The opening to the 2nd half of the season, or “lower half” as it is known by the locals in the locker room, has started real well for the Lamigo Monkeys. We opened up 8-2. We won 7 games in a row, until tonight where we were “boat raced” by the Elephants. Our starting pitching along with our hitting has really come together. Although we are still missing our two superstar hitters, some players are taking advantage of their time on the field and making the best of it. They are making great plays in the field as well as hitting in clutch situations.
Once again made a stop into Taipei on the off day. Finally got to check out all the sneaker stores I’ve been waiting to find. I met a Brooklyn born Korean store owner of Born Trouble in Ximen named Andrew. He gave me the exclusive tour of all the sneaker and clothing shops around Ximen. His store is just a month old, but has a lot of unique street wear that is only available in the US. Please be sure to check out his blog and store here.
-The gatorade that we drink at the field is called Pocari sweat. Its like a gatorade ice flavor
-Most players do not wear cups here. I have no idea why, but doesn’t make sense to me.
-The cleats that are used here are mostly patent leather and have a different spike pattern than those in the US
-The cheerleaders are only at our home games and only on the weekend
-I finally had the suction cup treatment done to me today. Hopefully I don’t bruise too badly.
-The MVP of the game is supposed to by a fruit type drink for the entire team the next day. Steve Hammond supplied us with a watermelon drink on Sunday.
-Garbage trucks drive around playing ice cream truck music. I was saddened when I rushed out of my apartment one of my first weeks here to get a snowcone, and was greeted by a smelly garbage truck.
-The managers do not meet with the umpires prior to the game to exchange line up cards or discuss ground rules.
-Supposedly from what I heard, umpires here are rated each game, and can be fined or punished for making incorrect calls.
Thanks for checking out the blog. Sorry for the short post. Not much to detail this week other than we have been winning which is always nice. Please comment and leave any questions in any language. I want to hear back from you all and make the blog more interactive.
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The first half gets under way tonight in Chayi against the Elephants. When I joined the team in late May we were a couple games out of first place. Once June came around we had a lot of injuries and went on a bad losing streak. I believe we only won 4-5 games in June. I’m glad that the season is split into halves. It gives our guys hope and a fresh start to go forward trying to win a championship.
This past week I went back into Taipei, this time with my “physio” athlete trainer Patrick Hung. Patrick is one of two athletic trainers on the team who take care of the entire team. I told “patty-cake”, as the foreigners call him, to show me parts of Taipei a normal tourist wouldn’t think to go. We started on the red line of the MRT and headed to Guandu. There was a magnificent temple there where many locals come to pray. I wanted to take video to show the act of worship here, but I did not because I didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyones privacy during worship. It was very interesting though. There are individual rooms and statues for different types of worship. People will burn incense and bow and pray to their respective statue for certain help. Fruits, food, and other perishable goods are brought to the temple to show thanks. They also burn faux money in a fireplace for prayer.
Our next stop was to a natural preserve which was a huge mangrove park. There were crabs everywhere. These crabs were special and had one large claw and one small one. We then headed to Danshui which was like a large daytime street market. The air was filled with fresh cooked food ranging from pork, chicken, and squid. Many kids roamed around the boardwalk and played carnival style games. Ice cream seemed to be the biggest seller there. Everyone had cones with multi-colored ice cream over a foot tall.
We then jumped onto a ferry and boated over to Bali. We rented bikes and rode about 10 miles to Shihsanhang. There was an amazing museum there which gave a rich history of the area and architecture. There was a lot of artifacts from the aborigines, which helped cultivate the area we were in.
This past week the Monkeys as a team visited a temple to take part in a ceremony to wish us luck going forward with the season. I’m hoping for less rain. We were rained out for four days straight last week trying to get our final make up game in.
This weekend we had a three game series with the Elephants. They finished the first half playing extremely well and are looking to make a push in the second half as are we. In our first game Ken Ray threw a complete game, but was the tough luck loser as the Elephants scored on a safety squeeze. He only gave up three hits in the game. We lost Friday 1-0.
