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Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008

BEIJING POSTCARD

Dutch learning baseball lessons in Beijing


BEIJING — Few people use the words "the Netherlands" and "baseball" in the same conversation. The Dutch, world-class performers in Olympic speed skating, are not known for their prowess on the baseball diamond at the games.

The Dutch baseball team did, however, qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But the team got off to a miserable start with shutout losses to Taiwan (5-0), the United States (7-0) and Japan (6-0 on Friday). First baseman Sharnol Adriana, who was born in Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles, had the team's lone hit against the Americans.

"Right now, we are just having a real hard time to put runs on the board," said Netherlands manager Robert Eenhoorn, an ex-infielder who played a combined 37 major league games for the New York Yankees and California/Anaheim Angels between 1994 and '97.

"It's frustrating when you've played three games and you haven't scored a run yet," Eenhoorn said, comments that didn't need to be translated into Dutch for the fans sipping Heineken in Amsterdam.

There are distinctive differences between the American brand of baseball and the Japanese trademark, so after Friday's game, I pressed Eenhoorn for details about the style of play that he wants the Dutch team to play.

He responded by saying: "Probably right now it's really hard to say what the characteristics of our team are, but usually we have good pitching. It gives us a chance to be in the game. We don't make too many mistakes in the field.

"I thought today we played outstanding defense and we have occasional hitting, but the occasional hitting right now just has not been there for us."

He added: "I think there's a Western way of playing and there's an Eastern way of playing, and we are more Western than Eastern."

The reason?

"We have a lot of guys that have played professionally in the United States, and basically that's where we've been taught," he concluded.

* * * * *

Today's Chinese lesson: It's helpful to know how to say gold medal in the local language. The Chinese say "jin pai."



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