Archive | July, 2011

Future Travel Plans

One of the reasons I moved to South Korea was to get out and travel and see more of the world. Before leaving the USA, I had only been across the boarder into Mexico once or twice. I have always been a huge fan of history and have wanted to see far off lands for many years. But I was like many other Americans in that I just didn’t travel abroad. Moving here I hope to change that.

So far in just over a year, I have not been anywhere but Korea. I had a trip planned last year to Japan that fell through because I couldn’t take my vacation. Right now I am looking at traveling to Taiwan in November for the Asia Series, but again I don’t know if I’ll be able to take vacation or not.

So to satisfy my urge to travel and see baseball, I have decided when my contract is up early next year I will travel for two months. It works out nicely that I will be off at the start of baseball season. I should be able to travel for the months of April and May. After which I will come back and work another year in Korea. Ideally I would have a job lined up before leaving, but that is some time away.

So where should I go?

I am leaning toward heading to Germany and the Czech Republic for the two months. This would satisfy two huge issues. I love baseball and history and both places are full of both. The German and Czech leagues should be kicking off by then, and I’ll be able to see some historic places I have wanted to see for quite awhile.

The idea is to work here a year, travel for two months to baseball playing countries, and then come back and work another year. I don’t know how long I can keep that up, but that is the plan for now. At some point I want to get my teaching certification and then hopefully teach history in an international school. If that works out, I can use my summer vacation time to travel and see baseball while still living abroad.

If I continue to teach English, I can travel to baseball playing nations year round. Europe and Asia in summer time and then in winter I can hit the Caribbean and Australia. It’s a great thing that many nations play the great game now and I want to see as many places as I can that play it.

Any thoughts on where I should go next year? I am leaning toward Germany and the Czech Republic but I am open to suggestions on where might be good places to go that time of year.

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A Look at the Braves Season

As we near the trading deadline, the Braves lead the wildcard race by 5 games and trail the Phillies by only 4 games.  Now if you would have told me that at the beginning of the year, I would have thought 1 of two things happened. First, the Phillies hall of fame caliber pitching staff got dealt a lot of injuries. Or a lot of Braves hitters were having career years. Yet neither has happened. So how are the Braves staying in the playoff race?

Pitching and the long ball.

The Braves pitching staff has been great. They are staying with the Phillies staff which isn’t that big of a shock in itself because the Braves have compiled a very nice staff. The team ERAs stack up at Philly 3.12 and Atlanta 3.28. Philly has racked up only 3 more shutouts 13 to 10, but they have quite a few more complete games (11 to 3). However, the Braves have more saves (34 to 27).

The Braves have a lot of young talent on the staff with Jair Jurrjens leading the way. Since coming off the DL, Jurrjens has gone 12-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 17 starts. That is better than Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay. Tommy Hanson is also turning in a nice season. In 19 starts, Hanson is 11-5 with a 3.06 ERA. Even Brandon Beachy is turning in some quality starts at 3-2 with an ERA of 3.75.

The old guard for the Braves hasn’t done as well as the youngsters but they are still throwing out some quality starts. Tim Hudson is 9-6 with an ERA of 3.39. The only “disappointment” might be Derek Lowe at 6-7 and an ERA of 4.37. He is the only starter with an ERA over 4.

And that is just the starters.

Craig Kimbrel is having a great season in the bullpen. He is 3-2 with 30 saves and an ERA of only 2.20. He is definitely a power pitcher having struck out 77 batters in 49 innings. Throw in Eric O’Flaherty (0.99 ERA) and Jonny Venters (1.37 ERA) with 19 and 21 holds respectively and you have a solid back end of the pen.

That is where the pitching staffs differ. While the Phillies might have the slight edge  in starting pitching, the Braves have the edge in the bullpen.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Braves may not be getting as many hits, but they are using the long ball to their advantage.

Philly and Atlanta are 7 and 8 in runs scored (415 to 408), but despite Philly having the big boppers in Ryan Howard (18 HRs), Raul Ibanez (13 HRs), and Chase Utley (4 HRs) the Braves have hit 25 more dingers.

Despite hitting under .200, Dan Uggla leads the Braves with 17 home runs. He is trailed by the only Braves starter hitting over .300 in Brian McCann at 16 home runs. But the way the Braves win games is by the whole team contributing. Freddie Freeman has 15 home runs in a great rookie year. Jason Heyward has 10 despite an injury plagued sophomore year. No one else on the team is in double figures, but many are lurking just behind 10. Chipper Jones (8), Eric Hinske (9), Martin Prado (9), and Alex Gonzalez (8) all have contributed to the long ball totals.

It’s truly been a team effort this year and that is how Bobby Cox set this team up to play for the past decade. Sure they have had their stars, but this year in particular it has been good pitching and timely hitting. You don’t go 58-41 hitting .238 unless you have solid pitching depth and get some timely hitting.

Will this translate into postseason success? Only time will tell. They have the pitching to shut anyone down for a short series, but like last year their main problem might be scoring runs when it counts. Last season they ran into the buzz saw that was the San Francisco Giants but who is to say that this year that buzz saw might not be them?

It will be an interesting week ahead. Will they do anything to help out the offense? There isn’t much time left to pull off a deal. The problem might be who is out there and what do they have to give up to get the help they need.

What are your thoughts on their season so far this year and their prospects for October?

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