World Baseball Classic Predictions that I wrote on 3/4/09 and updated after each round

1) USA
2) Japan
3) Cuba
4) Korea
5) Dominican Republic
6) Canada
7) Venezuela
8) Mexico
9) Puerto Rico
10) Italy
11) Panama
12) Chinese Taipei
13) Netherlands
14) Australia
15) South Africa
16) China

USA, although not the strongest team, has superior coaching by far with a very experienced manager and 3 HOF players as coaches.

Japan by far has the most raw talent in the entire tournament. Look For
them to dominate in the Asia pool…yes that means they will beat Korea.

Cuba will finish strong after their 2nd place finish in 2006, but the
problem with Castro’s ruling is that many of the players defect at
tournaments to escape the country. They have lost their 2 biggest bats
and star pitcher in the last 3 months.

Korea will do well, and easily take 2nd in the Asia pool. Although not
as strong as in ’06, their power and consistency at the plate will make
them a tough opponent in the 2nd round and in the Semi Finals for the
USA

The Dominican Republic boasts a loaded lineup, but with the A-Rod
controversy and the Yankees begging him not to play, the distractions
will be too difficult to overcome. Don’t be surprised if they make the
Semis by upsetting Cuba or the US…but they don’t have the pitching to
make the finals.

Canada has to be the most underrated team in the entire tournament.
With stars such as Jason Bay and Russel Martin, they could prove to be
a challenge for the American team and should be able to beat out the
highly over favored Venezuelan team

Puerto Rico should have a good tournament after a disappointing one in
2006. But the other talent will prove too much. They won’t get out of
the 2nd round, that is if they make it.

Mexico will round up the teams that make the 2nd round. Although not
highly talented, they are in a fairly easy pool and playing at home in
Mexico city. They will creep into the 2nd round, but not win any games
there.

Venezuela is still a possibility to upset any team in this tournament.
They may even win the Toronto pool if their offense can support their
pitching

As for the other teams, don’t plan on seeing them in the 2nd round

Should be an interesting tournament. Starts tonight at 1:30 AM

UPDATE 3/20/09
Ok guys, so here is a quick reflection on the tournament from Pools A, B, C, D and 1 and 2.

So first of all…story of the tournament…NETHERLANDS! To upset the
Dominican Republic not once, but twice?!? AMAZING! But really, some
good upsets in the tournament. Australia over Mexico. Italy over
Canada. China over Chinese Taipei. and NETHERLANDS OVER DOMINICAN! 🙂

So let’s reflect on the pre-tournament ranking

1) USA- Still there. Made the Semis! Injuries have hurt, but with Evan
Longoria added to the line up, it should be more balanced. Reached LA
which was the initial goal. Let’s hope for the best. Go USA!
2) Japan- Had a pretty strong tournament especially beating Cuba in the
elimination game. SO far split the games with Korea 2-2 (An all Asian
final? It could happened)
3) Cuba- Over all, I am very disappointed. I knew they weren’t going to
win, but this ends like 20 some tournaments in which they made the
finals.
4) Korea- So far, I am very impressed, I should have given them more
credit after the olympics. Didn’t win Pool 1, but still a great
performance in the tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in
the finals.
5) Dominican Republic- Really? Netherlands? So hard work, determination, and pride can beat steroids and money?
6) Canada- Bad performance in Pool C, pretty disappointed.
7) Venezuela- Somewhat surprised with the success that they’ve had. I
don’t know if it is enough to keep Korea out of the Finals though.
8) Mexico- Really poor performance in Pool 1. They were in the easiest
opening pool with home field advantage. They didn’t deserve to get to
Pool 1.
9) Puerto Rico- Good tournament. So close to semi-finals, but the US just had to win…it was destiny
10) Italy- Ok performance, beat Canada but didn’t get out of Toronto. Just don’t have the talent.
11) Panama- Ranked wayy too high. They belonged at the bottom.
12) Chinese Taipei- Lost to China. They don’t play baseball in China. Once again, ranked way to high.
13) Netherlands- WOW! This team did some amazing things. Even going 2
and out in Pool 2, was the highlight of the tournament for me until the
USA walk off
14) Australia- Beat Mexico, but nothing impressive. Maybe ranked a little too low.
15) South Africa – Ranked just about right. One of those teams that has no business playing baseball
16) China- Ranked a little too low. Beat Chinese Taipei not much of an accomplishment, but still pretty cool.

