Taking in the Phillies situation last night regarding the rain delays and inaccurate weather reports I couldnt help but to feel bad for Mike Boekholder, Head Groundskeeper and his crew. He can’t control the weather and unfortunately he can only believe in what the weather man tells him. All groundskeepers have been in similar situations but none to the level that happened last night in Philadelphia. There are some great weather prediction systems on the market but even they can not be 100% trusted.
With that being said, I do know of a alternate solution and I know it works because I witnessed the event myself. Working the Baseball venue for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was truly an eye opening experience into Chinese culture. China had invested in a weather modification system to ensure the Opening ceremonies (and other events) was not threatened by weather..
On 8-8-08 a severe storm approached the Opening ceremonies out of the northwest. A very typical low pressure weather front. I was watching the weather with some folks from the metrological service who basically said, “watch this”. As the storm approached the Beijing city limits the storm cell basically fell apart only to reappear on the other side of the city. Beijing had launched over 1110 rockets into the sky to seed the clouds with a silver iodide based product that would make the clouds rain themselves out then send planes into the sky to keep the clouds dry with a salt based product and therefore saving the opening ceremonies event from ruin.
Yes…. China controlled mother nature. Is there a health concern with this practice? I dont know. I was told the cost of the rocket launch was excessive but over the course of the next couple weeks we saw similar weather systems fall apart even for baseball. We were tracking radar and watching these large rain systems approach and we would inform everyone of the rain situation and then nothing would happen. I would call the weather service and they would acknowledge a couple rockets had been sent up to blast the clouds. From that point on, keeping in close contact with the meteorologists was crucial and they would let us know if more rockets were released.
Not sure if rockets will be glaring over the Phillies tonight but rain is part of the game in our country and the current forecast looks pretty nasty. The field in Philly was designed to take a tremendous amount of water but with the forecast showing 80%-100% all day its going to be another tough one as trying to dry out last nights mess during the day is another challenge , Good luck Mike…I wish I could have china send some rockets your way.
Amsterdam, Nederlands- In 2009 Holland will host the second round of Baseball’s world Cup. Cities to be used in 09 include Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Haarlem. Inspecting these fields will be a little more easier than Italy. These parks were used in the 2005 World Cup. Holland has a long history in Europe as a leader in shipping and water management and is building a very strong baseball program. Another local fact that tends to make field management tricky is how well this country manages water. (Neder) which means low in dutch ie Low lands) kind of makes since when 40% of the country used to be under water. They have turned entire bodies of sea water into fresh water. Also seeing the new wind mills and the old gave a nice contrast to a changing environment around the country. Holland is a great baseball country having strong teams every year throughout Europe and sending clubs to the last 2 olympics. Since 2005 they have made some good improvements. Fields have great padding, they have added addtional fields and grown the game for the youth. Haarlem is also going through some field changes by adding a new synthetic turf field this year.
Robert Enhorn ( Former New Yankees player) has been the teams manager for years. The organization of the federation made asome changes by bringing back Ruud Van Zetten as president. With more and more young players swinging bats…I have a feeling this country will end up having a bumper crop of pros in a few more years. These guys are really excited about the 09 games. Its going to be a great tournament.
Italy + 20 baseball stadiums + 3000 kilometers of driving + 7 days …. a lot of pasta = A great experience
Florence – After concluding the whirlwind Italian baseball facility evaluations today, I depart with new friends after meeting wonderful people around the country that are truly committed to developing baseball. The stadium tour as you can see from the map was pretty extensive. There is work to be done to the ballparks before the 2009 World Cup but the best part is that we have time. The concept of hosting the World Cup in multiple European sites is pretty cool not to mention a great marketing plan for game development in this Region. More importantly improving the ballparks will benefit the growth of the game. “Better fields , make better players”
Yesterday we concluded the day in Nettuno. As the local organizing committee quickly informed me, this is where baseball was born in Italy. The World War II photo illustrates a US solider taking a little BP in a bunker near the stadium here in 1944. The ballpark itself was obviously one of the best of the 20 parks and sites that we reviewed. Between Grosseto and Nettuno these fields are pretty good. They each still have some things to tweak, but still better than most. The head grounds man at the park in Nettuno (Mario) was eager to show me his collection of photos and memorabilia from over the years. It was quite impressive. He also had made a pitching platform for the mound to protect the grass in
front of the mound area. Similar to what we have in the US that rolls out to the mound. The “pitching deck” is made from wood planks and has a nice Arabian carpet floor runner glued onto the surface. Very creative. In 1994 the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the ballpark was at the center of the celebration as several US military bases still remain very active in Italy.
