Archive for the 'International Baseball' Category

IBAF fight for Baseball to Return to Olympic 2016

June 27th, 2008

During press conference with Cuban Media, IBAF President Havery Schiller talk about Baseball return to Olympic in 2016.

Havery Schiller trust that baseball will return to the Olympic Games.You can’t deny that Havery Schiller, president of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) is an optimistic person in assuring on more than one occasion that baseball will return to Olympic Games in the summer of 2016, after being excluded in London 2012.

Schiller, from the US, answered questions from sportswriters in Havana for around 45 minutes at a press conference held at the Latinoamericano baseball stadium where he once again thanked the Cuban authorities for their unlimited support for Olympic baseball.

“I have held very important and interesting talks [here] about the organization of the upcoming Beijing Games and the strategy to follow in the coming months towards a common desire, to see baseball back on the Olympic program after 2012. This is my second visit to Cuba [the first was in 1991 during the Pan American Games] and I am leaving pleased with the trip. I hope to return very soon.”

Asked about how the IBAF is going to resolve one of the main problems facing today’s baseball, the excessive length of the games, Schiller responded: “We have discussed the need to speed up the games with the umpires, especially during the competition in Beijing. In addition, a change in the rules is being studied in games beyond nine innings. When the game enters the 10th inning, the first two players in the lineup would be placed on first and second base and each team starts with one out. It’s a proposal that we have made to the eight countries that will participate in Beijing and that’s a step forward.”

Regarding the participants in the Olympics, Schiller said the United States will take players on the 40-player rosters from the Major League teams, but not those on the 25-man roster, something that could be resolved in the future. The other teams, including Cuba and Japan, will compete with their best players.

Ricardo Frascari, IBAF vice president, noted that next year’s World Cup will include qualifying rounds in Holland and Italy. He said the eight top teams in round robin play will then play the sudden death games, often considered unfair, before the semifinals and finals.

Other issues brought up at the press conference were the IBAF web site (which has a new special page for the Olympic Games, ready for live play-by-play transmission of the games and a greater quantity of statistics), the Second World Baseball Classic, a recognition to Latin America with the designation of two of the qualifying round venues, Mexico and San Juan, and a new acknowledgement to Cuba for its efforts to help nations with less development in the sport.

Schiller detailed the work being done in preparation for the International Olympic Committee General Assembly in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 2009, in which seven sports will defend their hopes to be included in the Olympic program.

“We are working hard to be the first to reach all our friends around the world, asking them to take the message of a sport with more than a hundred years of tradition and with more than a hundred countries that play it. We are optimistic of a return in 2016,” said Schiller.

So let’s hope his effort will be enough for Baseball in Olympic 2016.

Cuba Baseball Star to the world?

September 11th, 2006

From Joseph A. Reaves’ “CASTRO’S ISLAND OF ALL-STARS” on the Arizona Republic to Circles Robinson‘s “Drooling over Pirating Cuba’s Baseball Best” on Periódico 26, you can see different viewpoint of the Cuba Baseball Stars.

Drooling over Pirating Cuba’s Baseball Best
By Circles Robinson

The Olympic baseball qualifying tournament that concluded Tuesday in Havana was once again resurrecting the dream of US agents to get their hands on Cuba’s top players. The lust to drain the island of its athletes also extends to other fields such as science, medicine and musicians.
In an article in the Arizona Republic on Tuesday, Joseph A. Reaves writes: “The recent hospitalization of 80-year-old Cuban President Fidel Castro raised speculation about the future of the island nation’s most precious commodity: its baseball players.”

He then goes on to add: “If a regime change in Cuba brings an end to the blockade, baseball fans everywhere will benefit.”

The mentality that the rest of the world should be content with its talent playing for the big bucks in the United States warps the thinking of Reaves and so many reporters like him who see the US as the center of the world.

Then there’s the Bush administration that has drafted a book-thick plan with a secret appendix to overthrow the Cuban government and replace it with one designated by Washington.

If someday the US falls from its superpower status, a growing possibility due to its ethical decline, would the people in that country be ecstatic to see their best athletes bought by teams in Europe, Asia or Latin America?

Likewise, would US citizens be overjoyed and proud to see their best doctors, scientists and artists leave the country for greener pastures?

The answer is no and rightly so. Why, because they would benefit in no way, just as Cuba would lose out if its national baseball league was culled of its best players.

The Arizona Republic goes on to note that since 1936, Cuba has won the World Cup of baseball 25 times. Of the four Olympic Games since 1992 including baseball as an official sport, the gold medallist was Cuba in three, including the 2004 Athens Games.

The article adds that “part of the reason Cuba has excelled in international competition is because of the blockade,” imposed shortly after the island’s 1959 revolution.

It’s outrageous to make such a claim when the opposite is true. Cuba, an island nation of 11.2 million people, has excelled in some fields including sports, biotechnology and medicine because, despite the blockade, it managed to make long term investments in several areas to socially and economically develop the country under the siege imposed by 10 US administrations.

The Republic reporter, like many other mainstream journalists, has eaten the bait and the rod as well that says Cubans are just waiting for Fidel to pass on so that they can bend down and ask the White House to save them.

Quoting a few millionaires who left Cuba for the big bucks with the help of US agents is a far cry from determining a nation’s interests. The American Dream of someone from a poor upbringing being able to buy 10 luxury cars and live in a huge mansion is a sick way to judge what’s best for a country.

While you have to wade through the muck, the article, to its credit, does quote one of the many Cuban baseball greats“third baseman Omar Linares” who turned down the millions on several occasions.

It may seem strange to many in the West, where individual wealth is often held as a human’s greatest possible achievement, that Linares, like so many other talented Cubans, sees life in a different light.

