) OF - He is the biggest homerun hitter in Cuba.  Jose Abreu may have more power and Yoenis Cespedes may have the bigger name because of his accomplishments in the major leagues, but year after year Despaigne battles for the homerun titles.  He plays for the Granma Stallions in Cuba which is noted for being a hitters park.  Yoenis Cespedes also played for Granma and was considered the second best hitter on that team.

8. Warwick Saupold (Australia) RHP - We noticed him in the Australian League and liked him when we witnessed him pitch for the Perth Heat in the Asian Series in 2011.  No major league team had signed him yet.  The Detroit Tigers eventually signed him and his two year minor league career is 11-9, 3.22.  He pitched in AA last year.  Another good season and he could be in the major leagues in 2014.

9. Wladimir Balentien (Curacao/Netherlands) OF - He’s always had tremendous power, but struggled when playing for the Mariners and Reds in the major leagues.  In his second year in Japan he broke the Japanese record for most homeruns in a season with 60.  This in a year when he played only 130 games, missing the first couple weeks of the season because of an injury suffered in the 2013 WBC.  Myworld witnessed him hit his 55th homerun, tying the Japanese record.

10. Chris Colabello (Italy) 1B - He is not really Italian, but he played for Italy in the 2013 WBC and myworld couldn’t think of a tenth player.  Talk about not giving up.  Chris was not drafted by any major league team when he finished playing college ball.  He played Independent ball from 2005 to 2011 still without a major league nibble.  At 28 years old the Twins finally saw something in him they liked and signed him to a minor league contract.  He played for Italy in the 2013 WBC and made his major league debut on May 22, 2013.

Cavalry Leads Stampede to Asian Series Championship

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Entering this series the teams representing Australia had not won an Asian Series game, much less a championship.  The two times Australia was represented the Perth Heat lost all five games they played.  Not so the Canberra Cavalry.  Not only did they win three games, but they won the championship game as well, beating the Uni-President Lions from Taiwan 14-4.

The game was closer than the score indicates.  Taiwan was ahead in the game 4-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.  The Cavalry jumped on the Lions for five runs, then added six in the eighth to run away with the game.  The MVP of the tournament Jack Murphy slugged a grand slam homerun in the eighth to finish the game with seven RBIs.  He had a 2-run single in the opening frame to drive in the first two runs for the Cavalry and drove in another run in the five run seventh on a sacrifice fly.  Murphy had hit a 2-run homer in the tenth inning of the semifinal game to give the Cavalry the lead against the Samsung Lions.

Mitch Denning also did some damage for the Cavalry with five hits in five at bats, scoring three times and driving in two.  The Cavalry pounded out twenty hits in the game with Jon Berti again spanking three hits from the leadoff spot to also score three times and drive in two runs.  He batted .500 for the tournament.

There were close to 8,000 who attended the finals but over 100,000 who watched the game on line.

The only countries now who have participated in the Asian Series and do not have a championship are Taiwan, China and Italy (who participated for the first time this year).

Camden Debut (cont - 21) - end

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The celebration in the locker room continued. They had beaten the Yankees. After fifteen attempts the struggle had ended. It was Woo and the Warrior who had given them this victory. If there was champagne in the locker room it would be spraying against the walls and the naked bodies of the players in the locker room. As it was, they only had beer and Gatorade and they were pouring it over each other.

The booming voice of Moose could be heard as he entered the locker room. He got his bald chrome doused in beer. His stern look showed he wasn’t pleased with the action as the beer dripped onto his shirt. “Where’s Woo and the Warrior. They need to be in the press room in five minutes.” He spotted them surrounded by half naked celebratory teammates. “Woo. Warrior. Press room. Five minutes.” He grabbed a towel and tried to sponge the beer off his wet shirt.

Kevin and Jason rushed to put on some clothes. They were already half out of their uniforms. No reason to be putting them back on now. The fabric from their uniforms both reeked of beer. Kevin borrowed some of Jason’s cologne to splash over him.

Shu was waiting for Kevin as he entered the room. She gave him a stern look. When he approached he noticed the fury in her eyes. “What I tell you about getting out of way?” she growled at him.

Kevin did not want to tell her that Victor never touched him. He saw this flash of light and just before Victor made contact a pair of hands seemed to push Kevin away. At least, that is what it felt like. It was not like the other collision where he missed a week with a concussion. “Sorry. It is just an instinct. I’ll do better next time.” It was not the right time to tell Shu. He was also a bit confused. If someone really did push him who would it have been. He remembered Jason telling him the voices would protect him the next time before he got hit. Did that mean the thunder and flash of light just after he caught the ball was the voices making their appearance to push Kevin away before Victor leveled him? And what about the smoke coming from the arms of Victor? It reminded Kevin of the mound after Wreckit tried to attack Jason and a flash coincided with his tackle, leaving the grass around the mound smoldering with smoke.

