Archive | Asia

A Trip to Seoul as a Member of the Media

The first two weekends of September will be ones I won’t long forget. I had the opportunity to go to Seoul and watch the 18U World Baseball Championships. Not only did I get to watch, but I was a member of the press. Through my other website, BaseballdeWorld.com, I was able to secure a press credential.

Sadly due to the lack of the ability to take vacation, I was only able to go for the weekend action. That being said, I had an amazing time.

I love writing about baseball, talking baseball, and generally anything baseball related. While at the games I sat in the media room where I was armed with my laptop writing away about the action on the field for my site. It was a great experience and one I’d love to relive. I always wondered what it was like to be a sports journalist, and while I didn’t have the deadlines and stress that I am sure comes with the job, I enjoyed my time.

For a couple of the games, I took to the stands to watch the action with my friend Kihoon who lives in Seoul. That was a lot of fun watching some great games and getting to talk a little baseball.

However, the best part of the whole deal was getting to see the USA win a gold medal in baseball. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of great sporting events, including the world championships in track and field where I saw multiple American gold medals and some world records broken. But the biggest thrill for me personally was watching the USA win a gold medal in my favorite sport.

I enjoyed being a part of the media for a few days, even if a lot of people might look down on bloggers. I enjoyed writing about the games and wish I could do more of it. Being at the game and getting a feeling for the action and writing about it is so much better than watching it on TV or reading box scores to write about a games. If I got paid for it, I think I would be in heaven.

I don’t know where I’ll be next year, but no matter where I’ll be I’ll be writing about baseball even if its only for my site.

I love this game!

You can see a short video I made of the championship game as the US won the gold medal on my YouTube page.

Posted in Asia, Junior Baseball, Travel, Videos0 Comments

Interview – Chicago Cubs Scout Aaron Tassano

Several weeks ago, I went up to the Seoul area to check out one of the bigger high school baseball tournaments in the country.  The Phoenix Flag Tournament is held every year in Suwon, South Korea.  Teams from all over the country come to play and it made for some exciting baseball.

While I was there I ran into the scout for the Chicago Cubs, Aaron Tassano.  I chatted him up between games when he wasn’t hard at work, and later he was kind enough to answer some questions.  Aaron has written for many publications across the internet, and his own site the East Windup Chronicle.  Even though his busy scouting schedule does not allow him to post on his blog as much anymore, there is still some great information here on international baseball.  Without further delay…..

What originally brought you to Korea?

I was working on a master’s degree in Educational Training through a University back home. Part of the program included taking some classes abroad.

Before you started scouting, what was your baseball background?

I played up into junior college. After I graduated I worked at a newspaper for five years and did some sports writing, but mostly entertainment. But I’ve come to find that knowing how to write and communicate well is very useful in scouting. Mostly though I come to baseball via simulation games, which I played endlessly as a child, and then fantasy baseball, which I got more into once I moved to Korea. Sounds kind of goofy, but that sort of thing provides a good baseball background…even for scouting.

I have read teams send a lot of their scouts to a yearly scout school in Arizona.  Did you have any formal training before starting work?

I’ve gone to the states a couple times, which has been part of my training, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time with my bosses. It’s a constant learning process, so I think I’ll still be training for years down the road.

Do you have any recommendations for people like myself who like to see new stadiums on places that need not be missed?

Hm. Well, the stadium in Incheon is fantastic. I’ve heard it compared to a very good minor league stadium in the states, but I think that sells it short. SK has built a culture around it’s stadium that’s only rivaled (and bettered) by that in Busan. They really know what they’re doing up in Incheon. I also like the stadium in Daejon for some reason. It’s kind of what I imagine some of the old pre-70s multi-purpose stadiums in MLB to be like. I’m talking something like Ebbets Field. Jeju has a couple old stadiums that are almost deserted, but are still used for high school and college winter camps. Like most things in Jeju, once Koreans got passports in the late 80s, there became little reason to keep things up to date because the place is no longer the edge of the Earth. I was walking around Jeju once and came across an old croquet mega-complex. I’m sure families used to make an evening out of it. Now it’s like an abandoned warehouse, probably filled with rats and unused squid wrap sheets.

What is the off-season like for a scout? Or is there an off-season?

I’ve been doing this a short time, but off-season is kind of a drag. I get antsy and start looking forward to games in 40 degree weather in February. Outside of games I do a lot of report writing and film editing. Then there are phone calls…talking to agents, coaches and other scouts. But off-season in Korea is basically the week of Christmas and New Year’s.

Do you see scouts in Korea from leagues other than the MLB or KBO? Places like Japan, Taiwan, or Australia?

A lot of MLB teams send in scouts in varying numbers. A few teams have people here on the ground in Korea, a few have someone that lives in Taiwan that also covers Korea. A couple live in Japan. Some teams don’t send anyone to Korea. The KBO scouts are here every game, every tournament, every inning. Some of them are good guys, others I, um, don’t know very well.

Again I would like to thank Aaron for taking the time to answer my questions.

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Posted in Asia, Interviews, KBO, MLB1 Comment

Baseball Around the World

Interested in what goes on in baseball leagues around the world?  Then I have a site for you to check out.

