Arrived in Taiwan!
I left on Friday and arrived in Taiwan on Sunday morning at 6am. This past day and a half of traveling has been wild. I left Fort Lauderdale, connected in Houston, flew to Los Angeles, and finally took the 15 hour flight over to Taipei. I was greeted by our translator “Luis” at the airport who was extremely nice and polite. He gave me the low down of the culture of the baseball in Taiwan.
When I arrived at 6am I was told we had a doubleheader at our home stadium. One thing that is different over here compared to the minor leagues is that their doubleheaders are nine innings. I somehow didn’t feel too jetlagged yet, so I came over to the field to meet my new teammates and coaching staff. I signed all my contracts and was given a ton of equipment to supply me for the next 2 years. Our home field is only two years old and is amazing. Its playing surface is pristine and the dugouts are huge. We have indoor batting cages and pitching mounds, as well as a state of the art workout facility under the stadium. The stadiums dimensions are pretty fair and the wind howls across from right to left, which can be beneficial as a pitcher. Their are two tiers and it looks like the stadium can hold around 20,000-25,000 fans. The locker rooms are well maintained and our pre-game spread was delicious dumplings. One were filled with pork and the others were more like a pastry and plain. I’m very excited to try out all the cultural food Taiwan has to offer.
Once we took the field I noticed many similarities of that to winterball. Managers play this game like it is the playoffs. Teams bunt early in the game and try to run. As the game goes on they will also play the matchups and get pitchers going in the bullpen to be ready for certain hitters. The most interesting parts I found so far was that when we score the player who scores runs along the dugout fence and slap hands with our teammates rather than coming into the dugout to be greeted. The other is after the 5th inning there is a 10-15 minute break for the grounds crew to re-paint the lines, batters box, and groom the field. It is like a half time in baseball. It should be interesting to see how pitchers react to this, because they can be cruising throughout the game and then have to wait for the game to resume. This can throw off their rhythm, so they need to focus and know how to be ready once the game resumes. There are some other rules that are different that play into affect. If a batter hits a homerun and the next batter is beaned with a ball, its an automatic ejection. Also if a batter is hit twice in one game, the pitcher is ejected.
I will be posting videos and pictures of sites around town once I get settled into an apartment or hotel. Please feel free to comment and ask questions and share this link with your friends.
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The past week has gone by like none other. Prior to my 2nd start with Grand Prairie I was notified by my agent that a Taiwanese team was interested in signing me to a contract. They made an offer and told me they would let me know if the deal was finalized within 48 hours. I had to let the Airhogs know what was going on so that our manager would be able to get another pitcher in case I had to leave shortly. Of course he was upset I might be leaving, but he totally understood the circumstances.
48 hours went by and no word from Taiwan. I continued to pitch in my scheduled game and had one of the craziest starts I’ve ever been a part of. 6 errors behind me (one of my own), 1 earned run of 7 runs, and we only lost 8-1. Hopefully the Taiwanese scouts did not read up on that box score or see what happened in that game to determine if they would choose me to join their team. A couple days later we got the final word that it was an all go with Taiwan. Unfortunately I was on the road with my team in Kansas City. I had to find a way to get back to Dallas, pack up my apartment and car, and then find a way back to Miami. All of this was at my own expense. Along with all of this I had to get together my passport, sign contracts, get 2×2 photos for my Visa, make an appointment with the Taipei Consulate in Miami, pack again, and say hi and bye to my family and girlfriend for whoever knows how long.
I am very excited for this opportunity to travel and play in Taiwan. The league is the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CBPL). Each team is allowed four imports, but only 2-3 can be active on the roster. The team I will be playing for is the Lamigo Monkeys. They are currently in first place of the four team league. I hope to help them continue winning and make a push for the playoffs in September. Many thanks to Fu-Ti- Ni’s translators Fox Sung and Steve Xiu for helping me out figure out what I will need over there. I will continue to blog and update all of you with pictures and videos from the other side of the world as best as I can.
This will be a very fun and exciting journey, and I’m so glad to share it with my friends and fans. I really thank you for your continued support no matter where I end up. Please comment and ask questions. I want to give back as much info as I can.