Sharks on the loose!

An enthusiastic group of young Sharks are finally back on the grass after a solid off-season of weekly Sunday-evening practices in preparation for a new season, a season that promises to be the best in years.

“The level of excitement and expectation is very high, and we have an amazing group of young individuals, both boys and girls, who are to form the young Shark team this year,” says Coach Rikard Kronqvist. “We hope to develop as a club and everyone is welcome to come down to Shark Park and give it a try. A warning, though: Baseball is highly addictive.

“It was great to hear when our when youngest player Charlie Norström stepped up to the plate, that he was aiming for Tampa Bay. Whether it meant that the ball was to land there or that is where he plans to sign his first Major League contract is yet to be seen, but I’m happy with either one – or both.

“A smile of satisfaction came over the face of Gabriel Wargswärd when he was congratulated by the coaches for giving his brand new white baseball pants a nice coat of red baseball dirt sliding in on a close play.”

Youth practices this season will be held Mondays and Wednesdays, 18:00-19:30, weather permitting. Sharks like water, so a little rain won’t keep us Sharks off the field.

Sunday May 6 is Opening Game Day for the young Sharks. Teams will be formed and a couple couple of games will be played. Other teams have also been invited, so depending on their schedules, they might show up to play too.

On June 2-3, the Sharks will participate in the U15 Billingslaget in Skövde, always a popular tournament for Sweden’s younger players.

Play ball! Shark Park is back in business

Shark Park is nearly ready for another season of exciting baseball thanks to the fine efforts of the Sharks’ unofficial grounds crew. Players, parents and friends all joined in getting the field back in playing condition.

 

 

Even if it would have been nice with more people, those who showed up on this fine Saturday morning were ready to work, finishing the job in record time. By two-thirty, all that was left was to pack up the tools, shake off the dust and pat each other on the back for a job well done.

There is still work to be done outside the foul lines and we’ll be meeting at the field again next Saturday at ten to finish things up.

BREAKING NEWS: The Players’ Union has announced that all players in attendance at Shark Park on April 14 to work on the field would be exempt from fence duty for the entire 2018 season. The union would also look favorably upon the six senior players in attendance being in the starting lineup for the Sharks’ spring training opener on April 29 in Malmö.

Marquez to stay put, reporter out for season

Hibernation is over – Sharks baseball is back.
This “joke site” will continue to bring you news from around the Sharks organization.
“Maybe more so now when I don’t have shit to do”, the reporter says.

As the 2018 regional season draws closer, so does this reporter wake up from a long, winter sleep. Like last year, we will in the coming weeks (months?) bring you a preview of the 2018 season, including the full squad and the opposition. Quite possibly a more thorough preview than any other baseball website in Sweden during the last five year period.

“Not bad for a site that is often referred to as a joke”, the reporter grumbles.

Anyway, we start off with a short injury update. First of all, this reporter will not hamper the team’s performance during the upcoming season. A torn ACL will stop him from getting into action.

“I was skiing in Japan, freak accident”, he says.

Not so super, Mr Reporter.

It does sound freaky, maybe a little bit too freaky to be true. But then again, the drop off wont be noticed as the organization has added on enough firepower to be a legit candidate for Elitserien play. Quite possibly, he wouldn’t have played anyway.

Eric Marquez has during the winter nursed his knee and shoulder and should be ready to contribute on the level he expects of himself. Furthermore, Marquez has fought off the interest from the Malmö Pilots and signed a long term deal with the Sharks.

Marquz realized that winning is better than losing and that Sharks eat Pilots.

“I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else, I love this team”, Marquez says.

Unconfirmed rumors also say that José Martinez, the club’s 2017 Best Pitcher Award winner and standout ace, is rehabbing a shoulded that on occasion held him back last season.

Martinez with the silverware.

Latino Sweep at Awards Ceremony

Top honors in all categories went to the Sharks’ dynamic duo of Jose Munoz and Jose Martinez, with Munoz winning the MVP award for 2017.
Jury’s statement for MVP:
“A player who makes the defensive plays normally only seen in the MLB, who is always focused at the plate and continuously creates problems for opposing pitchers. When he is not knocking in runs, he is scoring them himself. With more practice, there is no limit to how good he could be.”

