John Miller, player/coach of the Brussels Kangaroos and a reporter for a major American newspaper, is back chronicling his team’s 2009 season in his weekly column that will appear every Monday on mister-baseball.com.
The best baseball event of the European winter is a nifty three-day coaches convention run by the European Baseball Coaches Association. I’ve been the last two years, trekking out to Cologne and Vienna for a feast of lectures and chat, and the odd beer of two.
After a hyper-long season, there’s nothing to recharge the batteries like a few days of listening to smart guys who analyze baseball critically and can put thoughts into words.
It’s not just for coaches. Anybody who plays or loves the game gets their money’s worth.
The ideas and conversations run fast and wild. Is Jorge Posada a hall-of-famer? Bamboo bats? Bunt with one out? Did you hear the story about the American meathead who injured himself with a rake while having sex with the catcher on the softball team? I digress.
This year, the party’s coming to Brussels (http://www.baseball-in-europe.com/events.html), Nov. 20-22, just down the street from my apartment. The program looks terrific. It even has one truly big name: 1965 NL Rookie of the Year Jim Lefebvre.
His opening talk is entitled: “My China Experience & How it applies to Europe.” Lefebvre has been working to develop baseball in China from scratch.
His take on baseball development alone should be worth the price of admission, a mere 50 Euros. (The EBCA has a deal with the Marriott hotel, too, for rooms at 75 Euros per night.) Jim’ll give a couple other talks, about hitting and hitting drills.
The other speakers aren’t as famous, but they’re solid baseball pros like Mike Lane. With 24 consecutive seasons at the University of North Alabama, he is that archetypical figure, the college coaching god. There’s Jim Jones, a Moses of European baseball who’s been preaching the gospel of diamonds for 40 years.
The others are the kind of men who underpinned this summer’s thrilling upset of the Dominican Republic by the Dutch.
Brian Farley played six years in the minors and now coaches the Dutch junior national team. Mauro Mazzotti is a pillar of Italian baseball who coached Spain to the second round at the World Cup this year. Steve Janssen is that rare Belgian coaching whiz, who somehow was run out of town by the federation here a few years ago. He does not miss Belgian baseball. He led Neptunus to a Dutch national title this year.
If you live in Europe and play, coach or watch baseball with any kind of seriousness, you should be in Brussels in three weeks.
Free Belgian beer of your choice on me if you email me now at email@example.com and come to Brussels for the convention.