Sunday, March 27, 2011

International Baseball March 20-March 27

Really not much has happened this week. Japan's regular season schedule is still uncertain, but other than that, no news. Luckily i got my first full length interview from one of my favorite player's, Ludwig Glaser.
I thought it would be appropriate to have a German player because just last they had won federation of the year.
Ludwig Glaser:

1. What is your proudest baseball moment
Off the field: 
When I signed the contract with the L.A. Angels of Anaheim. I really worked hard to get there because I never had the tools scouts are interested in, so I had to deserve my way to the pros by proofing the scouts I can play baseball.
On the field:
I always feel proud, when I play for the German National team. So it was a special moment for me to play in front of 10.000 people(that are actually rooting for your team) in Regensburg vs. the USA team in the 2009 World Cup. 

2. Tell us about your time with the Anaheim Angels
I had a really exciting time with the Angels. They are a really good organization with good coaches.
I started in extended spring training in Tempe,Az in 2008. I remember it was really tough for me to adjust to the conditions in Arizona. The weather was really tuff for me. On the day I left Germany it was still snow on the ground and when I arrived in AZ it was about 90-100 degrees. It took me a while to adjust to the level of play as well. The whole game was faster then I was used to. The pitcher threw harder, the runners ran faster and the hitters were making hard contact.
I started kind of slow but after a while I felt comfortable in the batters box again and I actually did really well hitting over .300(can´t remember exactly. I thing actually over .330) with extra bases and a home run. One day we were playing an intrasquad game and the pitcher I faced missed with a 91mph fastball and hit me right in the face. I suffered a broken cheek bone and a broken nose and I had to undergo plastic surgery. I still have a metal plate in my face from that incident. I had to rehab for a month and missed the chance to make the starting lineup for Rookie ball. I jumped right into the season and played just once a week, wearing a face guard attached to my helmet. I was feeling really nervous facing live pitching again and couldn´t really hit the way I used to that season. I finished with a .222 avg, which wasn´t enough and I got released in the offseason.
I learned a lot about baseball and life that year and it was a good experience to see what baseball is all about.

3. I've interviewed a few other people, and it seems as there big tournament was The 2009 WBC (for at least The Netherlands), but it seemed that the one that put you guys on the map was the 2009 World Cup, and then a strong performance followed in the 2010 european championships. Tell us about these tournaments.

The WBC was really big for European baseball and the Netherlands made a tremendous job of representing Europe. Germany hasn´t qualified yet for the classics but there are rumors about extending the tournament, which would be in favor of the German team.
The Worldcup in Regensburg 2009 was really big and showed the world that there is actually good baseball and great facilities in Germany. Even I didn´t know by that time that there was such an interest about baseball in Germany that 10.000 people would come and watch a baseball game. 
The European championship was really important for German baseball because we proofed that we are playing on the same level like Italy and the Netherlands and that Germany belongs in the next WBC.

4. In 2009, the game against US was televised here in the states, did you know that
We heard that it was going to be televised in the US but I first realized how cool it was when a friend of mine from the states wrote me on facebook that he just saw me making a good play at first base.

5. Tell us about your individual career
I startet baseball at age 11 with the Bad Homburg Hornets. At age 14, I moved to Regensburg to a baseball academy to get the best training and coaching possible. The academy facilitated combining playing baseball on a high level and succeeding in school.
I attended the MLB baseball academy in Terrinia, Italy 2006 and 2007, where I got signed. The academy is held annually and you get instruction from former major leaguers and scouts watch you train and play every day, which is a great opportunity for the players.
At age 15 I made my first start in the 1. Bundesliga, which is the highest league in Germany. From that time on I got a starting spot and won the championship 2008 and 2010.
I have been playing with the mens National team since 2007 and played on 2 Worldcups, 1 Olympicqualifier and 1 Europeen championship and some other international competitions like the World baseball challenge in BC, Canada.
I would have loved to make it back to pro baseball and I had some good tournaments, where scouts watched me play but they weren´t really interested in signing me again. So I made my choice to get a university diploma in civil engineering and that´s what I am working on right now. It is really tough to be back in school and not standing on the baseball field all day when the sun is out but everyone, who loves baseball, knows that feeling especially, when spring training starts.

