Feedback flaw

I think my comment box is messed up, and won't let people leave me comments... if you don't mind, leave me a couple words or whatever you think. I just need to see if this thing is working, since I've only had 1 comment in 2 weeks, I'm kinda worried something is messed up...
Help me out if you can!! thanks!


Spring training, Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta

Spring training baseball, it's a wonderful thing. There are two spots in the USA for all the 30 MLB teams to get their month of spring training in, either youthful up and coming Cactus league in Arizona, or the old timers dominated Grapefruit league in southern Florida. Since we are in the middle of the Grapefruit league here at Pirate City, we had an early morning practice today and travelled just down the road to take in the Pirates against Atlanta Braves game. There were some big names participating in the game, suprisingly to me, and we enjoyed 80 degree weather (27 celcius) and a good game. We had a good time, and I took a couple shots during the game...

L->R Pim (background), Me (beautiful double chin camera angle), Vince Rooi and Berry Van Driel taking in the ball game

This is Pedro Alvarez. I pitches against him 2 summers ago when he was playing for the USA national collegiate team. I threw 6 scoreless innings in my start giving up 2 hits... both to this guy. He was the 2nd pick overall in last years draft, and should make it to the big leagues this season, or next at the latest 2010, watch out for this guy

Chipper Jones. I wasn't really expecting him to show and play in this game, but he was there and actually hit a 2-run bomb in this at bat. He led the majors last year in batting average, hitting .365 on the season.
We played on this field a couple days earlier vs. the Korean team, very nice field surface and mound
Me and my room mate Martijn Meeuwis enjoying the shade and a nice breeze


Tonights game, NL vs. MCC

We beat Manatee College in our last warm up game coming up to the exhibitions against the MLB teams march 3-5. We won 4-0, our pitching staff only surrendering 2 hits, both coming in the 7th inning. The offence put up 4 quick ones in the first 2 innings, then cruised the rest of the way. We now inter squad and practice for 6 days until we face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates march 3. My wife should be joining me march first as my 'guest' by MLB, and I'm looking forward to that, not that Martijn is a bad roommate, he's a great one, it's just I can't wait to see my Shorty.

Here's a couple shots of tonights' pregame...

Bert Blyleven and me. Bert should be in the hall of fame (we actually talked about it to extent today) but hasn't been voted in yet. He's a great pitching coach and had taught me quite a bit in the week we've been here. He's 5th on the all time MLB strikeout list, has 60 career shutouts and is now the Minnesota Twins Colour commentator

Martijn Meeuwis here catching in the pen, and despite being cut from the final roster, is coming along with the team to Puerto Rico as our "bullpen catcher" but is also sticking with the team in case of any injury to a position player in pre-WBC practices and games.

Me getting to work shagging during our in-out field
Getting ready to play

Playing against an idol

When I was 14 my dad took me to a Seattle Mariners baseball game when the Boston Red Sox were in town. We crossed the border from our Vancouver home, drove the 2 hours south, down the coast to the brand new Safeco field right in downtown Seattle. But on this day we weren't there to see my favorite team the Mariners, we came out to watch the Red Sox starter, Pedro Martinez. My dad being the pitching guru he created out of himself, he naturally found Pedro a great pitcher to watch a learn from. In his prime at that time, he featured a upper 90's fastball, a change up around 87 MPH, and several other pitches, with the movement and location on all of his pitches being his best assets. He dominated the Mariners on that day and my dad and I had front row seats (almost literally) to the Pedro show that year when he had a career year winning 23 games, with over 300 strikeouts.
On March 7th, we play the Dominicans, and guess who's a pitcher on their roster, yep, the now veteran without a major league club, Pedro Martinez. Both Perdo and Randy Johnson were my idols growing up. The way I now pitch, I can see some of both of their styles in how I throw (except the explosive fastball). I like to think I have the movement and location of Pedro, with the right handed-version of Randy Johnsons' arm angle and an attempt at his slider also.
If I get a chance I might head out and get an autograph from Pedro during batting practice. I know... I know, it's weak-sauce, but he is and was my idol, so I might turn back into that 14 year old, and say hi to him, we'll see.

