Reds Director of Media Relations Rob Butcher is currently in Taiwan working the World Baseball Classic qualifiers on behalf of Major League Baseball. He’s been kind enough to document his experience for Better Off Red with posts and pictures. Enjoy!

As we like to say, It’s Showtime. Following a couple days of workouts, a formal press conference and a welcome dinner, Games 1 of 2 of the World Baseball Classic qualifier in New Taipei City, Taiwan were held Thursday. Philippines beat Thailand, 8-2, in the 11:30 a.m. local time opener while Chinese Taipei beat New Zealand in the nightcap, 10-0 in 7 innings. The team photos for Thailand and Philippines were taken prior to each team’s batting practice. The team photos for New Zealand and Chinese Taipei will be taken prior to their games Friday.

A very simple on-field ceremony was held prior to Game 1, including full introductions of both teams, while the more expansive Opening Ceremony took place prior to Chinese Taipei’s contest against New Zealand. That Opening Ceremony included pomp and circumstance, several speeches and the introduction of many local dignitaries. The ballpark really does look terrific. Well done by the grounds crew, which has been here for almost a month.

One of tonight’s special treats was New Zealand’s pre-game performance of the haka, an ancestral war cry expressed by words and posture. Haka mo te Paopao Pōro (Hah-car more teh pah-or-pah-or paw-roar) is an expression of the passion, vigor and identity of the Maori culture and baseball in New Zealand. The haka is a traditional custom of high social importance in a challenge, a celebration or the welcoming of visitors from the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand and is designed to instill strength and determination into the team. Traditionally used as an ancestral war cry, dance or challenge, it is disciplined, yet emotional, a message of the soul expressed by words and posture. I wasn’t close enough to get particularly great photos, as you can see, but I hope the photos I did take convey it appropriately. Hopefully, you’ll see a replay of it on TV.

Oh, and a reminder. No cheering in the press box. Enjoy today’s photos….

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