Terve! - Greetings from Finland!

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
DOB: 14/11/1987
Height: 6’0’'
Weight: 220 lbs
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Position: Buh… everything besides 1B really 8)
From: Finland

[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 :wink:

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:
(
http://www.baseball.fi/tilastot/tilastot.php?leagID=11&lang=fin&pftm=3
) -> 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:
(
http://www.baseball.fi/fin/mj/mj_roster.php?lang=eng
)

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:
(
http://www.baseball.fi/tilastot/tilastot.php?leagID=14&lang=fin&pftm=4
)-> Athletics

[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)
Anyway, shortly…
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 :wink:
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 :wink:) 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 :slight_smile:

Until the next post, I say like we do here: morjens! :wink:

This is an additional post with some info about baseball in Finland.

[Things you need to know]

  • We play 12-15 games in a season
  • We have currently 6-7 teams in the SM-Sarja
  • Finland has won 3 of the last 4 Nordic Championships
  • We have no baseball stadiums at all
  • We use a portable mound so pitchers don’t have to pitch from flat ground anymore or closers actually from a little hole throwing uphill late in the game
  • We play in dirt-only soccer fields
  • Most teams have just few pitchers, who are usually just the hardest throwing guys in the team
  • Pitchers’ fastballs average 70-80 mph
  • Most guys don’t have any specific playing position
  • We started using wooden bats only-rule only few seasons ago
  • Finland will play in the European Championship B-pool tournament in Slovakia this year
  • People prefer pesäpallo here, which is our national game:
    (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesäpallo
    )

If you got interested/didn’t you can still check this link for more info:

http://www.baseball.fi/

There’s a little section in english too.

Welcome! And thanks for sharing all of that information. It’s always interesting to me to see how baseball is spreading throughout the world.

Welcome, and your right that was a long bio but it was very interesting. So again but this time bigger [size=24]:band: WELCOME :band:[/size]

Thanks Roger, Kazmir :slight_smile: I’m actually surprised anyone bothered reading my whole bio but thank you very much.

Anyway, about baseball spreading…

Baseball arrived here in the 80’s, the beginning. But despite having been around here for almost 30 years, there’s no progression whatsoever.
The main reason I’d say is the pesäpallo. If you read the history of that game in the link I posted in my general info of Finalnd and baseball, you see it was brought here by a guy who visited the US and saw baseball there. Unfortunately the dude had for some reason to change the rules, the field, and everything else enough to make it a different game. Eventually it became Finland’s national game and it screwed baseball’s chance to ever become huge here. And also it doesn’t help that everything here runs volunteerely. People don’t get paid for anything really. Usually the contrary. We pay licences to play and that goes to the federation’s budget then.

We’ve been pressuring few cities to just give us a piece of land to build even a primitive baseball field. Despite our federation’s budget being probably under what some AAA guy earns in a month, we’ve been trying to push the project forward. I believe that when we get a proper field, get some financial help from somewhere since what I’ve understood the government does not give us anything, we have the tools to start making baseball look more interesting.
I mean, who would like to come to stand at the side of some crappy soccer field for 2,5-3h? Watching something you don’t understand anything about?
If we’d have a field, with seats and vending machines at summer, music and all that stuff, even if you don’t enjoy watching a free baseball game you can still just sit/lay around and enjoy a soda or an ice cream. It becomes very much more pleasant, and we could actually put ads in newspapers and recruit guys from schools and high schools and colleges to play for the adults and form junior activity to help the longetivity of the game here. But for now we don’t have anything that would be appealing enough, with the kids and people having so many other options in ice hockey, soccer ect. But I hope all that will change someday.

What we do have here is summer tournaments where anybody can come and try the game. It’s actually pretty exiting to maybe face a “pro” pitcher who pitches for the national team, even more if you get a hit and get the feeling of what just happened. That way we have been able to recruit guys to play even for the SM-League teams, including some pesäpallo rebels 8)

So well, I still enjoy playing here and I hope to see progression, but I’m skeptical. All I concentrate so far is to become next season’s best pitcher in Finland :wink:


Did you know…

We had one of the prime pesäpalloplayers of Finland, Toni Kohonen playing for the baseball’s national team years back in an European Championship in Sweden. He was clocked at 155 kmh, which equals 95 mph. He got even offers from the Netherlands to play there :forwardroll:
Unfortunately the fastball was the only thing he could throw and after some adjustments the teams got the best of him :wink:
Kohonen played pesäpallo for the Kouvolan Pallonlyöjät last year 8)

PS: Sorry if my English is messy and non-understandable.

welcome