Jose Munoz receiving the 2017 MVP trophy from Coach Jonnny Edgren

When Jose Martinez was the pitcher of record, the Sharks were unstoppable. Martinez went 4-0 on the season with 35 strikeouts in 36 innings.

   

Jose Martinez with son Emilio Martinez receiving the Pitcher of the Year trophy from Coach Jonny Edgren 

The leader in both hitting and fielding was MVP Jose Munoz.

Young Sharks charging towards spring

As we move closer to our first outdoor practices, the youngest Sharks continue to grow, both in size and numbers, with several new players joining the club over the winter.

Asked about the prospects for the 2018 season, Coach Kronqvist said, “With the talent, potential, and joy of these players, the young Sharks will be swimming up to the surface this season.”

Baseball Grand Finale for the young Sharks

It was the Baseball Grand Finale for the young Sharks with the final inter-squad game of this year’s indoor season. Both teams consisted of the club’s youngest talents, ages 7 to 14.

The game was stopped with the scored tied 16-16 for a traditional Swedish fika and information about the coming season. The young Sharks will be swimming up to the surface again on January 14 with the beginning of Spring Training 2018.
Turnout for both senior and youth practices has been the best in years, and this bodes well for the club in 2018.

Comeback fall short for Sharks

A year of winning ended with losing.
But the Sharks fought valiantly on Sunday.
“Winnings is better than losing, but sometimes it’s not meant to be,” Coach Edgren said.

Behind starter Shervin Shakki, the Sharks mistook Los Nicas red shirts for blood and got going right off the bat. With Santo Anibal Blanco on the mound, José Muñoz got going in the top of the 1st. With Muñoz at third base and Niclas Ekström at first, a missed pickoff attempt to first ended up scoring both runners to take an early 2-0 lead.

Göteborg Hajarna added to their lead in the third, going up 3-0 on a Los Nicas squad that looked stunned. From the normally very jubilant crowd, mutters could be heard. However, they didn’t have to stay patient very long as the Nicas got to Shakki and scored two runs in the bottom half of that third inning and made the game a close affair.

It was going to stay close.

After a scoreless 4th frame, Los Nicas once again made their bats do the talking as Shakki loaded the bases with one out. Coach Jonny Edgren took the ball from Shakki and handed it over to former starter Mokhlad al-Ghanimi.

Straight from the bullpen, al-Ghanimi looked solid but Los Nicas made him pay anyway. Fine hitting from the Nicaraguans drove two runners in before the former Iraqi international could get out of it. Down by one run, the Sharks once again made their bats ring and evened the score in the top of the 6th.

al-Ghanimi was good at tossing the ball.

Unfortunately (for the Sharks), Los Nicas scored two more runs in the bottom of the 7th to make it 6-4. The score stayed that way until the top of the 9th inning. Coach Edgren, who humbly had inserted himself at first base, got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. José Martinez then flew out to deep left field for the first out and Eric Marquez drove a single to center field to put the winning run at first base.

al-Ghanimi then unloaded for a hard single to score Edgren from third and advance Marquez to third. Not before long, al-Ghanimi then stole second to put the leading run at second base.

With the home crowd behind them, Los Nicas turned to their closer, Alejandro Davila, against Lars Karlsson. Karlsson fought valiantly at the plate and eventually earned a walk to load the bases. The tying run was 90 feet away. Coach Edgren, for some reason, brought this reporter in to pinch run for Karlsson.

Daniel, ‘Big D’ André stepped up to the plate to pinch hit. Alas, this was not el dia para Los Tiburones and André grounded to first base for the 3-2-3 double play to end the game with a final score of 6-5 in favor of the Nicaraguans.

Edgren played first.

“We kept it close. We almost had this one and when we play as a team, like we did today, we are so very strong,” Coach Edgren said.

The joy among the Los Nicas players and fans could not be mistaken. Chants about Elitserien play was ringning out all across Alby and it will surely be interesting to see what they can do in the top division come 2018. But they had to work for it as the Sharks put up a great display of baseball.

“This Sharks team, they never cease to amaze me,” a tearful Edgren added before leaving for greener pastures (the drive home to Gothenburg).

