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    Archive for April 3rd, 2008

    プレビュー:2008 IIHF 世界選手権ディビジョンI@札幌

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 3日 Thursday

    13日(日)~19日(土)の日程で、いよいよ日本で25年ぶりのアイスホッケー男子の世界選手権が札幌で開催されます!

    日本代表(世界ランキング22位)が迎え撃つのは、中東欧のウクライナ(15位)、ハンガリー(21位)、エストニア(23位)、リトアニア(25位)、そしてクロアチア(28位)。

    この選手権で金を獲ってトップディビジョンへの昇格候補は、今年こそがチャンス、地の利を生かせるか日本、トップから降格してきたウクライナ、そして近年国際ホッケーで右肩上がりのハンガリー。エストニアは中堅と見られていて、ディビジョンIIへの降格争いは、下へ戻りたくない昇格組のクロアチアと、ホッケープログラムが右肩下がりのリトアニアでしょう。

    大会の日程です。1日3試合(13:00、16:30、20:00)のスケジュールで、平日の日本戦は社会人が応援に駆けつけやすい夜8時からに設定してあって、最終日の土曜日だけ日本戦が16:30からです。

    チケットは、大手プレイガイドはぴあだけらしいですね。ですのでコンビニではファミマだけが扱っています。

    さて、注目国のウクライナは情報が無いのでひとまず置いておき、昇格争いのライバル国になるであろうハンガリーと、召集できる選手によっては降格争いから昇格争いへ飛び級してくる可能性を秘めているリトアニアのキー選手にスポットライトを当ててみましょう。

    ハンガリーは、まずゴーリーにAHL, ドイツとスウェーデンのトップリーグでプレー経験のあるLevente Szuper (HC Milano – Serie A) がいます。ECHL経験を持ち現在スウェーデン1部リーグでプレーしてる、アメリカ生まれのハンガリー系(帰化か二重かは不明)選手Roger Holeczy (Gislaveds – SWE1)。そしてここ3年間AHLでレギュラーを張っているJanos Vas (Iowa Stars – AHL)。この二人はフォワードです。結構レベルの高い選手にリードされていますね。Iowa は地区最下位なので、スターズの他の提携チームのプレーオフに送り出されない限り、日本に来そうですね。

    そしてリトアニアには、まず絶対来れないであろうDainius Zubrus (NJ Devils – NHL) がいます(笑)、デビルズが4タテを食らっても、大会の後半にしか間に合いませんので、99%ありえないでしょう。しかし召集が出来れば、元ソ連だけあって良い選手が揃う可能性もあります。ラトビアでプレーするDarius Pliskauskas Darius Lelenas のダブルDarius は共に ラトビアリーグのMetalurgs Liepaja所属で、今シーズンは1試合1ポイント以上の成績を残しています。ラトビアはご存知の通りトップディビジョンの常連国(去年トップの世界選手権を開催)なので、国内リーグもそれなりのレベルでしょう。ディフェンスのMindaugas Kieras もラトビアでプレーしています。Dmitrijus Bernatavicius はロシア2部チーム所属のベテランフォワードで、Arunas Aleinikovas はベラルーシリーグのチームで活躍中、ベラルーシ代表もトップディビジョン常連です。

    日本はロシアリーグのアムール(どんな選手が来日したかは不明)との練習試合を行い、第一試合は4-4と上出来でした。 やっぱり大久保がPP で光ってましたね。ECHL でプレーしてる日本人初のNHL経験者の福藤選手はチームのプレーオフで参加不可能、ファーストラウンドの結果によっては西脇選手が代表に加入できるかもしれません。東洋大の芳賀はなんとディフェンス第2ペアで起用されたので、代表に生き残れそうかな。明大の梁取選手は練習試合に出場しなかったみたいです、第二試合で様子を見るのか、もう絶望的なのか…?あとは、いつも通りのAL 選手たちですが、藤田選手が起用されなかったのも気になるなぁ。ベテランはお休みだったのかな?

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    Posted in 01_日本語, ECHL, hockey, information, International, Japan, JIHF, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Some random MLB Japan Opener traveblogues

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 3日 Thursday

    It’s always good to hear what others think about their visits to Japan and Tokyo, along with experiencing some some pro-yakyu (NPB) ball.

    Japan vet Sal Paradise sent in a report to Baseball Musings with some interesting and amusing observations:

    Despite my loud protestations (you’re cheering for the wrong team!) in Japanese, followed by angry glares from the wife, there’s no stopping the mob, so until Matsuzaka was finally yanked, there was no method to the cheering madness.

