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  • Posts Tagged ‘ichiro’

    AL Preseason Shorts + Ichiro

    Posted by simon c on 2009 September 7日 Monday

    • Oji Eagles and Nippon Paper Cranes played a pair of free admission preseason games in Tomakomai, Hokkaido over the weekend. Results were 3-2 and 4-1 for an Oji sweep.
    • Tohoku Free Blades were officially admitted into the league on 5 September. Well, this was just a rubber stamping process since the club is starting out its life on stable grounds.

    freeblades-109788

    • Ex-Seibu Prince Rabbit D Ryuichi Kawai and (probably) his younger brother and ex-Gatineau Olympique Takuma Kawai are going to be on the ice for the University of Lethbridge team’s tryouts, even though they’re both not enrolled with the university. Apparently the training camp has guys trying to crack AHL and ECHL clubs, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare. The brothers are staying and training with ex-Seibu Ryan Fujita whose home is about a 40 minute drive from Lethbridge, Alberta.
    • The immortal Ichiro earned his 2000th Major League hit in style with a double against the A’s. Always a showman who marks special occasions with crafty hits or big bombs more often than his usual slap and dash.

    Mariners Athletics Baseball

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, baseball, ECHL, hockey, information, MLB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    あと一球!… Japan Wins!!

    Posted by simon c on 2009 March 25日 Wednesday

    So, Japan repeated as WBC champions despite manager Hara’s bumbling lineup and in-game decisions. What was double play machine Johjima doing hitting cleanup? Korea ended up avoiding Norichika Aoki (the best hitter in Japan) to pitch against Joh in several occasions. And what was jetlagged Kurihara doing in DH? Thankfully he was pulled as soon as Bong left the game. Hara also played the game like it was a high school baseball game, automatically trying to bunt over any runner on base with no outs, even if the bunter rarely, if ever, bunts, like Nakajima, Inaba, and Johjima (well, the latter may be forgiven because of the GIDP possibilities  :P ) and they are more of power hitters usually. 

    Then Hara left superb starter (and should have been tournament MVP, though Dice-K got that probably for marketing reasons) Hisashi Iwakuma in one inning too long even though Japan was loaded with bullpen options with fresh arms. Iwakuma got out of the 7th inning by giving getting 3 big fly outs to the outfield. Iwakuma is a groundball pitcher, so obviously by this point in the game his pitches were hanging high and he had barely any juice left in the tank, and it showed when he came back onto the mound in the 8th. Hara also could have gone with Sugiuchi in the 9th as he had also been super during the tournament, not allowing runs in any of his appearances, and Darvish can be shaky when he first gets into the game (like Matsuzaka) like during the loss to Korea in Round 2. But Darvish is often electric so he can’t be faulted on this.

    So, Japan could’ve dominated (and it showed with all the runners LOB, Japan self-destructed time and again), but barely squeaked out the win. Maybe it was just all a ploy for Ichiro’s heroic game winning hit that drove in 2 runs? Ever the showman, everything was set up for Ichiro in the end  :P (though the decision not to walk him with the 1st base open with 2 outs was puzzling, Ichiro kept on fouling off every pitch, even obvious balls, in typical Ichiro fashion until he got a pitch he liked, in the finals, he was zoned in. He wasn’t gonna be semi-intentionally walked.)

    Anyways, I watched the game with friends including Deanna at a sports bar in the bustling Shinjuku district. The bar was absolutely full, some people were wearing suits obviously skipping work (though, probably the whole country was at a standstill, especially in the late innings) and some fans also had old school Daiei and Kintetsu (Nori Nakamura!) unis on, which was awesome. Here’s the video from the game winning moment when Darvish struck out the last Korean hitter.

    PS This turned out to be a fantastic heart wrenching rubber match of a 5 game Japan-Korea series.. but if the organizers would just remove the meaningless seeding games at the end of rounds 1 and 2, this would’ve only have been the 3rd meeting between the teams, which would’ve been acceptable. Instead Japan played Korea 5 times, Cuba twice, and China and the US once in this World Baseball Classic. I’d like to see each team play a wider variety of opponents.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Japan-Korea atmosphere videos

    Posted by simon c on 2009 March 13日 Friday

    The atmosphere at the Japan-Korea I went to see (Japan won 14-2 in 7 innings on the mercy rule, the first time either country’s done it to each other… of course, the Koreans came back 2 days later to shut down Japan 1-0 in its usual nail-biting fashion) was absolutely electric, probably the best sporting event atmosphere that I’ve been in.