International players have improved baseball

March 27th, 2006

Baseball is indeed to become more and more international and globalization, lots of players in MLB and in Olympics are not born in America. For a sport which wants to be more and more popular, this is necessary and very important.

Below is what Bill Clark of Columbia Daily Tribune said.

When Cuba lost to Japan 10-6 last week in the final game of the World Baseball Classic, U.S. fans were reminded once again that baseball is indeed a world classic.

Two years ago, the United States failed to qualify for the chance to defend its Olympic baseball title, losing to Mexico in the semifinals of the Western Hemisphere qualifying tournament.

Welcome to reality!

This time around, everyone used major league players – at least major leaguers who chose to represent their countries. The United States lost a number of multi-millionaire crybabies but still had the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and an all-star pitching staff. Many of the remaining 16 nations had no major leaguers, including Cuba. Japan had only one big leaguer – Ichiro Suzuki. The Americans were the heavy favorite. Guess which team eliminated them two weeks ago. That’s right – Mexico.

The United States lost to Korea in the first game of the second round pool, then beat Japan on a disputed call and needed only to beat winless Mexico to move to the semifinals. It didn’t happen. So much for millionaires.

Baseball fans and U.S. baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, no doubt, will blame the defectors for the loss. The reality is summed up in a single word – globalization.

Ol’ Clark can speak to the issue of globalization in baseball from a position up close and personal. For almost a dozen years, my job was to find and sign the best non-U.S. players in the world. My work place became the globe.

In 1992, the Atlanta Braves watched the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays work the international market and strike it rich. Ol’ Clark had 25 years of scouting experience in the Midwest and had dabbled in Canada, Central America and the Dutch Antilles.

I became the Braves’ first international director and went about the task of spending Ted Turner’s CNN bankroll. The Braves had a scouting and development program in the Dominican Republic, but almost none elsewhere. It had been a decade since any Dominican player had come through the system to the major leagues.

My job eventually carried me to 50 countries; I learned to grunt and point in a dozen languages. I read a lot about two role models.

Howie Haak had become a legendary scout in the 1950s after the color line was broken. Scouting for Pittsburgh, he worked Latin America, signing Roberto Clemente from Puerto Rico, Manny Sanquillen from Panama and many others who found their way to the major leagues. Howie knew six words in Spanish: Tire duro, corre rapido, comida, cerveza – throw hard, run fast, dinner, beer. And he had a checkbook.

In earlier years, Papa Joe Cambria had worked Cuba, signing players for Clark Griffith and the Washington Senators. Jackie Robinson was allegedly the first black player in the U.S. major leagues in the 20th century. Some of Cambria’s players had more color than a deep sun tan. Who cared? They could play and worked cheap – a requisite for the old Senators.

Even 75 years ago, the globalization of baseball was under way. Ossie Virgil Sr. became the first Dominican to play in the majors half a century ago. Today, 20 percent of the major league rosters are Dominican.

If it weren’t for work visa limitations, no more than 25 percent of major league rosters would be U.S.-born. The Olympic Games and the World Baseball Classic prove my point. Non-Americans fill 30 percent of major league rosters, and the number is growing each year.

Nowhere in labor is the U.S. worker better protected than in professional baseball. Marginal American players get a chance to fill rosters while internationals with more ability never make it to the United States or lose a chance to remain because of visa limitations.

Any noncitizen must have a work visa to play professional baseball in the United States. Immigration officials issue around 1,100 work visas to the major leagues, a small percentage of the 66,000 used primarily by the agriculture and construction industries. With 30 organizations sharing in the limited visa pool, a club can expect between 35 and 40 visas annually.

Most clubs will have as many as 100 international players under contract. They play in rookie leagues in the Dominican, Venezuela, Mexico and Australia. Fewer than half will reach the United States.

Players in those rookie leagues have three years, by major league rule, to advance to the United States. At the end of three years, a player must either receive a visa or be released. International players can sign and play at 16. Thus, far too many still-maturing 18- and 19-year-olds are released and sent back to the cane fields because there is no place for them on the U.S. visa list.

There are some breaks. Canadians are not included in the visa count, but Mexicans are. So much for NAFTA. A player on the major league, 40-man roster is considered a special talent and is no longer replacing an American laborer, thus his visa is not counted among the 35 to 40.

In a free-trade market, if visas were not required, the work ethic and love of the game would allow the alien to move and would send a huge number of gringos home.

Being an international director able to wheel and deal without the restrictions of the baseball draft puts a guy at odds with his scouting peers in the United States. You wondered why U.S. players were signed with large bonuses when they would have been marginal at best in the Dominican or Venezuela or Korea or Mexico. In those places, kids play on bare fields with discarded equipment and mushy baseballs, with no formal leagues and usually no formal coaching. They develop skills far beyond Americans’ because they have no cars, they walk or run everywhere, they throw a ball a thousand times for every dozen throws an American makes. Poverty doesn’t affect them because they don’t know they’re poor; they love the game. I love the international discipline and work ethic.

I’m happy I was a major role player in the globalization of baseball. I’m happy I was able to bring dozens of players from around the world to make Americans play harder. I just wish there had been more visas.

It makes a guy feel good to know he found 15-year-old Andruw Jones in Curacao and started him on a career path that led to the major league home-run title in 2005 and that a dozen other internationals made it to the show because he took a chance on them.

As I watched Japan and Cuba, I felt no remorse for the United States. I knew the Cuban coaching staff and pulled for the Cubans to win. They love the game and play for virtually nothing. I had seen Daisuke Matsuzaka as a 17-year-old in Osaka and called him the world’s best teenage pitcher. He had more female followers than Frank Sinatra in the 1940s. He chose to remain in Japan despite America’s millions.

More power to those who choose the thrill of the grass over the greed of the green.

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