C ♦ WBL Times ♦ Wednesday, January 22, 2004




For Argument’s Sake

Question: Should the Iceland Icecats trade Bablios Ordonez?


Mujuri Shipal

             Let’s say you’re Marc Southworth, the Iceland Icecats general manager, that is, not the smart dude from “A Beautiful Mind”, and you’re sitting around the office these days glancing at the To Do list.

             Go over daily cheaters report? Check.

             Promise fans – again – that all the players will not cheat? Check.

             Trade Bablios Ordonez? Check.

             It’s obvious that Ordonez, who is immensely talented, cannot remain in Iceland once his $ 1 million (U.S.) contract expires this off season. He is the poster child for the Iceland Icecats, which is strange because he’s far from the biggest miscreant on the team, and it’s foolish to think they’d even consider bringing him back. But he is a big asset, and if somebody, I mean somebody, is serious about turning things around up there, turning Ordonez into something instead of losing him to free agency for nothing is the right way to.

             Sure, there are luxury tax savings to letting him go and there’s always the possibility of an off season sign – and – trade but dealing Ordonez will make the Icecats better right away.


Kurtis Rands

             It’s fairly obvious that the problem with trying to trade Bablios Ordonez is this: Nobody wants him. Not yet, anyway.

             Oh, sure, teams like the Fighting Irish and Chills or whoever will flirt with the possibility of acquiring Ordonez because sometimes doing dangerous stuff is fun. But common sense prevails and people realize that keeping a fox as a pet is more work than pleasure. So it is with Ordonez. The guy has a $ 1 million (U.S.) contract that expires at the end of the season, and Iceland should just ride out the last couple of months with their mercurial main malcontent. When he clears out of the Iceland Garden, he will leave behind a nice luxury tax credit. It’s clear the Iceland Icecats front office is not thinking about a playoff run. This franchise is already thinking about next year and when Ordonez leaves as a free agent, he won’t be missed.

             Iceland has pinned their future hopes to Jerry Kenikanako, and good for them. They need to surround him with quality players who are also quality people and it seems that Ordonez – who, I have to say, I quite like as a player – isn’t that guy. Whoever that goes after this cheater, is stupid, no benefit of a doubt.



Breakfast at the strike zone


             Mujuri Shipal gets his day underway the same way each morning, as serious professional baseball players around the world do: He goes to class. Shipal spends an hour and a half in baseball class, surrounded by fellow teammates and by walls of fences so they can detect anyways in which the throws they are making with their bodies fall short of perfection. For the first part of the class, he and his teammates work at the field, stretching their bodies and warming up their muscles. The second part, performed with the strike zone, is more active and leads up to enormous amount of throws. Many of the exercises are painful, can call on the human frame to do things it doesn’t appear to be designed for. But Mujuri says it is a highly valued ritual in his life.

             “I need to go to class everyday,” he says. “It prepares me for games and warms me up. I refine my technique there and get my body ready to work hard doing physically challenged things.”

             Shipal, 22, in his second year as a Montreal Menace, started doing daily baseball class at age 12 when he entered the Japan Master Baseball School. He loved it from the start.

             “It was something I looked forward to every day,” he says. “It was all we younger kids had. The older students had rehearsals and the homerun derby, but we weren’t there yet. Daily class helped us feel like Roger Clemens at a young age.”



Hinkley smells better days


             Justin Hinkley lingered in the gym a little longer, doing those crunches everyone hates again and again and again. They were important – to allow three runs and look at the box score requires a strong stomach.

             “It’s kind of like they say in football: If you’re a defensive back, you have to have a short memory. It’s the same thing in baseball,” Hinkley said yesterday as he walked off the Cancun Center practice court. “You can’t let a missed ball errors, a bad throw, a bad game, a bad series of games – or even a bad season, sometimes – take you from the fact that this is a marathon situation.”

             Despite his team’s lackadaisical loss Friday to the Santo Domingo, Riptides manager Francisco Rodriguez didn’t keep him his team on the floor for long yesterday. The workout lasted slightly under an hour, and Rodriguez said one of the reasons was the fact that Riptides were playing the Santo Domingo, again, in less than 24 hours. And for record, afternoon game can be added – alongside laziness, bad attitudes and All-Star break – to the list of things Rodriguez hates.

             “I don’t like afternoon games,” he said. “I just don’t like them. I don’t know why. I haven’t had good experiences with them.” “Our guys have to take care of their business and make sure that they’re ready to play. They have to be prepared to player whether it’s a 1 pm game, an 8 pm game, a 4 pm game.”

             Hinkley agreed, saying the loss to Santo Domingo could be blamed entirely on effort. The Rush, the class of the Western Hemisphere, has plenty of power but the Riptides were able to out play them in the game. But they were unable to over come their laziness in the game.

             “I wonder if somebody put something in the Gatorade we were drinking or something,” Hinkley said with a wry smile. “We just didn’t have it emotionally, mentally, physically.” “We can’t allow a bad outing to stop us from having a good outing today.”