6. Who are a few of your favorite players on the national team
Can´t really answer that. We are a team with a lot of different characters but all of them share the same passion, when they are standing on the baseball field. Either if I want to laugh or have a serious conversation I´ll find someone on the team to talk to, which is pretty cool. We´ve all played together for a long time. I know some players from when I was 11 years old.

7. What is your ultimate career goal
My ultimate career goal was playing professional baseball, which I did, unfortunately not as long as I´ve hoped to.
For the future I just want to help to represent German and European baseball internationally, so that baseball is getting more attention over here. Maybe one day there will be a big European league with good salaries and good competition, so that players have a better chance going pro and succeeding in the USA.

8. Tell us what to expect from Team Germany in 2011.
Team Germany will participate in the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands and in the World Cup in Panama this year. The goal is to do well in those tournaments, to show major league baseball that Team Germany is ready for the WBC in 2013.

Notice he didn't mention the 2011 World Baseball Challenge, which they are supposed to be in.

See, when I was interviewing Johnny Gregorius, one of the things I was saying was, you got a lot of talent ... It's a little tough to see you not playing for a Dutch or Italian team again
But with Luda, I would like to see try Pro-Ball again. He is reminds me of Sidney De Jong, where he is the bat in the line-up that is the most feared.

Well I guess that's it. Next week will be MLB week. Predictions and such.
Thanks for reading and to Ludwig Glaser.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

International baseball: The Interviews

Since I started writing this blog, I have been fortunate enough to talk with the guys that I write about. So I came up with an idea. What if I interview them all, and make an interview entry. So the first guy I asked was Vince Rooi. I wasn't sure what to expect but he emailed me right back and he said sure he'll do it. And I asked some others, and got four responses. I had sent out four questions that weren't responded to, (Bas Nooij, and Italy's Max De Biase. But in the last two's defense, I had sent out the questions just the day before. I still might get them, and if I do I'll put em up next week.)
So let's get right to it. First up, Vince Rooi: Netherlands veteran infielder.

You're favorite part of the 2009 WBC
without a doubt beating the Dominicans not once but twice.
Not just because nobody else but us thought we could win, but especially
because we showed that we never give up.

Highlight of your career Probably being part of the team at the WBC.
The whole experience of being there on the same field as guys
that are the best of the best and having the success that we had, is one
that I'll never forget.

What your doing in Honkbal
I'm from the Netherlands so after playing in the minor leagues for 8 years,
I went back to the Dutch league (in 2006). I played two years for Kinheim
in Haarlem and after that went back to the organization where it all started for me,
Amsterdam Pirates.
**What you said to Matt Lindstrom in 2009**
I'm not going to say what I said to Lindstrom, but I can tell
you it wasn't a cuss word. I don't cuss and I know that that is what
he was telling everybody.
Paulie's Note: If you're not aware, in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, when the US was drubbing the Netherlands like 11-3 (I'm not quite sure), Bryan Engelhardt hit a home run. US pitcher Matt Lindstrom thought Engelhardt was "showboating", and the next batter Lindstrom threw two pitches at the head of Vince Rooi. After Lindstrom was warned, Rooi flew out, but when he came back he appeared to scream something at Lindstrom.

Perhaps what you're doing in floridaIt is also a great way for us to prepare for our season. Back home it's cold.
This gives us the opportunity to go outside and practice.

