Day 1 – Sunday July 30th

July 31, 2006

The European representative has never won a game at the LLWS in Williamsport, but that won’t keep the 2006 champion of this regional from thinking times are about to change when things get under way Tuesday here in Kutno, Poland. The Russians are here already, having won four of the previous five European titles. So are the Georgians, Austrians and Dutch. By the time Monday comes and goes, as many as eight or nine other teams will be here. And that’s the weird thing about this regional – you don’t really know who’s going to show up until the bus pulls in.It’s a Catch 22 for regional director Beata Kaszuba – at what point do you close entries when your single focus is getting more teams involved? There is a deadline for entry, but if a team has traveled 22 hours in a rickety, old, broken-down van that sounds like a washing machine stuck on the rinse cycle, do YOU want to be the person to tell those kids they’re 10 hours, or even 10 minutes late?  At some point, if and when the EMEA champ becomes a real player at the World Series, LL might force its regulations to be adhered to a bit more strenuously. For now, to continue to grow baseball in this region, you embrace all-comers, right up to and even well past the deadline, so long as you can accommodate them without inconveniencing those teams that DID play by the rules and showed up on time. Before end of day – or, who knows, maybe tomorrow – teams from Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Ghana, Italy,  Ukraine, Moldova and
Belarus should roll into the complex to join the hosts from Kutno. Winner of this tournament draws a Williamsport pool that includes Asia, Mexico and the
Caribbean.  Good luck to the European champ scoring a run, let alone a victory.
 

Monday’s coaches’ meeting is set at 6 p.m., immediately following the umpires’ meeting. There will be 12 umpires, five from CA – Russ Ruslender of Danville, who is the Umpire In Chief, Perry Tucker and myself from Dublin, Vic Langford from Fremont and Sam Griffith from
Mission Viejo.
 When this tournament ends Aug. 10, Sam and I will drive up to
Lithuania with Bobby Gumbs from The Netherlands to help Virmidas Neverauskas run his second Juniors Friendship Tournament in Utena. Eight teams will participate there, including squads from Dublin and
Irvine.
 
NOTES: Saudi Arabia won its 8th straight Transatlantic championship last week, earning another trip to
Williamsport. Remember when ESPN stood the Saudi first baseman, 6-foot-5 Aaron Durley, next to the tournament’s smallest player, from
Japan, last year? Well, Durley is now 6-foot-8, wears a size 19 shoe and he just turned 12 years old…Poland native and EMEA regional director Beata Kaszuba, who was the first woman ever to break one minute in the 100 breaststroke while at Arizona State in 1995, had her achievement honored again recently when Swimming World Magazine tabbed her accomplishment one of the top 10 in history.
 I’M OUT!!!

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