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  • Archive for May, 2008

    Poutine in Japan

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 23日 Friday

    A burger and coffee chain (yup, you’ve read that right) called Becker’s, for some odd reason, has poutine on their menu. Here’s how it’s pictured in the menu.

    And here’s how it was served.

    It tasted… ok. I’d been avoiding it because I heard some awful things about their poutine, like lukewarm gravy and stuff, but it was almost like when poutine first made it’s appearance in southern Ontario. They use something like mozzarella instead of cheese curds (you need a cheese factory nearby for fresh curds anyways), and the gravy was on the salty side but pretty good for being in Japan. For the uninitiated, poutine is the beautiful artery clogging French Canadian dish that should be popular all over the world, it’s only a matter of time. Fries + cheese + gravy, how could this not be a winning combination?

    It’s incredible that this obscure French Canadian dish is even being served in a Japanese burger and coffee chain. And, maybe because of my low expectations, it’ll definitely be good enough for my rare poutine fixes.

    Posted in 02_English, culture, food, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

    2010年バンクーバーへの道

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 22日 Thursday

    語りべじろうさんが、男女日本代表のバンクーバー五輪出場への可能性を簡潔に纏めてくれています

    国際アイスホッケー連盟は、2010年に開催される「バンクーバー オリンピック」と、
    その出場権を争う予選のグループ分けを、それぞれ発表しました

    世界ランキングによって、既に決定していたとおり
    日本は、男子、女子ともに、予選を経て、バンクーバーを目指すこととなりますが、
    男子は、11月にポーランドで開催される2次予選から参戦。

    ポーランドルーマニアイギリス と総当りのリーグ戦を行い、トップになれば、
    他2つのグループの2次予選で、トップとなった国との世界ランキングによって、
    来年2月に、ドイツ、ラトビア、またはノルウェーの いずれかで行われる最終予選へ。

    そして、再び4ヶ国総当りの最終予選でもトップになれば、
    オリンピック出場権を獲得することができます。

    一方の女子は、11月の最終予選に出場。
    こちらも、開催国の 中国 と チェコ、さらに 1次予選から勝ち上がってきたチーム との、
    総当りのリーグ戦でトップになると、バンクーバーへのチケットを手にすることができますが、
    以前の記事でも紹介したように、
    これまでの戦績を考えると、中国との一騎打ちになりそうな見込み。

    男子は、個人的にはイギリスもあなどれない相手だと思いますので、ポーランドと三つ巴になる可能性も十分にあります(イギリスはトリノ五輪予選を欠場したので、実力以下の世界ランキングになっている)。でも、もしこの予備予選を勝ち抜いても、ランキングが10代の最終予選ラウンドが待っていますから、正直厳しいでうすね、もちろん応援してますが。

    そして女子は語りべさんの仰る通り落ち目の中国との一騎打ちになりそうですね。女子代表が五輪本選に出場してくれれば、国内のアイスホッケー注目度も少しは上がるかな…?

    先月札幌で行われたディビジョンI の運営が散々(ほとんど広報無し、メディアの注目度も激低…orz 日ア連は、やる気あるのかね?古い体質が問題視されている話を聞くのも少なくないですね、残念ながら…)

    がんばれ日本!そしてアジアリーグ覇者王子の来シーズンに向けてのトレーニングキャンプはもう始まりました。西武のタフなトレーニングプログラムといい、最近日本ホッケーのトップレベルはレベルアップしてるみたいですね、ハンガリー、デンマークやオーストリアのライバル国は、協会とクラブと選手の育成ベクトルに統一性を持っているのでもっと進展してるそうですが。(今年の世界選手権ではノルウェーとベラルーシもがんばりましたね。)スイスなんて、ついに世界ランキング7位になり、ビッグ7の壁を突き破りました(まあ、スロバキアはNHL 選手が多く不在してた一軍半でしたが。)

     

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

    Kontinental Hockey League update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 20日 Tuesday

    A good primer on the ongoing situation of the KHL startup by James Mirtle of the Globe. 

    This is the brainchild of Alexander Ivanovich Medvedev, a Russian oil baron and the vice-president of Gazprom, who has his heart set on creating a hockey league that can rival the NHL. But rather than take the best teams in Europe — let’s say Jokerit and HC Davos — or creating new teams, what’s happened so far is a modest expansion of the Super League and a new name.

    The RSL had 20 teams last season, but for 2008-09, there’ll be 24, with three teams from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Latvia, as well as a Russian club that was playing in a lower division, all joining the fray.

    This is what the league will look like next season, as per Google Maps.

