Lithuanian umpire adventure Day 3

Well, we’re not the fully healthy 8-team field that we thought we were going to be, but we’ve got Ladera Ranch from Mission Viejo, the Czechs, Belarussian teams from Minsk and Brest, and Lithuanian clubs from Vilnius and Utena.

Let the games – the 4th annual Sporto Vilkai Cup – begin.

We lost Russia. The story is that the Russian government pulled all visas for athletes leaving the country, with the exception of those going to Beijing, in advance of their assault on neighboring Georgia.

We lost Sweden and Switzerland, but to be honest, we didn’t have super-high expectations even when they expressed interest months ago. Poland is another country that bailed after giving a verbal commitment.

Participating European teams receive accommodations, three meals a day and six games over five days, including at least one against the Americans. That’s not a bad deal considering the price -FREE!

American teams, which usually arrive 3-4 days before the tournament begins to sightsee, pay a per-person fee of $100, but they too receive lodging and meals.

Ask anyone who’s been here – you can’t put a price on this experience, and you CERTAINLY can’t put a price on it if there’s no price at all.

PLAY GETS under way at 9 am each day starting Tuesday and runs through Saturday. We have 7 umpires to get us started – 3 Lithuanians (all of whom have done a European regional tournament), a Czech (back for a second year at this tournament), and the trio known here in Utena as The 3 Amigos (Bobby Gumbs, Sam Griffith and myself). Before week’s end, 4-5 more umpires will join us.

And unlike the Day 2 blog entry, in which I detailed the deplorable playing conditions in Vilnius, this tournament is held at Hypodrome Stadium, in the middle of a horse track, and it’s as well maintained as any field for at least 300 miles.

MONDAY NIGHT, Sam and I conducted the coaches and umpires meeting. As we were cleaning up, Sam noted, “You know, it just wouldn’t be a coaches meeting in Lithuania without 30-40 empty beer bottles.”

I’M OUT!!!



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