Thursday, March 02, 2006

Maybe I could live in China...

...because China is getting into baseball!:
Success can't be measured in victories for the Chinese National Baseball Team. The team almost never wins, especially against opponents that really matter. Rather, success is subtle. It may be as unremarkable as a knowing smile or a perceptive nod.

Those are the times when former big leaguers Jim Lefebvre and Bruce Hurst realize they're progressing, that they have broken through, that their efforts are worthwhile.

Lefebvre, the former manager of the Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, has been the manager of the Chinese team since it was formed in 2003. Hurst, who played 15 seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Padres, Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers, is the team's pitching coach. They are part of an ambitious attempt to take a 3-year-old program and make it competitive, at least initially against Asian powers such as Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei, who have been playing baseball for the better part of a century.

All four teams will face off beginning tonight in the inaugural World Baseball Classic at the Tokyo Dome. The top two teams from each of four four-team pools advance to the second round, with the semifinals and final to follow March 18-20 at Petco Park.
Though the Chinese players have a long way to go, Lefebvre and Hurst applaud their work ethic and increasingly sophisticated grasp of the game: “They are so detailed. Intellectually, this game is built for them. They analyze all that's happened and process it all.”

Go Team China! I'm rooting for you. Not against my USA homeboys, a team that includes San Diego Padres pitching ace Jake Peavy. But for second place? You're my pick...

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