Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Team Preview: Harbin Icecaps

Blogging was made for days like today. After a day of working on my research paper on Chinese - Japanese relations (written in Chinese), I'm ready for a few minutes of pure baseball.

First and foremost, allow me to engage in some blatant advertising. For those who don't know, you can order a new copy of Strat-O-Matic baseball, complete with the 2005 season cards, from Toys R' Us online for $10. Just click here and see for yourself. I've been an APBA player all my life, but I'm willing to give Strat a try -- after all, it's only $10. Seems like Strat is staying relevant and current, long after the days of full-page comic book ads.

Second, for the few of you who haven't seen it yet, this New York Times article about baseball in China caught my eye. I'm guessing our kids will have similar baseball experiences, especially if I spend a lot of time living abroad. I think I'll buy Mr. Forney's book when it comes out.

Without much further ado, here's today's team: the Harbin Icecaps.


Harbin is easily the coldest city in China. According to my Chinese tutor (just met with her today), its winter temperatures approach -40C, and it sure doesn't get all that warm in the summer. Hence, the Harbin team has to play in a dome stadium, particularly one designed for a cold weather city. And what better dome than the Metrodome?
As usual, I've taken the liberty of renaming the stadium with respect to the city. In Harbin it is known as the Zhongyanglu Dome, named for Harbin's famous Center Street. Sure, it won't match up well with the Russian architecture, but has any dome ever looked good?
Starting Pitchers
1. Tim Hudson
2. Jim Palmer
3. Ben McDonald
4. Camilo Pascual
5. Eppa Rixey

Pretty interesting rotation. McDonald, Pascual and Rixey never played on very good teams and Hudson's accomplishments were always overshadowed by Barry Zito. Six-foot-five must have been pretty big in the 1930s.

Relief Pitchers
Gregg Olson
Justin Speier
Jim Brewer
Mark Eichhorn
Todd Worrell
Rich Gossage

Again, mostly a bunch of good players from otherwise mediocre teams. Worrell and Gossage are the first names that jump out, though both had their embarrassing World Series moments (Worrell's blown save in the 1985 Series game 6, and the Goose giving up that monster home run to Kirk Gibson in the 1984 Series game 5).

Starting Lineup
1. Pelayo Chacon SS / Streak Milton LF
2. Eddie Stanky 2B
3. Minnie Minoso LF / Tris Speaker CF
4. Tris Speaker CF / Jim Thome 3B
5. Rap Dixon RF / Minnie Minoso RF
6. Buck O'Neill 1B / John Olerud 1B
7. Bill Freehan C
8. Buddy Bell 3B / Pelayo Chacon SS

I wasn't able to find good links for Pelayo Chacon or Streak Milton, both Negro League stars from around the 1910s. It's interesting to see so many Negro League players on the same team. Other than that, there's not much to say -- another fairly strong lineup, but without many great standouts.

Harvey Kuenn 3B / SS / LF / CF / RF
Chuck Hinton 1B / 2B / 3B / LF / CF / RF
Johnny Briggs 1B / LF / CF / RF
Kid Elberfeld 2B / 3B / SS
Hiroki Kokubo 1B / 2B / 3B
Rick Burleson 2B / SS
Davey Johnson 1B / 2B
Dixie Walker LF / CF / RF

Well, that does it for me tonight. Enjoy!

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