The MLB All Stars arrive this Sunday in Taiwan to play the Chinese Taipei National Team in a 5 game series at 3 ballparks across the country. Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in Taipei, Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung and Kaohsiung National Stadium in Kaohsiung will each host games. With a practice session on Monday in Zinzhuang and a game on Tuesday we have been pretty busy helping our friends in Taiwan prepare the fields and ballparks for the event. The last All star tour was in Japan , I believe in 2006 and I can’t recall the last MLB All star tour that was in Taiwan however we did play a couple Dodger Games here last year.
The Xinzhuang Baseball has hosted several World Cup Baseball events dating back to when I was here in 2001. They actually had an all clay infield that first series. Coming back in 2007 for the Baseball world Cup they replaced the infield clay with grass and upgraded maintenance etc.. Its an older park better known as Xinzhuang Baseball “Court” in New Taipei City. They also call it Taipei City stadium and seats about 14000.
The Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung is a larger ballpark at about 19000 and has seen numerous Major events. A unique design of an iron sculpture arcs over the stadium. It’s a natural turf field as well with typical 330 distances down the lines and 400 to center but this ballpark plays big. Taichung has 2 other stadiums that are also pretty nice.C Chengcing Stadium in Kaohsiung hosted the Dodgers series last year and is also ongoing some minor upgrades for this event. The largest park of the series at 25000 it will see the final two games of the event. We have had a few guys seasoned vets working the parks helping preparations. Greg Jones from the revolution ballpark is in Taichung, Ryan Woodley from the Staten Island Yankees Ballpark in Kaohsiung and Eric Ogden who helped us with the 2007 World Cup in Europe and Daytona Beach.
Having worked numerous tournaments here in Taiwan the people are crazy about the game . Its going to be a fun event and the country is really excited to see these games.
After a 3 hour rain delay and 6 1/2 tarp pulls the Dutch started the gold medal game in panama at 840pm and ended it with a win over Cuba. What a performance by both clubs as the final score was 2-1. A light rain fell on the field the entire night and for a while it seemed the game would never start but with a great effort by the tarp crew at Rodney Carew stadium we were able to out maneuver the rain. Earlier in the afternoon the USA vs canada bronze medal game was called off due to rain and what was thought to be a tie for 3rd actually became a win for Canada because they beat USA in pool play.
This is the second time i have witnessed the Dutch team win a tournament when they were not favored to win anything. The 2009 World Baseball Classic was another great win for the club after defeating the DR twice. The win at the Baseball World Cup should prove this country is a baseball power. All in all a great day for international baseball. Having the Netherlands win the gold is just another checkpoint for how far the game has developed outside of it’s origins.
Sad to see some teams not make it to the second round of these tournaments but you know what they say. Thats baseball! You never know. I was in Lagos De Moreno yesterday checking on progress at the Pan American stadium for the next tournament. ( photo below) They still have some work to do. In Toronto last friday checking on 2015 sites for the Pan am games. And then back to Panama today.
Rico Cedeno stadium in Chitre has USA and Cuba going at it tonight while Ven vs Pan at Omar Torrijos stadium in Santiago. Looks like Panama has opened that one up. Giving Rodney Carew stadium in Panama a couple of day rest from heavy use will help us for the final 6 games. It’s ironic that our two rainouts have been USA games…but they were more like flood outs. Ryan Woodley provided some photos of his work down at Chitre. actually a combination of several guys work. Ballpark is holding up well. Thanks again to Tracy and Chad kropff for coming down to help out.
WOW what a show. Probably one of the coolest I’ve seen in a while. Laser lights, 300 dancers, 16 singers, 60x 40 stage. and actors. Fireworks, and field fire works.. On and off the field with the stage and portafloor quickly and it didn’t rain.
Speaking of rain we had it come down in biblical proportions… not once but twice in 24hrs the following day. The stadium and field were flooded as were the dugouts, locker rooms, and lower concourse. A storm water system upgrade is needed at this old park but in true Panamanian style, they broke out the squegees and pumps and cleaned it up pretty quickly. The field drains fair but again its old and when you play a series of games in the wettest month of the year you can expect there will be rain delays and challenges.