    Here are some videos from that day (7 Mar 2009, Tokyo round of 2009 WBC).

    Taiwanese fans doing the Atlanta Braves tomohawk chop-like cheer against China in the day game.

    Ichiro’s at bats, crazy camera flashes in his first plate appearance, bunt single in his second, and crowd going crazy after his 3rd hit of the evening.

    More videos after this break.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    WBC Opens

    Posted by simon c on 2009 March 6日 Friday

    But Japan only beats China 4-0 (Japan Times) (box score).

    murata

    Some thoughts:

    • China’s definitely improving, their pitchers seemed much less like batting practice pitchers this time around, but their play on the field was still sloppy from time to time. Japanese baserunning was sloppy too though.
    • Darvish was pulled with less than 50 pitches so he’s eligible to pitch again in the Asia Round.. but unless he manages to gain command of some of his breaking pitches with the WBC ball, he’s not going to be too useful just with his fastball.
    • Murata bashed a homerun, and he’ll be useful in the Asia Round in the friendly confines of the Tokyo Dome, but his big swings aren’t gonna become homeruns in Petco Park and Dodger Stadium which are pitcher’s parks. Ideally I’d like to see Hara try Uchikawa at first and Ogasawara at third, but this probably won’t happen unless Murata is a total disaster, and with this homerun he’s secured third base for himself even if he’s useless once the team travels across the Pacific.
    • Nakajima and Fukudome showed great plate discipline, but they needed guys behind them to drive them in. Super free swinger Johjima also managed to draw a walk. Japan left 24(!) runners on base, so even though they had the same number of hits as the Chinese, the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
    • Ichiro went 0 for 5 and looked horrible at the plate. But then again he didn’t start hitting in 2006 until the games moved to the States, and he’s a notorious slow starter even in regular MLB seasons (he seems to really start hitting in June).
    • Kyuji Fujikawa closed out the game, but his fastball wasn’t up to his usual velocity. If he doesn’t gain velocity, he’ll be an easy target for the sluggers from the Americas (but not A-Rod).
    • Japan now awaits the winner of the Taiwan-Korea game tonight. Taiwan has a depleted roster with major leaguers and half the CPBL players missing (2 of 4 teams didn’t release the players). So, it should be Korea pulling through, but stranger things have happened in baseball (China pulling a fairy dust extra innings upset over Taiwan at the Beijing Olympics, for one).
    • Koreans are going to get to see WBC games on free TV thanks to a last minute deal between the rights holder and TV stations. Korea seems to take a similar approach to big ticket sporting events where multiple TV stations share broadcasting rights. This time around TV Asahi has exclusive rights for the Tokyo Round, and TBS has exclusive rights from round 2 to the finals (though pay sports channel J Sports will show all WBC games). In 2006, NTV was also in the mix, and it’s surprising that they’re not this time around considering that Yomiuri is a sponsor for the event and a group company.
    • If the over/under for tonight’s Korea-Taiwan attendance is 20,000, I’ll take under  :P

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, olympics, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Ichiro at bat

    Posted by simon c on 2009 March 2日 Monday

    Whenever Ichiro was at bat, the camera flashes went crazy like fireworks in the stands. This video doesn’t quite do justice as the campact digital camera’s video mode’s not sensitive enough to capture all the flashes. There were at least 2-3x more visible than what is captured here.