Did I tell you I had more Pasta last night and for lunch? Sandro and
Fabio have been troopers during this ordeal. I can’t thank them enough for making the experience an enjoyable one considering the amount of kilometers we drove. (Actually Fabio drove) After a 2 hour train ride from Florence to Rome it’s off to Amsterdam for a few more parks before heading back to the USA.
Well…not quite but I did enjoy seeing the MONTREAL EXPOS logo still painted behind the homeplate areas in San Marino Italy. The San Marino Baseball Club changed name several years back but never changed the logo behind homeplate. The Red “S” the M and B give it a pretty cool balance. We saw a couple other parks today along with a stop at a Clay factory near San Marino. They had quite the operation and materials on hand for tennis courts ballfields you name it. We actually used some of there materials when we designed and managed the fields for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. There warning track mix was great.
Thanks Phillipo for showing us around the plant.
First of all hats off to the Cubs, Dodgers, Rays, Phillies, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox and Brewers for winning there divisions. I have not seen this much hype in post season for a while. Kind of odd not seeing the yankees or braves in there… but thats baseball.
This time of year reminds me of renovation time for my yard as well as the fields we take care of and obviously MLB’s Post Season. Also so long to shea stadium and Yankee Stadium. Its been one heck of a baseball season for everyone. On the Home front our Brickman sports turf crew had several clubs make the playoffs. Daytona Cubs actually won the FSL league as did Augusta in the Sally League. All of the post season and league winning clubs had great fields and great groundskeepers.
I read a great article today in the New York Times about groundskeepers.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/01/sports/baseball/01mow.html?_r=1&oref=slogin The Red Sox G.K., David Mellor really put grass mowing design on the map over the past 10 years. There have been many stories over the years about turf mowing and deisigns in the grass. I actually purchased an ECO friendly reel push mower to stripe a small area in my yard. It look great and its not rocket science. As the article reads. its the mower reels and rollers just pushing the blades of grass one way or the other.
Standby for a busy fall on the international front. Preparing for the 2009 WBC and a new European Baseball League as well as plans for 2009 World Cup. ANd Start your ayrd renovations ASAP. I have a feeling its going to get cold quick!
Korea won the whole thing. First team to go 9-0 in Olympic baseball. While USA and Cuba were planning to be 1 and 2.. old Korea slipped right by. They did have a great team. Obviously I would have liked to seen USA when the gold but Korea winning it was good in a way that they had never won a medal before in the olympic games. The closing ceremonies were pretty cool (what I saw of them). Kind of picked up the china crud on the last day so all is a bit of a blur. I have found that spending 5 weeks in beijing takes a bit longer becoming acclimated to home again.
CONGRATULATIONS BOCOG! I will have to say the team we put together to make these
fields play as well as they did deserves all te credit in the world. Chad Olsen and Erik Frey basically lived in China the past 2 years overseeing the field improvements and training of volunteers. Budgie Clark gave a big hand as well during the games. All in all we made it happen as a HUGE team effort. Susan Zhang and Walter Li took on a tremendous responisbility for BOCOG to pull these games out and they did just great! Back home Marti Flynn kept everything rolling in the USA for Brickman Sportsturf.
Thanks to all the volunteers which are to many to name but they did live by the “one world one dream” motto. Finally thanks to the family.
