Archive for February, 2008

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 2

February 29th, 2008

At the second game of Australia vs. Canada, Canada won big by four home runs. Now they are 1-1 on the exhibition series.

Based on the Canada Press :

The Canadian national team whipped Australia 10-1 in the second game of a five-game exhibition series in preparation for next month’s Olympic baseball qualifying tournament.

Matt Rogelstad of New Westminster, B.C., belted a grand slam in the first inning, one of four home runs for Canada on the day. “You could see this team has a lot of power,” said manager Terry Puhl. “It’s going to be fun.”

Canada finished with 15 hits.

“Today guys got a lot of good swings,” said Adam Stern of London, Ont. “Now it’s going to be getting (timing) down.”

Stern, Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont., and Mike Saunders of Victoria also went deep for Canada.

Starter Jamie Richmond of Mississauga, Ont., allowed two walks and struck out two over a pair of no-hit innings.

“Jamie’s been pitching with a lot of confidence really early,” said Puhl. “He did well for us at the World Cup and he’s going to be a big part of our pitching staff.”

Jonathan Lockwood of Toronto gave up one run over two innings. Alexandre Periard of St. Eustache, Que., and T.J. Burton of Ottawa combined to allow one walk over three innings.

And Baseball Canada said:

Canada was running on all cylinders as both the pitching and offense flexed their muscle in a 10-1 win over Australia in the second exhibition game of this series.

The Canadians collected 15 hits to go along with four home runs in this game which saw 10 of the 12 players who saw action get at least one hit.

“We got to see a lot of pitch tonight and this time we were squaring up the baseball,” says Manager Terry Puhl. “You could see that this team has a lot of power. It’s going to be fun.”

The Canadian offense did not waste any time to put points on the board. The first inning saw Canada put four runs on the board with the help of a grand slam from Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC).

The inning started with two straight walks to Adam Stern (London, ON) and Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON) and a single by Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) to load the bases. After Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, AB) hit into a fielder’s choice, Rogelstad belted the grand slam to put Canada in front 4-0.

“Today, guys got a lot of good swings,” says Stern, who was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run. “Now it’s going to be getting (timing) down, getting to hit the breaking balls and off speed stuff, because that’s going to be our biggest challenge when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare.”

After increasing the lead to 5-0 on a RBI single from Radmanovich in the second inning, the Canadians scored two more runs in the third inning on a two-run homer by Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON), making it 7-0.

“I had a pretty good approach, slowed it down and it went good,” says Weglarz, who was 2-for-4 including a double. “It was 3-1 knuckle ball that didn’t break, got it up and it went.”

The score would be 7-1 going into the seventh inning when Saunders hit a solo home run to bring the lead back to seven runs.

Stern would complete the scoring in the eighth inning with his two-run knock.

“Right now, results are good but you want to get comfortable, get ready to hit and today happened to be a good day,” says Stern. “I still want to see more off speed stuff, but it was one of those things that all of a sudden clicked and I was ready to go.”

As for the pitchers, they held the Aussie offense in check all night.

It started with Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, ON), who threw two no-hit innings, allowing only two walks with a pair of strikeouts.

“Not bad for the first time out. I didn’t feel great, but it I think it went good,” says Richmond.

“Jamie’s been pitching with a lot of confidence really early,” says Puhl. “He did well for us at the World Cup and he’s going to be a big part of our pitching staff.”

Jonathan Lockwood (Toronto, ON) followed with a solid two innings of his own, allowing one run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, QC) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON) combined to close out the Canadian side on the mound, giving up only a walk with one punch out in three innings of work.

You can also find the Box Score and Play-by-play at Baseball Australia web site.

Mexico vs Rockies Exhibition Game 1

February 29th, 2008

Colorado Rockies seems too much for Mexican National Team, they won by 15-2, even this is just the exhibition game for Mexico to warm up.

On MLB.com:

Rockies at the plate: Prospect Christian Colonel knocked a three-run double. Ryan Spilborghs doubled twice and scored twice. Dexer Fowler with 2-for-6 with a double and two runs scored, Matt Kata had two RBI singles, Ian Stewart drove in two runs and Mike McKenry doubled.

