Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Canada-China Olympic Preliminary

Spent the day painting and repairing shit around this apartment I've lived in for the past two years before we move out at the end of the month. There's no way the rental office doesn't notice the giant hole in the wall I shoddily patched over, but it was my first time working with plaster and I'm hoping I can get away with my indiscretion without losing hundreds of dollars in security deposit money.

So anyway, this is what it's like being an unemployed grad student, staying up late to get drunk alone off home-made wine and write a live blog no one will read live for a sporting event very few of you care about. I was talking to my brother on MSN about the game earlier tonight but he lost interest and stopped replying, so I'm reducing to doing this instead.

Welcome to my world.

I've been whinging quite a bit about the Jays of late, so I'm going to attempt to give you something enjoyable and positive to read about the Scott Richmond-less Team Canada. It's hard to figure out who's who with no commentary, but I'll do my best. I was hoping to see some of Brett Lawire, the 16th overall pick by the Brewers in the June amateur draft, but he's not in the starting lineup. Try to contain your disappointment.

11:29 - So this is how Chinamen design a ball park? This place is colder than a Klondike Bar. I'd rather watch intercounty league teams go at it in Stratford than see a game here. When I was on a prolonged sojurn in Beijing with the Mrs. two summers ago I had her make some calls for me in the hopes of catching a CBL game or two to provide a break from the intense heat and over-crowding (figuring that a ball game in China is the last place you'd find too many people).

The only problem was that when we got through to the club they had no idea when or where their next game would be played and were somewhat baffled that anyone actually wanted to come see them play. When I asked about buying a t-shirt or jersey the secretary responded with total incomprehension.

11:30 - I'm watching the CBC feed online because the main network is carrying swimming and gymnastics even though Canada has no chance of winning either event. Here on the baseball feed there's no commentary, just park sounds, and it's absolutely serene. It's pure baseball, players chatting to each other, fists smacking gloves, the crack of the bat, clapping, the PA. No inane chatter from Darren Fletcher about hot dogs, no Jamie Campbell losing his shit when the other team has a late-game rally, not even Wilner updating out-of-town scores from the Fan HQ.

This is blissfull.

11:35 - London content! Adam Stern batting leadoff, flies out. Still, more Adam Stern to come.

11:37 - Number 11, let's assume that was Stubby Clapp (confirmed later by the defensive graphic), flies out deep to left where Wang Chao makes a nice little snow cone catch. Wang's got some faux Oakley's on and wears them like someone who aspires to play in the bigs.

11:38 - Michael Saunders, an outfielder in the Mariner's system who had a nifty little season at AA, is one lanky motherfucker who looks like he's got pop. He launches another routine fly right to the centre fielder. The Canuckers go three up, three down, but put three balls in the air. Chinese starter Bo Tao could be in for grief.

11:40 - Chris Begg (spent last year at the Giants AAA affiliate posting atrocious peripherals but winning 12 games nonetheless) gets the start for Team Canada, gives up a leadoff single but induces an inning ending double play ball from China's 3-hitter Feng Fei. I missed what happened to the 2-hitter pouring some wine...

11:48 -Some guy who looks like Corey Koskie leads off the second with a grounder right to the first baseman. Nick Weglarz a promising 20-year-old OF in the Indians system, singles to right, then Jimmy Vanostrand hits into an inning-ending double play... Bo Tao just got his last three hitters to put the ball on the ground, so maybe there's more to his game than I first thought.

11:54 - Wang Wei leads off the Chinese second and grounds out weakly to second. Zhang Yufeng punches a single over Stubby Clapp's head to right, Li Lei follows up with one more of the same. Chinese rally! The crowd is chanting "Wang Chao", alternating between dames and dudes. It's kind of eerie and cool, who knows where they came up with this because it's not part of anyone else's baseball culture. Wang chases some bad breaking shit down and away, striking out to end the threat.

12:01 - What's the square root of Matt Rogelstad, Chris Robinson, Emmanuel Garcia? Three up, three down. We're once through the order and I can recall only one, maybe two, righty bats in the Canadian lineup against the lefty starter. Ok, I get it, everyone here plays baseball under duress while day-dreaming of playing in the OHL.

12:07 - Just so you know, every hitter on both teams uses double flap-helmets just like the ones you used to wear in little league. I wonder if they have one helmet per player or share them? We'll find out if someone calls timeout before their at bat with the bases loaded to switch that tight 4th helmet no one wants to wear with one of the bigger ones worn by a baserunner.

The Chinese go down quicker than a French hooker in their half of the 3rd.

12:12 - Adam Stern! Canada has gone three innings without scoring against a team from a country where no one actually plays baseball. One of the stern-looking Asian umps growls at the the mincing Olympic mascots to get the fuck away from the field. Stern shows bunt, but pulls it back, just messing with you... And again with the bunt... I know you're fast Adam, but come on here, let's "turn it loose" as Rance Mulliniks would say. Hey hey! Stern ends up flying out to second base, manager Terry Puhl looks unimpressed with his limp-dicked offense.

