UK’s Olympic baseball dream ends before Qualifier start

March 7th, 2008

Although United Kingdom is capable to attend the IBAF Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but they won’t go to Taiwan due to the fund short issue and will not have a change to go to Wukesong Stadium of Beijing during Olympics.

British Baseball has called UK Sport short-sighted after being forced to pull out of a final Olympic qualifying tournament. Team GB have been unable to raise the £40,000 needed to fund the trip to the competition in Taiwan and UK Sport turned down a late request to help out.

Spokesman Bob Fromer told BBC Sport: “UK Sport are being short-sighted – I am not at all happy with them.” UK Sport’s Matt Crawcour conceded: “We sometimes have tough calls to make.”

The British baseball team was funded by UK Sport until 2005, the same year the sport was dropped by the International Olympic Committee for the 2012 Games and beyond. The British Olympic Association stepped in and acquired an Olympic solidarity grant of $100,000 (£50,000) from the IOC which funded the team through 2006 and 2007.

“That money was used to play in the 2007 European Championships, where we finished second,” said Fromer. “And that result meant we qualified for the final Olympic qualifying tournament, along with seven other teams, which starts this week, but it also used up the rest of our funds. The BOA were sympathetic and tried to arrange another solidarity grant, but the IOC said no.”

“And UK Sport turned us down in December, for which they received criticism from (Shadow Sports Minister) Hugh Robertson, who raised a question in parliament about the £30,000 UK Sport spent sending delegates to a conference on sporting legacy in Barbados.”

“In January, we told the International Baseball Federation that we didn’t have the money to be able to attend the event, and they spent a few weeks trying to help, but ultimately they couldn’t and we had no option but to pull out.”

“The tournament takes place during spring training for the American baseball teams and we have a few players trying to make it onto their teams, so they would have found it difficult to be released to play in Taiwan,” Fromer said that it would have been a tough ask for Britain to qualify for the Games. “But then, the same goes for teams like Spain and Germany.”

Britain’s place in the tournament has been taken by Germany, who join Mexico, Canada, Spain, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and South Africa in the round-robin event to decide who goes to Beijing.

“It’s very sad,” added Fromer. “I don’t agree with UK Sport’s policy. They are giving more and more money to fewer sports and that is being too narrow, but unless baseball gets back into the Olympic picture the future looks bleak.”

Crawcour defended UK Sport’s stance, saying: “Baseball falling out of the 2012 Olympics in London colored our thinking. If a sport is on the program for 2012 there would be incentive for us to invest, but baseball isn’t – it’s effectively a one-off event for 2008. “It’s all about value for money – we’d love to fund every athlete and sport but we don’t have a bottomless pit.”

There is some good news for British baseball – the second-placed finish at the European Championships secured the team a spot at the 2009 World Championships. The International Baseball Federation will foot the bill for most of the costs incurred going to the tournament.

But Fromer added: “Beyond the event, we will have no external funding, which means we will have to field a team entirely made up of home-based players. That means we will not be as strong internationally.”

Meanwhile, the GB team will play a friendly match against a team of international cricketers at Somerset’s ground in Taunton. Somerset and England batsman Marcus Trescothick came up with the idea for the game, which will form part of his benefit year.

The seven-inning contest will take place on Saturday, 4 October 2008, and feature Kevin Pietersen, Simon Jones, Ashley Giles, Ian Botham, Alec Stewart and Mike Atherton on the cricketers’ side. On the following day, the British Baseball Federation will be running a day-long youth clinic with instruction from GB players and coaches.

Dan King of Daily Mail also mention that “Beijing hopefuls are struck out.”,

Even UK Sport expressed their regret at not being able to support the baseball team, but claimed that because it will no longer be an Olympic sport after Beijing and the team were unlikely to win a medal in China, resources would be better spent elsewhere.

A spokesman added that the conference cash came from another budget. It is, of course, also very pleasant in Barbados at this time of year.

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:
Gerónimo Gil, Miguel Ojeda
Jesús Cota, Roberto Saucedo, Carlos A. Gastélum, Carlos Valencia, José Luis Sandoval, Heber Gomez, Agustín Murillo
Luís Alfonso García, Karim García (train in Japan and will report to the team in Taiwan), Iván Terrazas, Cristian Presichi, Luís Mauricio Suárez
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
José Tolentino
Adulfo Camacho, Marco Antonio Guzmán, Teodoro Higuera, Armando Reynoso
Jorge Fajardo
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

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

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

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

Canada Qualifier team faces problem

January 13th, 2008

Due to the Game timing, Canada Baseball Final Qualification team faces lots of problem to piece together a team, and no one want to face the dilemma of choose team or country, according to Canadain Press.

And, Adam Stern, Stubby Clapp, Steve Green, Chris Begg, T.J. Burton, Jonathan Lockwood, Mike Saunders, Matt Rogelstad, Nick Weglarz Chris Robinson and Ryan Radmanovich got the OK from team to play but infielder Pete Orr, Danny Klassen did not.