Steve Hammond took to the mound on Saturday in Kaoushung and threw a gem. He went the distance and threw a nine inning shutout for us. We won 1-0.
On Sunday it was my turn to try to compete with our starters magnificent starts. I threw eight innings giving up two runs and we won 7-2. Our hitters gave me a lot of support with a handful of home-runs. Our defense was great behind me and my catcher called a great game. It was a huge team win especially to take two out of three games on the road. Thanks to all the fans for coming out to all the games. It really makes playing in front of them very exciting. They are cheering non-stop. I apologize for not being able to sign too many autographs after the game. Our team makes us get on the bus as soon as possible so that we can get on the road since we had a five hour drive back. We truly love all of your support, cheers, and signs.
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Highlights from my last game Click HERE
This past week went by fairly quickly although we only had two games at home. Mondays are usually off days in this league. This past week we only had games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday so we practiced at our home stadium Tuesday through Friday. Practice can be very different from the US. We open up with a 10-15 minute run around the warning track. Following that is a team stretch which also includes plyometric work. We then throw with the pitchers while the position players baserun. Once the position players are done running the bases, they get loose, while the pitchers will take ground balls in foul territory along the warning track. There is always something going on. There is no time to waste while at the ballpark. Pitchers will then get their pitcher fielding practice in as well as work cut offs, relays, bunt defenses, and backing up bases. Following all of that we break for lunch and set up for batting practice.
In the US batting practice is always disliked the most by the pitchers because no one enjoys shagging balls for hours. It is a little different here in Taiwan. They have over 300 balls to hit during batting practice which fill up three large crates. They also set up two cages on the field to multitask and get more work in. One side of the mound will be a pitching machine, while the opposite side will be a coach or player throwing live BP. Not many people shag balls because of the amount they have. A handful of pitchers will come out of the locker room in rounds and throw or hit a couple balls towards the middle of the field to help the clubhouse staff pick up the balls at the end.
This past Monday I ventured alone into Taipei. I was a little nervous at first getting around and learning my way, but it ended up being pretty easy. I took a cab over to the high speed rail which got me in to Taipei in 20 minutes. Normally is an hour and a half drive by car. From there I got onto the MRT (local subway) and shot over to the Taipei 101 building. This is the 2nd largest building in the world. The architecture on it is amazing and beautiful. Inside the 101 building is a mall whose stores inside put Miami, New York, and Beverly Hills to shame. Every luxury designer clothing, jewelry, and watch brand is in there. I even found it a little uncomfortable window shopping.
After the mall I shot back on the MRT to the Longshan Temple area. I visited the night market briefly. For those of you not familiar the night markets open up around 4/5pm everyday and can last until late into the night. You can get a ton of fresh cooked seafood and local treats like a carnival. They are all served street style and prepared right in front of you. There are vendors all over selling trinkets, to clothing, to electronics repairs, to knock off hand bags and watches.
My final stop of the evening was in Ximen. This is known as the Soho of Taipei according to my teams owner Justin, and he was correct. When I exited the subway, the lights across the street lit up my eyes. The buildings all had neon and flickering lights. The crowd was a younger group of kids into the latest trends and fashion. I came across a ton of awesome sneaker shops which made me love this area even more. I’m sure I will be back over there to check more of the stores out.
Finally, this week we have our two final make up games from the 1st half. We play Saturday and Sunday against the Elephants. Can’t wait for the 2nd half though. It was pretty cool to see how the fans and teams celebrate here when the Lions clinched the 1st half championship. Hopefully Lamigo will have a strong showing for the 2nd half. I hope to help us do that and we all thank you for the support. Thanks as always for reading and sharing my blog with your friends.
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You can also watch highlights from my last game here
There are many cultural differences that take place with baseball over here in Taiwan. Just in my couple of days over here I have noticed many differences of the game of baseball.
There is no national anthem played prior to the games.
Taiwans Gatorade type drink in the dugout is called “Pro-Sweat”, has a gross name but its pretty good.
There have been some variations of sunflowers seeds going around which have a sweet taste, but remember don’t spit them on the field. Only on the ground in the dugout or in a cup.
