Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Grant Desme Retires…

Yeah, you haven’t seen a post from any of us for a good three weeks. But that’s just because we’re living in the slow time for minor league baseball. The 6 year free agents of note have all been picked up.

But then came news from top propsect and one of the BLB Player of the Year finalists. Grant Desme.

Desme, seen here in his come hither pose, was having himself a tremendous 2009. The only man to hit 30-30, the Arizona Fall league MVP, an open Center Field for him for when he’s proven major league ready. The man seemed like he was on the path for millions of dollars.

But? Today Desme announced that he had a higher calling. He has left the Athletics organization to join the priesthood. I know I’ve made a joke on my twitter feed in regards to it. But obviously, it’s a deeply personal decision that was made here. Desme had a real shot at going somewhere with this whole baseball thing, But he let that go.

It’s not exactly the conformists way, but considering the rightward kant of sports in general? It’s actually kind of impressive. Do you think someone like a Jeff Suppan would leave the potential millions on the table so he can share his faith with the world? No.

So you know what? I salute Grant Desme. Fortune favors the bold, and you sir, are one bold lemon farmer.

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Hello, Kitty: Japanese Teen Girl to Pitch in Arizona

I saw this on the Facebook feed of Ballpark Digest: the Yuma Scorpions of the Arizona Winter League have signed Japan’s first professional female baseball player to sling a few stateside.

Eri Yoshida is a 17-year-old sidearm pitcher with a knuckleball so slow it makes clocks run backward. She’s 5’1″ and Tim Wakefield (natch) is her hero.

“We are really looking forward to having Eri in the league and as a member of the Yuma Scorpions in the upcoming AWL,” said Yuma Scorpions manager Mike Marshall. “It’s an intense month of baseball, a great showcase, and an exceptional opportunity for any player to improve their game and move to the next level. Having played in Japan with Nippon Ham Fighters in the 1990s, I’m thrilled to be able to return the wonderful hospitality that I received and help Eri further her dream.”

[Our Sports Central]

Overseas branding opportunity for Eri? Publicity stunt for the Scorpions? Legitimate interest? Maybe a little bit of all three. But there’s something enjoyable about watching this guy whiff as this ball drifts across the plate like a seed from a cottonwood tree. I also like how she makes a hand motion in her follow-through that actually looks like she’s pulling a string.

Video courtesy of FanDome

That, and I always get a really trippy feeling when I see Japanese mascots. It’s a natural narcotic.

Looking for a Baseball Vacation? Try the Arizona Fall League.

arizona_fall_league.gifThe Arizona Fall League is one of the best-kept secrets in baseball.  It’s a six-team instructional league that plays in… um… oh yeah, Arizona!  It allows some of the top prospects the chance to play baseball into October, in the nice weather and relaxed atmosphere of cities like Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, and Peoria.  Games are dirt cheap, and graduates of the AFL are frequently All-Star selections when they make the Show.  So why not catch them on the way up?

MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo loves the AFL, and he detailed the charms of the league in an article on the site:

“Obviously, the weather is so ideal and I don’t know if you ever get too many chances to see that many players of that caliber on the field at the same time,” said Pirates prospect Neil Walker, who should know considering he played in the league in 2005 and 2006. “I loved going out there. I was hoping to go out there again. Living out there for a month and a half, it’s a nice getaway.”

That’s what baffles me. Who wouldn’t want an AFL getaway? Usually the hardcore baseball fan ferrets out all the cool things to do, hidden diamonds and obvious stops. Yes, Spring Training tends to be the time baseball fans make trips for terrific access and good weather. And, truth be told, you won’t see the Vladimir Guerreros of today if you go to Arizona now like you would if you went in March. But you may see the Vladdy, or Albert (he’s an AFL alum, by the way) of tomorrow.

And it’s dirt cheap. For a family pass — that’s for up to six family members — it’s only $105 for the entire six-week season. Are you single? Only $75 gets you to as many AFL games as you can handle for the season (hurry, though, the season pass is on sale only until Oct. 16).

[MLB.com]

I’m becoming more and more convinced that an enterprising baseball fan could cobble together a schedule that would allow him or her to remain immersed in the game nearly year-round.  With the AFL finishing up in early November, and NCAA ball cranking up in early February, the mega-fan really need only take a short break to spend holidays with the family before soldiering on.

And, even while you’re gorging on turkey at the grown-ups’ table, Bus League Baseball will still be here to keep you informed.

Chinese National Team to Play in Arizona Fall League

chinabaseball.jpgHere’s a thought that never even occurred to me – If China is hosting the 2008 Olympics, do they have to compete in every sport? Whether they have to or not, apparently they want to. And one of the sports they’re not so good at is baseball. So, apparently, we’re helping them out a bit, by letting their team barnstorm and train a little bit in the U.S. Specifically, the Arizona Fall League.

The Chinese National Team, hosted by Major League Baseball, begins a 16-game schedule of Instructional League games against Minor League players on Tuesday, in preparation for the six contests in the AFL. This trip will mark Team China’s fourth stint in Instructional League. Former Major League manager Jim Lefebvre and pitching coach Bruce Hurst lead the Chinese team on the field. Team China is training at the complex of the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona.

[The Biz of Baseball]

Apparently Barry Larkin will be providing some coaching assistance as well.  I know the U.S. and China have some issues to work out between us, and China has a horrible human rights record, but a big part of me still likes to hear about these kinds of things.  Because the more that Chinese citizens find out what we’re all about, the more likely there is to be a change some day.

Plus, there has to be some seriously goofy baseball going on.