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First of all, welcome to all the new MLBlogs created while I was out of the country. We’ll start with Hot Air From a Born Again Giants Fan, aka The Shrimps.

Hey, crew, we just started an MLBlogs Facebook Page and you are invited to join it as fans. Have fun with it, and use it as another way to alert other baseball fans about a post you just saved. Just remember to include your full URL anytime you post something. Spread the word!

IMG_8344.JPGSo, I am back from Beijing. It was incredible. Climbed the Great Wall, went to Forbidden City, laughed at the Giant Pandas at the Beijing Zoo (I love how they grab a branch of bamboo and then roll onto their backs and eat it like little kings), turned the dog meat page really fast on a restaurant menu, bartered for a suit at the Silk Market, couldn’t believe what I was seeing at Opening or Closing Ceremony, and in between just soaked up a great Olympiad including an awesome baseball competition that proved the sport belongs in the Games. If you go to my Beijing Memories article, you can find my Olympic Scrapbook on the top of the page.

Here are some extra baseball pics.

Some of the two-dozen Major League prospects I got to know quite well. It will be fun to watch their progress now. Also, I was standing next to pitcher Shairon Martis and infielder Yurendell de Caster of the Netherlands in line at Customs (we were surrounded by Russian Olympians), and Shairon told me both of them were on their way to Louisville to rejoin their Columbus Clippers Triple-A team and that he expects both of them to be with the Washington Nationals on Sept. 1. I recognized them by their big, bright orange luggage. A bunch of these guys will be up, too. I think Terry Tiffee needs to be playing first for the Dodgers fast. What a glove and bat.

team.jpg

See the guys in the middle in navy blazers in the picture below? It was the bronze medal game between USA and Japan, behind home plate for dignitaries/Olympic Family, and the one second from right is IOC president Jacques Rogge. This was the day I broke the news story that Rogge is mandating Major Leaguers be used if the sport is to be considered for 2016, and that there is “no heirarchy” among the seven contending sports (two will be chosen). No one previously had known specific reasons why it was removed and whether MLB players were good to have or a requirement. Knowing Rogge’s PR person was a gatekeeper and that there would be no prayer of her facilitating an interview with all the media there, I climbed through the tape, climbed over the CEO of Mizuno and whoever else was in my way and sat next to Harvey Schiller (the one of those three on the right) in that empty seat next to him, he shook his head indicating not now, I went back to my seat, and 10 minutes later a volunteer came over to me and said, “Dr. Schiller wants to see you.” He then introduced me to Rogge, and I proceeded to ask eight questions, starting with: “Eighty million fans want to know why you removed baseball from the Olympics and whether it will be back.” He left after a couple of innings, talking to no media as I expected.There’s my Journalism 101 reporting tip for baseball bloggers for the day. Be persistent.

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Being around the Cuba guys was like being around the Yankees. The exact equivalent. They are rock stars. They have this aura. Below is Pedro Luis Lazo’s fourth Olympic medal, this one silver. He is such a friendly guy. And a competitor, as you could see from Nixie’s left eye. I will always remember the scene after Cuba dusted the U.S. team the last Friday night to deny the Americans a shot at gold. The bus was pulled up next to the Cuba clubhouse, and it sat there for a long time, and the side luggage compartments were opened and Cuba players were sitting in them, their own makeshift party, some drinking beers, socializing with a handful of females who wore Canada Olympic attire. People just wanted to be around them.  Anyway…take a good look at the word “BASEBALL” on this medal. You won’t see it again for at least eight years.

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I have to give a special shout-out to my friend and YOUR friend, Murray Cook. He is the person responsible for the Wukesong Miracle, the creation of three Major League-caliber ball fields in a place where no one really knew what baseball was. Murray is one of the original MLBloggers, and it was my first chance to meet him in person. He created his blog on the same day that Tommy created his — April 2005. Murray, thanks for always being able to lend a hand to another Western visitor and introducing me to Yang Yang’s dad, the groundskeeping father of the China backup catcher who stole the show one night.