We have been shuffling guys around the four ballparks. In order to have a successful tournament we needed to bring in some sportsturf managers to help the local grounds staff with construction and maintenance of the fields. Everyone is pretty happy with the facilities. Chad Kropff came in and headed to Aguadulce, Tracy Schneweis Came in today and is headed to Chitre. Chad and Joe at Panama and Darrell Lemmer is holding down the fort in Santiago. All good and each of them have their work cut out with all the rain.
PR vs USA game was a thriller. PR ended up on top as they went to the IBAF tie breaker rule in the top of the 10th when USA tied it up in the bottom of the 9th. In Beijing they started the tiebreaker in the 11th . basically placing 2 players on 1st and 2nd at the start of each teams batting order.
Yesterday, USA bounced back and won over Chinese Taipei last night in Aguadulce. Check out the games on http://www.ibaf.livesport.tv/?WT.mc_id=ibafofficial
Ive had a couple emails about the status of the venue in Lagos. We have been helping the LOC and the federation via phone and a couple site visits in the development of the ballpark during the past few months. At this point, The Mexican federation is assisting the Pan- American games Commission in preparing the field of play and the over all operations of the venue during the tournament that begins in 2 weeks.
Wishing them much luck with the tournament as it will be a difficult competition due to the fact they are only using 1 field.
The 2011 Baseball World Cup is a couple of days from starting here in Panama. The 16 team tournament runs from Oct 2-16. When I first came to see the ballparks back in March as part of the Winter League Evaluations, I have watched them transform into some nice venues for the future of the game in this country. New Lights, Dugouts, Locker rooms fields padding maintenance equipment etc etc…
We have had a few guys working here for while. Just Wondering if they should apply for dual citizenship. Chad Olsen, Kevin Moses and Joe Skrabek have been rolling between venues. Dennis Klein came down to help for a few days and Ryan Woodley came in Monday. We have another group coming in this weekend. With 4 stadium and a lot of rain we have finally turned the corner at a couple of parks. Santiago and Aguadulce came out very nice. Chitre didn’t have as much field renovation work but had dugout and light upgrades. hoping mother nature will give us some help.
I’ve been back and forth between Lagos de Moreno, USA and Panama seeing what will be happening with the much-needed upgrades at the Pan- american stadium near Guadalajara. Have a few guys heading to Taiwan to prep for the MLB AllStar Tour in 3 different ballparks around the country. That one starts up at the end of the month. Its great have a awesome team and great friends in the industry to help make these tournaments successful. Hats off the Pandeportes and the LOC for the tournament.
If you want to watch some of the games on the web or game tracker check out this link as it continues to update with info http://www.ibaf.org/en/news/2011/09/29/ibaf-has-the-baseball-world-cup-covered/f9ba50c6-e230-46b2-8946-197249266155
During this past week I was on a bit of a whirlwind Europe tour taking in some venue and city tours, assessments, etc.. Amsterdam, Barcelona, Regensburg, Prague and London. A highlight of the trip was seeing the Olympic stadium in Canary Wharf-London. A very simple yet impressive structure with 82000 seats. As with all the Olympic venues each has some type of tower located in and around the Olympic stadium. The “orbit” is being constructed at the Olympic Park and from what I heard on the streets it has drawn mixed reviews. I think it looks pretty cool and is a mathematical miracle based on the unique design. Cant wait to see it when its finished.
In comparison the Olympic Tower built in Barcelona is pretty simple yet provides a wonderful view of the city.
Over the past couple days we have been overseeing the zoysia sod installation on one of the 4 fields in Panama for the upcoming baseball world cup. It’s exciting to witness the progress of these fields. Here at Omar Torrijos Stadium, Santiago they installed a new drainage system, irrigation a sandy loam soil over gravel . With the rain they receive in this country drainage is key. Next stop for sod. Aguadulce.
We are rolling along in Panama with ballpark improvements for the Baseball World Cup. Whenever we work in other countries there is always some sort of challenge which makes for some exciting ties leading up to the event.
Two of the 4 stadiums to be used are receiving totally new fields. Three of the stadiums are upgrading locker rooms, dugouts, fencing and scoreboards. All of the ballparks are receiving new lights to some degree. The 2011 Baseball World Cup is the first Major baseball event being played in the national stadium since the 2003 Pre Olympic qualifier for Athens.