Göteborg Hajarna this weekend played what was probably the best two games that the Sharks faithful has seen in the last two or three years. The rebuilding strategy from the front office is a success so far. If the team can add a couple of players and keep developing the guys in the current squad – Elitserien is not far away.

It might not look that way, but this bunch was kinda happy.

“That [Elitserien] is our goal of course. That is where we want to be,” veteran backstop Toofan Khazal added.

Surely, this heartbreaker of a loss feels bad right now for the Sharks team but they will hopefully feel proud about what they’ve accomplished during the season.

“It was a hell of a run and we played our best baseball when it counted the most. That feels pretty darn good,” free agent second baseman (and future Malmö Pilot?) Marquez added.

The Sharks will possibly close out the season with some SWBL action at Shark Park. If not, this here ‘news’ site will next be seen with a season review of the squad.

Notables:

Edgren got a hit.

Muñoz played defense so great it drew cheers from the Nicas fans.

Niclas Ekström was not hit by a pitch but played great defense at first base.

Joel Earnest, 69, drove a single to right field on the first pitch he saw.

The combined blood pressure of the Sharks team during that final at bat was not healthy.

Khazal, as always, put in a strong defensive effort behind the plate. Despite the home crowd trying to taunt him…

Martin Sundh and Roger Karlsson umpired a very good game.

Hannes Wiström is turning in to a solid third baseman.

Martinez, Sharks take down Alby

These Sharks never give up.
These Sharks know that winning is better than losing.
These Sharks got the better of Alby.
”It went down as I expected,” Coach Jonny Edgren says.

After two quick outs, the Alby Stars got on the board in the first inning against Sharks ace José Martinez. Behind an error and a wild pitch, the Stars got to an early 2-0 lead. Offensive juggernaut José Muñoz took one right back in the bottom half of the first one. Reaching on an error and then stealing both second and third before scoring on an error as Daniel André drove him in.

The game then stalled (well, the second inning was scoreless) a little bit but the Stars took one run in the third before the Sharks got two back to tie the game in the bottom half of that third inning. The Stars then got two more runs in the top of the 4th before the Sharks took their first lead of the day in the bottom half, scoring three runs to make it 6-5.

Sharks starter Martinez was battling the solid Stars lineup and more often than not pounded the strike zone. The Sharks put on a quality defensive display, probably the best they’ve played all season, and kept the game in control. Especially impressive was Muñoz at shortstop who showed off his range and cannon to throw runners out on a regular basis.

With the score at 9-8 in favor of the Stars, the Sharks got going again in the bottom of the 7th. Solid hits all trough the Sharks lineup as Göteborg sent ten men to the plate and the Stars could not get out of it. The Sharks got eight runs in that marvellous 7th inning and never looked back.

Martinez was solid at the plate as well.

“I know that we have a good team, when we play like a team, we can beat pretty much any team. Today, we did just that,” Edgren says.

Martinez closed out the game, allowing one run to score in the 9th to make the final score 16-10.

“He pitched a hell of a game. A little shaky at first but once he got going he was pretty much on spot on all through the game,” veteran backstop Toofan Khazal said at the post game press conference.

The Sharks will play on Sunday against Los Nicas who routed Tranås earlier on Saturday, making in 16-1 in six innings. It will be a whole other matchup as the Nicaraguans are pretty much the most complete team in all of the regional series.

They had a real scoreboard at Seagull Park.

“It’s gonna be tough. But when faced with challenges before, this team has risen above expectations,” Coach Edgren added.

Fist pitch is at 12.00 @ Seagull Park in Alby.

Notables:

Niclas Ekström came in to pinch hit and went 2-2 with a double.

Eric Marquez made a play at second base worthy of the MLB web gems.

Ted Bratsberg was not at the game. Possibly because there was no fence to put up.

Skipper Jonny Edgren got a hit.

The sun was shining all day long.

Playoff preview: Spaceman coming back to earth

One of the more high profile-players is seeing the end of the road.
Joel Earnest is going to wind down.
“The team is good enough now.”

After spending approximately 40 years in the Swedish minor leagues, Joel Earnest, 69, finally got the call. He was going to the big club. Six seasons later, he’s a regular figure in Coach Jonny Edgren’s lineup and the Hajarna faithful know him as “Mr RBI”.

