The Andrelton Simmons deal is genius

When is it alright to pay a 248/.296/.396 hitter at least 58 million dollars for seven years?

When he’s Andrelton Simmons, who’s bat is secondary but who’s defense is beyond the realm of mortal man. Yes, the Honkballing shortstop for the Braves may only have played 206 games, but already, he may rank amongst the greatest defensive SS in history. No. Seriously.

Consider, for example, last season he made 49 more plays than the average shortstop would have made, and how only 22% of the Braves’ opponents were able to reach first when hitting a ground ball left of the 2nd base bag. He also prevented 41 runs from being scored, if you go by the Defensive Runs Saved stat.

Or, if you don’t have time for advanced statistics, just watch these 25 minutes of awesome:

Link of the day: Dutch baseball words

After a shocking 7-6 upset over Cuba, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, AKA “Honkbal”, is headed to San Francisco for the WBC semi-finals, with only a relatively meaningless game for seeding remaining against Japan before they head to America, and, no doubt, total world domination.

So, with that in mind, it may be a good idea to check out this link, which serves as a English-to-Dutch dictionary for baseball/honkbal terms.

Picture of the day: Honkbal Forever

It is well known that I am a big fan of the Dutch word for baseball: Honkbal. In Dutch, apparently honk means home, purpose or goal, but thanks to the fact that it means something entirely different in English, it is, well, an inherently fun and an inherently funny word to us. And the style of play of the the Dutch National Team, who upset Cuba yesterday, is infectious, a team of athletic, smooth-fielding players who won’t let the fact they play for a country that isn’t among the traditional baseball powers stop them from showing that they belong.

And, by the looks of what was trending late last night, I’m not alone in having Honkbal fever:

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 1.58.39 AMHonkbal fever- catch it!

Ham Fighters, Grandserows, Sleepwalkers and Robots of Doom: Great Names of International Baseball

As the World Baseball Classic starts, people are writing articles about it, usually falling into two camps: telling people they don’t know what they are missing, or telling everybody they think the tournament is stupid. You know what camp I am in, and another person who is in that camp is Emma Span, who recently wrote an article over at Sports on Earth about it.

And she finished her article by mentioning this:

Did you know there’s a team in the Netherlands’ Honkbal Hoofdklasse called the Hoofddorp Pioniers?

Yes, I did. And as awesome of a name that is, it but scratches the surface of great names in overseas baseball. Oh, sure, we have fun names here in America (such as the Albuquerque “Named for the plot of an episode of The Simpsons” Isotopes), but for some reason, none are quite as charming as those we find overseas.

They don't fight ham, but it'd be funny if they did.

Take, for example, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the NPB (the logo is to the right). They are perhaps the most well-known of great international baseball team names, and the fact that they have have their names not because they fight a porcine menace but rather because they are sponsored by the “Nippon Ham” corporation does not lower the greatness of that name.

Although none of the other NPB teams have a great name on par with the Nippon-Ham Fighters, other parts of Japan’s baseball structure have tried to do so. An independent league in Japan called the Baseball Challenge League, for example, has such great names as the Shinano Grandserows*, the Gunma Diamond Pegasus (shouldn’t it be the Diamond Pegasi?), the Fukui Miracle Elephants (they aren’t just elephants, they’re MIRACLE elephants) and the Ishikawa Million Stars. Another independent league in Japan, based out of the Shikoku Islands, also has excellent names, like the Tokushima Indigo Socks (INDIGO! And they spell it with a “-cks” instead of an “x”!), Ehime Mandarin Pirates (“Mandarin” as in “Mandarin Oranges”- check out their logo) and the Kagawa Oive Guyners**, which make the other team in that league, the Kochi Fighting Dogs, look downright normal.