Mexico at the plate: The Mexican squad was down, 15-0, in the seventh when Albino Contreras knocked a two-run homer to left off lefty relief prospect Josh Newman.

Rockies on the mound: Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez was smooth over two innings. He gave up a hit but forced a double-play grounder in the first inning, and he overcame a leadoff walk in the second by retiring the next three batters and fanning two. … Brandon Hynick, the Class A California League Pitcher of the Year in 2007, threw two scoreless innings, overcoming loaded bases with one out in the fourth by striking out former Rockies player Miguel Ojeda and forcing a Carlos Valencia grounder.

Mexico on the mound: Starter Francisco Campos absorbed six runs, five earned, and nine hits in four innings. He struck out four, walked one and hit one. Jose Silva gave up nine runs and seven hits in one inning. Former Rockies reliever David Cortes pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings.

The box score is here.

Australia vs. Canada Exhibition Game 1

February 28th, 2008

On Thursday, February 28, 2008, Canada lost to Australia on Exhibition Game one.

Canadian press said:

The Aussies cobbled together two singles, four walks and a wild pitch for a five-run fifth off pitchers Aaron Wideman of Mississauga, Ont., and Steve Green of Greenfield Park, Que., that erased a 3-0 deficit.

“They had a soft five runs off of balls that weren’t hit real hard and our guys are still just trying to see some pitches,” said manager Terry Puhl. “Defensively we did well. We made some really nice plays. They’re good athletes. It’ll be a couple more days and they’ll be right there.”

Canada went up 2-0 in the third on an RBI double by Emmanuel Garcia of Montreal and a sacrifice fly by Emerson Frostad of Calgary. Jeremy Ware of Guelph, Ont., made it 3-0 in the fourth with an RBI double.

Starter James Avery of Moose Jaw, Sask., and Brooks McNiven of Vancouver each threw two scoreless innings for the Canadians.

And the Baseball Canada said:

It started off well, but one inning would turn out to be Canada’s downfall in their first exhibition game as they would fall at the hands off Australia by a final score of 5-3.

The Canadians would be the ones to break it open in the third inning when Emmanuel Garcia hit a double to cash in Jeremy Ware (Guelph, ON) would had reached base on a walk.

“I was just trying to see the ball well. I got a 3-1 fastball and I was able to put the bat on the ball,” says Garcia.

David Corrente (Chatham, ON), who also walked, would score the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly from Emerson Frostad (Calgary, AB) to make it 2-0.

The Canadians would add to the lead in the fourth inning when Ware hit a double of his own to score Matt Rogelstad (New Westminster, BC) and make it 3-0.

“I’m just trying to keep it simple, put a good swing on the ball and it worked out,” says Ware of his double.

Things were going smoothly until the fifth inning when the Aussies would put up a five spot and take the lead. Aaron Wideman (Mississauga, ON) and Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC) combined to give up those runs on two singles, four walks and a wild pitch.

“We’re obviously getting out there for the first time, facing hitters for the first time this year and it feels good to get out there,” says Wideman of his outing. “I didn’t have my control today, but I’m working on all of the glitches and the bumps and bruises, but my arm felt good. I just need to get rid of the wrinkles and be ready for the next day.”

James Avery (Moose Jaw, SK), who started for Canada, and Brooks McNiven (Vancouver, BC) threw two innings a piece and combined to shutout the Australians allowing only two hits with six strikeouts.

There were more positives than negatives for Canada in a game which saw most of the players taking the field for the first time since the end of last season.

“They had a soft five runs off of balls that weren’t hit real hard and our guys are still just trying to see some pitches,” says Manager Terry Puhl.

“Defensively we did well. We made some really nice plays. They’re good athletes. It’ll be a couple more days and they’ll be right there.”

You can also find the Box Score and Play-by-play at Baseball Australia web site.

Mexico released Roster and Schedule for Final Olympic Qualifier

February 17th, 2008

Federación Mexicana de Béisbol and Liga Mexicana de Béisbol presented the final list of National Team of Final Olympic Qualifier, which is held from 7 to 14 March in the Taichung, Taiwan.