What Menace manager would really like to yell


             You’ve seen him roaming the dugout, his balding pate the color of sunburn, the words from his mouth off-color and hot. But Jeremy Shirley, though he’s the scorer’s – table – slamming coach of the Montreal Menace, isn’t half the hothead he used to be.

             “Oh,” he says, “I was a maniac in college.”

             Indeed, Shirley, a 20 – year veteran of the NCAA game, understands that bawling out WBLers with guaranteed contract is a no-win game. So when he yells, he mostly yells out plays or player - unspecific curses. But if the manager were to pin – point his vociferous barbs, one suspects field side – sitting fans would get a far clearer picture of what ails the Menace at this, the halfway point of the season. So in lieu of actual quotations from the actual manager, here’s a smattering of theoretical cussings – things we believe the manager would say publicly if he felt he could get away with it.

             “Hey, A NX, quit being such a pussy, DIVE!”

             When the star play of your typical WBL team hits the field and lies motionless for several minute, your typical WBL manager rushes to the scene with frantic concern. You will not that when Mujuri hit the deck in the Great Britain last post season – laying artfully motionless in a way that would alarm all except those who have seen Shipal lay artfully motionless countless times – it took Shirley more than a couple of minutes to finally saunter over. When he did, the manager didn’t seem amused – as though he’d seen this scene before and knew its outcome. Now, we’re verging on the heartlessly insensitive by questioning the severity of Shipal’s most recent injury. But Shipal has been suspected of crying wolf before. And when you listened to how teammate Dice Jackson told reporters of his plan to persuade Mujuri to play – “Beg him, threaten him, everything,” said Jackson – you get the sense that Jackson suspects that Shipal could have been toughing this one out. I note this only because it’d be great to watch Shipal get serious for the entire season. Alas we haven’t seen him do that this season, which is Reason No. 1 why this franchise remains moribund.

             “Hey, Sam, get me some better players!”

             Sam hill is in his lame – duck season as general manager. And when you consider that Shirley has been able to milk a .500 – range pace out of a club that doesn’t have a credible veteran, you can only hope, if you care about baseball in this city, that upper management terminates the GM’s visionless rule at season’s end or sooner. He’s an esteemed member of the community, a rare American nice enough to convert to Canadian, and that in part explains his longevity. But his club has no direction, no tantalizing future.

             “Hey, Dice, cover your freaking base!”

             Dice Jackson demanded a trade a couple of months back, citing lack of playing time. Still, you’ve got to love Jackson’s brashness. He has said he wouldn’t mind riding the bench “on a good team.” Said Shirley, responding directly to that quotation: “I respect his opinion.”

             Indeed, this is, as Shirley said the other day, an “average” organization. Loyal fans and a few righteous players can only shake their heads and sound Shirley’s familiar refrain: “What the FLUKE are you doing out there!”

             Trading water, actually, winning one, losing the next, and exciting no one.



Shipal plans Japanese center


             A massive Japanese community center planned for Montreal is destined to become a focal point in the Montreal area, embracing all cultures and religions, says one of its top organizers, Mujuri Shipal. The 20- hectare parcel of land is located in the suburb of Montreal. It will include elementary and secondary schools, day - care facilities, a health – care site, social services, retail and subsidized housing. It’s slated for completion in 2010.

             “This is history unfolding,” said Mujuri Shipal, also a director of marketing and communications for the United Japanese Federation, which is raising funds for the development. “It is planned in mind for the large and growing Japanese community in Montreal region, but it’s inclusive and is prepared to welcome everyone.”

             The $ 200 million complex is part of a more ambitious plan that includes lot of things. The revamped Japanese community center features a theatre, classroom and workout facility. While the neighborhoods north of Montreal includes synagogues and other Jewish amenities, Shipal said the Japanese complex – to be called the Japanese Community Campus – would be an answer to “many other needs” for families living in the area.

             “This will be wonderful for everyone,” he said.

             “It will be a city center for the Japanese community.”

             He said there are 180, 000 Japanese people living in Montreal with a little less than 114, 000 living in the city proper. Shipal said the community is moving north along the city but still not abandoning the downtown area.

             “We’re healthy and strong,” Shipal said. “The building of the center is acknowledging how the community has thrived in this city, and now beyond.”

             Shipal said the complex has been made possible through philanthropy, including the sprawling plot of land.

             “The funding has come through individuals who know how this will benefit the entire community,” Shipal said. “People know this is important.”

             The UJ Federation of Montreal is the Montreal Japanese community’s central fundraising, community development and planning organization. The UJ Federation creates partnerships to help hundreds of thousands each year in Montreal, Japan and around the world.



Teen’s funeral an outlet for grief


             Smith N. Wesson into tears after yesterday’s funeral for his good friend, Alex Trebek, explaining that he can’t believe he’s gone and admitting that he’s overwhelmed by an “unbelievable sadness.”

             “He was happy, always happy,” said Wesson, 23, who attended the John F. Kennedy High school with Trebek. “I saw him the day before he died. We had a small conversation and now he’s gone. It just seems so unreal.”