TORONTO — Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis and Russell Martin have each faced the dilemma of choosing between team and country and offer lots of sympathy to their fellow Canadians who will soon be forced to make that same decision.

Baseball Canada is struggling to piece together a team for the final Olympic qualifier this March because the tournament’s timing coincides with big-league spring training. Anyone not on a major-league roster is eligible to play, meaning lots of players trying to impress their teams can’t afford to leave camp to wear the Maple Leaf.

Morneau and Francis faced a similar situation before the 2004 Olympics and ultimately missed out on the Athens Games when their teams called them to up the majors. Martin skipped the 2006 World Baseball Classic because he wanted to impress a new coaching staff with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All three, now established big-league stars, say it’s almost a no-win situation to be in.

“It’s like either way you choose, nothing good can come of it almost,” Francis, the Colorado Rockies ace left-hander from North Delta, B.C., said Saturday at Baseball Canada’s annual awards banquet. “You want to be in both places at the same time. The reason you play baseball is to try and get to the big-leagues and it’s a tough choice.

“You’ve got to think about everything, making a living, your dream of playing for your country and your dream of playing in the big-leagues. I went through it and I don’t envy someone who has to go through it.”

Martin, the all-star catcher from Chelsea, Que., agreed.

“If you go to represent your country you’re going to be happy but if you don’t end up making it (to the big-leagues) you don’t want to say, `Oh, it’s because they didn’t get a good look at me and stuff,”‘ he said. “It’s a dilemma, it’s a tough decision and if you go on one side, you’re going to get yelled at and if you go on the other, you’re going to get yelled at by people.”

Morneau, the Minnesota Twins first baseman and 2006 AL MVP from New Westminster, B.C., called it a very tough situation to be in.

“If you’re not there (at spring training) for them to see you, how are you going to make the team?” said Morneau. “For each person, it’s different. You’ve got to do what’s best for you but at the same time you get only so many chances to play for your country, especially since this is the last Olympics with baseball in it.”

The coming qualifier, which will be played in Taiwan with three berths to the Beijing Games up for grabs, was a hot topic of discussion at Baseball Canada’s annual fundraiser.

Outfielder Adam Stern of Port Stanley, Ont., has received permission from the Baltimore Orioles to suit up for Canada while infielder Pete Orr of Richmond Hill, Ont., had to pull the plug on the qualifier because he’s trying to win a job with the Washington Nationals.

National team stalwart Stubby Clapp, now the hitting coach for Lexington, Houston’s single-A affiliate, got the OK from the Astros to play but infielder Danny Klassen of Leamington, Ont., did not.

“We as Canadians are very proud, we’re loyal to our country, loyal to our program and that’s where the heartstrings come in,” said Clapp. “It’s tough for us to have to turn down representing our country, it hurts deep.

“You’ve got to remember (the big-league teams) are the ones that sign your paycheque and they’re the ones who give you an opportunity to be financially set and make a lot of money playing the game you love. There’s no pressure from us, Team Canada will always be there for our people.”

Orr, a veteran of the 2004 Olympic team, is clearly torn up over having to pass up the chance to play for Canada again. He called the timing of the tournament “terrible.”

“I guess you kind of have to put your professional, your family and your career ahead of the chance of a lifetime,” he said. “For me, I’ve got to fight for everything so I can’t really go to them and say, `Can I take off for three weeks during camp?’ As much as I’d like to, I just can’t do it.”

Stern, who had the game of his life for Canada in the 8-6 win over the United States at the 2006 World Baseball Classic, also criticized the timing of the event, which was set by the tournament hosts in Taiwan.

Taiwan and South Korea benefit greatly from staging it then, as it comes before the season starts in their professional leagues. Canada, Australia and Mexico are particularly hurt by the timing.
South Africa, England and Spain are also in the round-robin event.

“It’s kind of an unfair disadvantage but you know what, just go down there, beat them all and qualify,” said Stern. “It doesn’t matter who’s there. Just get it done. In the end there’s no excuses, you go out and you mash and you mash and you score and leave everything you got.”

There’s plenty riding on the tournament for Baseball Canada.

With baseball’s removal from the Olympic roster following the 2008 Games, the organization will lose much of its government funding. The cut will be less severe if Canada reaches the Olympics.

Director of national teams Greg Hamilton has been walking a tight-rope knowing the stress players go through making the decision. Gaining access from pitchers will be his biggest problem.

“To me, putting the players in that situation is real difficult because they dearly want to do both,” he said. “The pitching is a huge issue at that time of year.”

Steve Green, Chris Begg, T.J. Burton and Jonathan Lockwood are among the pitchers expected to suit up for Canada.

Youngsters like Mike Saunders, Matt Rogelstad, Nick Weglarz and Chris Robinson are expected to join veterans like Stern, Clapp and Ryan Radmanovich on the roster.

“Whoever set up the timing of this tournament definitely threw a wrench into things,” said Orr. “But the guys who do go are going to be good players, it’s not like they’re not going to have a good team.”

Notes(at): Major League Baseball gave Baseball Canada US$100,000 to sponsor the national team while the Toronto Blue Jays donated $15,000.

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