Due to Colorado Rockies refuse to let Vinny Castilla to be manage the Mexico team unless it qualify for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, their manager will be Jose Tolentino. The team will assemble together on February 17 in Cancún, Quintana Roo, where they will hold a series with teams of southeastern Mexican League Baseball, then move to Tucson, Arizona to play exhibition games with Colorado Rockies, then fly to Taiwan for Final Olympic Qualifier.

Currently roster is 27, will be cut down to 24 before game started. Among the 27 players, none of them play Baseball World Cup last year, and seven of them is the roster in World Baseball Classic 2006.

Final Olympic Qualifier Roster:
CATCHERS
Gerónimo Gil, Miguel Ojeda
INFIELDERS
Jesús Cota, Roberto Saucedo, Carlos A. Gastélum, Carlos Valencia, José Luis Sandoval, Heber Gomez, Agustín Murillo
OUTFIELDERS
Luís Alfonso García, Karim García (train in Japan and will report to the team in Taiwan), Iván Terrazas, Cristian Presichi, Luís Mauricio Suárez
PITCHERS
Francisco Campos, Pablo Ortega, Oscar Rivera, Walter Silva, Andrés Meza, Oscar Bustillos, Rafael Díaz, José Silva, David Cortes, Roberto Ramírez, Edgar Huerta, Heriberto Ruelas, Víctor Álvarez
Manager
José Tolentino
Coaches
Adulfo Camacho, Marco Antonio Guzmán, Teodoro Higuera, Armando Reynoso
Trainer
Jorge Fajardo
Bat-boy
Alberto Iñiguez

Schedule of Mexico National Team
Date Game / Note
February 17 Concentration of the team at Radisson Hotel in Cancún and anti doping tests
From 18 to 22 February Training in Cancún
February 23 Game against Tigers in the Beto Ávila de Cancún Stadium
February 24 Game against Lions of Yucatán in Kukulcán Stadium to tribute to Gustavo Ricalde Durán
February 25 Game against Pirates of Campeche in the Nelson Barrera Stadium
February 26 Game against Tigers in the Beto Ávila de Cancún Stadium
February 27 Moving from Cancún to Hermosillo
February 28 Moving from Hermosillo to Tucson, Ariz.
February 29 Game against the Colorado Rockies
March 1 Game against rival by defining or training
March 2 Game against the Colorado Rockies
March 3 Leaving for the tournament in Taiwan

Below is the Final Olympic Qualifier schedule with Mexico:

Tournament Schedule
Date Game
7 MARCH Mexico vs. Canada
8 MARCH Mexico vs. Chinese Taipei
9 MARCH Korea vs. Mexico
10 MARCH Australia vs. Mexico
11 MARCH Day Off
12 MARCH Mexico vs. South Africa
13 MARCH Germany vs. Mexico
MARCH 14 Spain vs. Mexico

Baseball Canada team names for Olympic qualifier roster

February 15th, 2008

Baseball Canada announced the National Team 24-man roster at the Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Taiwan from March 7-15.

Among the 24 players selected by Baseball Canada for the event are five former members of the 2004 Olympic Team who are 2B Stubby Clapp (Windsor, ON), LHP Mike Kusiewicz (Ottawa, ON), OF Adam Stern (London, ON), OF Ryan Radmanovich and OF Jeremy Ware (Guelph, ON). And 17 will be returning from the team that represented Canada at the IBAF World Cup this past November. The roster will be a mix of experience and youth.

“We are very excited about the blend of experience and young rising talent on this roster,” says Greg Hamilton, Director and Head Coach of National Teams. “With an Olympic bid at stake, we anticipate a very competitive tournament and look forward to challenging ourselves against some of the world’s best baseball playing nations.”

The Olympic Qualifier will feature eight countries in a round-robin formatted tournament where the top three teams will earn the final spots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.

Canada will be competing for one of those three spots with Korea, Chinese Taipei, Australia, Mexico, Germany, South Africa and Spain. If Canada qualifies, they will join Cuba, United States, Japan, Netherlands and host China who have already qualified.