Let it not be said that Japan holds a monopoly on great names in Asia, or even the Pacific Ocean. Korea has the KBO’s NC Dinos and the Futures League Goyang Wonders***. Taiwan has the Lamigo Monkeys, Brother Elephants and the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions. And, well, those are just teams that are currently around. Earlier in history,

Down in Australia, the Perth Heat are sponsored by the “Alcohol. Think Again” program. So, guess what you see when you go to their website? Well, you see “Purchase your Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat tickets today!” and similar sentences. In other words, the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat, in addition to being one of the most confusing grammatical team names in the world, are also presumably what the bizarro version of the Milwaukee Brewers would be named.

But it is in Europe, where those Pioniers are, that some of the best baseball names are. There, so far away from American eyes, there are some great names, either intentionally or unintentionally. From the Hoofdklasse‘s Mr. Cocker HCAW**** and the lower-division honkbal club called the Tex Town Tigers, to the Regensburg Buchbinder Legionaere in Germany*****, Europe is the center of awesome baseball names, with some of them especially being fun when said aloud.

Names like:

Paderborn Untouchables (Germany)

Barracudas de Montpellier (France)

Dohren Wild Farmers (Germany)

Jimmer’s de Saint-Lo (France)

Brasschaat Braves (Belgium)

Rättvik Butchers (Sweden, now defunct)

Therwil Flyers (Switzerland)

Tempo Titans (Czech Republic)

Espoo Expos (Finland)

Oslo Pretenders (Norway)

DOOR Neptunus (Netherlands- yes, DOOR is a sponsor, but the idea of Neptune playing for a door is too good to pass up)

Szentendre Sleepwalkers (Hungary)

Pops CB (Spain, long defunct)

Nottingham Thieves (UK, possibly defunct)

But all of these are nothing compared to perhaps the greatest, best-of-the-best name for a baseball Behold it!team anywhere in the world: The UK’s Bolton Robots of Doom. Look upon it’s logo and despair at the sight of a Killer Robot that has taken up hardball to bring doom to the enemies of the Bolton 9! Look upon it and know that no team anywhere in the world will ever be able to top this. None.

What is truly impressive about the Bolton Robots of Doom is not that they have such a name, but because they went so all-out on it. They could have just stuck with “Robots”, or kept their old name, the “Blaze”. But, no, they had to have the robot be OF DOOM. And that, my friends, is devotion to coming up with an awesome nickname.

Although the team may not have done well last season, finishing 0-16 in the AAA North Division of British Baseball. They’ve been relegated to a lower league. But none of this matters.They could have gone 0-17 or 0-1000, but with a name like that, they will forever have a place in my heart, and the Robots of Doom will forever strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.

So, enjoy the WBC, or you could go to sleep instead. But remember: The Bolton Robots of Doom never rest.

* A Serow is a goat or antelope-like mammal. The Japanese variety looks like this. Presumably, Shinano is meant to be one of those, only more… grander.

** As far as I could tell from research “Guyner” is a slang word in the local dialect for a strong person.

*** Do you think they were originally called the “Oneders”?

**** The “Mr. Cocker” is from a sponsor, before you ask.

***** That’s “Bookbinder Legionnaires” in English.

Picture of the day: Go Dutch!

Today’s picture, used under a creative commons license and taken by “.m for mattijs”, is of a young Dutch honkbal fan cheering on the Orange during last year’s Haarlem Baseball Week.


WBC Roster Analysis: The Netherlands

What, did you expect me to do the Dominican Republic first after I did Team USA? Well, sorry to disappoint, as I’m focusing on the Dutch today.

The Netherlands may seem, on the surface, to be a country unlikely to be a baseball power, but that is only when one assumes that “The Netherlands” is just the country in Europe. In reality, “The Netherlands” in baseball competition (and certain other forums) is the “Kingdom of the Netherlands“, a sovereign state  that includes not only the Netherlands but also it’s Caribbean holdings, most notably Curacao and Aruba.

You can find the roster for the Netherlands here, although there is a slightly different- and possibly more up-to-date version- here, go after the jump for my analysis of it.

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