Baseball de World

This site follows leagues from all over the world like Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and much more.  They even follow what goes on in the United States.

Check it out and bookmark it because I know you will be back.  It’s an interesting site that provides insights to baseball around the world.

Follow The Baseball Journeyman on Twitter or Facebook.  And don’t forget to join our RSS feed for all the latest information.

Posted in Asia, KBO, MLB1 Comment

High School Baseball in Korea

I had the opportunity to see a few games this weekend in the Daebung Flag Championship here in Daegu.  It was an interesting experience to take in high school baseball in Korea for the first time.  So I thought I would share my observations from the games.

I was able to take in the quarterfinals and semifinals, so I got to see some good baseball.  The first thing that stood out to me was how fundamentally sound they were.  Sure there were errors, but overall they were very sound defensively for this age group.  They did the little things quite well: pitcher covering first, hitting cut-off men, and always knowing where to throw the ball in a given situation.   Granted these teams were the better ones in the tournament, but I was still impressed.

The pitching was solid.  Most threw between 110 to 125 kph (68-77 mph).  One pitcher late in the day Saturday got it up to 137 kph (about 85 mph), but the majority of them threw in the mid to high 70s.  There were also a lot of sidearmers pitching.  Each team seemed to have a few of them.  I was also impressed with the depth of pitching.  I didn’t see a drop off until late Saturday.  By this time each team had played 4-5 games.  That takes a lot of depth to play that many games over the course of 4 days.

The hitters were good as well, and they hit with wooden bats.  I don’t know if this is what they use during non-tournament games, but I would assume so.  They hit well with them, so I know this wasn’t something completely new to them.

The one thing that bothered me about the hitters was the body armor most of them wore.  I am not a big fan of this at any level.  There were several hit batters that was clearly due to the fact they had on the elbow pad.  I don’t like the fact the hitter isn’t afraid to get hit.  That’s fine if he isn’t wearing any padding, but when he is I don’t like it.  Getting hit is part of the game, and so is the inside pitch which is far less effective when the hitter leans in with his elbow pad to take first base.

There were a lot of triples.  The outfield played pretty shallow.  I assume due to the use of wooden bats.  This did allow them to take away what would normally be hits, but when someone would put one in the gap it turned into a triple because they could not cut it off.

The managers get away with murder and aren’t tossed.  I don’t know if it has to do with how much they respect their elders here, but if you did half of what some of these guys did back home, you would be tossed so quick you wouldn’t know what hit you.  I found it interesting too at how they would argue sometimes.  One coach made a point to pull his team off the field when he was arguing a call.  That was something I had never seen before.

There is a lot of respect for the other team and umpires shown by the players.  Before their first at bat, players would take off their helmet and bow to the home plate umpire.  The fielders would also do the same in the first inning to the umpires in the field.  Korean culture has a lot to do with respect for those older than you which is good.  After the games, the two teams would line up facing one another, then bow and say something.  They would then cross each others lines and bow to the opposing teams dugout.  The winning team would then turn and face the stands and bow to their fans.

Before the 6th inning starts, there is a break.  It usually lasts about 10 minutes.  Most teams would just rest in the dugout while the umpires went underneath the stands for a breather.  I don’t think I would like this if I am playing.  Especially if you have momentum.  I can’t think of a better momentum killer than stopping the game like this.

One of the funnier things I saw was in the stands.  Sure the fans that were there, and there weren’t many, really got into the game by cheering like they do at any event, but the thing that really got me smiling were the foul balls.  Back home you would seen any small child running after a foul ball and fighting over them.  Here it is the same except it isn’t the kids running after them.  It’s grown men.  I saw men jumping over rows to get balls, running down balls that went down the concourse, and 3 or 4 men almost diving for a ball in the stands trying to come up with a souvenir.

Over all I was quite pleased with my trip.  I am a little disappointed I can’t watch the final today, but it is raining continuously.  I am sure it will be played tomorrow instead but I have to work.  I’ll keep an eye on the KBA website to see who wins.  Both are hometown teams from Daegu.

Next up I am hoping to make a trip to see some college ball in a tournament starting next weekend.  It runs for over a week so I have 2 weekends to try and take in a game.

Posted in Asia, Junior Baseball0 Comments

Daebung Flag High School Tournament

I was really excited to see some high school baseball this weekend, and I was not disappointed.  Since 1979, the Daebung Flag Championship has been played in Daegu.  It is a 22 team tournament that is held every year and played at the home of the KBO’s Samsung Lions.

I decided to take off on Friday to go check out the action in the 32nd annual tournament.  I was quickly glad I made the trip.

I arrived about noon on Friday and caught the end of the first quarterfinal game.  And what is the first thing I see, a triple play.  It was the first one I have ever seen in person.  The situation was runners at 1st and 2nd.  The batter hits a hard line drive to center field, but the runners were running so it was an easy triple play.  I wound up watching the last few innings of this game, then I got ready for the 2nd game of the day.

Game 2 of the day was quite a treat.  Both teams were playing well.  The pitching was quite good, in fact I think they might have been throwing their aces.  The visiting team jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first half inning.  The home team responded in the bottom of the inning with a run of its own.