Before heading over to Taiwan, the Senior National Team will make its way to Brisbane, Australia from February 24th to March 4th for a training camp and exhibition series against the Australian National Team at their national training complex.

And you can find more detail introduction on Canada roster at Canada Press.

Little-known pitcher Steve Green recorded the final three outs of Canada’s stunning 8-6 win over the United States at the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and the national team will need similar pluck to clinch a berth at the Olympics this summer.

The right-hander from Montreal is among a handful of veterans sprinkled around the young roster announced Friday by Baseball Canada that will play for a spot in Beijing at the final qualifying tournament next month.

Much like they were that memorable March 8 afternoon two years ago in Phoenix, the odds will be stacked against the Canadians at the March 7-15 event in Taiwan.

Three tickets to the Summer Games will be contested by eight countries, five of them talented enough to advance. But Taiwan, South Korea and Mexico are likely to have an edge since their players will be in-season at the time, while Canadians and Australians will be just working their way into game-shape.

Still, as Green points out, the national team has made defying the odds a habit in recent years and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.

“That win has stuck with me, beating the Americans was unbelievable,” Green said in an interview. “It’s a do-or-die approach. It’s not like a best out of seven, you can’t let a bad play, a bad at-bat, a bad ump call get you down. You need to get at it and fight for that three hours, that nine innings and never give up.”

Green, 30, will help anchor the back-end of the bullpen along with 24-year-old Cleveland Indians prospect Tim Burton of Ottawa.

Other veterans who will be counted on to guide the kids include folk-hero infielder Stubby Clapp of Windsor, Ont., WBC hero Adam Stern of Port Stanley, Ont., Ryan Radmanovich of Calgary, Jeremy Ware of Guelph, Ont., and Mike Kusiewicz of Ottawa.

Youngsters like Mike Saunders of Victoria, Jimmy VanOstrand of Richmond, B.C., Matt Rogelstad of New Westminster, B.C., and Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont., will be counted on do much of the heavy lifting.

They’ve already been through the international baseball ringer at tournaments like the World Cup and have been absorbed seamlessly into the national team culture.

“Everyone has come to know that Team Canada loves to have fun and I think it really helps because the older guys like Stubby, Radmanovich, they made us feel like part of a team,” said Saunders, a 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfield prospect. “The younger players don’t get pushed outside the circle. The older guys come around and make sure everyone feels a part of a team. I just love it.”

Of critical importance to the Canadians will be making good use of a pre-tournament trip to Australia for five warm-up games with the Aussies.

Primarily using players affiliated with big-league clubs, the Canadians and Australians aren’t used to playing meaningful games so early in the spring.

Many of Canada’s pitchers have strict limitations on their usage, which complicates things for manager Terry Puhl, while the hitters will still be adjusting to live pitching.

“This whole thing is going to start in Australia,” said Green. “We can’t take those practice games lightly, we’ve got to get on a roll. It’s like in hockey when the team wins a few games at the end of the season and gets on a roll. We’ve got to keep rolling.”

Aside from player readiness, the tournament’s timing — decided on by the hosts and unsuccessfully protested against by Canada and Australia — also hampered the national team’s ability to assemble the country’s best eligible players (anyone not on the 40-man roster of a big-league team can suit up).

But that’s just another hurdle for the team to cope with and will be long forgotten once the games begin.

“I think it’s terrible timing, to tell you the truth,” said Saunders. “But we’ve got to play the cards we were dealt.”

With a trip to the last Olympics to include baseball on the line, there’s no room for distractions or excuses.

As a program, reaching Beijing would offer another shot at the podium after coming agonizingly close to upsetting Cuba and reaching the gold-medal game at the Athens Olympics.

Clapp, Stern, Radmanovich, Ware and Kusiewicz played on that team and would love to return with some hardware this time.

Youngsters like Saunders will get the chance to realize something they’ve imagined for years, wearing the Maple Leaf at the Games.

And for Green, who was supposed to be part of the 2004 team before the Anaheim Angels refused to let him play, he gets a chance to reclaim an experience unfairly denied him.