Nederland vs. University of South Florida pictures

Shagging for batting practice at USF

Batting practice, heavy air last night = just a couple dingers compared to a lot of dingers

Ponson has pitched in the major leagues for several clubs over about a 10 year span. He was sharing with us his whole routine from eating carbs on gameday to his workout program. It was very informative just listening to him going over his 5 days repetitive routine.

Randall Simon during pregame getting some pitches in for some reason. In the background, USF doing a team prayer, which I haven't seen since I played at Seminole State CC in Oklahoma (the bible belt) where we had a prayer before every game that year.

It was a beautiful night in Tampa, Florida. They brought out a decent crowd, including some very good hecklers who were all over Randall Simon right off the bat...

Starter Sydney Ponson battling in the first

Last nights right fielder Danny Rombley, never shy around a camera...

Post game meal provided at USF. Gave us a chance to relax some after the game, mingle briefly with the college players, and get some pretty good grub


Exhibition game 3, and a final roster that's now set

We played our 3rd game since being here in Florida, and came up with our second indecisive though helpful game. We tied 4-4 against the University of South Florida Bulls in Tampa, Florida. They came out hungry and knocked in 3 runs in the first inning off Sydney Ponson (from Aruba, pitched for the Yankees last season). They added another in the 4th, but we were able to keep their scrappy, left-handed dominated and quick offence. I threw the 9th inning facing only 3 hitters, and almost being decapitated by my catcher Kenley Jansen during a throw down to second gunning out a potential base stealer. We came back and rallied for 4 runs in the 7th inning to tie it up. Yurendell DeCaster was our offensive force today having 4 solid at bats including 3 hits. Overall, a quality game, and I was happy to see the fight, teamwork, unity, defence and hunger we showed in the second half of the game.

All the 16 countries participating in the World Baseball Classic had to input their rosters yesterday, and they were released to the public today here on MLB.com. Our roster is solid. We have 13 pitchers, 2 catchers (Sharlon Schoop is a short stop), 8 infielders, and 5 outfielders.

Our starting lineup should be strong enough to knock in a few runs a game, so I believe if our pitching staff can hold the ridiculously hard hitting teams we're playing to around 2-4 runs, we have a chance, yes a chance to upset and move on in this tourney... Oh, that would be Amazing!! Cheer your arses off, and keep your fingers crossed we play some awesome baseball (honkbal for all your dutchies)!

Here's a link to the dutch baseball federations' website, if you can read dutch (or you can easily copy and paste at google translate here) check it out. Our press officer Loet is the writer of these updates, and if you can read dutch or fell like spending a solid 10 minutes copy and pasting definitely hit up this site to follow our trip from another persons eyes.

Here's Sydney making his first start down here and us facing USF...


Just 3

Couple pics from the game yesterday... It took about 20 tries to get these up here, but finally 3 pics from the Korea game...

Dirk Van't klooster, hit a single in this at bat I believe. A wiley 32 year old dutch team veteran who can still play with the best of them

Michiel Van Kampen, our closer.

Tom Stuifbergen, a up and coming Minnesota Twins prospect. Threw 2 scoreless innings in this one



So, the Internet connection is very very very bad today here (and last night) at Pirate city. This means I can't upload any of the 44 pictures I took of yesterdays game against the Korean team we played. We tied 3-3, we played well, other than giving up 3 runs in the first, we were very good. After the 3rd inning 6 of our pitchers combined gave up only 1 hit, they were lights out against a very solid Korean team. The Woori Hereos play in the KBO, which is just a hair under the Japanese professional league (which is small step under the MLB). They have several ex-big leaguers in their competition, most of the Korean national team players and a lot of money which is creating a very strong competition.

We had our final roster made yesterday, our coaches had some very tough decisions to make... 6 of one - half a dozen of another - kind of decisions. They ended up trimming the team to 28, making 7 cuts yesterday, so our roster is now set and we are here in Pirate city practicing with 25 now, waiting for 3 40-man roster players to join us on march 1st. Those being RHP Rick VandenHurk (Marlins), SS Hainley Statia (Angels), OF Greg Halman (Mariners). In fairness to our staff and those who were cut I won't publish who was cut, and what the roster is looking like now until it's been officially published on the 24th or 25th. I may not post it on here either, but I will give a link whenever it is released to the press.