Some "Stubby" chants from die-hard Canada fans, random crowd exhortations of the sort you'd hear in little league. "Commmmeeeee Onnnnn! Swwwwiiiiiing!" Ah, why didn't I think of that? And Stubby punches a single up the middle.

The Chinese starter Bo thinks Stubby is going and throws over frequently. Paid too much attention to the baserunner and gave up a single to Saunders. And Bo's clearly rattled... Oh, snap! Corey Koskie lookalike (I later find out it's Scott Thorman of Cambridge, Ontario, a first baseman in the Braves system who somehow got almost 300 Brad Wilkerson-esque ABs last year) smacks a 3-run homerun to deep right. Canada up 3-0!

12:28 - The network switches over to baseball and I see from a CBC graphic that Warren Sawkiw and Jim Van Horne are doing the commentary. I'll stick with the online feed. No, I can't... It was nice being at peace with my thoughts for three innings but I'm starting to get lonely.

Selina has joined me in the living room and informs me that the crowd is chanting "Go Chinese Team!" They do that at every sporting event, especially volleyball, she tells me. Was I supposed to talk to her about something? Perhaps, but I continue blogging...

A Chinese player doubles to left to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but Wang Wei K's, next dude grounds out weakly to the pitcher advancing the runner to third with two outs, then Begg K's a goateed Chinaman to work his way his way out of the inning.

If you were wondering why the Chinese kind of suck ass at baseball compared to the Japanese, Koreans and Taiwainese, it's because Chairman Mao banned baseball as a decadent American influence in 1959. Baseball certainly wasn't worth a trip to the gulag, so memories of Babe Ruth barn-storming in Shanghai in the '30s had almost all been forgotten by the time the ban was lifted in 1975, a year before Mao's death. Maybe Nixon softened him up? In any event, baseball in China had gone from niche sport than pulled in a few curious locals in its heyday to a diversion roughly on par with chess boxing in terms of fan support today... MLB has spent some serious cash developing baseball academies in China and the Yankees made bit of a PR splash by signing a pair of Chinese players in 2007, but the sport doesn't yet have much cache as far as the average Chinese sports fan is concerned.

12:40 - Canada puts a pair of men on base and this game that had been ripping right along faster than I can type grinds to a halt. Liu Kai warming in the bullpen and it looks like the Chinese coach is going to call the Politburo to ask permission to make a pitching change.

Stern back up, two on, none out. Shows fucking bunt again, gay! "Turn it loose", Adam! You're playing China, one of your biggest fans is watching this in the wee hours of the morning and wants to see a big hit. The goateed Chinese third baseman, playing shallow to defend against the bunt, makes a crazy back hand on the ground ball down the line and stumbles over the bag for the force out. Nice play, really nice play, and he's laughing himself silly.

12:44 - Chinese manager Jim Lefebvre comes out to make the pitching change. Bo cruised through the early going and leaves having surrendered 3 ER in 3.1 IP with runners on second and third and only one out.

12:46 - Liu (Yankees prospect) is a tall 20-year-old lefty with a good fastball and he's raw... just fired a pickoff throw to second into centrefield, would've pegged a day-dreaming Manny Garcia if he'd hit the shortstop. Rob Ducey is going to tear a strip off Garcia for that Rios-esque brain fart, but a run scores on the error. Clapp walks and the bases are loaded, this is where you pile it on and make the Chinese wish they'd never taken up the sport...

The Chinese are warming a third lefty, Cheng Yuji (spelling?)...

Saunders K's on some bad, bad heat, and Thorman's back up again, Sawkiw thinks he needs a good Olympics to get his way back to the bigs. I'm guessing that mastering AAA pitching might be a surer ticket, but I'm not a member of the paid media. Liu fires a wild pitch about 6 feet off the plate and another run comes in to score. The wheels are coming off here for China. And then he beans Thorman. Retribution? No, this kid just can't throw strikes and he's probably nervous as shit playing in front of a packed house of 12000, which is roughly 11990 more than he's ever played in front of before.

12:55 - Lefebvre yanks Liu, hopefully for someone who can throw strikes. The new pitcher gets a fly out to end the inning, Canada up 5-0.

Van Horne mentions that if one team is leading by 10 the game can be called after 7 innings. Only the Texas Rangers would protest that rule and I have been given some hope of getting to bed before I feel the need to open a third bottom of wine.

1:01 - The main network cuts away from the game for a news update about the lip-synching scandal from the opening ceremonies. This is worse than 10 consecutive autotrader.ca ads; I'd be more shocked if the CCP hadn't chosen to lip-synch.

Begg puts 'em away, three up, three down. And we head to the sixth.