Beijing has some crazy insects. Over the past few weeks I have witnessed some very unusual critters. The first flying creatures were the dragon flies. For a few weeks when it was super humid we had 1000′s flying around the fields. I noticed they really liked it when we watered the infields. I guess they were looking for a drink of water. Or maybe a shower.
When the games began last week we had a grass hopper attack and everynight they have swarmed the fields when the lights came on. Players are actually swatting them away. As with any food chain shortly after they begin to land on the turf the flying praying “mantises” or “manti” came into feed on the grass hoppers. Remember the TV show “Kung Fu.” ..where they called David Carradine “grasshoppa” Must be something to it.
Another noticeable feature of Bejing is the lack of birds. In the past 4 weeks I have seen 4 birds. Total! Two of those birds are turtle doves that fly over the field about 6pm every evening. Birds and bugs….the rice must be getting to me.
Two more days left then we are heading back to USA. Hopefully all goes well with the Cuba -USA game. The winner advances to the gold medal round. The games have been real exciting. MSNBC normally covers the games. I am sure this one will be on.
We are over the hump as it relates to the Beijing Olympic games. The competition fields are taking a beating with 32 games in 9 days. Add daily Batting practice sessions to the games along with rain it makes for quite a challenge. Feel a lot like Disney Sports…in the summer time. I thank my lucky stars that Chad Olsen, Erik Frey and Budgie Clark are here helping with manage the fields and the 100+ volunteers. As these days pile up it makes it tough to Blog so hang with me.
The crowds have been big and the games long. We have had 5 games in the past 3 days go into extra innings. Again not the best for the fields but thats why they are there.
Here are a few photos I have been snapping for as we move toward the medal rounds this weekend. yes…USA is still in it which as an american, is a very good thing.
SO what did you think of the Opening Cerimonies. Me personally , Comparing to Sydney and Athens…I would have to say these were better. My favorite part was the drum corp and obviously when USA entered the field.
At Wukesong, We are rolling along with workouts. Cuba, Nederlands, USA, China and Canada have reported. How about Taiwan, Japan and Korea’s baseball team missing the Opening cerimonies? They show up on the 11th. Weather has been really rough on the crew.
The humidity and foggy smuggy whatever has been thick. We have rain coming in this weekend which will give us some clear skies for a few days next week. That will be awesome for the opener. We are getting great reports from the teams on field conditions. Its hard to believe they are going to tear the stadiums down after its over. Hopefully the games will be as successful as we all have planned and they keep Field 2
which is the 3500 seat stadium. USA’a Tiffee is teeing up some China pitching. Its going to be a great tournament. Check out Mr Liu our groundskeeping supervisor umping behind the plate.
Its official. The first practice is under our belt and the China team had nothing but praise about the practice field and venue. Jim Leffebre , manager of China’s Olympic team, was extremely gracious as he told all the volunteers what a great job they did to bring the field up to Olympic standards. Going as far as saying it was as good as any professional field he has ever played on. The volunteers were visibly moved by his talk as Jim is somewhat of a baseball god here. He has been working with the chinese for over 5 years. My hats off to the entire sportsturf team as we were still adding tons of conditioner only hours before the team took the field. This was only because the conditioner didn’t arrive until this morning due to customs snags. I’m just glad it made it.
Meanwhile across the venue our landscape partners were spraying a fertlizer on the common areas with a very unique spray rig. These folks amaze me. NO really. We also welcomed Waldorf’s Darrell Lemmer, Brickman Sportsturf Manager with open arms today as we know he will be an asset to our olympic groundcrew.
As part of the ongoing practice of everything… we held a logo painting practice a couple days ago on the training field. The “competition” team and the “look and image team” and volunteers all took part in the fun of spraying the grass. We need to work more on the volunteers spraying form a bit. You can see Brickman Sportsturfs Erik Frey’s smile as one of the volunteers paints the logo with the sprayer. We had one side of the field use the spray cans and the other the machine. It was very quickly determined after using the cans of spray paint ( which were very very expensive) that they would use the competition teams spray machine to paint the logos. In the olympics the logos are all white as they can not use a color because it could favor a particular team. A bit of sky clearing rain today. Should be a good one today!