    (In addition, the creation of the Continental Hockey League coincides with the start of the Champions League tournament, a high-profile new event to be played among the top 12 teams in Europe for the first time this fall. Here’s hoping that’ll be picked up on television in North America.)

    Medvedev’s goal is to expand the KHL to 30 teams by the following season, using gobs of money to lure foreign teams from competing leagues like the Swedish Elitserien. Frölunda, one of Sweden’s richest and most successful teams, and Färjestad have been targeted already.

    Medvedev has said teams from Austria, Finland and Germany have also shown interest in the KHL.

    Färjestad’s club director Hakan Loob apparently recently travelled to Russia to discuss the specifics of a switch with KHL representatives. And the new league has a Swedish agent, Leif Nilsson, on board to work with the KHL.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, a big hockey fan, is also apparently supportive of the move. Investment in hockey, and salaries, has consistently risen as oil and gas prices rise, as many of the former RSL’s ownership groups are energy-based mega-companies.

    Here’s the map of the league’s clubs.

    And the division structure:

    Bobrov Division Tarasov Division Kharlamov Division Chernyshev Division
    Salavat Yulaev Ufa Metallurg Magnitogorsk Avangard Omsk AkBars Kazan
    Dynamo Minsk Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Barys Astana
    Spartak Moscow Traktor Chelyabinsk Lada Togliatti Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod
    Metallurg Novokuznetsk HC MVD Balashikha Sibir Novosibirsk Vityaz Chekhov
    Severstal Cherepovets SKA St-Petersburg Amur Khabarovsk Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk
    Atlant Mytischi CSKA Moscow Dinamo Riga Dynamo Moscow

    Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, International, NHL | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

    日本人初、メモリアルカップ出場!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 20日 Tuesday

    カナダのメジャージュニアでNHLを目指している選手として、QMJHL でプレーしてる河合選手(西武と日本代表の河合選手の弟)のチームGatineau Olympiques がなんとリーグ優勝(QMJHL はカナダ東部で一番レベルの高いジュニアリーグ)をして、今まさにカナダジュニアホッケーの決勝大会(4チームで行われる)のメモリアルカップに出場しています。 

    ヘローキィさんの日記にも書かれてるし

    なんとCanadian Press (カナダの共同通信みたいな機関)の記事にもなりました! 

    しかも第2試合はBelleville に3−6で負けちゃったけど、しっかり2アシスト取ってて+2、凄い! 

    メモリアルカップ

    これからが楽しみな選手ですね!

    Posted in 01_日本語, Asia League Ice Hockey, culture, hockey, information, Japan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    NPB Power Rankings 08.05.19

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Yeah, I keep on changing the title format as well, shoot me  😛

    1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 28-13-1 .683

    Very strong hold on 1st place in CL. With setup man Jeff Williams back from injury, the invincible JFK relief trio (with Kubota, and closer and fireballer Fujikawa) is back together for the first time since opening day. This means that starters really only need to pitch 6 solid innings to give the team a chance to win. Combined this with Akahoshi, Arai, Toritani, and Kanemoto being 1, 2, 4, and 5 in the CL OBP rankings means that this team deserves its record and ranking.

    2. Chunichi Dragons(2) 24-16-3 .600

    Similar formula as the Tigers with solid pitching (2.79 team ERA good for 2nd after Hanshin’s 2.69) and hitters who get on base (Dragons have 5-10th place locked up in CL OBP rankings with Ibata, Woods, Morino, Wada, and Nakamura, respectively). The team’s Pythagorean expectations are similar to the Tigers, and its bullpen just as effective. So it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Dragons manage to narrow the 3.5 game gap with the Tigers during the upcoming 24 game (2 games each, home and away) interleague period.

    3. Saitama Seibu Lions(3) 29-16-1 .644

    This team can sure hit. It’s sluggers have launched 63 homers in 46 games, far outpacing the 2nd place teams which are the Dragons and Giants both with 45. The PL SLG leaderboard features G.G. Sato on top with .615, and Nakajima and Nakmura in 3rd and 9th. Hiram Bocachica’s been playing amazing since his short reconditioning stint down in 2-gun, he now sports 10 HR and 1.086 OPS in only 26 games. He really should replace Craig Brazell in the middle of the lineup, as this man has no plate discipline, walking only 7 times in 198 PA for a miserable .278 OBP. I reckon the league’s already figured out that you don’t have to throw strikes to him. Since he never displayed any plate discipline in Minor League Baseball, the chances of him suddenly developing this skill here is virtually unlikely, and it’ll likely be his downfall. (Bocachica’s still hitting 9th(!) and that’s a travesty.)