And what the netherlands will be doing in 2011 (games/goals)As of now we on only have one tournament for the National team. That's
the WPT (world port tournament) and being held in Rotterdam as any other
WPT. Every other year we have the WPT and the HHW (haarlemse honkbal week).
That's being held in Haarlem, Netherlands. Our goal here is to reach the finals.
We also might have a WC in Panama this year, but it's not sure if we are going to
participate in that.
After Vince, I started talking to Sidney De Jong, who I unfortunately never sent questions to, and a pitcher named Nick Stuifbergen. He is best known, unfortunately, for being the brother of Minnesota Twins top prospect Tom Stuifbergen.

1. What did you do as a "reserve" in the 2009 World Baseball Classic
We took a lot of players to spring training in 2009. I came off a mediocre
2008 year with lots of injuries and spring training went pretty good besides
having some shoulder trouble. I knew I was on the bubble and even though I
pitched fairly well in spring training I had to report to the managers office
and he told me I was going to be the reserve player in case they would have an
injury. I stayed with the team in Bradenton, florida and they asked me to fly
with them to Puerto Rico for the first round of the WBc but I declined. I was
disappointed and didn't want to hang around anymore.

2. What is the proudest moment of your career
Most proud moment would be a tough one as I pitched in many tournaments. I
would say all the times we beat the giant Cuba. And we did many times now. Also
all the championships we won from the European Championship and the 4th place at
the World Cup 2005 and the silver medal in Taiwan. Many great moments we have
had with the dutch national team.

3. Tell us about your life off the field
For now I play baseball and I enjoy every moment of it. I am also busy
graduating in Biology at the Utrecht University. So after my baseball career I
will probably end of teaching in high school.

4. What's it like having a brother on the national team
Well having a little brother on the national team is not always easy.
Ofcourse being proud is the #1. We played together in a couple of tournaments as
he is not always available as he plays in the Minnesota Twins organisation. He
is way more talented than me. I don't think I can remember we both pitched in
the same game. He's a starter and I'm mostly a reliever but I can't remember any
time we pitched together in a game. We did pitch against each other in the Dutch
League and I can't remember the result haha.

5. What to expect from the Netherlands in 2011
We don't have as many tournaments this year as I like but we are in a
building phase. Some important players like Michiel van Kampen and Tjerk Smeets
(assistant coach now) quit and we brought in some young talented players who mix
in very well. And as everyone knows in baseball anything can happen. We built
our reputation to a high standard last couple of years and it is up to us to
keep up this standard and always raise the bar.

This was what I had last week, but I decided to give it another week, hoping I could get a few more. I did. Next it one the Netherlands unsung heroes, he reminds me of Chase Utley, not because of his stats/skills, but because of the heart and style of the way they both play. Shortstop Michael Duursma.

Thanks for taking the time
1. What is the proudest moment of your baseball career   
Very tough question, but I would probably have to go with the Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony. For me this was my first Olympics and being able to compete at, and be part of the biggest sporting event in the world was awesome.  To experience this opening in the "Bird's Nest" with the entire world watching was a great experience and looking back it was probably my proudest moment so far. 

2. How did you get on the national team
After playing in the United States for Cypress JC and Purdue University I returned to the Netherlands and started playing for Hoofddorp Pioniers.  After a couple solid season at shortstop I got added to the National Team before the 2003 World Port Tournament.  I have been practicing and playing for the National Team ever since. 

3. What's it like having a baseball-playing brother around
Besides a couple of little league games, we had never really played together until I started playing for the Hoofddorp Pioniers in 2002.  But growing up it was such a big advantage.  Baseball is a game that is tough to practice alone. So having your brother around was such a big plus.  Not only did we always play catch and hit together, we were always talking and watching baseball.  We don't live together anymore but we do play together at Hoofddorp Pioniers and for a couple years we were also teammates on the National Team.  We have had our arguments, but atleast our teammates had something to laugh about.  But it has been a great experience and it has helped us both to reach our goals.   

