Author Archives: alex

Sharks look to new arms against Tranås

Looks may be deceiving.
The same team might not be the same team.
“Other guys will have the chance to shine,” Coach Edgren says.

Swedish baseball, on occasion (or always), can be called bush league. During the hectic summer weeks, teams get depleted on the basis of vacations and such. Göteborg Hajarna (6-2) is no exception as they are short a whole pitching rotation coming into Sunday’s game versus Tranås (2-2).

With Mokhlad al-Ghanimi (3-3), Shervin Shakki (2-1) and José Martinez (2-0) all out of action, the Sharks will have to look for new arms to step up against the division rival Tranås.

“I feel ready, I feel confident, put me in coach and all that good s**t,” Eric Marquez says.

When arriving in Sweden, Marquz realized that winning is better than losing.

Marquez is an option that the Sharks coaching staff is mulling over. As is coach Edgren himself who’s had success over two centuries. Other than that, veteran reliever Joel Earnest is available as well as Toofan Khazal and Rickard Kronqvist.

“We have multiple options, I just want to help the team and I’m ready to do so if skip needs me,” Marquez says.

On the offensive side of the ball the Sharks are looking to comeback kid José Muñoz to spearhead his team. Muñoz would have been gunning for the league lead in most offensive categories if it would not have been for the ridiculous and stupid rules of Heatstat. Nonetheless, Muñoz is sporting a cool .615/.769/.1475 slashline going into Sunday’s game.

The Sharks have had a short summer holiday as they’ve not played in the regional series for three weeks when they swept the Pilots in Malmö. Coach Edgren did, however, had a squad in Skövde a week ago for some SWBL action.

Tranås, on the other hand, has not had a regular season games since May 21st when they swept the Sharks at home.

First pitch is at 12.00 @ Shark Park. Make sure to be there early before the bleachers are full.

Miracle day as Sharks sweep Bats

Miracles do happen.
Sharks can walk on water.
“This is baseball,” coach Edgren says.

No one would have believed this when the Karlskoga Bats (5-3) came to town. This reporter is not a fan of quoting himself, but the 2017 preview of the opposition says:

It will be exciting to see imports in the regional league and especially so with an ambidextrous pitcher. While it’s safe to assume that the Sharks, nor any other regional team, most likely will not stand a chance against the Bats, it will be fun to host them at Shark Park.

And fun it was.

José Martinez (2-0) started game one for the Göteborg Hajarna (4-2) and was lights out to start the game and held the Karlskoga Bats scoreless through three innings behind a surprisingly stellar defense. As the Sharks roster for the game were 17 strong, few of them had showed up for practice.

“Just imagine how good we would be if all of these guys had the chance to work on their stuff,” coach Jonny Edgren says.

The Sharks lineup got behind their starter as they scored 3 runs in the first and added two more in the second off of Bats starter Forrest Weaver (3-1). The ambidextrous Weaver only pitched 1.2 innings as he and Sharks shortstop Mokhlad al-Ghanimi collided at a play at the plate and Weaver had to come off the mound. al-Ghanimi, unfortunately, had to come out of the game altogether.

The weather was not kind on this day.

The Sharks offensive forces were pretty much done for the day and the Bats threatened in the 4th with the bases loaded on a couple of occasions but Martinez held them to 3 runs. Behind that solid defense, the Sharks held on to the first one despite being shut out by Bats reliever Rafael Torres and Simon Högberg.

Notably, that Sharks defense was led by comebacking José Munoz and Niclas Ekström (both coming off the DL just in time for the game) and the solid battery of Martinez and Zaki Yamazaki.

Back on the field and on the mound for the second game was Mokhlad al-Ghanimi who battled through his foot injury but was not at his sharpest. This might also have been a consequence from the rain that just would not give in. While al-Ghanimi only gave up one hit on the day, he walked a whooping 9 batters and hit at least a couple more.

And the rain kept pouring.

“This ain’t no weather for a black man,” center fielder José Martinez said.

The Bats took advantage of that and got the 1-0-lead in the 2nd and adding 4 more runs in the 4th. The Sharks, on offense, looked abysmal to say the least as they could not figure out Bats starter Simon Högberg at all. Fortunately for the Sharks, starter Shervin Shakki came in to relieve al-Ghanimi and pitched great as he held the Bats hitless for three frames.

Going in to the 7th the Sharks faithful had left the stands and down 5-0, this one looked nothing but over. But when Eric Marquez reminded the team that winning is better than losing, it wasn’t.

Daniel Linnås started the inning off by drawing a walk from reliever Anton Calson (0-2) and from there on, it was a fairy tale for the Sharks. When veteran Johan Weidolf came to the plate with the bases loaded, he represented the winning run. Weidolf hit a double down the right field line and set the stage for Martinez to be the hero once more. Martinez rose to the occasion and hit a ground rule double for the walk off victory.

Edgren rounding up the day.

“We had great discipline today, that was the key for us,” coach Edgren said.

Notables:

Shakki is batting .416 on the season.

Niclas Ekström, in his comeback, was not hit by a pitch.

Hajarna totalled only five errors on the day.

Joel Earnest was overheard talking about on base percentage.

 

Not so baby Sharks try out for junior national team

Sharks don’t like public transportation.
Fortunately, Hannes Wiström and Shervin Shakki found their way.
“It was fun,” Wiström says.

The Swedish junior national team is playing a Euro qualifier against Croatia in July. Since there is open spots on the roster, a tryout was held in Skarpnäck, Stockholm, on Monday and Tuesday. Hannes Wiström and Shervin Shakki represented the Sharks.

Wiström and Shakki at the field after the subway adventures.

“It was a good learning experience, a lot of coaches with a lot of experience. They knew what they were talking about,” Wiström says.

To get there, was more of an adventure. Sharks, as you might know, does not adapt well to life above ground and public transportation is a bit of an issue. When the Sharks found themselves in the big city, it was close they wound up far from the field.

A group of people who agreed that winning is better than losing.

At the field, they were working with a lot of fundamentals, physical tests and such. Rumor has it that Shervin Shakki showed off the blinding speed that he soon will be know for.

“It’s been a lot of fun to play with guys our own age,” Wiström says and apparently, Shakki agreed to a lot of the statements.

Baby Sharks play for Skövde

Although no Sharks Jersey, the baby Sharks performed sharklike.
Gillan André and Alessandro Cassani played well when representing Skövde.

The Hajarna faithful are familiar with the (very) young guns Gillan André and Allesandro Cassani to represent The senior Sharks in the future. But as the Baby Sharks are still not a full squad, they took matters into their own hands and represented Skövde in the youth tournament Billingeslaget.

Cassani played solid defense for the U15 side, both at shortstop and in center field. On the other side of the ball, he recorded a stolen base and got a walk.

Cassani might be contemplating if winning is better than losing?

For André, the team in question was the Skövde U12 and he was all over. André provided slick defense at first and second base while getting a couple of hits. He also featured on the mound in the second game as he struck out one in a 1-2-3 inning of relief.

André at the plate.

Sharks embrace rain, sweep Bats

The Sharks are in the midst of a roller coaster-season.
They certainly enjoyed the ride on Sunday.
“We had great discipline today,” coach Edgren says.

When the powerhouse Karlskoga Bats (5-3) visits Shark Park, the games are usually a dull story for the Göteborg Hajarna (4-2). On Sunday, the plot was different.

Behind game one starter José Martinez (2-0) Hajarna put up a crooked number in the first, scoring three runs off of Bats starter Forrest Weaver (3-1). In the second inning, they put two more runs on the board. The defense has been inconsistent during the season but it was looking as solid as ever on this day.

Martinez was rolling through three innings before running in to trouble in the fourth as he gave up three runs. He never lost his stride, however, and threw a complete game for his second win of the season. On the day, he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out ten.

Game two was wet. Really wet. The rain decided to make life difficult for the players and the field as everyone had to battle wet balls and a wet field. The Bats drew first blood as the put up a run in the second and added four runs in the fourth.

Wet indeed.

The Sharks never got their offensive production going and it was looking more and more like a one sided affair before starter Mokhlad al-Ghanimi. However, a rain delay occurred after the fifth inning and Eric Marquez reminded his teammates that winning is better than losing.

With the game on the line, the Sharks showed patience at the plate in the bottom of the seventh and loaded the bases with one out. After scoring three runs, oldtimer Johan Weidolf came to the plate as the winning run and hit a line drive down the right field line to tie the game.

Martinez then took matters in to his own hands as he drove in Weidolf with a ground rule double for the walkoff win with the final score of 6-5.

“We had great discipline on both sides of the ball. And this is baseball, anything can happen,” coach Jonny Edgren says.

Longer version to follow.

The story of ‘Momo’ is more than strikeouts

Around the Sharks organization, he’s known for his strikeouts and blinding speed.
But there is more to Mokhlad al-Ghanimi than meets the eye.
“I just want to be safe,” he says in an article at Ale-Kuriren.

In a story featured in Ale-Kuriren, al-Ghanimi tells the story on how he had to leave his native Iraq and his struggle to stay in Sweden. He talks about his athletic upbringing, his father who got him into swimming and his future.

I Göteborg Hajarnas förening är han mest känd för sina strikeouts och blixtrande snabbhet.
Men Mokhlad al-Ghanimi är mer än så.
“Jag vill bara leva ett säkert liv”, säger han till Ale-Kuriren.

I en artikel i Ale-Kuriren berättar al-Ghanimi historien om hur han var tvungen att lämna sitt hemland Irak och om hans kamp för att få stanna i Sverige. Han pratar om hans idrottande familj, och ödet som förde honom till Göteborg och Hajarna.

Read the full story here.

Al-Ghanimi learned in Sweden that winning is better than losing.

Lastly, the Hajarna.se editorial staff (there’s actually three of us) are proud to have al-Ghanimi in the organization and are happy that you feel safe here.

Come and see ‘Momo’ in action on Sunday as Hajarna take on the Karlskoga Bats, first pitch is at 12.00 at Shark Park.

Offense and official scorer fail Sharks

First loss of the season does not sound so bad.
But it was kind of bad.
“We played better than last week,” coach Edgren said.

Shervin Shakki (0-1) started game one at Afzelius park in Tranås and, from the get-go, showed that he wants to reign as the ace of the Gothenburg Sharks (2-2) rotation this season. Striking out the side in the first inning while pitching his first game to new battery mate Zaki Yamazaki was an impressive start.

But he was just getting started.

Shakki pitched great all game long and gave up no earned runs over six innings, even though the box score says so. Per usual, the hometown scorer was fonder of awarding home players with hits and therefore excluding a lot of errors on the Sharks defensive side. He did give up a couple of hits (unclear how many as the hits correlate with the errors that do not appear in the box score) walking only one and striking out seven. ‘Swirvin’ Shakki was, however, tagged with the loss as the Sharks offense failed immensely.

Going up against veteran pitcher Nils Bergehed (1-1), the Sharks could not get anything going. While Bergehed pitched great, went the full seven while allowing one run on three hits and four walks, the Sharks did not string anything together. All day long, patience was lacking at the plate and despite having a hectic preseason, they were not locked in at the plate.

To their credit, Tranås played great defense all day long and was booked for no errors (wait, what?) in that first game that ended 4-1 in the favor of Tranås.

Apparently, the Tranås side also believe winning is better than losing.

The veteran trio of Rickard Kronqvist, Toofan Khazal and Jonny Edgren was the only Sharks credited with hits in the box score but due credit should go to regional debutant Zaki Yamazaki. Catching that first game, giving veteran Khazal some much needed rest, she was very impressive. While keeping Shakki calm and framing pitches all day long, she also threw out runners, successfully tagged runners out at the plate and drew two walks while going 0-1.

Mokhlad al-Ghanimi (1-1) started game two and looked pretty good, although maybe not as sharp as the Hajarna faithful has gotten used to. Walking three, striking out seven and giving up two hits looks pretty nice, but add three runs to that (on three wild pitches) and al-Ghanimi himself is not happy.

The Sharks offense was even more toothless in this one as they only amassed two hits (Shakki, Eric Marquez) and two walks against Tranås starter Felix Millan Casanova (1-0). But wait, now you’re wondering how the frick the Sharks lost 10-0 when starter al-Ghanimi only gave up three runs. Yeah, well about that…

Coach Edgren got some questionable advice to send a hobby reporter to the mound after al-Ghanimi had gone four innings. While the reporter got out of the first inning unscathed, the next one was not so pretty.

He walked a about a million batters and gave up close to that many hits, but may have been the only Sharks player drawing cheers from the home crowd as he made sure the mercy in mercy rule was invoked.

“Who are you to ask that frickin’ question?” the reporter muttered when he tried to interview himself after the game.

On the whole, it was two close, well played games (apart from the inning thrown by yours truly) that quite possibly was fun to watch.

“Even though we lost today, it was a step forward. We look forward to hosting Karlskoga in two weeks,” coach Jonny Edgren said.

Notables: 

The Sharks DL is getting crowded. Niclas Ekström and José Munoz was already there. Add to that that ace pitcher Mokhlad al-Ghanimi and Daniel André and those playoff hopes are starting to look grim.

‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki is having a breakout season at the plate with a slash line of .500/.500/.625/.1125.

