FINAL TOUCHES TO BITHORN FOR WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
Well two more days and the teams arrive for the first round of the World Baseball Classic in San Juan, Puerto Rico and everything is coming together with a lot of help from a lot of people. You can sense the difference between the planning for this event and the Expos series during the 2003 and 2004 season at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. People here are non stop talking about the match-up of who will be in the finals. (Obviously most here are a little biased and side with the P.R. team. )
Regardless of who wins, this country really needs a shot in the arm to grow the game of baseball and this just might be what the doctor ordered. Most of the locals tell me the number 1 sport here is Basketball, then baseball and close behind baseball is volleyball.
Today we had the Cuban Federation take a tour of the facilities at the stadium and they were very impressed with the field stadium conditions. This field is the only outdoor (all the time) MLB field that is a product of the new synthetic turfs. The temperature today was …REAL HOT…an the turf temps hit 139 degrees! I think the bottom of my sneakers started to melt. Most of these type of turfs have a sprinkler system that helps to cool them. SInce this is an older field this one does not have one.
There is much to do, but the 22000 seat stadium is in much better shape now than it was compared to 2 years ago before the Expos season Opener. We have a full slate of practices scheduled for Monday at the stadium and they are unfortunately calling for 40% chance of rain. Not to worry because the City of San Juan tarp crew holds the fastest time I have ever seen in covering the field.
(There is no elevator in Hiam Bithorn stadium so large ice machines, such as the one in this photo, need to be carried to the top of the seating bowl by hand)
We practiced today placing the tarp on the field and from the time the umpire would call to cover the field… they had it on the field and sandbagged in 1:20 seconds. That is amazing!!! …and it was windy which made it much more difficult to place!
The Puerto Rico team practices Monday evening and the practice is open to the public. Panama and Cuba teams arrive today…
Anyway more to come about the field and facility operations throughout the World Baseball Classic event in San Juan.