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Saturday, August 28, 2010

What? now he's following international Baseball?

Not really, but in watching the Little League World Series these last two weeks, I did decide to do a little research on what's out there. Believe me, it's not hockey.

China started a six team lewague in 2003, and it was dominated for whatever existance it had (or has) by the Beijing Tigers. I got indications that this league was dropped after 2009 and a new six team league was to begin play in August 2010, but its website only reads "under construction".

Taiwan has a 4 team loop which plays a split season much like many American minor leagues. It looks like they are in the second half, with the Elephants of Taipei a usual leader.

In South Korea, the Han-Kook Pro Yagoo (catchy, huh?) is an 8 team circuit with the Kia Tigers of Gwangju and the SK Wyvern of Inchon in a tight tight race as their season winds down.

Of course, the pride of international baseball is the NPB of Japan, split into Central and Pacific leagues, much like MLB. The defending champs are the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, and they lead their league right now, looking towards a possible Japan Series matchup against Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

The Mexican League is officially a AAA league of Minor League Baseball. The Saraperos of Saltillo are the two-time champs, winning the 2010 championship over Puebla 4-1, including a 21-2 romp in the series finale.

Italy's Serie A1 is in its finals between 1st place Parma and 4th place Bologna, with Bologna having won the first game 2-1.

The only other credible Euro-league is the Dutch Honkbal Hoofdklasse. Perennial power DOOR Neptunus of Rotterdam rolled through the 42-game regular season at 39-3, swept the first playoff round, and awaits the winner of Corendon Kinheim of Haarlem/ L&D Amsterdam in the final.

Venezuela and the Dominican have winter leagues, whose histories are full of former major leaguers. The defending Venezuelan champ is the Leones del Caracas, who year-in and year-out dominate their 8-team league. In the Dominican, its the Leones del Escogito, who won last year's title under manager (and former Cardinal star) Ken Oberkfell. This team's history is full of their favorite sons, the Alou brothers. The Caracas team was once the home of White Sox stars Luis Aparicio and Chico Carrasqual, as well as A's and Red Sox slugger Tony Armas. These two leagues send their champs in January to face off against the champs of the Puerto Rican and Mexican Pacific winter leagues in the Carribean Series.

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