    I’m torn, really. In Japanese games between Japanese teams, there is a cheering section for each team who conduct a full brass band and sing the songs of each individual player on the team (which change every year, written by committee or somesuch). It’s a unique aspect to Japanese baseball games, but it gets tiring the 5th time that player comes up to bat. However, at least they’re cheering for the right team, and there’s no confusion.

    I think the cheer sticks were more obnoxious, but I haven’t been to a Japanese game yet this year, so it may be a case of the grass being greener…

    Japan newbie and a former Athletics Nation contributer has a good 3 part series on his Japan visit:

    A jet-lagged Stomper trudges through the infield as MLB and Tokyo Dome drones prepare the pre-game extravaganza, which had no known relation to baseball. Part of the extravaganza was a phalanx of hot girls in short, short, short hotpants, which Kevin Youkilis spent the entire show ogling while pretending to jog back and forth in front of the Sox dugout.

    Hahaha, classic!!

    Oh, and he keeps on noticing that the pitchers (Harden, Matsuzaka, and others) are throwing 2-3mph (3-5kph) slower than they usually do and gets rather worried about their conditions, but I think this is probably attributable to the difference between the radar guns in Japan and stateside. It’s a fairly well known fact here in Japan that, American guns seem to be tuned 2-3mph faster, Japanese fans have noticed that Japanese pitchers tend to gain about 3mph in their pitches when they go over to the majors, and that’s probably not just training. ESPN, I think, is especially notorious for cranking up its gun, recording some pitchers throwing over 100mph (like Zumaya).

    About Harden, because I know your heart skipped a beat when I used the words “Harden” and “troubling” in the same sentence. You went to mlb.com this morning and saw Harden’s line – 6 IP, 3 H, 9 Ks – and you figured that at least for now, all is right in Hardenland. So what’s the problem? Maybe nothing, but Rich topped out at 155 km/h on the stadium gun. That’s 96 to you and me. He only got that high once. (A first inning ball to Youkilis way up out of the strike zone.) Most of his fastballs were in the low to mid 90s, and he threw more breaking pitches than I can ever remember seeing him throw.

    I need to get my act together and post my Hanshin – Boston game review with photos and videos… soon.

    And a random note that a Dodger farmhand Frenchman is a product of the MLB European baseball academy in Italy!

    The player, Joris Bert, is one of more than 100 men in the Dodgers’ minor league system, but the only one who started playing baseball only because he missed a soccer game in Louviers. A dozen years later, Bert has found himself in the United States happily nicknamed Frenchie, with his eyes fixed on the more immediate horizon of the major leagues.

    “I’m not very good, but I know I have good potential,” said Bert, a center fielder who last June became the first Frenchman selected in the major league draft. “I don’t have enough experience in baseball to be good.”

    The Dodgers want to give it to him, and also disagree with that “not very good” assessment. They consider Bert potentially a Brett Butler-type of leadoff man, a slap hitter who forces action with his speed. Although draft picks are occasionally fanciful — spent on Heisman Trophy winners and once a general manager’s daughter — the Dodgers chose Bert in the quite legitimate 19th round.

    “This guy has tools — he was not a token selection,” said De Jon Watson, the Dodgers’ assistant general manager in charge of player development. “He has a chance to do some quality things for us.”

    Bert, 20, is the crown jewel of the European academy run by Major League Baseball in Italy. Growing up in Louviers, about 90 minutes outside Paris, Bert said he had never heard of baseball when, at age 10, he showed up late to a soccer game and saw other children playing on the next field. He gave the game a try, immediately enjoyed it and later played on a local club team in a makeshift league.

    I didn’t even know MLB had an European baseball academy, wow.

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

    ECHL プレーオフと日本代表

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 3日 Thursday

    福藤選手、西脇選手と、高橋一馬選手が現在プレーしている北米ECHL (NHLから2つ下のAAレベルにあたる)のプレーオフまで、各チームが残す試合があと2~3つなので、もうすぐです。

    さて、北米全土アラスカからフロリダまでチームを置くこのリーグ、全ての面でコスト削減の為にかなり変則的で、移動距離の近いチームを同じ地区にまとめる事を優先しているので全9チームの南地区があったり、たった4チームで構成されているパシフィック地区もあります。これまたプレーオフは客が入るという興業優先で、リーグ全25チーム中なんと21チームがプレーオフ進出権を与えられます(今年のアジアリーグや昔のNHLみたい)。プレーオフ進出権とプレーオフ制度自体がいたって複雑、訳する気になりません(笑)。