We now have to go to work. Today is another beautiful day here in Bradenton, and it's time to get ready for the Dominicans. Pitchers practice around 1, position players right afterwards. We are playing the University of South Florida tomorrow evening and Manatee CC the next night.

Hopefully the lousy, good for nothing connection figures itself out here in the next little bit so I can start sharing some pics with you soon. I'm popping more and more, and will try and get them on here asap.

Time to get out there, enjoy the sun and play some baseball...

Some new gear..

Our final roster is complete. I made it, yay!

Okay, enough celebrations, time to get ready to play some ball. But before that we do that I just want to share with you the new gear we are about to wear in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. First off, our hats have the same logo, but are a sweet version of the all black ones we currently have. I've heard our away Jersey's will be in all black, and I have a pic of our home jersey's on here. I've also added a couple T-shirts that we may get, but MLB.com is selling, and I thought looked pretty sweet so I threw'em up here

Check it out...


Some teammates in action... or not...

I've been reluctant to bust out the camera that much so far, fearing I'll put a tourist impression in people's minds here. But, I think I'll be popping a few more here and there trying to gather some photographic memories of this journey. I'll try and take some action photo's (since I'm such a great photographer) and some of the guys and myself off the field too.

Here at the complex of the Pittsburg Pirates our team is put up in a dorm style hotel, and are enjoying our time here. Today is another B-E-A-utiful day here in Bradenton Florida, it's about 72 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius for all the Canadians and Europeans reading this) and sunny with just a few wispy clouds in the upper stratosphere.

Here's a few pics of some of the guys around and about...

About the best roommate a guy could ask for, Martijn Meeuwis (who was also my roommate during the Olympics). This is him chilling on our couch here before we head out to our second workout of the day

The coaches prepping for a practice. Rod Delmonico in the forefront, Wim Martinus in the middle and Bert Blyleven posting up on his orange fungo in the background

Berry Van Driel and MM on the bus from Orlando airport to Bradenton. We are all experiencing our first warmth in months

Some of the guys getting ready for 10 am training...

A couple national team veteran's, Percy Isenia and Dave Draijer, getting their gear together before practice in Manatee, Florida

Dirk Van't Klooster taking in some ping pong... He's played the most games in Netherlands national team history, over 200. And doesn't normally looks like this, strange pose by the veteran...


Quickblog #3

As expected, Shairon Martis is going to skip the World Baseball Classic to focus on making the major league starting rotation with the Washington Nationals. He was the pitcher who threw a 7 inning (10 run mercy ruling) no-hitter in the inaugural WBC, and really put Netherlands baseball pon the map (if it wasn't already there).
I wish him all the best, and I guess it will have to be up to someone else this time around to step and show the world that he Netherlands can play some damn good baseball.

Quickblog #2

This year, we are sponsored by Reebok. Over the past few years all of our gear has been Under Armour, which was very nice. So far, we haven't received anything but our little Christmas presents that everyone discovered in the club house this morning. I guess this is Reebok's way of saying "Thanks for signing with us!". We got a training suit, polo, and cleats from Reebok. The training suit is really nice, I initially has XL, but it was not nearly long enough for my 6'6" frame and gangly long arms and legs, so I stepped it up to a XXL. It fits quite good. We haven't gotten all the shirts and shorts that we had with UA, but I think we have enough still from the past few years...

Quickblog #1

A very interesting story I heard about this past fall is playing out before our eyes here. We are stationed at the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training facility, so we see the big league guys, 40 man roster players, and a few minor league guys working out here. We also often see the first 2 players from India ever to be signed to pro baseball contracts. Read this story to find out more about this very intriguing experiment the Pirates have chosen to follow.

I saw them playing catch yesterday for the first time, and they are not bad actually. Their mechanics are a bit raw, and the taller, younger lefty throws harder, but they are both work in the making.


Start of 2-a-days...

It's a good thing I didn't take any pictures today. I guess I can't complain since it's free, but our connection is absolutely the slowest thing ever! To download and then upload pictures onto the blog took a very very very very very long time yesterday, resulting in no captions for the photo's (most don't need captions luckily).