“The guys still talk about it from four years ago, their eyes light up when they talk about it,” he said. “That’s one of the best experiences they’ve ever had, so I want to share that with the veterans who are like me, on the back end of their career.”

Blow is the Canada 24-man roster, you can also download 2008 Final Olympic Qualifier Roster and Schedule at Baseball Canada website.

No. First Name Last Name Birthdate Bat Th Ht Wt Pos MLB Organization (Level)
25 James Avery 1984/6/10 R R 6’1" 210 RHP Cincinnati Reds (AA)
22 Tim Burton 1983/7/30 L R 6’3" 195 RHP Cleveland Indians (AA)
11 Stubby Clapp 1973/2/24 L R 5’8" 175 2B Former Cardinals (MLB)
28 David Corrente 1983/10/13 R R 6’2" 210 C Toronto Blue Jays (AAA)
17 Emerson Frostad 1983/1/13 L R 6’1" 220 1B/C Texas Rangers (AA)
15 Emmanuel Garcia 1986/3/4 L R 6’2" 190 SS New York Mets (A)
10 Brett Gray 1976/8/19 R R 6’0" 190 RHP Former Reds (AA)
35 Steve Green 1978/1/26 R R 6’2" 195 RHP Former Angels (MLB)
2 Taylor Green 1986/11/2 L R 5’10" 180 INF Milwaukee Brewers (A)
32 Mike Kusiewicz 1976/11/1 R L 6’2" 205 LHP Former Athletics (AAA)
27 Jonathan Lockwood 1981/12/12 R R 6’2" 195 RHP Former Mariners (A)
31 Brooks McNiven 1981/6/19 R R 6’5" 190 RHP San Francisco Giants (AA)
16 Alexandre Periard 1987/6/15 R R 6’1" 215 RHP Milwaukee Brewers (A)
19 Ryan Radmanovich 1971/8/9 L R 6’2" 200 OF Former Mariners (MLB)
23 Jamie Richmond 1986/3/23 R R 6’3 " 195 RHP Oakland Athletics (A)
34 Scott Richmond 1979/8/30 R R 6’5" 220 RHP Toronto Blue Jays (AA)
30 Chris Robinson 1984/5/12 R R 6’0" 215 C Chicago Cubs (AA)
4 Matt Rogelstad 1982/9/13 L R 6’3" 190 INF Washington Nationals (A)
20 Mike Saunders 1986/11/19 L R 6’4" 215 OF Seattle Mariners (AA)
7 Adam Stern 1980/2/12 L R 5’11" 185 OF Baltimore Orioles (AAA)
29 Jimmy VanOstrand 1984/8/7 R R 6’4" 225 1B/OF Houston Astros (A)
26 Jeremy Ware 1975/10/23 R R 6’1" 210 OF Former Expos (AAA)
33 Nick Weglarz 1987/12/16 L L 6’3" 225 OF Cleveland Indians (A)
18 Aaron Wideman 1985/6/8 R L 5’11" 190 LHP Toronto Blue Jays (A)

Australia host Canada in preparation for Olympic Qualifier

February 14th, 2008

To prepare the Final Olympic Qualifying tournament in Taiwan next month, the Australian Baseball Team will host four games to the Canadian National team.

Based on the news released from Australian Baseball Federation, the series will be held in Brisbane and the Gold Coast from February 28 – March 2, will be the Australian Team’s final stage of selection trials and has been targeted to help the Aussies peak ahead of their must win tournament in Taiwan.

Australian Head Coach, Jon Deeble, is excited about playing the Canadians on home soil – especially as he puts some of the National squad’s youngest talent through the rigors of the two-week selection camp.

For the first time in a number of years there are several spots in the team that are wide open (for selection) – I’m really looking forward to letting these guys go at it,” Deeble said.

“In terms of our preparation, we have had the benefit of the recent Claxton Shield season to identify some emerging talent and will now we get the chance to see how they perform against Canada – one of the World’s top sides,

“Truth be told, nobody is guaranteed a ticket to the qualifiers, so I am going to take whoever’s “hot” at the time,” he said.