Since the Beijing Olympic test event last summer to now, BOCOG increased the size of our FOP (field of play) volunteers by another 60. We now have about a 100 groundcrew. Half are new and pretty green when it comes to baseball field maintenance. We are going through a barrage of field maintenance training needs before the teams arrive in a week including tarp pulling since the month of August has the highest amount of rain. As far as club schedules, the Chinese team is already here. (Makes sense.)
Erik Frey and I split up the crew into smaller 15 to 20 man crews throughout the day. Still collecting photos of turf signs and we found another one just outside the stadium. “Keep off the grass” signs are seen pretty often around china.
On the eco front – There has been a lot of chatter about the climate and pollution issue. Well I can tell you first hand that the pollution issue is being addressed through government regulations, but there isn’t much even they can do about the heat and humidity. It was 90 degrees at 9am with 92% humidity.
As you can see from the photo the haze lingers up to about noon then attempts to clear out but never does. Leaving the venue today at 7pm all you could see of the evening sun was a red glow. Should be interesting.
Nia’Hao… Baseball’s Wukesong Olympic Stadium is getting a facelift. As we draw closer to the games all of the venues are sporting a new “look. Together with Olympic rings, banners and field upgrades these facilites are going to be great. I would be wrong to say things are going perfectly…but condidering these are the first baseball stadiums being operated at this level there was obviously going to be challenges. From here on out I will be in Beijing. Its bitter sweet as it will be my last trip to china and potentialy the last time baseball will be played in the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong we are going to fight for reinstatement but the black and white of our position as an Olympic sport beyond 8-8-08 is in the hands of the IOC. A vote that is set to take place in the fall of 09 is the next step to being included for the 2016. But until then lets enjoy the 08 Olympics as the chinese people have planned a great show for the world. “Si-Tein”
This past week we took a look at the venues in Mexico City and San Juan that will host the 2009 World Baseball classic. Foro de Sol in Mexico City is no stranger to MLB events as we have played in the venue a few times over the years. It was good to see Mr Martine the head groundskeeper of the venue. It is a synthetic turf field that has been in place for at least 9 years. He still has the same groundcrew that we worked with over the years. In addition to Foro del Sol we looked at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in P.R. This park has been used extensively by MLB games as we ran the venue for the Montreal Expos series in 2003-4 as well as the season opener in 2001 with the Rangers and Bluejays. Its hard to believe we are only 8 months away from this great event. More to come on these ballparks as they prepare for the WBC.
We have struggled with the internet here in Beijing therefore the blog is a bit cumbersome. Nevertheless we are Counting down the days before we start the Beijing Olympics and I would have to say that we are going to take it down to the wire. From shipping delays for materials and equipment to the typical last minute rush you have in these projects. All fields are grassed and now its time for the details. As you can see the equipment is a little dated but its getting better. We do have a lengthy list of details to complete but i am sure we will find a way to finish them.
Our Olympic crew is pretty much set. Along with an amazing Competition team at Wukesong we will supplement with Chad Olsen and Erik Frey (who will be speaking Chinese fluently by the time they leave the country). Darrell Lemmer is slated for a tour of duty. Budgie Clark will be giving us a hand as he as been with us in the last 2 Olympics. We have two back ups…. Former Disney Sports Field Manager and current Botetourt County Parks and Rec sports field manager Chad Kropff is no stranger to international travels and Rick Newville from Oklahoma will be pinch-hitting for us pending how the final field renovation push goes. Rick was in Cuba and Athens with us for other Olympic projects.
We did receive a Laser painter for the foul lines which everyone marveled at. The Competition Manager Walter Li took a stroll with the new machine. In perfect Chinese form a couple of the guys started to tinker with it to see how they could make it better.
The practice field is Rivera and the main stadium is a cross between
419 and Rivera. The field struggled through the winter with the Bermuda from shanghai and then it was over seeded with ryegrass for the MLB event. In the end the field was stripped and re-sodded with 419 last month and overseeded with Rivera. Should be an interesting group of fields to manage.
