The Greatest Sport On The Planet Fastpitch Softball Tips On Kayak Fishing Ji Sung Park Invades The Big League Chess Its Origins And Development

Welcome to the greatest sport on the planet – fastpitch softball.

Fastpitch softball now ranks near the top of team participation sports played in the U.S.

. There is special appeal in fastpitch softball that has allowed it to steadily grow in popularity through the years. Once a person chooses to become involved in fastpitch softball, the sport seems to dominate their lives. I know it did mine, I pitched this game for 35 years, over half of my life was devoted to this sport! I pitched this game for 35 years, over half of my life was devoted to this sport! Starting from never having picked up a softball, to Regional most valuable pitcher, to our team finishing 7th in the nation.

I would rather watch a good exciting fastpitch softball game anyday, than a world series baseball game. Fastpitch softball games move faster, have more action, and you’ll soon see how hard it is to hit that big old ball. The windmill motion of a fastpitch softball pitcher can send the ball to the batter at speeds equal to major league baseball pitchers. Now its pretty clear why it is hard to hit a fastball or a fastpitch softball: the batter doesnt have much time to decide!

Fastpitch softball is often characterized by a minimal numbers of runs, desperation drag bunts and delayed steals, just to score that winning run!

Due to the fact that fastpitch pitchers were so hard to find, another form of softball quickly emerged, slow pitch. Slowpitch softball, which does not require the dedication, or travel, or skill of fastpitch, became hugely popular and remains so even today. Most of the differences between fastpitch softball and slowpitch softball are designed to give the batters more dominance, and make fielding more important.

There is a vast difference between when I first started playing fast pitch softball, and todays players. When I started, back in 1958, we didn’t have training videos, dvd’s and cd’s to show exactly how to pitch. We had to learn by trial and error, and hope we could talk someone into slipping us a few secrets of how they threw their rise ball or drop ball, or whichever pitch we wanted to learn. This is another reason for the shortage of decent fastpitch pitchers over the years, which led to slow pitch leagues being formed.

Today there is a video or dvd available that will teach you every phase of pitching, batting, coaching, and almost everything else you would want to know about playing this fantastic sport. How to be a power pitcher, how to throw a rise ball, how to throw a drop ball, how to throw a change up, how to throw a curve ball, and much more. Now anyone with the determination and desire, can quickly grasp the how to information and cut the learning curve down drastically!

For many new players just wanting to get into fastpitch softball, the place to start is getting involved in a local fastpitch softball league. Most major cities have fastpitch softball leagues, some even have both, mens and womens. Many local teams are looking for new players who have above average skills and some knowlege of the game of Fastpitch Softball. Right here you need to decide whether you want to just play for the fun and exercise, or whether you are up to the challenge of serious competition in fastpitch softball. You will find both types of teams usually in your local leagues. It’s a fun and competitive way to particpate in fastpitch softball.

Funding a “First-class” fastpitch softball program can be very costly. If you already have a fastpitch softball team, and looking for a good sponsor, you might want to consider car dealerships or companies involved in mining and exploration, as I have found both to be very receptive for sponsorships.

One last tip, for a new pitcher wanting to become an outstanding fastpitch softball pitcher is… Team up with an outstanding catcher, who knows the game, That will make you many times more effective!

Where fastpitch really shines, is at the college level… where womens fastpitch is a very competitive sport. You may have caught some of the games broadcast by ESPN showing tournament action.

Some people find the transition from recreational softball to fastpitch to be too intimidating, but don’t let that happen to you!

You will be missing out on the thrill of a lifetime.

It takes a long time to become an expert in kayak fishing. The period of apprenticeship, which must be served in order to transform the novice into a veteran kayak angler can be discouraging and often runs into years.

About the nearest thing to a short cut is to have an old-timer take the first-timer under his wing and let the novice accompany him on kayak fishing trips

Basically, kayak fishing is gradually making a name in the industry. Its popularity is steadily creating sustainable gratifications aside from the fact that kayaks have long been used in fishing.

History has it that even in the early times; kayak fishing has long been the primary source of fish supply ranging from the “flatfish halibut” to other kinds of big fish. These activities, which happened from the mid 18th Century until the late part of it, were all noted by the Russian Orthodox priests. These turn of events are now known as “The Native History.”