The Games against Canada will mark the first time the National Team has hosted the North American powerhouses on home soil in well over a decade, and promises to deliver a thrilling showcase between two evenly matched teams.

When the two sides locked horns at the Baseball World Cup last November, Australia came away with a nail-biting 7-6 victory that eliminated Canada from the finals – a result that the Canadians will be eager to avenge next month as they battle the Aussies for one of the final three Olympic berths in the eight-nation tournament in Taiwan.

Canada, who finished 4th in Athens, remains one of the biggest threats for the Aussies’ and will join Korea, Mexico, Chinese Taipei, Germany, Spain and South Africa as they vie for their own piece of Olympic history.

Although Australia will enter the March Qualifier as reigning Silver Medallists, they clearly face an uphill battle on their road to Beijing, placing even greater emphasis on their preparation in these games against the touring internationals.

The four-game series will follow closely on the heels of a two-game exhibition schedule in Sydney that sees the Australian squad match up against the NSW Patriots at Blacktown Olympic Park on February 22 & 23.

In the mean time, Korea national team will be in Taiwan to play three exhibition games with Chinese Professional Baseball League Team. And you can find the final Olmpic Qualifier here.

Canada vs Austalia
AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL TEAM SCHEDULE

TIME DATE TEAMS VENUE
7:30PM Friday FEB 22 AUSTRALIA v NSW Patriots Blacktown Olympic Park, SYDNEY
7:30PM Saturday FEB 23 AUSTRALIA v NSW Patriots Blacktown Olympic Park, SYDNEY
7:00PM Thursday FEB 28 AUSTRALIA v Canada Redlands Baseball Club, BRISBANE
7:00PM Friday FEB 29 AUSTRALIA v Canada Redlands Baseball Club, BRISBANE
7:00PM Saturday MAR 1 AUSTRALIA v Canada Palm Meadows, GOLD COAST
7:00PM Sunday MAR 2 AUSTRALIA v Canada Palm Meadows, GOLD COAST

Korea plan to shut down three weeks during Olympics

February 12th, 2008

For the 2008 Olympic Games, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) may shut down at least three weeks for Olympic Baseball Tournament, according to Korea Times.

Although 2008 Beijing Olympic baseball tournament is scheduled for 12 days, considering the time the players need for preparation and recovery, officials believe that teams would need at least a three-week’s break. Besides, to ease the complications in schedule, the KBO has opening day set for March 29, about a week earlier than normal.

However, before the three-week shutdown really happen, it depends on Korea winning a ticket to Beijing in the Olympic qualifiers next month in Taiwan. The 2008 Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament include eight-nation stakes the final three spots in the Olympic tournament, competitors include Mexico, Canada, Taiwan and Australia which is tough for Korea, as Germany, Spain and South Africa is relative easy opponents.

“It would be hard to expect a meaningful level of public interest during the Olympics anyway,” said Jeong Keum-jo, KBO’s chief manager of baseball operations.

“The number of players on the national baseball squad differs from team to team. It would not be fair to let the regular season commence during the Olympics when some teams would be greatly compromised by sending their players to Beijing,” he said.

By the way, KBO are also discussing lifting the current 12-inning limit on league games from this season, which would assure draws no longer appear next to the win-loss column.

“Owners are agreeing at large on draws and allowing teams to play out to the end for a win,” he said.

“The idea of limiting innings was to prevent the games from getting too long, but throughout the 26-year history of the league, only 10 games went beyond 15 innings,” he said.

“Lifting the innings limit will surely encourage coaches and players to play with an increased level of intensity in the extra innings, which would benefit the fans paying for the tickets.”

Since its launching in 1982, the Korean professional league had imposed 12-inning or 15-inning limits on games to prevent them from dragging too long. The Japanese baseball league currently has a 12-inning limit, while Major League Baseball (MLB) of the United States doesn’t have an inning limit.

The final decision need for approval in a KBO board meeting to be summoned next Monday.