The national stadium is receiving some new field upgrades as will the stadium in Chitre. Following this wonderful tournament the country’s MLB Winter league season will begin as provisional members. These ballpark upgrades will only bring more major baseball events to Panama as the sports continues to grow. The city, the culture and especially the people are truly remarkable. Plan now to come down for some great baseball in October.
Chad and I took a little time to taste the local coconut water. Outstanding!
This summer has been hot and its not quite over. The guys in the Northeast growing bluegrass have been under the gun trying to keep there parks looking nice while having numerous events. Below are a few ballpark photos from our sportsturf team of their fields. Congrats guys.
Ryan Woodleys Ballpark in Staten Island
Kevin Moses’s and his crew’s handy work in Camden NJ
It’s always great to visit a country that loves baseball. Taiwan is way up on that list. They really love the game. We are looking at a few ballparks in Taiwan for some potential games in the near future. Checked out the stadium in Xingzuan District in New Taipei City. It’s a 11000 seat ballpark with bermuda grass. It was built in 1997 and renovated in 2003 which included removing the all infield clay and installing infield grass. Yesterday we went through intercontinental Stadium in Taichung City. Another nice ballpark with seating for 19000 people and today we are going through Kaohsiung stadium. Its a 20,000+ ballpark where we hosted a game with the L.A. Dodgers in 2010. Great crowd and wonderful but older venue.
Its going to be a busy fall for the Brickman Sportsturf team and our Subs! World Cup tournaments in Panama, Pan American Games in Guadalajara and a potential MLB All Star throughout Asia will keep us rolling pretty hard from September till mid November.
When and How to Mow your lawn in the summer months can be tricky especially those folks with bluegrass. Here are a few tips to keeping your turf the best it can be. This mower above was used in Colombia to cut the entire baseball field. Not the best use of equipment but they made it work.
Mow after the dew has dried and keep it “high”: To many times we see where people are trying to keep their lawns at a 1 or 2 inch height during the heat of the summer. If you have all the right tools and irrigation equipment that pro ballparks have that’s one thing if not raise the height of the mower up to 3 inches and mow once a week or as needed. Don’t mow dead or brown grass and never cut more than a 1/3 of the blade at one time.
Your Mower: Keep that blade sharp and the mower clean. It’s a good time to see some fungus during hot humid mornings so mow when the grass is dry and not during the heat of the day. Keeping your mower blade sharp also increases the life of that machine. The type of mower really depends on the size of your lawn. A good rule of thumb is if you have a yard larger than 500sqft you should consider something with a wider cut. Also the terrain of your lawn will play into the type of mower you may need
Keep your yard clean – remove branches stones dog bones and doggy-do regularly. Make sure you mark all the pipes or half buried rocks in your lawn too. Double check the height of the mowing wheels before starting to mow. As mentioned warm season grasses like Bermudas are at or less. Fescues can be cut above 3 inches and its good to keep blue grasses close to 3 inches
Whats the best mow pattern - Keep your lines straight as possible and don’t do circles as the mower tends to tilt and scalp the lawn . Move along a good pace not walking slowly. The simple back and forth pattern is the best. Boxing out is of but longer mow lines are easier to follow and you miss less grass. Do a couple of laps around trees or shrubs to reduce the weed eater damage to tree trunks. Using the width of the mower base as you cut may seem like you will be done quicker but actually if you overlap cuts, your mower will run more efficiently and you will not miss strips. You can do it either way but remember it’s not a race.
Watering – Irrigating grass in the summer is best in the morning. If you can’t water and your lawn turns brown or white that might not mean its dead. The roots will cut off supply to the leaf blades and are trying to store food until water returns.
Quick tips for lawn mowing :
1. When your Push mowing a slope always go side to side not up and down.. Go side to side when your using a riding mower but be careful the slope isn’t to steep.
2. Once you are finished mowing wash that mower off and pick up any clumps of grass . This will help reduce dead spots.
3. Be safe. That shoot that throws your grass out should always be pointed away from people, cars etc.
4. Dont cut wet grass. You will have more clogging and clumps which could make you slip and fall. Mowing wet turf can also cause fungal disease.
5. Mowing your lawn is good excercise so keep it fun and don’t forget to apply sun screen to avoid skin damage
This past Thursday MLB Hosted its First Field maintenance Clinic in Culiacan Mexico for the mexican winter clubs. The event was Sponsored by Diamond Pro products. With a turn out of 30+ Chad Olsen and Josh Marden Brickman Sportsturf Sportsturf Managers went over the basics of field maintenance throughout the day. Culiacan is home of the Tometaros or “‘Tomato Growers” . Thanks for attending the event.