SEMI FINAL AND FINAL PREDICTIONS:

SEMI FINAL 1: KOREA VS. VENEZUELA
This is going to be one of the most interesting games that I will ever
see. Too very different styles of baseball will clash. I think Korea
has an overall stronger offense, but Venezuela has pitched well lately.
After some days off, I think the break might actually hurt the
Venezuelan pitchers. WARREN’S PICK: KOREA

SEMI FINAL 2: USA VS JAPAN
This is extremely hard to predict. With Daiskue and Oswalt pitching,
you never know what will happen. They are among the top ten pitchers in
the world, but they have both been known to be wild. Tight defense is a
must and if either team makes errors, they are done. I feel like the
’06 loss to Japan and the determination after the Puerto Rico will
still propel the USA team. My mine concern for them is the injuries.
Youkalis and Jones are gone, and Longoria is joining the squad. I don’t
know what is happening at first base. Either way, it should be a well
fought game which will be lost, not won. WARREN’S PICK: USA

FINAL: KOREA VS. USA
(I WILL COME BACK AND WRITE A PREDICTION AFTER WE SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SEMIS.)

Update 3/22/09
So Korea won as expected, but USA lost to Japan. As I said, the game would be lost, not one, and the US played poorly.

FINALS PREDICTIONS: JAPAN

4/25 Angel Stadium

I don’t have much time, so this is going to be a spark notes version

So…

This is how my day began. First, I took the SAT. I arrived at the stadium at 3:30 to find I left my ticket at home. I was going to buy a ticket at the ticket window, but the cheapest ticket was $34. I was willing to pay for my mistake, but not $34. So, I went home to get my ticket and I got into the stadium at 4:30, just as the Angels were winding down BP. I was afraid I might get shut out for the first time since April ’08.

I got a ball from Steve Solis and another one from Chris Jakubauskus within the first five minutes. I got one more that bounced up from the bullpen. That was it for BP. But let me say, Sean White (the baseball player, not the snowboarder) is a jerk. Both days, I politely asked him for balls when no one else was around and he ignored me. Probably 20-25 times in all.

Right before the game, I got a ball from Adrian Beltre and a random ball that was thrown up over the dugout, I think from Seattle Manager Don Wakamatsu because I saw him disappear after seeing my Seattle hat.

I got my last ball in the Eigth inning from 3rd base coach Bruce Hines when a foul ball came to the dugout steps. I didn’t even have to ask. I was directly behind him and he started to turn to his left to throw it up and as he turned, I could see his lips saying “I need to find a Mariner’s fan.” Sure enough, there I was in my hat and he tossed me the ball. Too easy.

In the 9th, I met MLBALLHAWK John and he gave me some words of wisdom:

“Real ball hawks don’t beg” and when I began to talk about Zack Hample

“He wrote the book that I should have”

He is a really cool guy for all you fans that want to meet a really awesome ball hawk. He is probably the best out here on the West Coast.I think he got 3 on the day, but I might be mistaken. (and if your are comparing my 6 to his 3, DON’T!!!!!!!! I ask for balls all the time. I would have only gotten 1 ball if I didn’t ask for them. I hope someday to be good enough to be able to earn all of my balls myself)

All in all, the day was pretty good after the terrible start

6 balls  (NO PRACTICE STAMPS!)

Angels are gone this week, and I can’t go the week after…

Im on 56 on the season…I think?  Check out updated rankings tommorow

countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

4/24 Angel Stadium

So first let me say that, if I seem a little down, it’s because I am. I came into the game with 2 unrealistic hopes. The first was to get Ken Griffey Jr.’s autograph and the second was to continue my 2009 season streak of 10+ balls per game. Neither of which happened

Ok, here we go…

I arrived at the Stadium at 4:00 PM, exactly an an hour before the gates open. I was the only one standing near the gates and had my pick of which line I wanted. I chose the second to the right, because I planned to race to the right field pavilion and because I am always cut off by handicapped people when I am in the far right line. About 10 minutes before the gates opened, I moved to the far right. While in line, I talked to a fellow ballhawk named Steve. He  is 39 and has caught a little over 100 balls in his career. He told me about another Angel Stadium ballhawk named Rob, who snags hundreds of balls each year. I had little chance to talk to him, but I hope I see him again soon (just not before BP at the front of the line) They both said that they were heading to the right field pavillion (where I was going), so I quickly changed my mind when Steve mentioned how fast Rob was. When the gates opened, I quickly ran to the left field corner spot. I was FURIOUS when 5 minutes later, I looked up to see Rob grab at least 7 Easter eggs across the stadium. The worst part of it all? I had gotten my security guy to check my bag early so I COULD have beaten Rob to the pavillion. I will definently head out there tommorow if I can.