Two Canadian Umpires in Olympic Baseball

February 8th, 2008

According to Winnipeg Sun: Umps get the call, two Canadian Umpires are selected on the Olympic Baseball in Beijing.

Baseball Manitoba announced that Ron Shewchuk, a Minnedosa native, along with Winnipeg’s Brian Hodgson, have been selected to work the baseball tournament at the Summer Games in Beijing this August. The duo will be the only Canadians on the international, 16-member crew.

Manitoba has sent an umpire to the Olympics only once before. Winnipeg native Glen Johnson, now a CFL referee living in Toronto, did the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

“The fact that there’s two from Manitoba going is unbelievable from that standpoint,” Hodgson said.

“It’s never been done before, and it looks very well for Manitoba baseball.”

Shewchuk, 48, and Hodgson, 53, have plenty of international experience, including stints at Olympic qualifiers, junior and senior world tournaments, and the Pan Am Games, but this assignment takes the cake.

“AS HIGH AS IT GETS”

“Absolutely,” Hodgson said. “You ask any athlete in any sport. The Olympics is as high as it gets. You’re only going to do it once, and this is wonderful.”

“This is it,” added Shewchuk. “Quite honestly, after this there’s really nowhere to go.”

Shewchuk and Hodgson may, in fact, be the only Canucks taking part in the Olympic baseball tournament. Canada has yet to earn a berth in the event, but their next chance is an Olympic qualifier next month in Taiwan.

This will be Canada’s last chance for a while, as baseball has been removed from the 2012 Games. It is expected to return in 2016.

Should Canada fail to qualify, Shewchuk and Hodgson will avoid much of the political wheeling and dealing that takes place behind the scenes. They wouldn’t be completely free of it, however.

Shewchuk, for example, was the target of accusations at an Olympic qualifier in 2006, when he was at second base for the gold-medal game between the U.S. and the host Cubans.

“The Cubans were accusing me of giving signs to the American hitters. It’s weird,” Shewchuk said. “The catcher goes, ‘Hey, he’s giving signals!’ I’m standing there going, ‘What the hell?’ It’s funny. They’re passionate.”

Winnipeg’s Alex Gardiner, who sits on the Canadian Olympic Committee, warned Shewchuk and Hodgson to expect almost every emotion from the Chinese spectators, from apathy to ridicule to anger.

“It’ll be OK,” Hodgson said. “Whether you’re doing it in China or you’re doing it next door, what you get from the fans is going to be about the same.

“Politically it’s a little different, and culturally it’s going to be hugely different, but we’ve done international baseball.”

I guess they are both willing to see Canada to be the final eight teams of Olympic Baseball 2008 no matter those politics or fans interference, and of course, they will not be in the game when Canada plays in case anyone has any reason to say anything.

Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament Schedule Released

February 1st, 2008

IBAF has released the 2008 Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament Schedule, eight teams participated and top three teams qualify for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The Game is played at Taichung, Taiwan on March 7-14, 2008.

Home Away Time
March 7
South Africa vs. Korea 12:30
Mexico vs. Canada 12:30
Chinese Taipei vs. Spain 19:00
Germany vs. Australia 18:30
March 8
Canada vs. South Africa 12:30
Mexico vs. Chinese Taipei 12:30
Korea vs. Australia 18:30
Spain vs. Germany 18:30
March 9
Germany vs. Chinese Taipei 12:30
Australia vs. Canada 12:30
South Africa vs. Spain 18:30
Korea vs. Mexico 18:30
March 10
Germany vs. South Africa 12:30
Spain vs. Korea 12:30
Chinese Taipei vs. Canada 18:30
Australia vs. Mexico 18:30
March 12
Korea vs. Germany 12:30
Canada vs. Spain 12:30
Mexico vs. South Africa 18:30
Chinese Taipei vs. Australia 18:30
March 13
Australia vs. Spain 12:30
Germany vs. Mexico 12:30
Canada vs. Korea 18:30
South Africa vs. Chinese Taipei 18:30
March 14
Spain vs. Mexico 12:30
South Africa vs. Australia 12:30
Chinese Taipei vs. Korea 18:30
Canada vs. Germany 18:30

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