As mentioned in an earlier post we have a great turf team put together to make this project as successful as it can be. Thanks Steve, Peter, Norm and Jim.
On a recent trip to south america I came across a few interesting things that drove me to snap a few photos. One is the sign above. It is literally the way Major is sometimes pronounced in many latin countries. The other was the use of linoleum as a tarp cover. Not that it was the best but it was what they had available and how they made use of it. Never thought about linoleum that way but I guess it is water proof on one side and its heavy and lays flat. I cant help but to think of my moms kitchen but nevertheless I have to give it to our south american turf managers for being resourceful. It’s much better than leaving it uncovered!
The National Mall is planning a much-needed renovation of a few of the 30+ panels this year and the first phase is slated to begin late this summer. www.nationalmall.org/nationalmall.php What a great project and something ( Brickman‘s Sportsturf team) is excited to be a part of as the official turf consultant for the “Trust for the National Mall“. Over 20 million people see the Mall every year. The parks service issues around 3000 permits for multiple functions and one of the main complaints from people is how it always looks. Trying to compare this venue to anything else in the world is really difficult so we looked at every park and various large sports complex operations that appeared similar. Keeping grass growing is tough in this transistion zone area …. much less trying to keep it green with millions of people walking on it. It’s a 3 pronged approach which includes renovating the lawn with better soils , drainage. and an irrigation system, managing the events a little differently and updating the maintenance operations. The National Parks Service does an unbelievable job taking care of the mall with the resources they have. With budget cuts and more people wanting to use the Mall it really is amazing what they achieve with so little.
Sometimes when I talk to people about the “Mall” in DC they really think I am talking about a shopping center. Then I tell them its America’s front lawn and ….I get the AHA moment .
There is a slate of turf folks involved in some capacity with this renovation including Dr. Peter Landshoot-Penn State, Dr Norm Hummel , Dr Mike Goatley- Virginia Tech Turfgrass - Mike and his folks are working on a study regarding turf protective coverings for events. Steve LeGros is helping with the fertility planning, etc… All great turf people.
The renovation will involve removing existing soils, amending them, adding drains and new irrigation and installing a few cisterns – Each are 150’ x 34’ wide x 10’tall. 250,000 gallons each and there are 2 in the 1st phase. Completely irrigated turf areas with an automatic system and a full underdrainage system that will assist in collecting the rain water to fill the cisterns . Seed selection was fun - After a full review of local seed varieties Peter and Steve narrowed down a 4 way blend of grass seed that everyone agreed on. 30% Wolfpack 2 Tall fescue, 30% Firenza Tall fescue, 30% Turbo Tall fescue and 10% P-105 Kentucky Bluegrass HOK is the Architect of record.
More to come as this project develops.
Over 80% of the game of baseball is played on the infield, which is why the infield clay is one of the most important components of the field.
Recently, I have received a couple of emails asking the question, What is the infield clay really made of? In layman terms, it is composed of three materials. Sand, clay and silt. The tougher question is what are the percentages of the content of each material, and the particle size of the sand. The composition is the true science of the infield clay even though the daily maintenance performed on these fields at a higher level is sometimes considered more of an “art”. Most companies that provide ball diamond mix state they have a something like a 60%-70% sand ….20%to 30% clay and 10% to 20% silt. Most infield clays and baseline clays are about 5 inches deep. Bellow that there is a level of sand and pea gravel on the big league fields.
As a general rule of thumb this distribution makes sense, but the key factor is the sand particle size which comes in numerous variations from “gravel” to “very very fine”, Angular and round and so on. Separate tests are performed on the infield clay mixture to determine the sizes and distributions of materials as well as the percolation rates which give you an idea on how it may drain or dry out. Normally infield clays do not drain very well and are not really supposed to depending on the level of field you have. You can obtain pretty much any type of blend you want from numerous clay companies. The geographic location and your budget will drive your selection to the material you can obtain.