With all of the international work we have rolling I sometimes forget how things are holding up around the homefront. We take care of a few ballparks around the country and the fields are really playing well and looking nice thanks to a great group of Brickman sportsturf employees. Darrell, Kevin, Brandon, Aaron, Zach. This time of year with the fields being heavily used …plus the heavy rains up and down the eastern seaboard we really have had our hands full….of water. Here in maryland we had the rainy-est month ever. In some areas as much as 14 inches.
Rain can cause a lot of groundskeepers headaches that require tarp needs for the field, pressure from team managers and G.M.’S mount – it takes a toll. Managing that type of work stress is something everyone in this industry learns in there own way. When I was running Disney’s wide world of sports complex fields we had one heck of a schedule. It just so happened that the facility is located in the lightning capital of the world. After the first year of 3 feet of rain I figured out there was not much else the crew and I could do. Putting out the big tarp on a few fields at night became just part of the system. The old saying “when in doubt put it out” took on a whole new meaning as we just put it out all summer. The other night I was watching the Nationals / cardinals game and the storms blowing through caused the team to delay the start of the game. Well it was delayed until 10pm then cancelled. There were some breaks here and there in the clouds but it never really let up, obviously a big crowd on hand so they waited it out. I had friends that went and said they had a blast even though the game never started. Goes to show you that sometimes you can only manage what you can control and mother nature is not one of them the stadium ticket gates fall under the same category.
The fields from top to bottom are Camden, York and Charles County. They look great guys
Beijing - Exactly 1-week after the powerful 7.9 earthquake hit central china the 1.3 billion people that live in this country stopped everything they were doing at precisely 2:28 pm in memory of the over 50,000 people that died. When I say everything I mean everything stopped. All the traffic on all the beltways, businesses, etc. For three minutes all you could hear was the blare of car and bus horns, trains and air raid sirens. As we sat in the parking lot waiting for the memoriam to end, it really moved me as well as others about the great loss this country has gone through.
Over the next 3 days the country will fly the national flag for the first time in it’s history at half-mast for the “common people.” In addition they have closed all movie theaters, all entertainment events, discotheques and pubs for the time period. They have even stopped all transmission of international TV shows and all CCTV will show on the TV are stories in memory of those that have died. Even last night 7 days after the quake they are still pulling people out of the rubble that are still alive.
It’s obvious this disaster is one that will leave scars on the people for many years to come. My heart and prayers go out to those in China that have lost so much.
Baseball is planning for a big year internationally in 2009. For a lot of reasons. Not only will we have the WBC (World Baseball Classic) but also in September, IBAF will hold the Baseball’s World Cup Championship throughout Europe. As I began blogging this entry we were rolling along the autobahn outside of Regensburg, Germany at 192 kilometers per hour. (Thats about 120mpg.) We were in Prague earlier in the day and
Stockholm on Tuesday. Today we are in Moscow. One thing all the sites have in common is traffic. It’s a common issue where ever you live and here in these European cities it’s the same. Traffic is traffic. My traveling partner on this excursion is Jim Baba Executive director of the Canadian baseball federation. We are part of the advance team for IBAF inspecting venues for the 2009 world cup. (Photo below is Jim Baba and “Jim” Georgia. Thats the Basilica behind us in Red Square) The Russian Federation were tremendous hosts! The photo of the outfield fence is quite electrifying! The astro turf type grass was partially replaced in the infield a couple years ago but the outfield turf is original…1989.
Each baseball venue will host the first round of competition with each site having 4 teams. With a 20 team tournament we will then go to the second round where locations are still being determined. On the list of other sites for the second round include locations in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
Regensburg, Germany is about 140 miles from Prague. Both Regensburg and Prague have nice sport complexes and stadium improvements are planned at all the venues. What is great about the new venue evaluation system is that we have more time to allow the venue to make improvements. Our suggestions and recommendations will help to improve the fields to bring there venues up to a higher standard of play for this particular tournament.