From then on, kayak fishing continued to dominate the fishing industry, where once, people were doubtful if it could really aid the anglers to catch some fish. The steady feature brought about by its “sit-on” type has long been the primary characteristics of kayaks that made it an ideal fishing boat.

However, with kayak fishing, the angler has to learn how to steady the kayak as he tries to paddle through the waters, in which it is considered as part of the whole process.

Therefore, for people who wish to know some tips about kayak fishing, here’s a list that may help them enjoy this tricky activity.

1. Safety first

Like any activity, it is necessary that before an individual plunges into action, he or she must first observe some safety measures and background checks to ensure security and protection against any imminent danger.

The angler must check the weather condition, the tide, and other elements concerning kayaking.

2. Hatches should be closed at all times

The angler should always keep in mind that it is best to keep the hatches closed while fishing. Water can never seep through the kayak if the hatches are kept closed.

3. Steady fishing

When the angler is already in the midst of the waters, it is better to have an anchor to keep the kayak steady while on the verge of catching fish.

Best of all, before an individual goes out to the waters, it would be better if he let somebody know his whereabouts. In this way, somebody will be able to keep track of your activity.

As they say, safety should always come first.

European and South American teams have for the longest time, dominated football. The players from these countries consistently set the bar for football excellence all over the world. Teams and players from Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and England are the most prominent and have been most identified with what Pele has called “the beautiful game.”

The dominance of South American and European players has been virtually unstoppable. Not even the American’s athleticism has been able to make a dent in football. It remains one of the few sports where the United States has failed to either dominate or made a very significant contribution to the world stage. This dominance by these two regions can be attributed to two things. In South America, the strong love for “futbol” has meant that it continually produced world-class talent that cannot be ignored by the rest of the world. Their development remained unfettered because the love for the sport meant there were various outlets for the youth to develop their skills. On the other hand, the dominance of Europe in football can be partially attributed to the racism that was quite prevalent during the early years.

But with the positive developments in world football more and more players from other countries are getting known for their exceptional skills as players – and Asia seems to be a goldmine for fresh new football talents.

One of the most prominent football talents to ever come from the Orient is Ji-Sung Park. The Korean native is currently proving his mettle in one of the biggest football stages on earth – England’s pro football league. And what’s more he playing for a team that is undoubtedly an icon of football, Manchester United, the biggest and richest football franchise in the world.

Having signed a lucrative $7.4 million deal for Manchester United, Park now has an amazing opportunity to show what Asian football talents can accomplish and so far, he hasn’t failed anyone.

Park was first noticed during the World Cup in 2002, when Korea had a tremendous (some say miraculous) run towards the semifinals. He was next seen playing for Eindhoven. Although he rarely received playing time during his first year, by 2005 he has eventually become an integral part of the team.

Park’s transfer to Manchester United last July 2005 has cemented his reputation for amazing skills and exceptional work ethic. Sir Alex Ferguson fully realizes what Park can contribute to the team. As a sign of his faith in Park, he has allowed him to play in various positions and has included in him in very crucial games. This goes to show how valued Park is in Manchester United roster.

Park is proving to be a great investment for Manchester United. But more than that, Ji-Sung Park is testament to the immense football talents that are just waiting to be discovered in Asia.

Chess is one of the world’s great board games. For centuries chess players around the world have been mesmerized by its challenges, and its great masters have been revered as superstars of a different order — superstars with brains.

** Origins and background of chess

Like many of our popular board games, such as checkers (draughts) and backgammon, chess originated sometime in the first millenium AD, somewhere along the Silk Road that ran between Europe, Egypt, India and the Orient. Most historians trace its origins back to northern India or Afganistan sometime around 600 AD.

As one might expect, there is a good deal of controversy among chess historians about both the date and place of the origin of chess. While some place its origins in China, the most common theory is that the version of chess we are familiar with evolved from a game played in northern India called ashtapada. This game used an 8×8 board (like ours), but had 4 players, and moves were determined by the throw of dice.

As some historians point out, the unique features of ashtapada, and its successor called chataranga, were deeply embedded in Indian culture of the time. The fact that it was a “four-handed” war game was consistent with the division of the country into many kingdoms. And the use of dice to determine moves was a reflection of the importance of Karma in Indian religious thought.