4. Favorite Moment of the 2009 WBC
There were so many great moments, personally and as a team.  The one that stands out most is the last at bat from Yurendell DeCaster, which scored Eugene Kingsale to beat the Dominican Republic in the bottom of the 11th inning.  We beat the Dominicans for the second time in two games and because of this we were of to Miami for the second round.     
5. Your favorite teammates (2 or 3, if possible)
Currently on the National Team probably pitchers Berry van Driel, Rob Cordemans and catcher Sidney de Jong.  These are probably the guys I hang out with most of the field.  In the past you could include Dave Draijer, Michiel van Kampen and ofcourse my brother Mark Duursma.  
6. What to expect from the Netherlands baseball team this year
With four different head coaches in four years time it has kind of been a bumpy road.  With a new head coach in Brian Farley, we believe he will be here for a while and we expect to do well.  The trip to St. Petersburg was a good beginning and should help us down the road.  With some new and young players added to the roster I expect to see a highly motivated team.  I expect the team to practice hard and pay attention to details.  While doing this I expect the team to have fun.  In July we will be playing in the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam and our goal is to do well here and give ourselves a chance to win this tournament.  Hopefully a World Cup will follow in October or November.   

By this time, I thought to myself, what if I expand to other teams. So I decided to add some other team's players. South African Paul Rutgers, Philippines Jon-Jon Robles, and Curacao's Johnny Gregorius. Gregorius is a cool guy, been all over, and views baseball as "just a game." So I sent out questions, and sure enough, I got a response from the speedy Curacao-native.

1. What is your proudest moment
my proudest moment wuz the day i beat panama 5-0 in Venezuela in 2008, i wuz totally on top of my game... i threw a complete game shutout that day and we went on to qualify for the Baseball world Cup which hasn't been done since 1986 i guess...

2. What was it like growing up in such a baseball family family with your dad and brother
My baseball family.. hahahah everyone in that house played ball... even my mom played softball as in one of the elite power hitter from her time! with my dad it wuz all a kid could dream for.. your father one of the greatest baseball players in dutch history and to be his son is a honor... and yes it iz an awesome feeling for me to be a part of this family.
PAULIE'S NOTE: His father, didi Gregorius, is still pitching for The Netherlands Antilles team, not to mention one of the most beloved

3. Tell us about your individual career
My individual career.. Hmm like i said i grew up in Holland.. played there for years and it wuz a great time for me. My dad wuz my coach and i had a few very good friends.. till this day i still have contact with a bunch of them on Facebook. when i wuz little and playing for the Amsterdam Pirates i went to alot of places and played alongside Vince Rooi, Robin Franken, Casper Kemper, Stef Walsmaa and bunch of other guys...
When i moved back to Curacao things haven't changed one bit. i wuz playing my heart out but i neva got till my full potential till the age of 18! and that's where the scouts wanted to sign me and which i did for one year. But it wuz my mother that stopped my professional career because they promised me a lot but nothing came of it.
But since that day forward when i wuz 19 or 20 things really took off on Curacao and Internationally as a part of the Netherlands Antilles National Team. i played my heart out for my country and i enjoyed it... HATE LOSING BUT NONETHELESS every loss wuz a lesson well learned.

4. What are your interests outside of baseball
Photography, web graphics and Cars off course... which guy doesn't! hahahaha

5. What to expect from Team Curacao this year
in 2011 we aren't going anywhere i guess only to Holland to play in the WPT tournament.. and i hope the change in coaching staff will bring better fortune for everybody. Cuz we need it. Like i say to the guys after we lose a close game.. "Guys i want you guys to remember one thing that we are "AMATEURS" and most of these guys are professionals and this is their income". we are playing baseball as our HOBBY...

On Monday, when I got home I saw I got another one. I decided to put it up. I give you, Netherlands left
fielder Bas de Jong
1. What has been the proudest moment of your career
for Myself:
5-5 against Cuba during World Port Tournament!! and Hitting a Cycle against ADO in 6 1/2 Inn. Homerun was the Last one to Do..
for My Team:
Winning the Holland Series with Pirates

2. What is your favorite tournament
Haarlem.. I Love the Atmosphere!! 
Playing for your Country in front of your Country

3. Who is your favorite teammate
My brother.. 

4. Are you and Sidney related
We are not Related... Look at his Legs and the Way we both Run and you'll Know!! HahaHa. But of All People I have Played with. I have Played with Sidney the Longest and have always enjoyed him as a Person and in my Line up!!
PAULIE'S NOTE: I knew he had a brother. Not Sidney, but pitcher Jos De Jong.

5. How are you doing in Honkbal
How am I doing in Baseball?! You tell Me!!
I think I'm doing Good and am Trying to get better every Day. I'm having Fun at it and can't wait for the Season to begin. Looking forward to the season more and more. I hope I can make a Difference this year and Play without injuries. With L&D Amsterdam we will hopefully win it All. We got the team for it!!!

6. What to expect from The Netherlands team this year

From the Dutch team I expect we Will be able to Compete against any kind of Team and Beat them. We have a Great group of Guys and Staff and are willing to work hard for each other.

Therefor I expect the National team to work it's way up to being number 5 in the World!!

PAULIE'S NOTE: That is some prediction. While they are 6th currently, they are 150 points less than 5th ranked chinese Taipei, who is in literally almost every tournament. (Netherlands - 374 Taipei - 524 First Place cuba - 986). I mean it can be done, but they'd have have a great year. But hey, if anyone can jump 150 points, it's them, right?)

I got an interview from Roeland Henrique later that Monday.
1. What's your ultimate career goal
1.I still want to make it to the Majors someday, but for now My ultimate goal is to become the lead-off hitter and the first Centerfielder/2nd baseman for the Dutch national team.

What is your proudest baseball moment
2. My proudest basbeall moment of this year is definitely the moment I heard I'm going to Florida tih the national team. But my Last years walk-off double against Neptunes, who havn't lost a match untill then, might be my greatest moment.

What is your individual career like
3. I started in Curacao. At the age of 9 I moved to The Netherlands to continue my career at Amsterdam Pirates. I Got selected for the national little league team and played a EC anda WC with that team. When I was 16 I played the Koningkrijkspelen with the AA-Dutch National team and on the age of 17 I played the WC in Canada with the AAA-Dutch national team. 2 years later the coach of the national team selected me for that team  and in Florida I made my debute for that team.

What is the camaraderie of the national team
4. The national team is a great team. We have so many guys with a lot of expierience on the team. It's a paradise for me as the youngest player on the team. I get all those guys talking with me the whole day en trying to teach me some things and talkig with me about the game and stuff. I think we are a real team, everybody can laughs en talk with each other, but be serious on the field at the same time.

Tell us about the new manager. I hear it's no longer Jim Stoeckel ... 
5. The manager is no longer Jim Stoeckel indeed. We've got a new manager: Brian Farley. He is a completely different kind of manager. He likes to work hard and really wants to make every player a better player then they are. 

What to 
6. There are 2 tournaments coming up this year. One is the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. I'm going to work my but off to make it to that tournament. The next one will be the WC in Panama. I really want to make ik to that team also, however we will be having the Pro baseball players coming back to play that tournament, so it will be tough to make that team.Thanks a million to everybody

Now for some news .....
On March 12th, the CEB (Confederation of European Baseball) met in Belgium. There was some pretty uneventful stuff about Olympic Re-instatement, but then the awards got announced. Federation of the year was Germany. Scorer of the year was Italy's Fausto Nardi, umpire of the year was Germany's Jens Waider, and coach of the year was Czech's Arnost Nesnal. I Can't comment on the middle two, but Germany as a team grew the most of anyone in 09 and 10. I also like the direction Czech Republic is going, under guide Arnost Nesnal. These are my two sleepers heading in the 2013 World baseball Classic.

For some more European baseball News, Spain has renewed manager's Mauro Mazzotti for 2011. He will be at the helm for the 2011 Qualifications for the European Championships. For more info on that, check out my first entry, where I guarantee Spain will qualify. If they don't, I guarantee Mazzotti will be fired.

Cincinatti Reds have stated that the possible break-out prospects include Juancarlos Sulbaran (Another one ofmy favorites) and Mariekson Gregorius, brother of Johnny. Good luck, you got a whole country rooting for you.

Oh, and did anyone see Mike Piazza on MLB Network talking about the new marlins stadium? He was billed "Team Italy Hitting Coach" hahaha

Ok, back next week! Thanks to everyone. I'll include any interviews that come in late.
Thanks for reading, and tell all your friends. (Or teammates :))


Saturday, March 5, 2011

International Baseball, February 28th-March 5th

Week 2. Ok, here we go.

Well, first off I have to give a HUGE thank you to Vince Rooi. Rooi is the third basemen on the Netherlands team. I have been emailing him, and he looked at the blog. Vince also gave me some help for stuff this week. And who knows, you might even get to see an interview.
Also, my all-time favorite player on any team  is Sidney de Jong. I have a lot of  "favorites" but my absolute favorite is Sidney de Jong. (At least prior to this. I don't want to have any bias). Why is he my favorite? Well, I remember sitting in my basement, watching MLB Network, watching what turned out to be my favorite game ever. By the conclusion of the end of Round 1, the Netherlands were my favorite team. And in the 11th inning, the Dominicans got a run, breaking the 0-0 tie. It looked like the game was over. MLB closer Carlos Marmol was on the mound, and the Netherlands bats had been relatively quiet the whole game. But in stepped the Dutch secret weapon. Sidney de Jong. He led off with a double to right-center, he eventually scored and the Dutch won in the most dramatic international baseball game ever. Ever since, he's been my favorite. Of course, the fact that in almost every tournament later he'd bat third or fourth and be the producer for the Dutch. And I've been talking to him as well. This is a thrill for me, these are my absolute favorite players.

Now, if you notice, the best teams in international baseball aren't neccassarily the most "stacked." The team's that do the best are the teams who feel comfortable playing with one another, who have experience playing with each other. Think Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and most of all, Cuba. And the guys who you'd expect not to do well together usually don't. Jose Reyes and Hanley Raimrez on the same team? Well, who could forget there historic collapse in 2009, to (of course) The Netherlands. A Double play combo of Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia? And the US was a huge dissapointment. Well, there is somewhere I'm going with this. It isn't at all an "official" tournament, but four international teams have met in St.Petersburgh, Florida, for what Vince Rooi described as for "exhibition games and a lot of practice." The four teams are Netherlands, the Canada Junior Team (21 and Under), The Nexon Heroes of the Korea Baseball League (KBO), and the team from the St. Petersburgh University. They will also play against the Tamba Bay Rays and then travel to Clearwater to play (my) Phillies. I don't know to many scores yet, but I know that Netherlands lost their first game to the Nexon Heroes.

Now for some news I have to mention or I wouldn't be doing my job as an international baseball blogger:
This is a very Dutch entry. The 2011 World Port Tournament (the self-proclaimed "biggest baseball celebration in the Netherlands") has announced the teams and schedule. And, luckily, we will not have a repeat of the incredibly boring 2010 Haarlem Baseball Week (also in the Netherlands). The teams are:
The Netherlands (Host)
Chinese Taipei (9th Appearance)
Cuba (6th Appearance)
Curacao (3rd Appearence)
Germany (1st Appearance)

I am so glad they added some diversity among the teams. I personally love Germany, they are probably my second favorite team. (Don't quote me on that, if say Greece get's good, they can take the spot. But Netherlands has always, and forever will be first.)  But I am a huge fan of Luwig Glaser (former Angel's prospect), and Dominik Wolf. Cuba will probably win, but never, EVER count the Dutch out.

That's about it. There is no huge Spring Training News, unfortunately.

See you next week, tell all your friends, special thanks to the IBAF. Next wee kI'm hoping to have an interview...