    4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(4) 22-23 .489

    This team can score runs too, with its 203 runs only trailing explosive Seibu’s 229. With 166 RA, the team should have a winning record, as amazingly as that sounds for this recent expansion franchise.

    5. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(7) 25-22 .532

    Smoke and mirrors or a continuation of last year’s successful small ball? A 152 – 164 RS – RA has been helped by some offensive outbursts this month (finally).

    6. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(6) 19-21 .475

    Continues to play its near .500 ball, now with the crosstown rival Giants hot on their heels. Aaron Guiel’s continued troubles (his OPS is now down to .755) is worrisome as he’s the team’s lone pure power source. On the other hand, relievers Oshimoto (0 ER in 20 IP!), Matsuoka (0.56 ERA in 17.2 IP), and closer Lim (0.56 ERA and 12 saves in 16 IP) have been shutdown dominant. And starters led by Ishikawa (2.63 ERA in 61.2 IP) have been holding their own.

    7. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(10) 20-23-1 .465

    As expected, the Evil Empire have finally started hitting, and winning a little more accordingly. The team’s ugly BA in the .230s have been brought up to .250 in the last few weeks, but it’s team OBP is still a CL worst .299. Expect the fight for 3rd and final playoff spot against the Swallows to continue, as this team’s not in same class with the Tigers and Dragons. Especially with regulars like Lee and Uehara missing.

    7. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(8 ) 23-25 .479

    Continuing to plod along like this (similar to the Giants) with 191 – 210 RS – RA, the Hawks are currently fundamentally weaker than the Eagles.

    9. Chiba Lotte Marines(5) 21-27 .438

    The Marines are in a free fall, as Bobby V’s team has gone 4-13 since we last checked in. Probably not what the manager had in mind as he was featured in a student made documentary about him on ESPN.

    10. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(9) 17-21-1 .447

    Better pitching (3.35 ERA is 3rd in CL) than the Giants, but .364 SLG is worst in CL and the Carp play in an extreme hitter’s park! 

    11. Orix Buffaloes(11) 20-27 .426

    The always injured greybeard slugger Kiyohara hit a homerun… in the minors. Nothing new here, move along.

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 13-27-1 .325

    Yay, the BayStars brought their winning percentage above .300!

    I plan on alternating power rankings and a more sabermetric individual performance reviews every other week, unless work or real life puts up too much interference.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    May Sumo Tournament Update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Though mired in various sad, terrible, and stupid scandals recently, this Ozumo (pro sumo) May tournament has provided some excitement (though I’ve never seen the Kokugikan arena that empty when I took visitors from Canada there on day 3 on Tuesday).

    Ama, one of the smallest sekitori (top division sumo wrestler) at 1.85 m (6’1″) and 126 kg (280 lb), just had an incredible bout yesterday where he did an amazing reversal “ucchari” against the younger, bigger, and stronger Wakanoho from Russia.

    Though Ama, with his 5-3 record, is not in the thick of the championship (sekitori with the best record after 15 days wins), we are finally seeing a resurgence of Kotooshu, the tall and lanky Bulgarian. He looks very confident, steady, and is finally playing to his strengths of using his long reach again, like when he made his way up to Ozeki (a rank just below Yokozuna, the grand champions). He is looking good so far, going undefeated through 8 days of this tournament so far.

    The other contenders for the tournament title are, reassuringly, the two Yokozunas, Asashoryu and Hakuho. It’s funny how things turned out, with Asashoryu basically taking on the role of the heel and Hakuho being a babyface. Sumo isn’t scripted but different personalities brought us this Mongolian Yokozuna era. Asashoryu is 7-1 and Hakuho is 8-0, as the sekitori are preparing for their 9th day’s bouts as I write. Lone Japanese sekitori in the hunt is Toyonoshima, but he’ll start facing tougher opposition as the tournament enters its second week and I don’t think he’ll be able to remain at just 1 loss.

    Interestingly, about 40% of the sekitori are foreign imports, that’s about the same ratio as the NHL and MLB. And sumo has an import restriction, so the top division would be even more dominated by foreigners without this import limit (1 per training stable, some with multiple imports have been grandfathered in). Since becoming a professional sumo wrestler usually requires joining a training stable after graduating from junior high, and the chances of success are very low (as in most pro sports careers), the profession just isn’t attracting young Japanese talent anymore. Instead, we are seeing an influx of Mongolians (from Mongolian wrestling backgrounds) and Eastern Europeans (from amateur wrestling backgrounds). They certainly add interesting flavours to sumo, both in fighting styles and in general. 