    As for the WBC warmup games themselves. Saitama Seibu Lions beat down the Japanese national team 7-2, and the Yomiuri Giants barely lost 1-2 in extra innings on a wild pitch. And both club teams were lacking a few regulars to the national team, and were in full spring training mode by the latter half of the games, with lineups full of bench players and minor leaguers taking the mound. Needless to say, Samurai Japan looked horrible on both days, but hopefully this (and the opening game against China on Thursday) serves as a wakeup call for the team, otherwise they may not even make it out of the 1st round held at home in the Tokyo Dome. Notorious slow starter Ichiro is also having a horrible lead up to the WBC with only 3 hits in 23 at bats (and at least 2 of them were of the infield kind).

    p2281290_s

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Oops and Ichiro’s 3000th

    Posted by simon c on 2008 August 1日 Friday

    I had planned on doing a Pythagorean review of the season so far along with the Power Rankings for NPB during its current 4 day All Star break, but urgent work and real life has gotten in the way. The first week of August promises to be a hectic week for Japanese baseball as the Koshien high school baseball tournament kicks off (March Madness of high school baseball, basically) on 2 Aug, the second half (or rather the latter third) of the NPB season resumes play on 3 Aug, and the Olympic team being assembled for workouts on 2 Aug with warmup games starting on 5 Aug against the Giants farm team, then against PL selects and CL selects on 8-9 Aug. The chances of me being able to keep up with this mayhem is rather slim from the current outlook, which is unfortunate.

    Meanwhile, Robert Whiting and other baseball figures weigh in on Ichiro’s 3001 career hits, a combined figure between his NPB (1278 in 9, not completely whole, seasons) and MLB (1723 and counting in his 8th season) hit totals. If NPB players NPB stats are to be counted towards Cooperstown, then they should not qualify for rookie of the year honours. It’s as simple as that, you can’t have your cake and eat it too (stupid saying, but y’know). But then again, there may be a gray zone when it comes to considering NPB stats for Japanese MLB players considerations for the Hall, perhaps a weighing the NPB numbers would be a more reasonable middle ground instead of either extreme. Either way, if Ichiro hits 3000 in the majors, and his career totals approach 5000, then he should be a lock for the Hall, like Whiting mentions.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, high school, information, MLB, NPB, olympics, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Ichiro in the homerun derby?

    Posted by simon c on 2008 July 10日 Thursday

    EDIT2: Now Sports Navi is reporting an Ichiro quote that his participation in the homerun derby is unlikely. This is a more credible source (Kyodo News) than the Sports Hochi original report who often jump the gun, and it contains an up to date Ichiro quote. He is quoted as saying his participation in the derby is “tabun nai” (多分ない) meaning “unlikely”. 2 out of the 4 HR derby spots are still unfilled for the AL, which spawned this rumour. The man makes news without doing anything.

    EDIT: Looks like this might’ve been the creative works of Sports Hochi paper’s writer. We’ll see, but no other source is reporting this story, so it seems unlikely, I’ll reprint the original Japanese article below, just for record keeping.

    The greatest batting practice slugger in the majors (by many eye witness accounts both on and off the field) has reportedly entered this year’s homerun derby which will take place on the 14th, the day before the All Star Game (which counts for World Series home field advantage! But is still lame nonetheless). Anyways, the slugger is of course Ichiro Suzuki. Yes, the slap happy 200+ hits per year hitter who has all of 70 HRs in 1208 career games, and only 3 so far in 90 games this season. Then again, Ichiro himself claims that he can hit 40 homers per season, if him and the team don’t mind that he hits for .220 average. He has steadfastly refused to enter the homerun derby (for fear of messing up his swing mechanics, etc.) but has made an exception this year, probably due to the combination of this being the Yankee Stadium’s final year, his appreciation of NYC fans, and the Mariners absolutely sucking so this is the least he can do to please baseball fans.

    Despite his batting practice heroics, he hasn’t fared well in his past 3 appearances in NPB homerun derbies. In 1995 he did alright, hitting 4 homeruns in 10 swings as a PL representative. In 1997 he only hit 1 homerun in 5 swings, and 1999 was the same result as he lost to Roberto Petagine in a mono a mono homerun derby with Petagine hitting 3 in 5 swings. (Japanese homerun derbies have predetermined number of swings, where as in MLB homerun derbies players keep on hitting until they hit into predetermined number of “outs”).

    This will be the most interesting part of the All Star festivities (including the game) for me to see whether Ichiro can live up to his often cocksure approach and hopefully we’ll finally get to see his batting practice slugging glory on a big stage with the world watching, well I guess there might be something about it being Yankee Stadium’s last year or something…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

     
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