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UPDATE #6 - Sept. 28, 2012
First, many apologies for not updating this blog as frequently as I had hoped. Internet service was tough to come by in the hotel. The wireless worked slowly or not at all and the computer room that was set up for the players was typically crowded and I never felt comfortable making a player wait for me to use a computer.
That said, I wanted to wrap up the trip with some thoughts. While it was a great trip, I am glad to be home and back on the field with our team here. We begin fall practice today and I have been looking forward to this for quite some time. I am also glad I made the trip with Team GB. It is a lot of fun and I have come to know many of the players well. I have also become very close friends with many of the GB staff and so it’s always good to be with them. More importantly, each time I have worked with Team GB – especially this time, I come away with more perspective on baseball that helps me do my job here. It was good to be on the field with so many high level players (several of whom have been called to the Big Leagues since the tournament ended). Baseball is baseball but it is good to see how easy some of the more talented players are able to make the game.
The Qualifier finished with Canada emerging as the winner. I think most people would tell you the order of finish was as it was predicted – Canada the winner, followed by Germany, Great Britain and the Czech Republic. In such a short tournament and with the rules governing pitch counts it is difficult to manage, but I thought our staff did a great job giving us the best chance possible.
As I have said in previous posts here, the Qualifier could not have been more well run – a completely classy event. MLB and the German staff in Regensburg pulled out all the stops to make it a great experience for all the players.
Having been a small part of the World Baseball Classic will certainly cause me to follow the main event closely in the spring.
Thanks to our staff here for allowing me to go and for keeping everything here running smoothly. Now it’s on to fall practice and our preparation for the 2013 season.
UPDATE #5 - Sept. 21, 2012
By the time most read this update, it will be Saturday, 9/22. Also, Team GB will likely have finished its second game at the WBC Qualifier vs. the Czech Republic which will have taken place at 7:00 AM EST on this Sat.
I was able to watch Germany v. Czech Republic live at the stadium tonight. The game was obviously lopsided (Germany won 16-1 in 6 innings). What stood out to me most however is how much baseball is spreading throughout the world, especially in Europe. Both German and Czech fans were ferocious in their support of each team. I did hear some funny comments regarding fans' interpretation of rules, but they were all loyal until then end. For the record, they did end game by WBC rule.
Along the same line fo thought is how well MLB is treating everyone. There is a staff of MLB/AAA clubhouse personnel. That makes all of us feel like we are in the big leagues. From laundry to food to equipment, this staff coukd not have been better. For many players this is as close to trhe MLB we will get.
Enjoy wherever you are playing.
UPDATE #4 - Sept. 20, 2012
The outcome of tonight's game, an 11-1 loss to Canada, certainly was not what Team GB was hoping for but the game was much closer than the score would have indicated. We had a 3-1 game into the seventh inning but then the game got away quickly and Canada was able to put up a big inning to end the game. Video highlights and box scores can be seen at www.worldbaseballclassic.com.
Next step for us is tomorrow's practice and then on Saturday we will play the loser of the Germany vs. Czech Republic game which is being played tomorrow night.
The crowd and atmosphere in the stadium was great - baseball is truly becoming more and more popular here in Europe.
UPDATE #3 - Sept. 20, 2012
There was much concern over the weather here for today, but the sun is shining and, as of now, it's beautiful day outside. The team will leave for the stadium at 3:45 and go through the traditional pre-game BP.
The players are excited to take the field and the electricity in the hotel and around the City is beginning to build.
The team did get a bit of bad news in that our own Ryan Baker was ruled ineligible to play in the WBCQ because of a rule related to how much time he spent on the disabled list this past season. He is obviously disappointed as am I for him. It will also have an impact on the team as he would have been a key player. Of note is that our other catcher, Chris Berset, is a Reds minor leaguer.
I'll update again once we have returned to the hotel.
UPDATE #2 - Sept. 19, 2012
It's Wednesday, 9/19 just before 2:00 PM here in Germany. The team has completed its second workout earlier this morning and we now have the rest of the day off. Game #1 is tomorrow night at 7:00 PM (1:00 PM EST).
I'll share a few thoughts about the team and the event. First, yesterday was hectic. Upon arrival there was a coaches meeting with the TV crew from MLB where the on-air talent, producers, etc. tried to learn more about the team, pitching matchups, etc. This was a great time for me to learn more about our team as I listened to our manager, Sam Demptser, and pitching coach, Brian Essery, talk about each player.
From there, we headed to the stadium for a workout. At the stadium, the players were fitted for uniforms and moved into the clubhouse. The stadium is beautiful. The surface is in great shape and there have been many renovations since I last saw it in 2007. MLB has moved in extra lighting and constructed clubhouse and office space for the event. I am amazed at how much staff are here working on the event and the stadium.
The workout was a good one and it was good to see the players that I haven't seen in a while and to meet the new ones. It is a talented roster. After the workout, the team had dinner back at the hotel and I was able to explore Regensburg for a bit taking a walk through the town.
This morning came early - still trying to catch up on sleep - and we headed back to the stadium for another workout. Prior to the workout team and individual photos were taken. Another good workout and so nothing left to do now other than play tomorrow night.
The staff both from MLB and from the local club here in Germany have been tremendously helpful and are clearly intent on making this a great event.
UPDATE #1 - Sept. 18, 2012
As you now know, I will be serving as an assistant coach for Team Great Britain in Major League Baseball's World Baseball Classic. You can learn more about the WBC and follow the tournament at http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com.
President Obama and I had something in common yesterday - we both flew out of CVG. I boarded a US Air flight to Philadelphia and connected to another, which flew through the night and arrived in Munich. Certainly not as nice as Air Force One, but it was a comfortable and uneventful trip. It was neat to leave Philly in daylight and to see the sun come as the plane entered Europe.
Upon landing in Munich, I was met by a car and driver which took me to Regensburg, home of the WBC Qualifier. Regensburg is about an hour north of Munich. I was here in 2007 when I also served on staff with the British National team. It is well over 1,000 years old and is a beautiful city. It is also home to Armin Wolf Stadium, one of the nicest baseball facilities in all of Europe.
Most of the team arrived yesterday. We will work out for the first time this afternoon at the stadium and again tomorrow before opening play on Thursday against Team Canada. I am excited to see the players, some of whom I have coached previously. Especially exciting about this stint is that former Bearcat, Ryan Baker is on the roster. Ryan currently plays at the AAA level in the New York Yankees system and is one of two former Bearcats participating currently in the World Baseball Classic. The other, Nate Fish, is currently with Team Israel at the qualifier in Jupiter, FL. Should Israel advance beyond the qualifier, Kevin Youkilis has announced his intention to join their team at the next round in early 2013.
I will update more later. Go Bearcats!
(Editor's note - WBC Qualifier games will be video streamed live on the WBC website)