Friday, July 25, 2008



Just a reminder to baseball fans that the 2008 IBAF World Junior AAA Championships are being played in Edmonton from today until August 3rd. I just got back from watching the Puerto Ricans defeat the Cubans 5-4, and it was an excellent ball game. Tickets are cheap, there are lots of games going on every day, and you'll get to see plenty of future Major Leaguers (there were at least 20 scouts in attendance at this morning's game). Past players in this tournament include JJ Hardy, Jeremy Bonderman, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Yuniesky Betancourt.

***For any wanting a good primer on Cuban baseball, check out this extraordinary Vanity Fair piece by Moneyball author Michael Lewis.

***Update*** Buck O'Neil finally gets the credit he deserves from the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Loved that article; read it a couple of weeks ago. The idea of a communist party official going down to the dugout and telling the manager what to do cracked me up.

As did Victor Mesa.

I can not believe I heard nothing about this until now......

I'm going down tomorrow to see if I can volunteer as I did last championship. Got into almost every game for free - worked as an usher (got to clean up after the fans - complete pigs) after each game then got promoted to drug testing...

That sounded interesting. Who knew my job would be to stare at their penis as they peed into the cup - to ensure they were not substituting "clean" urine?

The Aussies were extremely comfortable - took about a minute from start to finish. Some cultures took a few hours - they just couldn't go with someone watching them... With lots of time to kill, I got autographs from all "the chosen ones"... LOL

Having said that, it was absolutely impressive ball. The Australians got into a bat swinging brawl with the Cubans; the Koreans were aggressive on the bases sliding face first all the time.

Just printed off a volunteer form - will be sending it in tomorrow...

That's an interesting story to share with the internet public there Gord.

I actually did find all that interesting.

At the game today, as the Cubans were playing, there were four or five Cuban "coaches" in the stands. I couldn't stop thinking that their entire reason for being there was to prevent guys from defecting. Must be an interesting job.


In the 2000 games (before 9/11) we did have some Cuban defections. They just vanished then appeared in the U.S.

Guessing they hopped on private jets that were waiting in advance. Not sure how secure national security but it will be interesting defections occur this weak.

As far as the drug testing goes, it was a very simple system. All players knew in advance it was being done & how it would unfold.

A number (supposedly at random) was chosen for each team in the middle of the game then someone sent to sit in the stands behind the bench.

The volunteer watched the player to ensure they did not vanish (or switch uniforms). The second the game was over, the manager was approached & given the players number. The player was pulled aside & told to go for the drug test.

They were not allowed to move more than a few feet away from "their guard" and were brought to the room; given a cup then introduced to me "their new friend". Once they finished they were free to leave; the donation was sent to the drug testing center (have no idea where that was).

As far as the Cuban / Australian semi-brawl, I was with the Australian players the next day before their game. I mentioned I had heard there was trouble (to gauge their reaction). They were excited (almost happy) and responded that they had "dust ups" all the time in Australia.

But my favorite time was the finals; in the semi-finals, the Koreans had about 200 fans out to support them; in the finals, one whole side was Korean background.

They had drums; were chanting & singing - it was a complete party atmosphere. I walked to the other side to compare; the usual eating hot dogs, drinking pop (Deadsville).

So I spent the rest of the game with the Koreans..... LOL

Just phoned & left a message; if they don't need volunteers, I am definitely going to some games as a fan...

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At the game today, as the Cubans were playing, there were four or five Cuban "coaches" in the stands. I couldn't stop thinking that their entire reason for being there was to prevent guys from defecting.

I was talking to one of the mothers of an US player - she said two Cubans have already defected.....

After a 2 hour rain delay, the US / Netherlands game started. The US grabbed an early 15 - 0 lead then held back their runners as much as possible. I left at the 7th inning stretch when the score was 20 - 5...

I'm going back tomorrow for the US / Russia game...

It's too bad the papers are covering it so minimally. That's a story I'd like to read about (if it's true), two Cubans defecting in Edmonton.

And there you go. Two Cubans are missing.

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