Regensburg has a type of blue/fescue blend turf type and Prague is all bluegrass. Stockholm is a variation of several grasses at the time and Moscow is synthetic. As I mentioned, the tournament is being played at a key time. Just a few weeks after the World cup the IOC will vote once again in Copenhagen to add new sports to the Olympic program for 2016 so baseball is staging a huge event throughout Europe to showcase the game in multiple European cities that embrace the sport. The folks we have met on this trip are baseball crazed!!!! Baseball was voted out of the Olympics for the 2012 year but if the vote goes well in Copenhagen we will be back in the Olympics for 2016.
This was my first time back to Moscow since being here in 1989 for the Diamond Diplomacy tour. Peter Kirk and a group of other Minor League owners brought over two minor league teams to play. At that time it was still the USSR and some folks joke about the fact that the next year the wall came down and the countries split due to baseball coming to tour the country. Dave Trembley manager for the Baltimore Orioles was the manager of the team we brought over to play friendly games with local clubs in Kiev, Tallinn and Moscow. The country has truly changed and for the better…except for the traffic.
Prague’s complex was delivered a brand new smithco today and also has a Jacobsen 1900 tri- king. The facility has 2 full size baseball fields and a couple youth facilities. It’s a real gem in Europe with a great location just outside of the old town in Prague. Stockholm will also be making some improvements to there venues to host a 4 team round. The Mayor of Stockhom and other local officials greeted us warmly.
With under 100 days before the 2008 Olympic Play starts on the baseball fields….. we still have a ways to go. After building the first 2 fields in 2007 there were a lot of lessons learned and I am sure this field will turn out just fine. It will be sodded with Rivera Bermuda Grass about mid June giving us a month to have the field healthy enough to take on all the practice sessions that begin July 26th.
The left field fence on this new field is a bit close to the buildings. Probably about 15 meters. Should be fun for hitters that bash the long ball. Not so fun for the folks in the building. This photo provides insight that the intent of keeping these fields here after the Olympics is going to be a stretch as the commercial property is pretty hot in the city.
I did get a chance to watch the USA Womens Bsketball team defeat N.Z. in the new Olympic basketball arena. It is NBA quality, from suites to mascots, to dancers. The Basketball venue is located just beyond center field of the main stadium. China LOVES basketball…when China plays. Tomorrow USA takes on the locals. Should be a fun test match.
We are all Groundskeepers of mother earth and there are a lot of things all can do to make our field and lawn maintenance a little more earth friendly.
1. Sharpen your mower blades regularly - This sounds crazy but by sharpening your mower blades on a regular basis you increase the life of your mower by helping it not work as hard to cut the grass thereby saving fuel and reducing emissions. Just as important your grass will be healthier as a ragged cut tends to introduce turf problems.
2. Use Earth friendly fertilizers - You see these products on the shelf at your local home depot such as milorganite or alfalfa meal. pro-gro, Bio magic 0-0-12 the list goes on. There are specific bio friendly fertilizers that can work on any lawn in any country.
3. Today is a great day for us all in celebrating not only the work we do but helping to make our world a little better for the future. There are a few synthetic turf stadiums out there but in some areas of the world they can’t grow grass so they are needed.
4. Water Conservation - Water your lawn in the morning and not during the day as more water goes deeper into the ground instead of into the air during evaporation
5. New Mowers are being developed that use Bio fuel. In 2008 TORO and other vendors are introducing the “BIO Diesel” equipment for there sports turf and golf equipment. They have already developed upgrade kits to existing diesel equipment to use bio fuel. Using Bio fuel reduces carbon dioxide emissions buy 78.4%Implement more Propane equipment over petroleum use products will reduce harmful emissions and carbon dioxide.
6. Implement Best Management Practices (BMP). Develop a compost bed from your yard debris and use it as mulch. Plant shrubbery and grass that is low maintenance to reduce maintenance. Instead of spraying for insects look into using bio stimulants like stress-X which is a seaweed product. It does a great job on your lawn and helps prevent disease and bugs.
Remember to do all you can to take care of our planet for the future.
Happy Earth Day!