Posted by: fpi | October 29 08

Russia Final Stage results

The Russian Championship (Gruppa A) was set to finish with a Final Stage in September, however, some of the games were postponed due to bad weather conditions and thus the Championship concluded in Oktober. The Russian Champion for 2008 are MGPU, the team of the Moscow University.  

MGPU had a strong season and was able to adapt to the new schedule of the championship best, since most of their players are students at the University and did not have working engagements. Last year’s champion Balashikha Tornado had trouble getting their best players to the week games (Thursday and Friday) and thus had to settle for third place overall.

The suprising team for this season was Moskvich which brought back players that had gone to other teams in past years. Unfortunately they could not handle the tough schedule. After a good start to the season they lost many  games during the final months.

 

Date Day Time № Game Stadium Home Away Result
19.Sep Friday 16:00 01 MGU Tornado Patrioty 18-3
12:00 02 MGU Severne Zvezdy Moskvich 0-6
20.Sep Saturday 12:00 03 MGU Patrioty Severne Zvezdy 2-4
16:00 04 MGU MGPU Moskvich 10-2
21.Sep Sunday 12:00 05 MGU Tornado MGPU 3-5
16:00 06 MGU Moskvich Patrioty 17-2
22.Sep Monday 16:00 08 MGU Moskvich Patrioty 1-6
23.Sep Tuesday 12:00 09 MGU Severne Zvezdy Tornado 3-11
16:00 10 MGU Patrioty MGPU 0-20
24.Sep Wednesday 12:00 11 MGU Moskvich Severne Zvezdy 1-3
16:00 12 MGU Patrioty Tornado 0-20
25.Sep Thursday 12:00 13 MGU Moskvich MGPU 0-10
16:00 14 MGU Severne Zvezdy Patrioty 17-3
26.Sep Friday 12:00 15 MGU Patrioty Moskvich 0-20
16:00 16 MGU MGPU Tornado 5-9
27.Sep Saturday 12:00 17 MGU Severne Zvezdy MGPU 2-3
16:00 18 MGU Tornado Moskvich ppd
28.Sep Sunday 12:00 19 MGU MGPU Patrioty 20-0
16:00 20 MGU Tornado Severne Zvezdy 6-3
30.Sep Tuesday 16:00 07 MGU MGPU Severne Zvezdy 7-6

The final Standings are as follows:

Final Games Wins Losses Perc. Points Rank
MGPU 40 32 8 .800 72 1
Moskvich 39 25 14 .641 64 2
Tornado 39 23 16 .590 62 3
Severne Zvezdy 40 19 21 .475 59 4
Patrioty 40 0 40 .000 34 5
Posted by: fpi | September 20 08

Homeruns entscheiden die ersten Playoff Spiele

Die MOSQUITO Athletics befinden sich weiterhin auf Erfolgskurs, mit insgesamt fünf Homeruns schicken sie die Schwaz Tigers ins Tal der Hoffnung und kommen dem Finaleinzug zwei Schritte näher. Nur noch ein Sieg trennt die Oberösterreicher von ihrer ersten Teilnahme an einem ABL-Endspiel.

Das zweite Halbfinale bleibt spannend. In Kufstein entführen die Superfund Wanderers einen Sieg und verschaffen sich somit den kleinen aber feinen Vorteil für die Spiele in Wien kommendes Wochenende. Nun blickt Baseball-Österreich in den Osten: Kommenden Samstag starten die Rückspiele Superfund Wanderers vs. Kufstein Vikings und MOSQUITO Athletics vs. Schwaz Tigers.

Wanderers vs. Vikings: Vorteil Wien

Emilio Podreka gewinnt mit einem Homerun die zweite Begegnung und legt damit den Grundstein für einen Erfolg der Wiener. Im achten Inning segelt sein Schlag, wie von Thors Hammer getroffen, durch die dünne Bergluft und bringt zwei Punkte für eine 3-0 Führung die den Superfund Wanderers zum Sieg reicht.

Zuvor lief hingegen das erste Spiel ganz nach Plan für Werner Harrasser und seine Vikings, sie könnten sich letztendlich mit 7-3 durchsetzen. Wer ins Finale einzieht wird sich voraussichtlich erst im entscheidenden fünften Spiel herausstellen.