Today, my blog hits have begun to climax, nearly as they did during the Olympics, I'm guessing that's due to our team nearing the World Baseball Classic, and my hopeful participation in that tournament (yes, I am superstitious, and don't like to jinx things). Just to let you know, I will do my best to keep it updated, and give you some kind of upadate daily, an pictures as much and as many as possible.

Today, we woke up to the expectation of rain during the day at some point. The coaches found out it was supposed to hit around 2:30 pm. So instead of having the pitchers throw in the afternoon workouts to live batters, they moved that up into our morning practice. 7 of the 14 pitchers that are currently practicing with us threw about 30 pitches to our own batters today. It went well, despite us having to let the hitters know what exact pitches we were throwing, many of our guys were right around the plate. We went out for our afternoon workout, and exactly as predicted, it pored rain. So most of our afternoon batting practice and pitcher fielding practice was rained out.

The guys are enjoying their time here thus far, despite and uneasy feeling for many guys as they have to make final cuts on Sunday and send 7-9 guys home. I outlined how our roster should look (via players per position) a few posts back, and everyone is anxiously awaiting the Sunday cuts. While we are enjoying our time here, there are 2 pool tables, and a ping pong table that I haven't seen open since I've been here. By the way, we have a some amazing ping pong slayers on our team, I didn't even know, some of the guys are almost this good; The guy in blue is the best in the world.

That's about it for today, time to hit the hay, and do it all again tomorrow. Baseball is life, the rest (except family) is just details, right dad?


Day 1

We had our first workout as a nearly complete team today here in Bradenton, Florida. It was about 25 degrees and sunny during our 3 hours 2-5 pm practice. Tomorrow we step it up to 2 practices a day, going at 9 am and 2 including pitchers going live against some hitters. BP looked pretty good today with some guys destroying ball already on day 1 outside, which is always promising to see.
The coaching staff is all coming together with 22 year major league superstar Bert Blylenven as our pitchcing coach. We were notified that the final cuts will be made on the sunday the 22nd because they need to have the final roster ready for submission on the 24th.
Here's some pics of day 1 (not the workout, the camera gets a rest during practice time due to me trying to make the team, and not needing to look like a tourist).


Arrival in south Florida...

We made it... it's 9:07 pm eastern time. If was a looooong day of travel. We had some dinner when we first rolled up to the Pirate city complex here. From what I could see in the dark, it looks very nice, we are put up in the main building. It's much like a hotel, nice rooms, beds, flatscreen, 2 internet outlets.

I'll try and take more pictures tomorrow in the sun.
My one crappy picture of the arrival.


Down one BIG pawn...

Unfortunately we will be without one of our aces for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves just opted not to participate in the WBC. I had been hearing rumors about him not pitching with us during this big tournament, but was hoping they would be untrue. My fears were confirmed when I read this a little bit ago. We still have major league starters Sidney Ponson and Rick Van den hurk in line to pitch for the Netherlands during the WBC. Jurrjens is the second big leaguer to back out of the WBC from our provisional roster, joining Roger Bernadina of the Washington Nationals in their persuit of a solid big league spring training camps to ensure they can start the 2009 season with their respective teams.
I wish them both the best of luck in their camps and hope they represent The Kingdom of the Netherlands well on their clubs instead of with us in the WBC.

Wow... suprise

I had no idea my club was going to renovate our disgusting old weight room / garbage hole over the winter. They threw down 40 thousand euro into this new gym. I had the priveledge to work out in this gym a couple of times around my normal gym's schedule since I've been here. I was able to get in all the excersises I would in a normal gym which was very positive and encouraging. The Universal portion (the tall midle structure in the first picture) can be used for about 1000 different exersises, and is a great addition to any small gym. The rubber floor added to this gym is 6000 Euro itself (about 10 K Canadian), and is very very nice. I'm looking forward to weekend workouts in this gym during games I'm not pitching and or practices.

A couple of the rubber floor tiles have this printed on them.
Only one cardio machine, that being a bike, but that's fine, if I want to run, I run poles anyways.