1:07 - The main network isn't going back to the ballgame, even though it's after one a.m. and only drunks and insomniacs are still watching. Every Team Canada booster who lost their shit at JP for calling up Scott Richmond, take fucking note. The main TV network in this country can only bear to show 40 minutes of a baseball game, that's where it stands on the list of national priorities. After going through the run down of every competition we lost pathetically, perhaps they'll switch back to a game Canada is actually winning.

1:10 - Adam Stern! Man on first, none out. Stern walks, Van Horne and Sawkiw have no idea what position he plays (CF), guessing that he's a shortstop. Nice try, fuckers. I'm more lucid and knowledgable after two bottles of wine and a day of painting in a poorly ventilated bathroom.

Stubby Clapp hates the mercy rule, choosing to end the inning by flying out pathetically even if it means running the risk of extending this game beyond 7 innings.

11:15 - Sawkiw and Van Horne are jawing about the future of Olympic baseball, speculating that it will return in 2016 if either Chicago or Tokyo puts up a winning bid. Baseball was dropped for London in 2012 because Eurotrash IOC members couldn't accept that MLB wouldn't release its best players for the Olympics. Sure, tell the Yankees they don't need Jeter and Rodriguez for 3 weeks to compete in an amateur tournament.

Begg gets 'em three up, three down again, and we've got to go back to Ian Hanomansing for another inane update about nothing anyone cares about.

1:24 - Thorman gets beaned again, this time by Chen Yunji, and it looked deliberate. Weglarz K's, but Thorman steals second. That's just a "fuck you for beaning me", but I'm wishing they could hurry up and score 10 so I can go to bed and hopefully not get yelled at for my stealth drinking in the living room.

Thorman scores on the single, but whoever hit it got greedy going for second and got thrown out. That's how you kill a rally.

1:32 - Some Chinese guy doubles to right and the Chinese crowd is back in it... and then the silence is deafening. Begg is so Josh Towers-esque that I'm expecting the Chinese to score at least one off him, but they keep chasing bad, bad breaking shit out of the zone with two strikes. We all have our weaknesses I guess.

1:34 - The CBC main network is playing some "women's" beach volleyball match between Brazil-Australia instead of switching back to the ball game. I can't imagine how that's more relevant to Canadian viewers than a game that Canada is playing in in a sport they're actually kind of good at. I would check those Aussie dames for cocks because they just don't look right...

1:40 - China has runners on first and third with one out (?) and Canada has made a pitching change. Number 22, side-armer. Chinese fans are trying to go crazy with "Chiiii-na!" chants and I'm kind of hoping they put one across.

I spent a couple of years studying in Britain in the early 2000s and got into international rugby, Six Nations, World Cup, etc.. I remember watching a game back in 2002 when England ran up the score against Romania, a newcomer to the sport, something like 108-0. After the game the Romanian coach said that no kids in his country would ever want to play the game after such a humiliation.


6-0 Canada after 6 complete.

1:45 - I'm busting for a piss and the one bathroom here in this 2-bedroom apartment is occupied for the long term... Will I let one fly off the balcony? I won't have to see these people after the end of the month...

1:48 - I rocked that piss and it's up to you to guess where.

Canada has a runner on second, and it looks like Saunders is up.

1:51 - Another Chinese powwow on the mound, fucking hell do these guys take their sweet time.

I'm kind of seeing what Terry Puhl was saying about this team needing to score runs. If you can't mercy some Chinese scrubs, fear Cuba. Before I finish writing that the Chinese centrefielder takes a bad route on a shallow fly off the bat of ADAM STERN! That's a triple, biatches, and Canada needs 3 more for the mercy. So much as I can surmise there's a man on third with one out? It's hard to tell without commentory or any sort of graphics. And I'm more than a little bit drunk.

1:58 - Li Weiliang is the new Chinese pitcher, indistinguishable from the last three in stuff, form or physical appearance. I hear jostling from the bedroom and should probably join the Mrs, but I'm going to push this as long as I can. I've had a good run...

2:01 - Fuck yeah, Mike Saunders takes Li deep to right!?! Was there anyone on base at that point? It's impossible to tell with this bare bones online production. I don't even know what the score is, but we're that much closer to the mercy rule.

The inning ends, fuck yeah, Canada up 10-0. Stop those railroad-builders here and now and I get to go to bed now with minimal marital strife. Do me this one solid Team Canada.

2:04 - Just got an earful, this ends here and now. Let's assume Canada won 10-0.

-- Johnny Was


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

dude, fuck, well done...

The Southpaw said...

Thanks man, I was wondering if anyone had actually read this...


. said...

I'm guessing you let it go in the sink?

The Southpaw said...

I will never say.


Anonymous said...

I'm too lazy to read this, but I did watch the game and was pissed that I didn't get to see Lawrie.

Drew said...

Dude, I'm pissed I missed this. I was following the game at Out of Left Field, where my pithy barbs aren't as well received. I'm a night owl of the highest order, and will be around for the next night game. Good work