    日本のファンの主な関心は日本人選手三人のチームの行方と、13日から札幌で開催される日本代表へ彼らが参加できるかでしょう。

    西脇選手のDayton Bombers は北地区で5位確定、まずは6-9日に同地区4位のJonestown と2戦先勝のシリーズを戦います(俗に言うプレーオフ本戦へのplay in みたいです)。もしここで負けてしまったら日本代表にぎりぎりで間に合いますね。代表では北米の経験が絶対生かせるはず(特にフィジカル)なので、プレーオフで活躍してほしいけど、チームをどこまで応援したいか悩ましいところです(^^ゞ

    福藤選手のBakersfield Condors は地理的に北米西部のナショナル・カンファレンスでプレーオフ進出が確定。相手チームによってファースト・ラウンドが10日か11日に始まり、4タテを食らっても16日までシリーズが続くので、どう考えても代表には間に合わないでしょう。思い切って福藤選手のプレーオフを応援できます(笑)。必然的にカンファレンス上位のチーム(アラスカ、ビクトリアか、ラスベガス)にぶつかるので、とても厳しい戦いになるでしょうが…

    そして高橋選手のUtah Grizzlies はファーストラウンドが上位のFresno 相手に13日に始まります。残念ながら代表選考から漏れてしまいましたし、プレーオフでも苦しい戦いが続くでしょうが頑張ってほしいです。

    Posted in 01_日本語, ECHL, hockey, information, International | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Okinawan Schools at Koshien

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 3日 Thursday

    Okinawa Shogaku made it into the semifinals of the 2008 Spring Invitational Koshien High School Baseball Tournament by beating powerhouse Tenri high school from Nara in a hard fought 4-2 win in the semis, along with Himeji. And today, Chiba (having just won the first semifinal played this morning by 4-2 over Seibo of Saitama) have made their ways into the finals. Okinawa Shogaku is playing the Himeji right now in semifinal game 2 (yup, games on consecutive days, Okinawa was trying to preserve its ace Higashihama yesterday, but had to bring him in midway through the game. This is how promising kids arms get blown out at young age, but also how monster rubber arms like Matsuzaka and Kuwata emerge.)

    There’s always a special place in my heart for Okinawan schools, heck I just like Okinawa. The subtropical islands were an indepent nation for a centuries (though paying tributaries to China and later the Satsuma clan, part of Tokugawa shogunate in the Edo era) before being completely annexed by Japan shortly after the Meiji Restoration. Imperial Japan ordered mass suicides in Okinawa, after using it as a last line of defence, then gladly handed it over to the States for a few decades following the war. Its citizens have long received second class treatment by the national government, while having significant US military presence on the main island. No wonder they’d be weary of outsiders.

    Okinawans have always received the short end of the stick, typical for minority groups in most nations, and has most of the American military bases in Japan, and US bases occupy a significant chunk of the land. But at the same time, time movers slower there, like in many tropical locales, it has beautiful beaches, friendly laid back people, unique music, and tasty food. Much like Hawai’i, the islands economy relies mainly on the military presence and tourism, and some sugar canes. It has all the trappings of tropical paradise without the usual accompaniment of price gouging, shady characters, and crime (though a segment of miliatry personnel have been a constant source of problems). It’s like taking the best parts of Japan and South East Asia and putting them together.

    Anyways, that was longer than what I intended to write. I’m cheering for Okinawa Shogaku high school through the semifinals and finals (hope they make it). Anyways, another treat about the Okinawan schools at Koshien is that they have distinctively Okinawan fight songs complete with Okinawan tunes and whistling, instead of the usual stuff strutted out by the rest of the schools in the country. Watch this clip from the 2:00 mark and the 5:00 mark (from the 2006 summer tournament, amazingly a neighbour island school made it to the tournament and turned in some heroic performances).

    Another footage, amazingly this is the 1982 Okinawan high school tournament finals, someone digitized their VHS tape! The now familiar Okinawan fight songs aren’t heard here. I’m not sure if that’s special for Koshien (to show Okinawan pride) or the fact that song styles changed significantly over the past 25 years. It’s more likely the latter. I remember NPB games in the 80’s having similarly simple fight songs, they’re sometimes elaborately complex these days (too much, some would say, and many agree, as they’re difficult for new fans to learn and enjoy, which is usually the point of attending games, after all).

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, music, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »