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 :))


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