** Evolution into modern chess

The gradual appearance of different types of Indian military forces in the Indian board game known as chataranga — elephants, chariots, cavalry and infantry — was consistent with the transition of the game from a relatively simple “race” game to that of a war game.

In a race game players do not capture or extinguish their opponents. If a player lands on the same square as an opponent, the opponent would simply have to go back to the beginning and start over.

But when the principle of capture or extinction was accepted — where the captured opponent’s piece is taken off the board — this involves a different game concept — a different “mind set”. And it was then just a matter of time before different types of military forces, with different powers and values would be introduced.

This transition from race game to war game is important. But perhaps the most significant evolutionary step — and the one most difficult to explain — was the elimination of the dice as the means of determining moves. As Yuri Averbakh, a Russian chess historian, points out, this was not something that would happen “naturally” within a pure Indian context.

As he says, “To change the Indian war game into chess it was necessary to throw away the dice. Unlike the previous stages which were typical for the evolutional way of the game`s development and were not contrary to the customs of the Indians and their religious beliefs, giving up dice was a radical, a revolutionary step forward that not only changed the game itself but also its philosophy. In fact, that step meant the withdrawal from the principle of Karma – the basic principle of the Indian philosophy. Now the result depended entirely on the players’ will, on their choice. They became complete masters of their destiny.”

According to Averbakh this would not have happened without the influence of Greece upon northern India. This influence stretched back to Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC and developed even further within what historians call the Indo-Greek Kingdom. This was a large area including much of Afganistan and northern India which was conquered by the Greco-Bactrian kind Demetrius in 180 BC.

This kingdom lasted for about 200 years in which time the region underwent a profound synthesis of Greek and Indian religion, culture, languages and symbols. As Wikipedia says, “The Indo-Greek kings seem to have achieved a level of cultural syncretism with no equivalent in history, the consequences of which are still felt today.”

The Greek influence was felt for hundreds of years after the demise of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. According to Averbakh it was this Greek influence that “helpd the Indians to make the final step for chess to appear.” In particular, he mentions that Greeks brought with them the war game petteia. Although it was a simpler game, it had two of the features that chess would eventually gain — players could “kill” each other, and there were no dice. “It was the player himself who decided where and which pieces should move. He had complete freedom of choice.”

** Chess in the Kushan Kingdom

Another writer goes even further in placing the origins of modern chess in the Afganistan/Northern India region, but places that development much earlier than 600 AD. Gerhard Josten, in his article “Chess – A Living Fossil” claims that modern chess is an amalgam of a number of different games. We know this, Josten claims, because of its completely unique feature of having three different types of characters:

1. A relatively immoble center piece — the King — the capture of which is the object of the game.

2. A number of pieces that can make varying long moves — moves that cover more than one space.

3. A number of pieces that can only make short moves — moves that cover only one space.

Josten claims these different pieces originated in different games, and were amalgamated in what we know as modern chess. He claims type 1 pieces originated in Chinese games, type 2 pieces originated in Mesopotamian divination rites — in particular, the Babylonian astrolabe, and type 3 pieces originated in Indian race games.

According to Josten, chess did not spring fully developed into existence in 600 AD but evolved over the first two or three centuries of the first millenium — in particular between 50 BC and 200 AD. This development took place in a number of places — India, China, and all along the Silk Road to Europe — and each of the areas would have influenced the others.

But the most likely place where it all came together was the Kushan Empire, the eventual successor to the old Indo-Greek Kingdom. This was the central Asian area encompassing much of northern India, Pakistan, and Afganistan.

As we saw with the Indo-Greek Empire, this area stood at the crossroads of Europe, India and the Orient, and was deeply influenced by Greek culture. Most importantly, the Kushans were cultural, religious and linguistic synergists. They took elements from various cultures and forged these elements into something new and different.

This, according to Josten, is exactly what happened to the game of chess in the early centuries of the first millenium. It is also why we have so few hard facts about this influential period. As he says,

“Following the gradual disintegration of the Kushan Empire, the neighbouring conquering states each claimed to be the intellectual authors of chess, with no mention of the losers of the battles, the Kushans…. The fall of the Kushan Empire may thus be the main reason why so many facts have been lost and so many unbelievable legends have arisen around the genesis of chess…”

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