Friday, March 21, 2008

Team Preview: Shenyang Defenders

Most of you probably follow the newspapers, and probably already know about all the protests in Tibet, as well as the wave of violence that has spread through China. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on Saturday's elections in Taiwan. Honestly, after doing a big research paper on cross-strait relations last semester, I hope that KMT candidate Ma Ying-chiu (馬英九) wins. If not, and if Taiwan keeps striding towards independence, I'd be wary about making any plans to travel there in the near future. To be honest, it's no coincidence that these riots in Tibet started just a week before the big elections in Taiwan. However, if Taiwan starts making strong strides toward independence, there won't be any peaceful resolution in sight.

Anyway, enough about politics. Let's get back to what really matters in life: baseball.

Today's team preview highlights the Shenyang Defenders. As you may or may not know, Shenyang is the capital city of Liaoning province in Northeastern China, right on the North Korean border. It was the sight of the famous Battle of Mukden during the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war, was the sight of the infamous Mukden Incident in 1931, and was one of the last GMT cities to fall to the Communists. In that sense, I guess the name "Defenders" is fitting.


I can remember staring at this image of Fenway Park in the Diamond Mind brochure about 7 years ago, before my dad and I bought the game. It's probably my favorite ballpark image of all time. The Shenyang version of Fenway will be called Mukden Field.

Starting Pitchers
1. Kevin Brown
2. Orel Hershiser
3. Jack McDowell
4. Bob Ewing
5. Bill Dinneen
SS. David Wells
SS. Johnny Morrison
SS. Mitsuo Sumi

Interesting to see three modern pitchers in a row like that, all before deadball pitcher Bob Ewing. That wouldn't happen if we were simply using ERA. Sumi is also a modern era pitcher, with a pretty respectable 3.02 lifetime ERA and a nice 888-488 K-BB ratio.

Mike Timlin
Shingo Takatsu
Arthur Lee Rhodes

The CM has Rhodes in the "closer" slot, despite the fact that he has only 30 lifetime saves. Takatsu has an interesting story: according to the Japan Baseball Daily website, in the 1996 All-Star Game he "Appeared as a pinch hitter ... to face Ichiro, who had taken the mound." Must have been one heck of an All-Star Game! Wish I could see a video of that at-bat.

Starting Lineup
1. Cool Papa Bell LF
2. Sam Bankhead SS / Roy White LF
3. Todd Helton 1B
4. Alec Radcliff 3B
5. Newt Allen 2B / Sam Crawford RF
6. Johnny Romano C
7. Reggie Sanders RF / Newt Allen 2B
8. Mike Cameron CF / Johnny Pesky SS

It's fitting that Pesky will play at Fenway Park in this league as well. Overall, this is another strong lineup, with quite a few former Negro League stars. Oh, and I absolutely love Roy White's 1975 Topps card. That's as iconic as baseball cards get.

Kazuto Tsuruoka 1B / 2B / 3B / LF / RF

Tommie Agee LF / CF / RF
Randy Velarde 2B / 3B / SS / LF
Yoshio Yoshida 2B / 3B / SS
Phil Nevin C / 1B / 3B
Henry Larkin 1B / LF / CF
Billy Rogell 2B / 3B / SS
Gus Triandos C / 1B

One wonders what Tsuruoka would have done had he not been drafted in February 1940. For a man who hadn't played professional baseball in years, he sure had a stellar 1946 season. You can read more about him here.

Anyway, that's it for me tonight.

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