Taipei – Taiwan will be hosting the 2007 World Cup, the 2007 Asian Olympic Qualifier and the 2008 Olympic Qualifier for baseball in 5 different cities. The great part is that all of these tournaments take place after the MLB regular season so you will have more baseball to see in November and December! The World Cup teams from the states will be composed of non-40 man roster MLB players so the competition will be very good during the 12 team tournament that takes place November 6-18. They will be playing the World Cup in Taipei, ShenShuan and Taichung cities. Taichung has 2 stadiums in the same city. One called "Taichung stadium" (83 years old) and the other is named "Intercontinental Stadium" which is relatively new. As with most older parks the need to expand in a downtown area are pretty tough. Taichung Stadium needed to build a batting tunnel for the facility and the only place was actually on top of a pond. Quite a unique plan as I can foresee the coaches fishing while the players take swings in the cage.
Shenshuan was used during the 2001 World Cup. Since that tournament they installed a natural turf infield instead of an all clay infield. Its much improved but the need for better maintenance continues to be an issue at this park. The final stadium to review was Taipei and the name of the stadium is Tein Mou. This is where they will be hosting the championships. We got quite a shock when we walked onto the field to see they had stripped the field of all the grass and were undergoing a major field construction only a month before the tournament. The local contractor has proposed Zoysia for the field but this type of turf is really not considered your top choice of a sports grass. We have a way to go here…I am sure everything will work out…it always does and we are going to be helping them to ensure the field is the best it can be. The climate here is tropical there fore its hot and humid…let me clarify, I mean HOT AND HUMID. Not sure what we can do about that but I can assure you, this tournament logistically, will be a tough one. Taking a look at the equipment in Taichung I came across a different brand triplex mower call "TSUCHIYA". We are always talking about the green, red and orange mower competitions. Deere, TORO, JAC …Now we have "teal".
A web site is up for the tournament and you can see the schedule at http://www.baseball.ch/cop/37BWC.pdf
We have been working the fields in Spain for the 2007 Olympic Qualifier and as the 12 team tournament winds down there are some new faces in the final 6 teams competing for the Gold Medal. Great Britain just finished off Sweden to ensure at least a 4th place spot. Still need to play the Netherlands who have clearly dominated other teams..but as everyone knows this game can go either way.
Fields are holding up well. Chad Olsen and Joe Skrabek have been working with the groundskeepers in Mont Juc and Viladecans to make sure the fields are playing safely. So far so good… Netherlands, Germany and Sweden in Group A and Great Britain, Spain and France in Group B.
Some of cool equipment to use here includes some old school reel mowers. Appeared to be a Ransome type mower but cuts pretty good. Only 3 more days an we will have 4 teams qualified for the 2008 Olympics. USA, CUBA, CHINA are already in.
Here is the link for the tournament. http://www.fibs.it/cnc/ceb/2007/barcelona/schedule.asp
Managua/Chinandega – After starting our Winter League Stadium evaluations yesterday in Nicaragua (thinking the Hurricane would swing north and head up the Atlantic coast) , Moises Rodriguez and I knew something might change our schedule. Enter Hurricane Felix who had his own agenda and decided to see more of the country than the weather man had predicted. We quickly agreed to change our schedule and head south towards Managua. For the most part we are only "supposed" to endure heavy rains and thunder storms here in Managua tonight. My prayers and thoughts go out to the people on the northeast side of the country where Felix hit this morning with Category 5 strength. The storm literally covers the entire countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The NOAA image provides a good idea of its current size. Reports are bleak and in Caribbean countries the media have a little more flexibility so the photos on TV are a bit more graphic. All airports are closed and the countries military is preparing for the worst as the storm slowly passes. Felix is stalling over the central part of the country which means flooding is probable. We were told 10 to 15 inches of rain but I think it will be less here on the pacific side…and hope. Living in Florida for many years we always were preparing for hurricanes. I remember after Andrew in 1992 everyone took the storms much more seriously.
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Caribbean. Lake Nicaragua, a HUGE body of water in the center, is home to the only fresh water sharks in the world. The lake is the second largest in central America. In addition to seeing active volcano’s in the region its a very beautiful and vibrant country.
The volcanic rock provides more uses in this country than you think. They use lava ash as a infield material which proves to be a very interesting surface. I remember the guys in Japan ( Fukuoka dome) used volcanic rock on the mounds, but here its the entire infield. Very fine materials with a black color.
As for the stadium evaluations we were able to complete Marasay stadium yesterday then head north (towards the storm) to Chinendaga where we reviewed both Leon and the Tigres ( Chinendagas home team) , The Mayor came out and gave Moises Rodriguez and I a certificate for coming to the city. They are excited about there Winter League Club and are putting in new Musco Lights. The two hour ride turned out to be a little longer due to traffic. Chinendaga had an interesting looking pitchers mound..kind of reminded me of a VOLCANO!! The photos below show the Volcano in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and the mound in Chinendaga. Pitchers must love it here!
Marasay better known as Roberto Clemente Stadium has a beautiful setting. Roberto managed here and shortly after the 1972 earthquake he attempted to return to Nicaragua with medical supplies but died in his pursuit to help the people. In his honor they erected a statue and plaque and named the (new stadium at the time) after him. The Nicaraguans have a great respect for him and the game of baseball which is their number one sport.
On a side note: I think there are quite a few Yankee fans here. ESPN2 has the Seattle Yankees game on TV.. every time something happens I hear a roar in the background..or that could be thunder. Anyway thanks to those who called or sent notes asking how Moises and I are doing…