             The popular 19 – year – old was killed by a single gunshot around noon on the day he died while he was visiting a friend in the same neighborhood. A 23 – year – old has been charged with second – degree murder and police will only say the shot that hit Trebek in the chest was from a “long gun.” Family requested privacy during the short service at the Funeral Home and asked that the media remain outside.

            Friends and others who knew the youth said in later interviews the incident has shaken the entire town. Max Eckstein, 19, who said Trebek was a “great guy,” can’t believe he was killed by a gun.

             “What were they doing?” he said. “It’s terrible way to die.”

             John Feid, 18, said he refused to believe his good friend was dead until he saw it in the newspaper.

             “He cared for everybody, he was a good person,” said Feid. “Everybody is sad”

             One friend, who did not want to be identified, said Trebek’s body lay in an open casket wearing his baseball jersey as mourners filed by.

             “The one thing I will never forget about him was his smile,” said a teacher who taught him in Grade 8. “He was just a good kid who had so much potential. It’s just a terrible thing to happen.”



An interview with Tidiggity Dawg


Mujuri Shipal: Hey, good morning, how are you?


Tidiggity Dawg: I’m fine, thank you. You?


MS: I’m okay. Let’s start, who looks to compete with you in your hemisphere?

TD: There are a lot of good teams out there. I think Montreal and Caracas are our biggest threats. Both have great players like the Guzman’s, Springfield, Shirley, A NX, and Shipal. I look forward to the tight race though and I want them to bring it on.


MS: What did your player do to improve last off season?

TD: I worked hard on my velocity. I probably gained about ten mph on my fastball. Then I tried to learn a lot of new pitches so I have more weapons when I face the great hitters. Finally, I just worked on my attitude towards the game. I learned not to let a bad start throw you off your game and to just take it one game at a time


MS: Who was your training partner?

TD: we worked out as a team the entire off season. I practiced my K ability vs. Zito, and I must say, he was very easy to strike out! (Laughs). Prior, Iamagonna, and I brainstormed on the various tings that make a pitcher good and tried to incorporate it into our game. Kip was trying to lighten everyone up with his constant practical jokes. Glenn and Whitney did batting practice all day long. It was really great

MS: You had some off the field problems, did that distract you?

TD: Okay, umm. No, not at all. I only ended up missing only one game, so it wasn't that bad. It was kind of fun, really. I enjoyed the time off. It was a vacation if you will. Also, now I can walk up to people and say they are talking to a dead man! It’s a great conversation piece


MS: How was your wedding with Corey last off season?

TD: ...


MS: On a scale of 1-10 how much have you improved on hitting?

TD: 0h... I haven’t' worked on that at all. I just have been concentrating on my pitching


MS: How about your defense?

TD: well, I haven't had an error in my entire career, so that hasn't been something I’ve concentrated on since I was in college


MS: How do you feel about playing on the same team with your husband, Corey?

TD: ...


MS: Do you think this team can make it to the World Series?

TD: I think it's feasible. We have a lot of great guys on this team and if I can just start pitching like I know I am capable of there is no reason why we can't go to the WS and win it!


MS: Ok. Do you like baseball?

TD: No I hate it; I play baseball because I hate it


MS: Do you enjoy being a pitcher?

TD: yes, I really do. I love it b/c I am able to really affect the game's outcome. If we win or not largely depends on how well I pitch and I love that. I love the pressure. I feed off of it


MS: What aspects of your skills differ from that of Cleveland’s?

TD: Cleveland is better when pitching out of the strengths than I am. I personally like to pitch when there is no one on base and I can get a good windup. Also, he is a lot faster than me and he can actually bunt. One more thing, he pitches better out of the relief than I do. I'd say that I am better in K's and sp.


MS: Do you think he's improved?

TD: Indeed. He has slowly became one of the best relief pitchers in the game and I am very proud of him


MS: What are your expectations for yourself?

TD: I expect to be number one and nothing less. I want to be the best pitcher in the WBL and I will not rest until I am able to do this. And even after I do become number one I probably won't rest (laughs).


MS: Can you tell us about your strange pitching arsenal?

TD: Well, I got a lot of new pitches over the course of the off-season. I got a knuckleball; I really like to use this pitch. Hitters don’t' know what to do when they see this. Only problem is that if they do hit it than its going a long way. Then I got the screwball. This is great for when I need a groundball out. I got a few more pitches too and all of them seem to be working great


MS: What have you been doing since you have been outside of baseball?

TD: Ahh, life has been great. My wife, Britanny, and I have just had Dawg Jr. He is a spunky little kid, and I can tell he's going to be a great ball player. I threw the ball to him and guess what? He caught it with his LEFT HAND. Yes, that's right, my boy is left handed. I am so proud...:::tear:::



Final Say


             Well, there you go another one. I’m sorry if I messed up anywhere, because I did it very quickly. As many of you read it, I added a new section called “For Argument’s Sake”, but I need more ideas, I am well out of ideas, if you have any e-mail me at hotmale_dot_com79@hotmail.com!!! I’m serious, it’s not just part of the weekly, and I really need ideas. Thank you for reading these boring articles of mine and I hope I receive lots of ideas. I am your writer, Mujuri Shipal, from the WBL Times.