When I worked for the City of West Palm Beach managing the spring training facility for the Atlanta Braves and the Montreal Expos we used a higher sand base 75% sand 15% clay 10% silt with a medium course level sand that allowed the rain to pass through the infield clay a little easier. These days I use a more stable clay with a analysis of 40% clay 50% sand and 10-20 silt. This is a real heavy mix but can take a ton of abuse. Where you live and how much the field is used also drives the decision on the type of infield clay you may have.
Everyone that has been to a professional game notices the time the crew takes on dragging and watering the infield clay before the game. The key to a good infield and making it a great one is how you manage the moisture level in the clay. Kind of like the Goldilocks & the three bears nursery rhyme ” not to hot, not to cold, etc…your infield clay needs to hold the right amount of moisture to not be to soft, to dry, to hard or to moist. Companies now manufacture a material which is known in the industry as a soil conditioner. It is applied to the top of the infield to help control moisture. These materials are sometimes called, “Diamond Pro” , “Turface”, “Terra green” , “Pros Choice” etc…they are basically a calcined clay heated to a very high temperature and sized and colored to your liking.
Maintaining the infield’s moisture level requires consistent monitoring and maintenance. Coaches and players are continually giving you feedback on the condition of the infield helping you determine where you need to be with the moisture and maintenance methods used. Based on the weather, climate, time of year and even the team that is on the field, your maintenance of the clay could change a little on any given day. Its one of the most unknown interactions in professional sports. That’s why they sometimes call the groundskeeper the 10th man on the team!
Having seen a few things around the world of baseball, one that really was interesting was the way Japan pro clubs took their BP. Basically they would set up 2 BP cages side by side, have 2 BP pitchers and 2 BP catchers ( that used a stool and put each ball back in the BP bag) . These guys would have their BP pitchers alternate throwing pitches to the hitters in each cage basically doubling the amount of swings you could take in an hour of BP. That’s not all. ..When you were not in the cage you were doing soft toss so the hitting groups will swing the bat during their entire 20minute group time. There would no infield but they do have a pitchers area under a net in centerfield to protect them while they were doing their field strength conditioning. Not much I can add to this blog except that our Japanese friends really know how to get a lot of work completed in a short time frame.
Over the years I have used and seen quite a few different portable pitchers mounds. The outdoor pitching decks have become a great tool for turf protection on natural turf fields. The indoor pitching mounds have provided great winter work for those folks up north. The indoor mounds have greatly improved since my college pitching days. Now we are seeing more portable pitching mounds being used for workouts on softball fields and being used for games on youth fields. I guess that’s ok for the recreation level but once you start wearing spikes the turf on those pitching platforms becomes a different problem both for the pitcher, mechanics etc…
Generally, there are a few different types of portable mounds that are specifically constructed for Outdoor or indoor use. There are pro portable mounds and recreation mounds. Basically its a slightly raised box that is a minimum 7ft long x 4ft wide. The plywood type portable mounds are raised slightly by running 2×4 pieces of wood under the structure. These work ok but the are cumbersome to move and may not last very long. I’ve seen in south america where they construct their own wooden type platforms, but they are always flat with no slope. They are basically plywood and outdoor carpet. The photo at the top of the blog is a welding experiment I was admiring in Prague a couple of years back. The wheels need to be changed so they don’t tear up the grass and leave ruts but its a good start for a frame.
I recall in Beijing they built a couple and they were constructed so large they needed to be carried to the field by 7 people. I came back a few months later and they had one that 1 person could move but..the wheels were the support for the pitcher while he threw BP and that caused problems because they couldn’t support his weight. There is a need to have small stanchions or posts placed next to the wheels or in the center of the deck to stabilize the pitching platform. Sometimes these stanchions or small posts are to long and thin so they tear the turf when you lift it.
Lately I’ve had some emails asking where folks can find portable mounds. I’ve been pretty lucky with the pitching decks I have ordered from Beacon. OnlineSports has a couple that look ok. I like Burbank Sports net Companies portable mound as well ( photo above) . The aluminum construction makes them sturdy but light weight. Big tip: Remember that you will need to purchase a taller L-screen when you get a standard 8 inch high pitching deck. The BP pitcher can be taller than the screen which is not very safe. Purchase an outdoor pitching platform that is made from aluminum and has wheels on one side so 1 person can move it off the field quickly. Bottom line is that building these platforms may save you a few bucks but unless you have the proper tools and products it may be just as cheap to purchase them.