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Eagles struggle in inaugural season


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#1
jlurban

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The announcement of the NPF's newest team, the Beijing Shougang Eagles, was met with much fanfare and enthusiasm three months ago.  But the team has struggled competitively on the field (see the separate topic Why Are the Beijing Eagles So Bad?).  With a current record of 2-35 and with only a few weeks left in the 2017 season, it is in grave danger of finishing with the worst regular season record in the history of the league (that dubious distinction is currently held by the Carolina Diamonds at 6-32).
 
But regardless of its final win-loss tally, its very existence has been historic.  As the NPF's first international team, it represents an initial step in the league's overall plan to include the world's best players in its lineup.
  

News release from the NPF website, posted 4/11/17:

 

National Pro Fastpitch Announces Addition of Chinese Team Beginning With 2017 Season

 

NASHVILLE – National Pro Fastpitch announced the addition of a sixth affiliate team that will begin participation when the 2017 regular season launches June 1. The team, Beijing Shougang, is managed by the Chinese Softball Association (CSA) and will be made up of players currently in the national team pool for CSA, along with a select few American team members. 

 

Although the team is managed by CSA, its eventual permanent home location for NPF competition will be located in the United States and announced at a later date. This season, Beijing Shougang will play all “home” games in current home venues of the other five affiliate NPF teams. 

 

This move is an unprecedented and outstanding step forward for Chinese Softball and a ground-breaking experiment for the Chinese softball team.

 

“We hope that participating in NPF competition will accelerate the skills advancement of our players in the near term,” explained the CEO of Beijing Shougang Sports, Qin Xiaowen. “Looking ahead, the company plans to invest in the future development of professional baseball and softball and promote the development of other related projects in China.”

 

The 2017 schedule which was announced earlier this year has been adjusted and revised to accommodate even competition between the six teams. That schedule consists of 150 regular season games, 50 for each team, broken down to 25 home and 25 away games. 

 

The roster for Beijing Shougang is expected to be at maximum capacity of 26 players with the majority of those players being Chinese and identified in the CSA pool of athletes training for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where softball will once again be on the slate of medal sports. The team expects to add a handful of American players that will compliment the existing Chinese roster and enhance the team’s competitiveness for NPF competition, specifically in the area of pitching. 

 

“This is a landmark move for the league and one we are extremely proud to announce,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “It continues to be a priority of the league, to include the world’s best players and to impact the growth, development and popularity of this incredible game on a global scale. This addition, on top of the involvement of Softball Australia, which was announced earlier this year, speaks loudly to our goals and commitment to doing that.”



#2
MammaZord

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The Shougang Eagles are coached by Teresa Wilson. She was the coach of the aforementioned Carolina Diamonds. Looks like she coached the Diamonds the season after their abysmal 6-26 season in 2011. I cannot seem to find the Diamonds record for 2012. Either way, I am sure it is not easy coaching teams that are so so bad. 



#3
In-the-stands

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But regardless of its final win-loss tally, its very existence has been historic.  As the NPF's first international team, it represents an initial step in the league's overall plan to include the world's best players in its lineup.

 

On any given day a well-oiled 18U travel team could have beaten the Eagles. How then does this move represent the "world's best players"?  The FACT, and it is now a fact, is that it doesn't. What it represents is a combination of poor foresight, bad planning, greed, disastrous marketing and poor leadership.

 

From a fan perspective, to add insult to injury, the league now sees fit to add a second Chinese team, a development one at that, which apparently will prove to be even poorer than the Eagles. Perhaps a well-oiled 14U team will beat them.

 

This does not represent the best of the best, not even close. You would see better quality ball watching a bracket game at Sparkler in Denver than paying money to watch these two teams.



#4
SpartanIlliniCub

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So now a league without its defending champ and its biggest start will have a less competitive, watered-down product.    And there is no guarantee even these international teams will stick around if softball is out of the Olympics after Tokyo 2020.  Things are looking pretty darn bad for the NPF for the 2018 season and for the future after that.