Before Shu could respond and Kevin could piece together an explanation a voice from behind Shu called out her name. Kevin recognized the Asian face addressing Shu as the man who threw out the first pitch at the game today. He had a large contingent of men surrounding him. “Shu Chi. It is an honor to finally meet you.”

Shu turned around to see who was addressing her. Kevin could almost see her jaw drop to the floor. Standing before her was the Premier of China Li Jiabao. Behind Li Jiabao was the President of the United States. Next to the President was Kathy Li. Both Kathy and the President seemed very engaged in conversation with each other. They seemed lost in the eyes of each other, oblivious to the large group surrounding them. “It is good to see you again Warrior?” The China Premier went over and shook the hand of Kevin. “Sorry I bounced it to you at the plate. Still need to work on my fastball. I hope you two plan to be at the dinner tonight.”

Kevin was waiting for Shu to speak. It took a while for the words to escape from her mouth. “It will be an honor for us to attend.” Her voice cracked in Mandarin as she looked at Kevin for some support. She was obviously a bit flustered. Going from anger to awe in the snap of a finger was a bit difficult for her. Kevin was also in awe. He never thought he would be standing before the President of the United States even though the President’s interest was more in Kathy Li than it was in him.

He looked over at Kathy Li who was laughing with the President. Her eyes made contact with Kevin. She gave him a knowing wink. Kevin wondered if he should tell someone at the Secret Service of her reputation. Any viable background check should have revealed that. He would hate to see his President in a sex video tape. The President appeared to be caught in her trap, the Secret Service oblivious to their flirtations.

At that point President O’Shea left Kathy’s company to come up to Kevin. “How are you doing Mr. Beamer? Ms. Beamer.” He formally shook both their hands as the photographers took massive amounts of photos. A plastic smile captured his face as he stared into the flashing cameras. The room was lighting up with a hundred flashing bulbs. Shu straightened her posture, took her hand to her hair to put it in place. Half the photos were with their eyes closed as they blinked with the flashing bulbs.

“Mr. Woo. You had your A game on today.” Li Jiabao went over to Jason to shake his hand. Just as he had done so a young lady in pig tails walked into the room. She was with an older, white, haired bowling ball of a man. Kevin noticed Jason shaking the Premier’s hand but his eyes were not focused on him. They were focused on this young Asian girl with the pig tails who had just walked into the room. More pictures with the Premier and the President standing with Jason Woo, but Jason was in a trance, staring at this Asian girl with the pig tails and not at the cameras. The two most powerful men in the world were standing next to him and he was oblivious to their presence.

When the Premier left his side Jason cried out, “Xeng Xeng?”

She turned her head and looked at Jason. There was a large smile on her face. “Xiang,” she cried out.

She rushed over to him and they hugged. It was a hard, long embrace as they tried to capture more than 15 years of memories their absence had created. Kevin smiled. He noticed Kathy Li was smiling as well. It was not because the President was at her side again, but she had noticed the embrace as well. Jason had found his Xeng Xeng, just like she had promised in the interview.

As Kevin smiled he thought he heard a voice coming from inside his head. He turned to look behind him to see if someone behind him had spoken. There was no one behind him who was addressing him. The voice inside his head seemed to say, “Hello Warrior. My name is Raimel. Some refer to me as the angel of hope, though I claim no ownership to that title. It is time for us to get acquainted. The hour is near. I’ll be speaking to you soon with instructions.”

End of Chapter 37

Dodgers and Diamondbacks to Open 2014 Season in Australia

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will each play an exhibition game against the Australian National team.  After those exhibition games the two teams will square off to open the 2014 major league season on Saturday March 22 and Sunday March 23. 

The games will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  The opening major league series for Saturday and Sunday are almost sold out. 

Exit Velocities

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The big thing to track is the exit velocities a hitter sends a pitch after the bat makes contact with the ball.  In the AFL they tracked the velocity of the batted ball and found that balls hit off the bat traveling at a velocity of less than 80 miles per hour resulted in a batting average of .242.  Balls that traveled off the bat at over 110 miles per hour had a batting average of .751.

Stephen Souza had the hardest hit ball, rifling it back in fair territory at 115 miles per hour for a double.  Jared Mitchell and Angel Villalona each had two hit balls in the top ten.  Angel had a single and a foul ball while Jared roped a single and a homerun.

You can see the partial list of the results here: