Phew, finally found some time to write my piece of introduction here.
I'll try to make it short but as detailed as possible. I guess the best way to start is the basics...
Name: Antonio Muñoz
Weight: 220 lbs
Position: Buh... everything besides 1B really 8)
[b]Detailed and very long bio ahead 8)
[Me and my history...]
I've been into baseball since my childhood thanks to my half-cuban origin. As many of you might know, baseball is far more than just a sport for any "cubano", it's a passion, as it has always been for me. I just seem to carry it in my blood.
My first real experience from baseball I remeber was a trip to Japan with the Finnish junior national team in 1998. It was huge. Despite not remebering everything I'd love to remeber, I can still recall playing other countries and Japanese junior clubs, all the ceremonies ect... it was awesome. And I brought few medals back home too
After returning from the trip I don't remember reuniting much with the team. Baseball is just not big in Finland... actually it's close to non-existing and so the other guys' quit one by one because the lack of competition and motivation. Without the team, obviously, I couldn't continue either, and so began personal dark age of baseball that lasted until 2002, when I was 14-15 years old.
Few of my dad's friends brought me the good news of a new baseball club that had been recently formed in my home city of Vantaa - the Vantaa Giants. Man I can't tell you how exited I was. Off course, I was also a little frightened because there were no junior teams in Finland at all back then, so I basically I was trying to get into an adult team that played at the highest level in Finland (it's not really that big of a deal, but it sounded spooky back then) at the age of 15, which I thought was never going to happen. But then...
[2003-2005: Vantaa Giants]
After my very first training with the Giants I felt I was welcome to the team, and according to everybody I had in Finland's standard a very hard throw at my age. That was sweet to hear, especially when I thought I wouldn't be able to even dream in the direction of that team. So I kept attending the practices and eventually got playing time already in my first season. A big thanks to this goes to Milton "Tony" Jones, who was the trainer and manager of the team. I bet that I wouldn't had the same chances to develop and gain all that time on the field and experience with any other team in the SM-Sarja (Finnish National Series).
By that time I had found my passion for baseball again and so began my career here in Finland.
I played, grew, matured and developed pretty fast with the Giants and played three seasons there, also with the newlyformed Giants junior team, winning the junior championship one year. Unfortunately the team's roster changed very much every year, because it consisted of mainly foreigners and some US marines and other representatives that were just visiting/being appointed here for a year or so, and as you can guess such inconstancity eventually drew the team in the direction of losing core players and by the end of the 2005 season, helped by motivation loss because of poor results and poor overall development of the team, Giants was in a crisis so to say. It looked like we wouldn't have enough players for the 2006 season and there wasn't any cure for that apparently. But then something surprising and intriguiting happened...
[2006: Giants and A's unite]
By the end of the 2005 season suprisingly one of the best and strongest team in the 90's, a team with a long tradition and supposedly a stable core, the Espoo Athletics, was also experiencing the same type of problems our team did. Players retired or quit, and it looked weak for them too.
There were rumors that sounded to me too good to be true, telling that the Giants and A's would unite for the 2006 season. I wasn't even able to imagine playing alongside guys who played in the Finnish national team and who I feared (batting at 15 years old first time against a guy that is throwing 80+ mph was pretty frightening) and looked up to when I was younger. But eventually all turned out just like those rumors were telling, and so I found myself playing in one of the best teams in Finland, the Athletics :shock:
It all went very well that year and we ended up playing in the finals, best of 5 series against the post-2000's most dominant team, the Espoo Expos. We lost eventually, but it was a great experience, and after a while a silver medal actually started feeling good.
By that time I had grown bigger, stronger, and I threw harder. Unfortunately my control issues and my stocky frame kept me mainly in the outfield. Too bad control to pitch, not quick and swift enough to play regular infield. But nonetheless, I was good and reliable out there, because I was and I'm still pretty speedy and my arm strenght was getting some recognition.
You can see my stats of the first season in the A's here:
) -> Athletics
So, everything seemed to actually work out pretty nicely for us and I was eager to train harder and I wanted to have a huge season of 2007 with my new team. I still had that "kid/junior" tag following me everywhere that I wanted to get rid of :roll:
[2007 - Army, first homerun and many more...]
So, like I said, me with all my willingness and craziness to train and bulk during offseason was quicky killed by the worst news of my life so far: you have to go and serve in the Finnish army (yes, it is obligatory here...). So in January of 2007 I began my half-year service and that killed all my chances of actually train my baseball.
Despite not being able to train baseball and the fact that I missed roughly half of the season of 2007, all the physical training and load in the army made me stronger, and when I finally got out of there I was probably in the slimmest and best shape in my life, which led me to put up pretty huge slugging numbers in the bunch of games I actually played in 2007. I also finally hit my first homerun of my life in the SM-Sarja, quickly followed by another one a game after.
But that weren't the only good news.
During a guarding shift late spring of 2007 somewhere in Finland with my division I got a phone call from the assistant manager of my current team, who also was the assistant manager of the Finnish national team. I was surprised but also delighted by the fact that it finally happened: I got the call to play for the national team in the 2007 Nordic Championships.
Heh, hell yeah I was exited.
The tournament went well, as we won the whole thing with a perfect record. The downside was that I hadn't seen any live pitching at all that year, until then, and that was facing some of the top pitchers of Sweden's juniors and Norway. As you can guess, my bat certainly wasn't in the appropiate shape, and aside hitting a massive, near-a-homer double I don't remember any huge contributions from my bat.
Surprisingly I got the call to also pitch... in an, off course, safe situation and I actually did pretty well, striking out two mixing up my "heater" with some slider/gyrocutter thingy 8) But because of few BB's and few errors during that one inning from out defense I was taken out to not enhance any serious momentum shift to the other team. It was still cool.
You can find me in the roster here:
Anyway, back to the A's and national series.
Unfortunately baseball is very amateur here, and people actually have to pay licenses to play here and they do not get paid, so it's like a hobby to many. That led to the situation of A's not having practices all offseason, and only one or two during the whole year. People were just too busy with their jobs and weren't able to commit themselves to the team. All in all we missed the playoffs by one game last season, but that actually sounds pretty good compared to the reality. Everybody were making stupid errors on routine plays, core players missing games, people swinging at anything in the batters box ect...
That off course caused frusration and the team's morale was beaten down. Obviously, nobody expected A's to miss playoffs... it just never happens really, we were supposed to be one of the best out there. But we lost to the weaker teams and nothing seemed to work.
Here's my and team's stats last year:
[2008 - Bullets and the present]
I don't know if any of you guys have read this far, but thanks if you are so interested in me and all that blabla 8)
A's broke up this offseason because the team didn't seem to be put together for another season. It was sad and a little unbelieveable that one of the goliath's of Finnish baseball was shut down just like that, so quickly. But I had to move forward.
I thought that I had only one direction to take. The Finnish champions for the past 5 years in a row, the Expos, had been inviting me actually in few occasions to join their team. I thought that it's the way it is going to be, but last season's rookie team, the Bullets were about to change things.
Espoo Expos train in the city of Espoo, which is too far for me to travel using public transports, so I investigated if any other teams were training somewhere near. I found out that the Bullets were training pretty near to where I live. I went out to join their training and after the very first time I agreed to play for them.
I saw guys motivated, training hard. Something I was looking for. Actually I had been looking for many years. For a younster like me, with still some chances to develop, training intensively is the way to go, and I saw my opportunity with the Bullets. Also a big motivator was that I would get responsibility. I was told that I'd pitch for the team and that we'd actually had pitching training, which was something never-heard-before for me. And the cherry on top was that the new manager for Bullets for the 2008 season will be the national team's head coach...
So well, as you can guess I was sold out. All that finally brings us to the present and me writing this in front of my computer with an ice-cold beer in my hand
I've been now training once a week for few months now, and all those promises of pitching brought me to this site, which I must say is terrific.
I have spent my offseason studying pitching mechanics and sites. I've read the whole Chri's O'Leary's website and I must say it has helped me a lot. Thanks Chris for great work :music:
Before actually studying my own mechanics (which still don't exist actually) and everything I've found about pitching I thought that arm strenght comes from muscles and all kinda stuff. I never had heard anything about hip/shoulder separation, loose throwing arm or anything like that.
After few adjustments I've eliminated my elbow pain that was caused of throwing hard without any pronation ect and I hope to develop myself even further with the help of you guys. I've already got much more speed on my fastball by learning to use my whole body and my accuracy and control difference compared to last year is just unbelieveable.
We don't have any experts or anybody who can help me to develop here in Finland, so that is why I definetly decided to join these forums because there are so many guys out there who can really help out with their wisdom (Chris, Dusty Delso, Ellis himself...) of pitching.
Actually I saw Chris Walker from the Eagles join here already (hi buddy, coming for ya soon ) to get help.
I haven't got any video yet but I'm planning to make one as soon as possible with a radar gun readings for you guys to evaluate.
I hope you didn't bore yourselves to death with my bio 8) I just felt like writing just in case someone would be interested. Hehe.
So if you guys have anything to ask or comment or anything, feel free to post. I'll be just glad to answer and chat with you guys and make new friends here
Until the next post, I say like we do here: morjens!