Sharks had brilliant sushi between games, courtesy of the Yamazaki family.

Quick recap: Sharks played better, got swept

Tranås flashed their power as still being a force in the regional series on Sunday.
The Sharks showed they still have some ways to go.

Even though the Sharks (2-2) got swept on Sunday, they played better than the weekend before when they took two from the Malmö Pilots. This time, the Sharks got outplayed by the opposition and somewhat by themselves.

The first game was awfully close as the teams traded zeroes and it was eventually decided by the Tranås (2-2) side cashing in on the Sharks defensive miscues. That is not to take anything away from ‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki who pitched one of his best games in his career, going six innings while allowing no earned runs (no matter what the official scorer might say). Also, the birth of a succesful (and quite possibly the shortest) battery might have been seen as Zaki Yamazaki was excellent behind the plate in her regional series debut. In Zaki, the team might have found relief to veteran catcher Toofan Khazal who is needed on other places on the diamond and, well, no one should catch 14 innings on a day.

Apparently, the Tranås side also believe winning is better than losing.

Speaking of Khazal, he teamed up with ace pitcher Mokhlad al-Ghanimi for the second one and apart from a short stint in the second inning, it looked like the rust was gone. Unfortunately, the Sharks had forgot the bats at home for both games as they never got going at the plate and showed impatience.

Game two was decided when Coach Edgren decided to throw in this reporter on the mound for his regional series debut. While the first inning went well, the second one quickly got out of hand and resulted in a mercy rule ending.

“Even though we lost today, it was a step forward. We look forward to hosting Karlskoga in two weeks,” Jonny Edgren said.

On the whole, it was two close, well played games (apart from the inning thrown by yours truly) that quite possibly was fun to watch. Final scores were 1-4 and 0-10.

A longer recap will follow when box scores are available. 

Kris Bryant has respect for Tranås

It took the Cubs 108 years to win another World Series.
It took Kronqvist 18 years to get back on the field.
”I feel like Kris Bryant,” he says.

The last time Rickard Kronqvist played Tranås, some players on the 2017 Sharks roster were not even born. The Chicago Cubs were still enduring the curse of the Billy Goat and was soon to experience the Steve Bartman incident.

But with the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series over the Cleveland Indians all those curses were thrown out the window. More important, it brought Kronqvist back to the diamond. A bet was placed all those years ago, to start playing baseball again when the Cubs took the Series.

“It was more of a promise than a bet. Promises are meant to be kept and it became a win-win situation for me,” Kronqvist says.

Showing up to practice in his Kristianstad uniform, the younger members on the Sharks roster wondered what kind of relic had found his way to Shark Park. Soon, they found out that the relic was more of an old school ringer.

“It’s an amazing team that really play their hearts out, have fun and are always trying to improve. Just like me,” the utility player says.

During the preseason, Kronqvist has been synonymous with the term utility player. Playing all over the field, including pitching and catching. And even picking his first balls at first base during his Regional series debut.

“I felt like Kris Bryant when I played. That is to say, I played with a smile on my face. The similarities stop there, but it was great to be back,” Kronqvist says, still puzzled from the experience.

“He’s my boy!” Kris Bryant might have said. Or not. Who knows?

That first game did go well nonetheless, playing seven perfect innings in left field and first base. On the offensive side of the ball, he got on base in all four plate appearances, drawing walks, much like in the good old days.

Ah, yes, the good old days. The last active season for Kronqvist was the 98/99 season playing for Marsa Mustangs on Malta and winning the national championships. Since then, a lot has changed in Swedish baseball and Kronqvist recognizes both the good and the bad.

“There are fewer teams now, but they are all making an effort to include juniors. And nowadays, they all think that winning is better than losing,” he says.

See that guy at first? That might be Kronqvist.

For this upcoming weekend, the Sharks face a fierce competitor as they head to Tranås for a double header. Last season, Tranås finished in fifth place at 11-5 but like the Sharks, they were eliminated in the first playoff round.

This season, Tranås started out facing the heavy favorites Karlskoga Bats during their opener and lost both games, which probably says nothing about the strength of Tranås as a team.

“Last time I faced them was probably in 96 or 97. But they are a solid team, you always have to respect them,” Kronqvist says.

“And one more thing. I hope my comeback will inspire others and bring people back to playing the game in Sweden. Don’t live on past memories, come down to the park and create new ones,” he adds before running off to another practice.

First pitch in Tranås is at 12.00 on Sunday.