Nick DeForest, das Ahornblatt im Dress der Wanderers, gibt sich zuversichtlich über die Heimspiele am kommenden Wochende: „Wir hoffen darauf, unseren Heimvorteil gut ausspielen zu können, unser Feld ist erheblich größer als das in Kufstein und Todd Fairbrother sollte dadurch kein so großer Faktor sein.“

Ab und zu gibt es Kängurus doch auch in Österreich, der Australier Fairbrother verstärkt heuer die Kufsteiner und war mit insgesamt neun Homeruns einer der Schlüsselspieler für die Vikings. Sein Einsatz ist durch eine leichte Oberschenkelverletzung beschränkt, es wird sich zeigen ob die Vikings diesen Verlust verkraften können und wie gut die Wanderers ihren Heimvorteil ausspielen werden. Alles deutet auf ein spannendes Wochenende in Wien.

Athletics vs. Tigers: Matchball Attnang-Puchheim

Die Serie MOSQUITO Athletics gegen Schwaz Tigers entwickelt wie ein 100-Meter Lauf von Usain Bolt, locker und lässig können sich die Attnanger bereits umschauen und den Erfolg in ihren Beinen spüren. „Ich hoffe stark dass wir es dieses Wochenende packen. Unser Team ist sehr ausgeglichen“, meint Martin Rabengruber, der mit seiner Leistung trotz eines Homeruns nicht zur Gänze zufrieden ist, „Ich war nur 3 von 10 Mal ‚at Bat’ erfolgreich. Hut ab vor den Pitchern der Tigers, Franz Haisjackl war überhaupt so gut drauf wie noch nie.“ Umso mehr freut er sich für seine Teamkollegen. Arian Quirantes beförderte drei Bälle über den Zaun und beweiste erneut seine Bestform. Harald Pointner verbuchte den fünften Homerun und zeigte, dass die Athletics durch die Bank gefährlich sind.

Kommendes Wochenende haben sie drei Chancen, den Matchball vor eigenem Publikum zu verwerten und werden voraussichtlich gleich die erste Möglichkeit nutzen, denn Pitcher Walter Strasser ist seit 22 Mai ungeschlagen und gab am ersten Playoff-Wochenende in Schwaz den Ton an. Wunschgegner im Finale sind für Rabengruber die Kufstein Vikings, eine Begründung verrät er aber nicht, zunächst muss es erst mal ins Finale.

Baseball in Russia dying according to Dmitry Kiselev (middle). Photo Natali Gutovskaya M-SPORT

Baseball in Russia dying according to Dmitry Kiselev (middle). Photo Natali Gutovskaya M-SPORT

Dimitry Kiselev, vice-president of the Russian Baseball Federation, explained to Reuters that governmental funding for Baseball in Russia will be cut drastically. Because the Russian National Team wasn’t able to qualify for the Olympics and both Baseball and Softball are dropped from the competition after Beijing 2008 it seems unreasonable to keep a sport alive that has very few enthusiasts in a country that is dominated by fast-paced Sports such as soccer and ice-hockey.

Kiselev argues that being part of the Olympic program is very important to federal agencies such as Rossport (where Kiselev is employed) which oversees the development and financing of all sports in Russia: “I really fear that baseball will soon die as a sport in this country”, Kiselev told Reuters.

First days of Russian Baseball

Typically for Europe the first Baseball fields in Russia were converted soccer fields

Typically for Europe the first Baseball fields in Russia were converted soccer fields

After Baseball became an Olympic sport in 1992 Russia tried to construct a team that could compete by adapting athletes from sports that Russia was very good at. Hockey goalies were taught to block pitches in the dirt. Other sportsmen were grunting on the mound pushing themselves from the rubber rather than throwing a javelin.

(Jan Zelezny, Czech Republic, working out with an Atlanta Braves pitching coach)

Certainly the throwing and hitting motions of Baseball are far too complex to be mastered at an advanced age, and so it came that Russia had little success at first.

About 10 years into their program came the first international successes: In 1997 and 1999 Russia fought its way into the Semifinals of the European Championships and finished in 4th place both times.

Two years later they celebrated a sensational Semifinal victory over Italy. In a close game Rinat Makhmoutov took a no-hitter into the seventh Inning but was relieved after giving up a hit by Oleg Korneev. Oleg threw his fastball in the mid 90’s range with good accuracy, traits that impressed scouts enough to offer him a professional contract. He spent two years in the Seattle Mariners System following the 2001 European Championships.

Oleg Korneev (second from the right) played for Krasny Dyaboly (Red Devils) one of the first Moscow clubs

Second from the right is Leonid Korneev, player for Krasny D'iavoly (Red Devils) and father of Oleg.

Russian Baseball on a Global platform

These accomplishments put Russian Baseball on a World stage as they qualified for the 1998, 2001, and 2003 World Cups.

