Bhutan hopes to be next great baseball country

FlexFlexerson

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Super cool. I followed buhatn's nation soccer team when they were a story and watched a documentary about the country's (now discarded, I believe) happiness index.

Having a tech entrepreneur be an instigator of all this rubs against my natural biases but it all seems like a pretty good story.
 

Harry Hooper

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The first photograph is something else!


The last photo shows proper step-toward-the-target-and-throw mechanics, something many of the Sox need to work on.
 

zenax

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Ages ago, I was on a flight that made two stops at airfields in India that were located about 40 miles from the SW and SE borders of Bhutan. My base in France sent a squadron of C-130 cargo aircraft to aid India when China was having a border dispute with India in parts of the Himalayas. I spent three months there but the only parts of those mountains I got into were on the western part of their country, still I did have that one flight from New Delhi and return close to the Himalayas. Quite a sight but not anywhere I would have thought of playing baseball.
 

santadevil

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Not sure where to post this but I was surprised that no one mentioned this article from mlb.com about the sudden interest in baseball in the small country, high up in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, where more than 6,000 children are becoming baseball fanatics. Some interesting photographs.
https://www.mlb.com/news/featured/bhutan-hopes-to-be-next-great-baseball-country
Great story, thanks for sharing
I hope they are able to continue growing the sport we all love
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Makes sense in that a. baseball is awesome and b. half a billion dollar contracts are going to be commonplace soon.
 

Tokyo Sox

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I heard Manny just opted out of his BBL contract, after realizing he badly misunderstood what they meant by, "All you can eat, GOAT."
 

InstaFace

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Great article. Two thoughts:

1. They have the scarcest, most-precious resource in youth sports: A pair of fanatically devoted organizers, in DeSantis and Dorji, who keep up promotion, organization, keep focus on a big audacious goal, and (seemingly) never say no to further asks that are made of them. I've seen the same dynamics in youth sports in so many other places, where maintenance of existing popularity and continuity-of-play from year to year can be done by people of ordinary levels of motivation, but growth, sport-evangelism, requires someone with a truly entrepreneurial amount of drive for it to really take off. Getting critical mass of participation, and keeping the money and equipment flowing, not to mention training coaches, preparing playing spaces, handling communication with everyone... it's a level of stress most people burn out from in a short amount of time, and that's if you ever get someone sufficiently committed in the first place. Volunteers who never burn out from the level of commitment that DeSantis and Dorji have maintained are as rare as hen's teeth. God bless 'em.

2. I fell down a wikipedia rabbit hole of reading about Bhutan a few months ago (starting from the question of "how the hell did they keep their independence during the unification of India?"). And while I'm neither an expert on Bhutan nor Buddhism, it strikes me that there is something very Buddhist, something very in keeping with Bhutan's national character, about baseball. First of all is how contemplative it is: you have so much time to just be out in nature, standing around, 90%+ of the time doing nothing. The conservation of focus, effort, energy, and the time it gives you to reflect, let your mind wander and then bring it back to focus as the pitch arrives, is rather meditative, as is the repeated practice of the same movements for each skill in the game. Second, the fact that, for lack of a better word, baseball happens in moments - the delivery of a pitch, the swing of the bat, the ball is coming straight at you, you catch, you throw - you are put into a state of flow by the nature of the game, and must push aside discursive thoughts. Third, the search for excellence in the sport is very internally-driven, rather than deriving from the teamwork and mutual understanding required of basketball or soccer, much as Buddhism is about seeking awakening, greater awareness and clarity in one's own mind. When you're pitching, hitting, fielding, there is no one to help you in the moment: your control over your own body and mind, driven by repeated practice, is your only asset. Fourth, the fact that it's a non-contact sport, in a country that outsources its military to India and whose state religion is explicitly pacifist, I'm sure helps things out. Please correct me if I'm out of line on any of this, but if not, there are probably some parallels to the spread of the sport in Japan, too.

Also, most of the inhabited parts of the country are at like 7000 - 8000' above sea level, so I bet the ball goes FAR when you really smack it. That's gotta add to the fun.
 

zenax

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"A photo of ‘Bhutan’s Babe Ruth’ went viral. Can it boost baseball there?" Washington Post, 21 Aug 2023

“I was planning for a home run,” Pelzang wrote to The Washington Post. “And hit the ball with all my might.”

https://wapo.st/3YGRLMm
 

Tokyo Sox

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Bhump!

https://www.mlb.com/news/hudson-valley-renegades-to-have-special-day-for-bhutan-baseball

Now, Bhutanese baseball will have its biggest opportunity yet: The Hudson Valley Renegades -- the High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees -- will be hosting a Bhutan Baseball day this August. With special jerseys and a T-shirt giveaway featuring DeSantis' viral image, the team will be looking to honor the ballplayers who are dedicated to a sport they have never seen played professionally.
While the event for fans will be on Aug. 20, the experience for the Bhutanese players will hopefully take up the better part of the week. The goal: With money raised by a jersey auction and other fundraising efforts, the team is looking to fly out as many Bhutanese players as possible. They'll land in New York City before traveling up to the Hudson Valley, where they'll be given a tour of the region before taking to the field for a coaching clinic with the Renegades players and coaches. They'll also take part in a special business of baseball discussion hosted by the members of the front office, pointing out to these baseball dreamers that even if a career as a professional baseball player is rare, there are still opportunities to work in baseball.

From there, they'll return to New York City, stop by the MLB offices, and hopefully finish their trip with a stop at a Major League ballgame up in the Bronx.
I just hope they don't all quit on baseball after being forced to sit through a game at the Toilet.

Edit: Mods is it possible to move this thread to the "MLB Discussion" forum?