If you were going to set out to build a successful national baseball team you probably wouldn’t select a country with most of its land sitting below sea level. Camden Depot presents a brief history of honkbal, as the Netherlands nine get ready to compete in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, exactly 100 years after the formation of Quick Amsterdam, Europe's first baseball team. Last time around, the Dutchmen knocked the mighty Dominican Republic out of the tournament. This year's Dutch team, led by veteran Andruw Jones and Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop, both natives of Willemstad on the island of Curacao, puts more Dutch talent on the field than there has been since Bert Blyleven's last game. (Blyleven is the Netherlands' pitching coach.) Don't leave it till game time -- learn to speak honkbal now!
In their book The Secret of the Miracle Pitch, Japanese researchers using supercomputers modeled a potentially unhittable breaking pitch called the "Gyroball". Baseball has been simmering with debate over whether anyone can actually throw it. Seekers of the elusive pitch claim that Japanese superstar and MVP of the 2006 World Baseball Classic Daisuke Matsuzaka throws one, and cite this high-speed video (YouTube) as an example. Another video exists, of high school ace Joey Niezer purported throwing it. If it actually exists, the Gyroball would be the first new pitch developed in almost 40 years.
Omedetou! Japan beat Cuba 10-6 to win the first World Baseball Classic. The team was coached by Sadaharu Oh, one of the great stars of the Japanese leagues (868 home runs to boot), and featured the talents of a few Japanese players who have made the jump to American ball--Ichiro Suzuki and Akinori Otsuka. Is the World Series now an outdated misnomer?