But the team didn’t develop enough to make an impact at the World Tournaments. Russia never qualified for the Olympics and this put Dimitry Kiselev in an unfortunate position. As a department head of Rossport he had to take his favorite sport out of the Spartakiad, a biannual Olympic-style youth competition.

The Russian Baseball program does not rely solely on the help of their government, however. Summer of 2007 Robert Protexter founder of Russian International Baseball organized a month long Tour of the United States during which the Russian National Team played against amateur, collegiate and professional teams, and visited traditional baseball sites. A walk-through of the Baseball Hall of Fame and catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park blessed the players with fond memories for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately the gruelling bus-trips and heat on the east-coast exhausted the team and Russia couldn’t duplicate their past successes at the European Championships in Barcelona a few weeks after their trip to the US.

During their US trip in 2007 team Russia stopped at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy russianbaseball.org

During their US trip in 2007 Team Russia stopped at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy russianbaseball.org

Gearing up for the World Cup 2009

Meanwhile Protexter tries to raise additional funds for future events and hopefully future successes. Russia has had great success in the youth competitions.

Two pitchers from last year’s Juniors team signed professional contracts with the Minnesota Twins.

If Major League teams heighten their interest and awareness of Russian players this might be another channel of income for the national programs.

Meanwhile Moscow is gearing up for the Baseball World Cup 2009. As one of the hosts Russia will qualify for the event despite their bad result in Spain 2007. If this high quality event strikes a chord with the Russian public federal agencies such as Rossport might reconsider their decisions and make funds available for further development of the sport. It would be sad to see Baseball leave the proud sportsnation as it has produced a number of great players, as well as a number of unforgettable memories for many of the people involved with the sport.

How bright is the outlook?

Moderate beginnings. The CCCP team is history, how will Russia develop in the future?

Moderate beginnings. The USSR team is history, how will Russia develop in the future?

It remains to see how much the cuts in capital will cripple the federation, considering the sport never had much funding to begin with this situation may force executives to look in new directions for money. In Dimitry Kiselev’s opinion the sport could have established itself if the soviet-system had stayed in power a little bit longer. In the opinion of others the soviet-system didn’t leave soon enough, and some say it never left at all. But it remains clear that new policies and attitudes in the country also bring new opportunities.

Ironically some of Russia’s biggest exporting brands, such as Stolichnaya (vodka), or Lukoil (oil), decorate the commercial banners of popular MLB Stadiums: Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, while Russian Baseball is struggling to get the least of sponsorship money.

The key to ad-revenue of course is exposure, and this can only be achieved with big sporting events that not only domestic crowds attend. Big venues that also attract spectators from abroad.

There are good reasons to think that a game like baseball is something Russians could relate to. A beloved past-time called lapta (ball) is a tradinational Russian game that is very similar to Baseball (played with stick and ball). Russia has love and appreciation for chess incomparable to most other countries. It has been home to great artists, poets, and intellectuals alike.

In Baseball there’s an art to pitching, the sound of an erupting crowd and a skilled commentator can exhibit poetry at times, and out-smarting the opposition with a keen intellect is one of the key attributes of the legendary players. Many managers speak of the game as being a chess-match, where favorable match-ups are decisive to the outcome.

With a little luck and a Major League marketing-concept the Russian public may discover that Baseball showcases some of those attributes that they dearly love and embrace as a big part of their own culture. And maybe Dimitry Kiselev will again have something to cheer about.

Rough conditions - something Russian are used to.

Rough conditions - something Russian are used to.

Posted by: fpi | July 27 08

The final touch




CIMG4375

Originally uploaded by ablog1

A deserving crowd got to watch thrilling semifinal match-ups eclipsed only by the ultimate game, the final game.

In an epic battle the USA was able to squeeze out a run in the 13th inning when pinch-hitter Hunter Morris drove in Miccah Gibbs from second base with two outs. An At-Bat earlier Tommy Mendonca got thrown out at the plate after a single from den Dekker.

Japan managed a runner on third base with one out in the bottom half of the inning. But the closer for the United States got a strike out and a ground out to end the game.

The quality of all games was outstanding and the breathtaking Final was the perfect summary to a well organized Baseball tournament. Events like this will help promote the Sport on the European continent.

Posted by: fpi | July 27 08

Great Pitching




CIMG4387

Originally uploaded by ablog1

The pitchers for all 4 teams which reached the semifinals were outstanding and kept the opposition down. The winners managed to scrape up a few more runs than the losers. But it was so exciting to see the game-breakers and game-makers, moments which could be pinned down to a few situations when either team had a chance to go ahead and take the lead, or ultimately: win the game.

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