Beijing- It really is a small world and seeing Cal on the opposite side of the globe today was pretty cool…even though he was in a suit! He held a youth clinic at the Fengtai Softball Complex today after touring the Wukesong Olympic venue which is where USA Baseball will compete next summer for the 2008 Gold Medal.
BJ Surhoff was also part of the coaching tour as he will be helping Cal with the youth clinics. As with most players, checking outs new ballparks, these two guys never ventured off the field during the complex tour. Although a few of the entourage asked about seats and the press box, we never went into the stands. Cal and BJ both have a wealth of experience regarding the ballparks and fields they played on during there careers. We spent quite a bit of time talking about stadium comparisons as well as the "feel" of the park. The Bermuda turf is almost dormant as you can see from the photo. We have overseeded with DLF’s PHD Blend. and Axcella2 winter rye varieties. With the temps dropping into the upper 30′s at night we are hoping the seed will pop. In the meantime we are looking locally for a growth blanket to keep it a little warmer at night.
Cal actually mentioned how much the second competition venue in Beijing reminded him of the old West Palm Municipal stadium. (AKA home depot) He reminisced about playing there during his A-ball years. In the states Cal is noticed by everyone and every where he goes?here its different. Since baseball is not a big sport in China, it makes since no one knows who Cal is when they see him. On the other hand, it?s a clean slate for the development of the game in a country that has a thirst for western styles of just about anything.. Especially the younger generation.
Both made some great comments about the Beijing ball parks. From the seating bowl to the batters eye. BJ even went out to center field and took a jump against the wall pad in his suit to check the padding out. The envoy/ambassador trip to build the game internationally was great timing as it will definitely boost the game development in China.
The state department is hosting the event and it continues tomorrow before the Team ripken heads down to Shanghai on Thursday. We are staying in Beijing to continue ongoing discussion for a potential MLB Game in Beijing next year. Still to early to say who the the teams might be as negotiations here can get stuck pretty easy.
The US Ambassodor hosted a reception last night for Cal, BJ and the Ripken Clan of John Maroon and Scott Lowe and Chris Flannery. It was fun meeting with them during that event as well
Once in a while your in the right place at the right time. I was in Daytona Beach, Florida today checking in with the Cubs and the City on Jackie Robinson Ballpark and coincidentally, NASA had scheduled a space shuttle launch of Discovery at 11:38am. Having lived in Florida for 11 years, I had witnessed this event on several occasions. The night launches were quite spectacular even from where I lived in West Palm Beach which was over 3 hours away from the Cape. It occurred to me that I had not witnessed a launch since the late nineties. Cape Canaveral is about 100 miles from Daytona Beach?s Jackie Robinson Stadium which sounds pretty far away but not when your talking about burning a gazillion gallons of fuel in the sky. The shuttles fire plume is quite large in these photos and my camera is only a 5 mega pixel. Even with the space shuttle lifting off just under a 100 miles away, we could still faintly hear the roar from the rockets.
Darrell and Zach ( our two sports turf managers ) responsible for the Cubs Home Field were raking in the rye grass seed and even they took a break to witness a little history. After seeing a few of these over the years the locals kind of have a ..?oh is that today? type attitude which is normal when you live so close to something that is a common occurrence. The fact that our country can send someone into space pretty much anytime continues to amaze me. Go NASA!
In preparations of the 2007 World Cup we have to resod the field at Tein Mou Stadium in Taipei. Brickman’s Chad Olsen and Jeff Nancarrow are overseeing the renovations. They arrived last week the day after Typhoon Sepat came through the area causing some damage to the stadium ( more flooding than anything) but overall everything is OK. Part of the challenge in any country is obtaining the proper grass for the field. Normally we obtain big roll sod and here we were delivered sod squares..basically thrown on the truck. We had hoped to use 419 Bermuda but the contractor had already purchased Matrella Zoysia turf. Not really the best grass for baseball play but we will make it work for this tournament. Since this a tropical type climate the root structure should stabilize quickly. While upgrading the turf we are also rebuilding all of the mounds and plates, infield etc. This is the championship field for the World Cup so everyone is working to make sure it is in the best playing condition as possible. After laying the sod we topdress the seams with a sand. All the seams are being covered by hand therefore it is quite labor intensive to say the least. The black sand material is pretty common in Taiwan and makes a good growing medium. Needless to say we are going to be glad when the Typhoon and Hurricane seasons are over because lately it feels like they are following us.
The Renteria’s (Edinson and Edgar) are hosting a Field Maintenance Clinic at there stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia this week. Looks like we have about 25 to 30 people attending. It’s a 5 day field maintenance clinic that will not only improve the field for the Winter League (which starts Oct 23rd) but it will also improve the other playing fields in the league as well. Each team in the league sent there groundskeepers to the site to learn new skills and tryout TORO equipment for the first time. The coolest part is that we learned a few things from the Colombian turf managers as well. They had a very unique home plate tamp. Can you tell which tamp in the photo is used for home plate tamping and which is for the mound? They also showed us a version of their explanadoras (drag mat) and how they use the apisonador (tamp). One of the items I was most intrigued about was there version of clay which they call Arcilla – granulada. The material was similar to our clay but was a bit more sandy and a yellow color. The field in Barranquilla showed positive improvements since my last visit here a few months ago. Additional grass has been planted and a local clay has been found that is firmer than the previous material. Still a ways to go, but definitely some positive improvements.
Colombia is a baseball country and the crews take a lot of pride in their work. The fact that the league is investing in there fields is a Major step in the Caribbean leagues. Having visited all of the stadiums in each Caribbean league city, I can tell you this field clinic will not be the last. I am sure with the success of this event… there will be more to come in the future. How about that TORO seat!