olympics0811e-murraycook.jpg
And then there was one of the most likable bunch of guys you could be around. The Korean team was a perfect 9-0. Nine, the perfect baseball number. Their manager was just someone you looked forward to talking to, even through a translator. Ryu (99), their big
pitcher who almost went the distance in the finale, was a big teddy bear afterwards and he bit his gold medal after obliging my request to check it out. It meant the world to them. It meant the world to baseball. You could see how strong baseball is around the globe, growing stronger every year. The U.S. now knows it will have to field a SERIOUS team for the next World Baseball Classic. You could take either of this summer’s All-Star teams and would not win the next World Baseball Classic unless it has a togetherness and total commitment. One other thing I really noticed at the Olympics was that it was an aberration to see a 90-mph readout for non-USA pitchers. You face heat only as a “changeup”, really. I saw mostly high 70s, lots in the 80s, and many different release points, sidearmers, three-quarters, so much off-balance stuff. That had to be tough on the U.S. guys, who typically look at 90s all the time. Now they go back and will see 90s all the time. International ball is definitely an adjustment. Congrats to Korea.

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It was a beautiful experience. The hardest part was trying to do my daily MLB.com Olympic show, where I would call into our studios and you would get my voice and picture of me in my peasant hat along with other imagery. I was always 12 hours ahead of New York time, and when there were night games over there, filled with drama and then deadline writing, it was not exactly easy to find a time to break away and talk on the phone with the U.S.! You also should check out Brian Duensing’s final blog post; he played a role in bringing home a bronze, after a touching scene in which the Twins helped raise funds so that his wife could fly there and be with their Triple-A pitcher.

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OK, your turn to post summertime pics. And make sure you join that MLBlogs Facebook Page!

I was just curious what happens when you do a tag search on the MLBlogs homepage for the word “baseball.” Here you go. You’ll find lots of cool MLBlogs that you probably didn’t know about. Check ‘em out! Also have to give a shout-out to Cub Fans, which continues to hold the MLBlogs record for most comments on a blog with just a handful of words posted. Great example of someone who knows how to get his own circle of influence to check out the blog. Just makes it happen.

14 Comments

detrás de un gran hombre hay una gran mujer, detrás de una gran mujer…seguramente haya muchos hombres…

You just accepted me as a Facebook Friend. Thanks a million.

And keep up the Great Work at MLB.

The exact same thing is happening to me! Could someone help me out?

Aaron
http://districtboy.mlblogs.com/

Hi Mark,

Strange new problem for me, although I think Jenn had this issue previously: My display name keeps defaulting to my username for some reason. I tried the cookie clearing, but it didn’t help.

Any suggestions?

Steve T.
http://soxblog.mlblogs.com

THank you for putting me on the featured blog spot
thwrightway.mlblogs.com

Woah! That’s a lot of steps to climb.

It would sort of cool to be featured or spheroided, but I don’t want to act selfish because I remember I was quoted on the mlb.com homepage. I realize that not many people want to hear me talk about the Orioles, Nationals, Reds or Royals. I don’t intentionally write about about bad teams, but it just seems wiredly to work out that way. My theory is that good teams have stability, and stability is the enemy of a blogger.

Aaron
http://districtboy.mlblogs.com/

Suggestion for MLB homepage comment:

“Check out the possible playoff scenarios, and there is a HUGE benefit for the Red Sox should they win the division.”

-Dan
http://fansonthefield.mlblogs.com

Great Pics. It looks like you had a blast at the Olympics.
Devon
http://raysarchive.mlblogs.com/

Great pics. Funny, I have the exact same posed picture at the Wall of me from my China days. And if you were wondering what dog tastes like, it’s actually a gamier version of squirrel ;-)
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Mark,

I really enjoyed seeing all of the pictures and reading about your amazing trip!

Becca
http://bullpenbaker.mlblogs.com

Thanks for your reply, Mark. I appreciate your support! Keep up the good work!
- Jane
http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Nice pix!

I’m a new blogger here and would love to get on your “Book Authors” link. Check out Confessions of a She-Fan and see what you think.

Jane
http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Korea really came out of nowhere to win that medal. Who says that you have to throw 90 to be successful? Just kidding, that is very strange. I notice Asian pitchers are a lot more crafty with their speeds and breaking stuff, in general. A different way of teaching I guess, it was a fun tournament to watch, and I am really upset and saddened over the loss of baseball in the Olympics.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

Great post man! I love the facebook idea. It should help give bloggers the views they deserve.
http://theburghblues.mlblogs.com/

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