In the clubhouse, Earnest is more known as “Spaceman”. His stories on the way it was are legendary and he is the glue that has kept this team together through these last couple of seasons.

“It was a big change back then, when Coleman and Jason left and Jonny came in.”

A couple of seasons later and the rebuilding process is coming full circle. The organization is stronger, the youth movement is real and the results keep coming. Even practice is more well-attended.

Earnest always enjoys winning better than losing.

Earnest has had his moments on the field too. Just look at this past season, hitting .571 in the second half and helping the Sharks clinch a playoff spot early. During the years on the big club, he’s been known for his high contact rate and the Ty Cobb-like ability to aim the ball where the defense is weak.

“I’m happy with my career. I only wish I got the call some fifty years earlier. I expect my numbers might be a little higher in some areas,” Earnest says.

Earnest also played in the Elitserien back in 2015 where he memorably took the mound in the late innings against Sundbyberg and got relieved by his son, Erik, who took over.

“Yeah, when I came in to protect Jason’s no-hitter, and then Erik came in to bail me out after I  filled the bases, but still without giving up a hit. Erik struck out the next batter, and then I started a double play from left to get out of the inning. It was golden…” Earnest says.

Earnest scouting the opposition.

And now, after the playoff weekend, Joel Earnest will look to cut back on his playing time. He has vouched to still be the team uncle, still be the informal leader at practice and provide his wisdom and skills at the majority of the SWBL games and the occasional regional game — especially against the Malmö Pilots.

“It’s time to free up som playing time for the kids. Not too much though, but some. And I always enjoyed playing the Pilots, even during the years when they dominated us,” Earnest says.

Babylon Zoo famously wrote a song about Earnest.

The Hajarna faithful will take some time to get used to not having Earnest out there every day. But when it’s time, it’s time.

Memoirs of an unexpected return

by Rick Kronqvist

As my soul prospers from seeing the sun set in the mountainous horizon of the view looking north west from Shark Park, I recall the past year at hand. Then, in the year 2016, closing in on the play-offs of the Major League of the honourable contest of bats, balls, and gloves, realizing that it could give me the opportunity to live what many men in history never had the chance to experience, the World Series victory of the team from the north side of Chicago.

It was a tough night to sit through on the European continent on November 2nd, 2016, but the lack of sleep could not bother me. Since the age of six, I was chosen to be a follower of the Chicago Cubs, and now the time had come. The rest, as they say, is history.
As it turned out, history had just commenced.

Little did I recall, that I had made a promise in the year 1999, then retiring from baseball after being a part of national champion team of the Marsa Mustangs of Malta. I claimed this was my peak, and I thoroughly was convinced that I did not want to retire on a bad note like Alexander Karelin or, like earlier this present year, Usain Bolt. I wanted to retire a winner. My conviction had me state a promise that I would make my comeback when the impossible occurred, the Cubs winning the World Series.

On New Year’s Day present year, I sent a message to the local organization executing this type of athletisism, and the following day I received a reply. A former elite club, in one of the largest cities in the nation. Entering spring training two weeks later, I encountered a group of fine gentlemen of various backgrounds, with the ambition to enjoy the comradeship and improve their execution of handling bats, balls, gloves and bases.

Now, the autumn raindrops shatter when landing hard on the home plate that is surrounded by a muddy field in the outskirts of Gothenburg and the season is coming to a conclusion. Some eighteen months ago, I booked a trip to Piemonte, Italy on the very weekend of the playoffs this year. My playtime had come to an unfortunate end earlier than expected, but this fine group of individuals of various ages and backgrounds, will execute in a proper matter.

To my fellow gentlemen for the playoffs 2017;
– The only stat that counts this weekend is team runs scored
– Listen to the coach and pay attention to signs
– Play smiling, and you will end up winners

Nolan Ryan retired at the age of 46, Bill ”Spaceman” Lee pitched a professional game this past year at the respectable age of 65, so how long can such a career flourish? Although, it is hard to determine the age of marine creatures, but from my experience of this past annual term, we know that a carcharadon can still come up with a miraculous double and an occasional stolen base to win a duel on the diamond at ages where both Spaceman and a retiring Ryan would be considered youngsters.

The response is not yet given to the question of how history will end, or will it ever…

#14 KRONQVIST