Most of the game was a pitching duel.  The visiting team starter went 8 innings gave up 1 run, 3 hits, and only walked one.  The most surprising thing was he was relieved after the 7th inning and put into right field.  However, his relief gave up 2 straight triples.  So with the score 3-2, not outs, and a runner at third, they brought him back into get out of the inning.  Amazingly he does just that.  On three ground balls, he gets out of the inning without allowing the tying run to score.  He dominated the entire game, but his counterparts put up quite the fight.

The starter for the home team pitched well, but he walked too many batters to get too far into the game.  He wound up going only 4 1/3 innings, but he pitched well.  It was the 5 walks that wound up doing him in.  After a few relievers, the team was out of quality pitching.  The last one in wound up giving up 4 runs in the top of the 9th, and they never threatened again.  The box score is below.

[ daebunggi High School Baseball Championship]
2010-07-09 12:50 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 R
WIN Gyeongbukgo 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 7
Inchanggo 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2

After that exciting game, I went for a walk to get some lunch.  I returned to see game 3 of the day which turned out to be quite entertaining.  Both teams were equally matched and errors would wind up costing one team the win.  But the thing that I will take away from this game was the manager of the winning team, Yusingo.

I will never understand why he wasn’t tossed for his antics.  It all started with a hit batter.  The batter did not try to get out of the way, and the ball barely grazed him.  I could hear it from my seat on top of the dugout.  He apparently did not think it hit him.  It was the strangest argument ever.  He comes out and doesn’t say a word.  The umpire explains to him what happened.  Then the coach, still not having said anything to the umpire, talks to his catcher.  He then explodes and starts yelling at the umpire.

Then it really got interesting.  As he is arguing, he waves for his team to leave the field, which they do.  The entire time the assistant coach is trying to calm him down and get him back in the dugout.  This goes on for a few minutes, and the team is off the field near the dugout.  The manager then feels it is important for him to leave.  I thought he got tossed.  He grabbed his bag and slowly left the field.  Now the team resumes play, but it doesn’t stop here.  A few batters later a pitching change is needed, and low and behold he comes out to make the change.  He had walked through the maze underneath the stands back to the dugout.  This is when I realized he hadn’t been tossed.  This is all in the bottom of the 8th.

This wasn’t even the first time he argued.  Right as I came back from lunch he was in the face of the same umpire.  He had to be restrained by his assistant coach the entire time.  And it wouldn’t be his last hurrah.

In the bottom of the 9th, he marches out and walks to talk to the official scorer or someone in the press box area behind home plate.  The home plate umpire has had enough now, and they begin to yell at each other.  This stops down play for another 5 minutes or so.  Why he was upset, I don’t know, but he was becoming a human rain delay.  It was all so strange, and more so because he never got thrown out of the game.  If anyone did half of what he did here in the states, he would be tossed so quick his head would spin.

His team would wind up winning due to errors by the infield of the opposing team, who I thought was the better overall team.  It was a great game to watch with all the drama.  I only wish I knew everything that was said and why he was arguing the third time.  Box score is below.

[ daebunggi High School Baseball Championship]
2010-07-09 15:40 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 R
WIN Yusingo 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 2 6
Jejugo 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 4

I also got to test out my new camera which I really love using.  Below are a few pictures.  If you enjoy these, check out more at my flickr page.


Posted in Asia, Junior Baseball0 Comments

Junior Worlds Baseball Coming to Korea

The International Baseball Federation announced that Seoul will host the 2012 World Junior Baseball Championship.  This will mark the first time South Korea has hosted the biannual event.

The tournament will be held from late August through early September for some 600 players aged 18 and under.  Around 20 countries will compete.

South Korea has won the championship a total of 5 times, including the last two, trailing only Cuba with 11 titles.

Posted in Asia, Junior Baseball0 Comments

Baseball in Taiwan

I am very excited about my upcoming trip to Taiwan to watch some baseball. My school closes for 3 days during the summer, so I have decided to take the long weekend and make the short flight to Taipei. I am really excited about getting out and seeing baseball in a new country.

Another thing that is really exciting me is the USA collegiate team will be playing games against Chinese Taipei.  This is a 4 game set as a warm up for the World University Baseball Championships set to go down in Japan in August.  I am really excited about seeing an international game.  I have never seen one, and seeing the USA on foreign soil will be a lot of fun.

After spending my first day in Taipei to see the USA play, the plan is to take a train down to Tainan City to see the Sinon Bulls take on the 7-Eleven Lions.  Then I will work my way back toward Taipei to see a few more games.  The league in Taiwan is known as the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

On Friday the Sinon Bulls are taking on the Brother Elephants in Hsinchu City.  Finally I will make my way back to Taipei on Saturday to see Sinon Bulls take on the Brother Elephants in Taipei City.  I am a little disappointed at seeing the same teams over and over, but travel wise this seems to be the best route to go.  On Sunday I will take a return flight back to SK.

If you are interested in learning more about baseball in Taiwan, I would suggest checking out Taiwan Baseball or the wiki page on the CPBL.

Taiwan

Posted in Asia, Taiwan0 Comments


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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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