When the umpires come onto the field they bow to the fans and towards the field
When a pitching change is made, the pitching coach will stay on the field and watch the new pitcher warm up.
Also the pitcher leaving the game usually takes the ball with them, rather than hand it off to the manager.
If you think the battle of the bands between FAMU and Southern was good, you should check out our games. On top of each dugout are drums and trumpet players. Non stop for 9 innings this instruments are thumping and blaring while an M.C. is shouting out cheers for the crowd. Each batter has his own anthem. I find myself whistling these tunes hours after the game is over. They are going to be etched in my brain.
Respect is a huge part of Asian culture. Batters when entering the batters box give a hand signal to the pitcher to ask for a moment to set up and feel comfortable in the box. They also signal the umpire for the same respect out of courtesy.
The players over here love their apparel. They have tons of wrist bands, necklaces, and wear enough protective gear on their elbows and shins to be confused with a catcher while up to bat.
After finishing a game both teams go to their foul line and bow to the crowd and then bow to the opposing team.
Following the game we meet in the locker room and go over the game. During these meetings we all have to stand up and listen to the coaches.
Because of the gamble issue that happened within the league a couple years ago (http://jockpost.com/taiwan-baseball-scandal-1919-black-sox-boy-scouts), no cell phones or computers are allowed to be used in the locker room once you arrive. We also are not allowed to play cards, go to casinos, or play the lottery.
CPBL officials stand around the locker room to make sure no gambling or anything illegal takes place.
Also once you are in uniform and at the field, you can not leave the dugout/locker room. If you leave to goto the office or anywhere in the stadium, you can not return to the game.
Today I noticed how strong the Asian work ethic is. I had always heard about the amount of time they put into practices and I can vouch that it is true. They are very precise with the way they go about their work. We were unable to take BP today, and while I was running I noticed a coach hitting our infielders ground balls along the warning track to make sure they got their work in. I never have seen that in the states. They just pay attention to detail and strive to do very well. I commend them for that and hope I can learn some of their ways.
Tonight we lost to the Elephants 9-5. We play them tomorrow, and then have a three game series agains the Lions. I’m scheduled to pitch on Sunday.
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Spring training 2011 is upon us and I’m sure everyone is just as excited for another amazing baseball season as I am. This off season was not much of an off season because I was playing winterball all over Latin America. Although I think it did physically and mentally prepare me for this upcoming season. I have done all the work I needed in the gym and on the field and I’m ready to throw the pill.
I will be headed up to Lakeland, Florida by the end of this week to join the pitchers and catchers for the start of minor league camp. We have physicals Sunday morning and are full swing into bullpens and PFP on Monday.
Thanks for all the continued support and welcome all new twitter followers. Please use this blog to ask me questions and make comments. I plan to keep a blog once a week while at camp. I love the feedback and want to give back to the fans.
After four games in the DR, the Licey Tigers are 3-1. We have had solid pitching and hitting so far. Of the four games we have played, guess how many started on time? NONE! And I’m not saying late by five or ten minutes. We did have two opening days so I’ll give that the benefit of the doubt, but yesterday we had a delay for four helicopters to land on the field which had our cheerleaders and mascot in them. I just feel for the starting pitcher, because they really never know when the game is going to start.
The fields here are pretty nice. The grandstands in most of the stadiums are large and can hold anywhere from 10,000-18,000 people. The fans here love and respect the game so much. They go ecstatic throughout the game waving flags and blowing horns and vuvuzelas nonstop. If we hit a home-run or a player moves a guy over with less than two outs we hear the same loud ovation. The fans have a cheer “Licey Campeon” which I have found myself singing to it in the bullpen because it is catchy.
We have cheerleaders who were imported from Columbia to entertain the fans and players in the dugout in between innings. These are the cheerleaders for Casper Wells’ team Escogido. No offense to my Florida Marlins, but these beat the Manatee dancers.
Tonight we are home against the Gigantes of Cibao. Robert Collelo (Red Sox) is on the bump. We then have three straight games on the road. BTW, we do not celebrate Halloween down here.
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