So when I got to my corner spot, Angel’s Bench coach Ron Roenicke was hitting balls to Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera. A ball landed out in front and after Riveria threw his ball back to Roenicke, he picked it up. I called to him, and he threw it to me. Ball #1

Next Jose Arredondo robbed a homerun that was going into the bullpen. I asked him for it in my terrible Spanish, and he laughed at me, but then gave me the ball. Ball #2

The next ball was hit well too, and Kelvim Escobar chased it to the wall. The ball short hopped the wall and bounced back, and Escobar jumped off the wall and did a 180 turn. I yelled to him “Kelvim…Why are you so amazing?” After trying to figure out what I said for a while, he finally understood and threw me the ball. Ball #3  

The last one from Angels batting practice came while Justin Spier was doing situps. It almost hit him in the head, but I yelled to him and he dodged it. When he finished his situps, he threw me the ball on his way to the dugout. Ball #4

When the Mariners came out, I quickly switched into my Seattle gear and headed over to the bullpen where pitcher Chris Jakubauskus was finishing up a bullpen. He gave me the ball when he saw my hat. Ball # 5

I grabbed 2 more balls during Seattle’s BP that bounced in the bullpen. I don’t know who hit either one of them, but let me say : God Bless the Mariners for not using Practice Stamps Ball # 6 and Ball #7

I left a few minutes before batting practice for a few reasons. I was hungry, I had to pee, and I really really really wanted Griffey’s autograph and needed a good sport by the dugout. On my way up, I stopped to talk to the Usher. His name is Chris and I met him when he was just a fan at the 2009 World Baseball Classic USA semi-final game in March. We had a long conversation and he remembered me. He told me that the Angels have been using the Metrodome commerotive balls since they returned from Minnesota, so I want to snag one tommorow.

I had no luck getting an autograph from Griffey before the game :(, but I did get a ball from Adrian Beltre after he played catch with Jose Lopez Ball #8

I actually just sat right behind the on deck circle for the first two innings trying to get the balls that ballboys and coaches throw back at Angel Stadium. I was in perfect position…BUT WHAT IS THIS?!? This year, the ball boys are taking all the game used balls and dropping them in this area next to the dugout. Inside, a guy is putting stickers on each one to authenticate them so that they can be sold as game used. That’s right, the Angels are taking balls away from fans so that they can sell them for extremely over exagerated prices. Especially when we all know that MLB has NO money. I was really upset by this.

I stayed down there until I got kicked out by the ticket holders around the 3rd inning. I went and grabbed some food and then snuck back down behind the Mariners’ dugout. I was trying to get third out balls, but they kept going to big drunk guys who muscled me out of their way.

At the end of the game, (I continued to try to get Griffey to sign) I got the last out ball from Franlin Gutierrez. Ball #9 (PS…is this a game ball for the ball hawk league if it was thrown to me?)

All in all, it was a pretty good day…9 balls 🙂

Back at in tommorow

Peace

 
 

Angel Stadium 4/24 and 4/25

I will be at Angel Stadium Friday and
Saturday. If there are any ball hawks out there that will be
there, let me know so we can stay out of each other’s way. I
am thinking I might go up to the right field pavilion first?
I usually would go to the left field foul pole, but in all my
games at Angel Stadium I dont think I have been up in the
pavilion more than 15 times

WEEK 3 BABY!

ANGELS HOME TOMORROW I will be at 4/21 4/22
4/24 4/25 Check out Erik’s blog for week 2 standings in my
Chase to compete with “The Greatest of All Time” (Rickey
Henderson reference for those of you who read Zack’s Yankee
Stadium Post) PEACE

HELLO MLBlogs

HI! My name is Warren and I am 16. I am a ball hawk out here on the West Coast. I’m a life long die-hard Angels’ fan (even in 2009 :-p) I got my first ball from Scott Spiezio back in 2003, the season after I read Zack Hample’s first  book How to Snag Major League Baseballs. My baseball collection is currently at 687 with my best season being 2008 (278 balls.) I have also collected 6 game used bats, and am most proud of the Erick Aybar 2007 ALDS bat. Unlike manay other ball hawks, I am an avid collector of autographs as well. Also, (honesty trying not to bring shame to ball hawks), I sell some of my autographs and memoribillia, but only because the 2010 All Star game is coming to Anaheim and it is my dream to sit behind the dugout during an All Star game. I attend 30-50 games per year and usually go to batting practice. My most recent prized items are Jimmy Rollins game used batting gloves from the 2009 World Baseball Classic Semi-finals. I asked him for them as he entered the Japanese dugout after the loss to do his press conference.  My “Heath Bell”, for those of you who follow Zack Hample, is Scot Shields. He was really good to me in ’06, ’07, and ’08, but the only encounter I have had so far this season was the day after Nick Adenhart passed away. (RIP) Picture 12.jpgI’ll be blogging from time to time, trying to blog about every game, but I might not be very active until after June 18, when I get out of school. Here is a  picture of some of my recent  stuff that I haven’t moved to my closet yet.