Author Archives: Joel Earnest

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

Shark kids have fun in the mud

It was muddy out at Shark Park today. The muddiest in years according to veteran Sharks. But even with the late cancellation by Skövde, everyone still had a great time.

Fourteen players showed up Sunday morning, ready to play and that’s just what they did despite the mud and cancellation. Even without Skövde, there were still enough players to form two teams and play a doubleheader with the assistance of a few dads in the outfield. And you could see the results of all those Tuesday evening practices, with plenty of nice plays by the young Sharks.

Between hot dogs during the break, the most common question was “When can we do this again?” Coach Edgren hopes to be able to reschedule the Skövde-Gothenburg matchup before the season comes to a close, but it will have to be after the junior league playoffs on September 24.

Sharks cruise in SWBL postseason tuneup

Skövde swept Gothenburg when these two teams last met, topped off by a dramatic come-from-behind Saints victory in the final frame of game 2. The tables were turned this time around with a Sharks squad supplemented with three Kungsbacka Chief veterans taking both games against the Saints Sunday at Shark Park by scores of 8-2 and 12-5.

Speedster Hannes Wiström taking a lead off first

Elite Matchup for Sharks in Sölvesborg

The doubleheader in Sölvesborg on July 29 promises to be the toughest yet for the Sharks, with the Firehawks filling out their short-handed regional squad with top elite players.

Sölvesborg’s regional team has an impressive record of 8-1, but it’s no secret around the league that much of their success is due to the infusion of players from their strong elite team, currently undefeated at 8-0.

With Sölvesborg B regularly starting five to six elite players in regional games, this is not your typical regional team. Then again, with Jose Munoz, Jose Martinez and Mokhlad Al-Ghanimi in the Gothenburg lineup, and backed by a host of other solid players, this year’s Sharks are not your typical regional team either. Although inconsistent at times, how well the Sharks do in Sölvesborg could give fans an indication of just how far this team can go. And it goes without saying, that winning is always better than losing.

“Playing an elite team in Sölvesborg will snap us out of holiday mode and into playoff mode,” says Coach Edgren, obviously looking forward to the challenge.

Coach Jonny Edgren

Back to the Sands of Malmö

It’s road trip time again, this week with a June 10th visit to Malmö’s beautiful Limhamnsfältet for a doubleheader against the Pilots. Even though the Sharks are currently riding an eight-game winning streak against the Pilots and fresh off a miracle sweep of the Karlskoga Bats, this weekend’s games could go either way.

Looking back over the past six years, the Pilots have the edge, going 20–9 against the Sharks. Although the Pilots had the early advantage, at one point winning 19 straight, the balance of power began to shift when Coleman Lucas and Jason Norderum took the reins in 2015, and led the Sharks to an 11-1 victory, vividly illustrating the concept of winning being better than losing.


Swervin Shervin, flashing the leather in Malmö

For fans wanting to see the team on the road, this reporter can strongly recommend making the trip to Malmö. It’s an easy drive, the burgers are tasty, the people are friendly, sunny skies are forecast and a great sand beach is just a minute away, something the Sharks always take advantage of after playing in Malmö.

For directions, click here: Limhamnsfältet
There’s plenty of free parking between the field and the beach.

Winning better than losing… except when it’s not

The Sharks narrowly defeated the Kungsbacka Chiefs in game one of Saturday’s three-team tripleheader, but perhaps even more satisfying was staying within range of the Vithajarna for most of game two.

The veteran Vithajarna squad was stacked; a bona fide all-star team with many of the Gothenburg club’s top players from years past. Warming up for the final game of the day against the Vithajarna, the prospects were not good for the Sharks. They would be facing former national team pitcher Curtis Donne, and were down to just eight players with several key team members unavailable due either to injuries or prior commitments.

Shervin Shakki held the Vithajarna to one unearned run in the first inning, even though there were just two of the team’s less experienced players covering Shark Park’s vast outfield. But help was on the way. When the Sharks took the field in the bottom of the second, standing in center was Zaki and Yudai Yamazaki’s father Chikara, making his first appearance in organized baseball after a layoff of fifteen years. The elder Yamazaki wasted little time in demonstrating his skills, promptly throwing out a runner trying to advance to third.

Zaki, Yukai and Chikara Yamazaki

Shervin Shakki, Yudai Yamazaki and Rickard “Comeback Kid” Kronqvist were solid on the mound, and most runs scored by the Vithajarna were unearned. Despite the sometimes-shaky defense, the Sharks played well for the most part and were still in the game until the late innings before going down 10–3.

Saturday’s matchups drew Shark Park’s largest crowd in years, close to matching typical Elite opening day attendance figures. Enthusiasm was high among all three squads and all are hoping for a rematch later in the season. The Sharks are already scheduled to face the Vithajarna again on August 12.

SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE VITHAJARNA DUGOUT BY JOHAN WEIDOLF
It was so much fun to have the old crew back together. We may have all gotten a lot older but the passion and will to make plays and make outs was still there. Denis, hadn’t played in 17 years got behind the plate and caught in both games and blocked to left and right and handled the pitchers in a tremendous way. Hitting wise it was amazing to see how quickly these old players adapted and got back into the groove with good at bats and driving the ball to all fields. Robin Bandgren was even hitting and driving the ball to all fields better than he did during his active period so perhaps Hajarna can hope for a comeback? At times the hits from the old guys were longer than the old players could sprint, trying to go for doubles and triples making people breath really hard to catch our breath but having fun all the way. Martin and Robin did a good job pitching in the first game, in the second Curtis still looked amazing, good velocity and control mowing player down, pitching 4 innings of 1-hit ball and when Hajarna managed to put the ball in play there was a solid defense behind him making it look easy and making outs.
Sami took over and started impressive, throwing hard but lost control for a while and allowed the opposing team to reach on a few walks and then score on wild pitches before he managed to regain control and close out the game.

It was a really strong impressive crew, could definitely see the shape of the team was not what it used to be for many of the players but still it was very impressive to see all the players and we all had so much fun. We will now go back and try to heal and rehab our bodies to be back for the second occasion in August.

Vithajarna       1 0 5  5 2 – 13
Kungsbacka    3 0 0  4 3 – 10
Göteborg        0 0 0  0 0 3 – 3
vithajarna       1 0 3  0 2 4 – 10

Sharks take two from Pilots in home opener

The Sharks swept the Malmö Pilots in Saturday’s opening day doubleheader by scores of 10-7 and 16-6 behind solid pitching from Mo Mo AL-Ghanimi, Mikael Lindquist, Shervin Shakki and Jose Martinez.

Despite what might be suspected by the high scores in Saturday’s doubleheader, pitchers from both teams pitched effectively, but with spotty defense, it was seldom enough with three outs to get out of an inning. Balls bounced off gloves and rolled between legs one minute, but were flagged down with highlight-reel catches the next.

Aggressive base running was exhibited by both teams Saturday, but not necessarily smart base running. There were pickoffs, missed signs and even one play with two base runners both heading for second but from different directions.

What it came down to was that the Sharks had the pitching depth to compensate for their mistakes, the Pilots did not.

Al-Ghamini getting it done

“We can play much better than this,” Coach Edgren reportedly told the team in a closed door session after the game. “And we will.”

Meanwhile the first base coach was seen in a corner of the clubhouse, muttering profanities to no one in particular and something about winning being better than nothing, or possibly, better than losing.

Box scores

Coach Edgren strikes gold in search for bullpen

Coach Jonny Edgren employed five pitchers in Sunday’s two narrow victories over the Skövde Saints, with Hannes Wiström, Daniel André and Alex Rikner all making their pitching debuts. Although all pitched well, Rikner was especially impressive, holding the Saints hitless over two innings, walking just two.

Rikard Kronqvist, undefeated in an earlier stint with the Marsa Mustangs at the turn of the century, was also impressive, but was experiencing pain Monday “in every single part” of his body. Shervin Shakki pitched the final innings of game 2 in his usual solid fashion.

Coach Edgren reminding the team that winning is better than losing.

The Sharks’ playoff hopes took a major hit Sunday in game one when hard-hitting Niclas Ekström, temporarily on loan to the Saints, caught a cleat in a dash to home and collided with Sharks catcher Toofan Khazal.

Ekström was diagnosed with a broken foot and has been placed on the 60-day DL. In a corresponding move, Isak “Izzy” Voigt Jansson was called up from the Sharks’ Umeå affiliate to take Ekström’s place on the 24-man roster.

Khazal was unhurt by the collision and showed no signs of a previously reported season-ending injury. Fans gathered at sports bars throughout the land to watch the games went wild when they saw Khazal take his usual place behind the plate. “He my man!” one boisterous Sharks fan was reported as saying.

Veteran’s Day in Tranås

Sharks veterans Johan Weidolf, Joe Lankford and Håkan Wikström, along with veterans Pelle Rhodin and Richard Mellgren from the Kungsbacka Chiefs, joined a combination Sharks-Chiefs squad over the weekend in the second round of SWBL play.

Asked if he felt he could still perform after a two-year layoff, Lankford quipped, “I’ve got the glove, I’ve got the spikes, I’ve got the jersey with my name on it. And I’ve got the skills to back it all up.”

As it turned out, this was no exaggeration, with all five demonstrating the skills and pure grit that have made them living legends in west coast baseball.

At the other end of the scale, the Yamazaki youngsters Zaki and Yudai were dominant, in the field, at the plate and even behind the plate with Zaki making catching chores look easy. Their parents also contributed with Mrs Yamazaki treating both teams to delicious Japanese sugar cakes.

Everyone on the field agreed that winning is better than losing.

The fans witnessed the emergence of two potential closers with Johan Weidolf and Joel Earnest – with a combined age rumored to be in excess of 110 years – shutting down the Tranås offfence in games two and three.

Los Chicos, also known as Jose Martinez and Jose Munoz, made the trip and as always, made solid contributions both on and off the field.

According to Coach Edgren, “the team is looking good, we have a good mix of new guys and veteran players, and I can’t wait to start the season for real.”