#5
KCSoftball

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The Chinese Team has qualified for the 2018 Women' s Softball World Championships slated for August 2nd to 12th in Chiba, Japan.  It took the final (4th place) spot at the Asian Games. I don't think it will miss this tournament for the NPF. So maybe we will get to see the Chinese freshman team?  

 http://www.xinhuanet...c_136803043.htm



#6
In-the-stands

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It will be interesting to see how the NPF schedules around this. Both the Bejing team and the Australian National Team will be at this event...as well as the US National Team and Canadian National Team...who also have NPF players on their rosters.



#7
SpartanIlliniCub

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The NPF has allied itself with these international teams, but I'm not sure it realizes this alliance is a ticking time bomb. 

 

First, as mentioned above, these national players are going to want to play with their national teams in tournaments leading up to the games.  They may be gone for extended periods both this year and next year to play with their national teams.

 

Second, during the Olympic year these international teams and players will all be 100% gone.

 

Third, if the Olympics is not picked up for the 2024 Games, these national teams and players may be gone for good and leave the league without enough teams to carry on a legitimate season.

 

The national teams now comprise two full teams or 40% of the five-team NPF—and 50% of the league if you don't count the Cleveland Comets (and we probably shouldn't count them). 

 

I really question the NPF thinking on this issue.  Clearly it is planning for the "right now" and not the future.  And not thinking about the future is probably the biggest mistake you can make in business.



#8
In-the-stands

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Certainly the future of the NPF has to be called into question, given the past year or so of hijinks. I cannot see any new domestic franchisee stepping forward with the league in the state it is in currently.



#9
CatOsterFan

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If a new domestic team was going to happen, it would have happened already.  This is going to be a four-team league this year (though calling the Comets a "team" is probably overstating it).  I cannot envision a reason a new team would want to sign up for next year.



#10
KCSoftball

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The Chinese team will be better this season than last, but still not good enough! It might beat the Comets, but that is about all! As I posted in another thread, I see the Pride winning both the regular season championship and the post-season championship over the Spirit, with the Bandits 3rd! 



#11
KCSoftball

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The top-ranked NJCAA Chipola College softball team (38-0, 10-0) will host the Chinese National Team, Wednesday, March 28th, in a double-header at 2 and 4 PM, at Chipola's field.

 

Any softball is good softball. This might be a better game than one thinks. 



#12
In-the-stands

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I'm trying to get some scores from today.



#13
KCSoftball

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Eagles win first game 4-1 and second game 6-5 in 8 innings.  That might be good, or it could be bad? 

http://www.dakstats....WBA1&team=15416



#14
In-the-stands

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True...it swings both ways.

 

If the Eagles have improved that much, they may put a dent in the Spirit, Bandits and Pride as leaders.

 

On the other hand, it could upset the league if the Spirit and Eagles start to show dominance of any kind. 

 

As I have written previously, the entire foray into "National" teams in the NPF is a dangerous gamble. NPF trumpets the best of the best...so what if the best is not the Pride or Bandits? What if the Cowles Cup leaves these shores and now sits 6,000 miles away?



#15
CatOsterFan

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I think these Eagles victories are good.  It would be a nice story to see them improve.  I still doubt they are going to be competitive with the other NPF teams this season.  It gives the team some legitimacy.

 

It is supposed to be the case that the best college team should get crushed by even the worst pro team.  That was barely the case in this two-game series, but if the Eagles would have lost it would have been a massive embarrassment for both the Eagles and the NPF.  I'm glad that embarrassment was avoided...at least for now!



#16
FaspitchPapa

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I'm going to take the opposite tack.  I think the Eagles will compete.  I have no doubt the team has been working hard during the off-season and learning as much as possible from their mistakes in the first year in the NPF. 

 

The NPF players all need to have day-jobs during the off-season, but the Beijing Eagles players do not!  I am sure they have been training very hard over the winter and spring months.



#17
KCSoftball

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The Eagles spent the off-season down in Florida, training! 

http://www.sportsdes...trains-20-13561



#18
fastpitchfan

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The Chinese National Team was fairly impressive in 2008 against NPF opponents, in its preparation for the upcoming Beijing Olympics. As host country of the Games and a growing financial world power, China was anxious to showcase its athletic prowess.  It went all-out, hiring an American as softball coach.  I have no doubt the Eagles will improve markedly as we get closer to the 2020 Games.






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