    Posted in 02_English, culture, information, MLB, NHL, opinion, sumo, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    ロシア優勝!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    2008年世界選手権はケベック・シティーでの決勝でロシアがカナダを延長戦で5-4で破り、見事15年ぶりに優勝。大会中ずっと全く噛み合わずノーゴールだったIlya Kovalchuk がなんと試合終盤の同点ゴールと延長の決勝ゴールを両方決める大活躍。カナダは4-2と2点リードした時点で守りに入ってしまい、爆発力の凄いロシア相手には2点リードを守りきる事が出来ませんでした。

    カナダがこのIIHF 100周年大会を始めて開催しましたが、見事ホスト国が優勝できないジンクスは86年にソ連が優勝した時以来、ずっと続いていて、今回もそれは変わりませんでした。カナダが負けたのは悔しいけれど、15年ぶりに優勝したロシア選手の喜びようは感動ものです。特にSergei Fedorov のソ連時代の90年以来の優勝、そしてキャプテンMorozov と立役者Kovalchuk の喜びよう、そしてもちろん一番感情を顕わにしてプレーして喜ぶロシア人スターのOvechkin、皆おめでとう!

    来年の大会はスイスのベルンとチューリッヒで開催されます。なんと今年の大会でスロバキアがあわや降格かという不振な成績を残したので、世界ランキングでは見事スイスが7位に浮上。もうビッグ7(カナダ、ロシア、スウェーデン、フィンランド、アメリカ、チェコ、スロバキア)時代は終わったのか、ビッグ6になっちゃったのか、はたまたビッグ8と呼べるのか、国際ホッケー界も確実に進化してきています。

    Posted in 01_日本語, hockey, information, International, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Shinjo throws out a 90 mph ceremonial first pitch!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 3 – 4 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters

    18 May 2008 Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome

    Former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter Tsuyoshi Shinjo showed off his strong arm in an off the charts ceremonial first “pitch”. In this event to promote Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the 36 year old Shinjo made his first appearance on a baseball field since his retirement in 2006. He pitched a no holds barred ceremonial “at bat” against his former understudy, and Fighters leadoff man, Hichori Morimoto. After going to a 2-2 count, Shinjo got Morimoto to ground out to the shortstop. Of the 4 pitches that were measured by a speed gun, the first pitch clocked in at 145 km/h (90 mph). “I thought I threw a little harder” remarked Shinjo playfully, as the crowd was wowed. Wearing the full uniform of his hometown Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, and in an incredible show of fan service, he threw in the actual gold glove that he won for his 2006 Golden Glove award into the crowd after completing this big task. He was exhilarated, saying “moriagattabai!” (“that got the crowd going!”) in the local Hakata dialect.

    (Shinjo’s done it again! He never ceases to surprise fans and casual observers alike, even well into his retirement. I’m not sure if a former player has ever donned the full uniform of a team he had never played for, including cleats, and threw an entire at bat as a ceremonial “first pitch”. Probably a world first by the man who loves to surprise.) Here’s the video:

    Original article (Japanese):

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), baseball, culture, information, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    2008世界選手権、夢の決勝

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 18日 Sunday

    16日の準決勝では、ロシアが4-0とフィンランドに快勝して、カナダは2ピリ終了時点でLundqvist を攻略してゴーリー交代させての5-4勝ち。17日に行われたスカンジナビア対決の銅メダル戦は4-0でフィンランドが制してめでたくメダル獲得。そして今日行われる決勝は、IIHF 100周年記念大会で、ホッケー発祥の地カナダでの初開催に最も相応しい、ホッケー界を常にリードしてきた両雄のライバル対決、カナダ対ロシアが実現しました。実はこの2大国の決勝というのは、92年の五輪以来なんですよね、なんか意外。でもソ連崩壊後、ロシアンホッケーは長年迷走していたという事もありますし。ついでに、IIHF が発表した、国際ホッケー史上のオールスターチームの発表(グレツキーとSalming 以外はソ連勢)と、IIHF 100周年記念のトップストーリーの発表もありました(80年五輪で学生からなる米代表がソ連を下した試合でした、#2-100にも結構面白い記事があります)。ちなみに決勝は18日の日本時間26時からです。

    Posted in 01_日本語, culture, hockey, information, International, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    IIHF Top 100 Stories of the Century

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 18日 Sunday

    Ahead of the Centennial Ice Hockey World Championship final to be played later today, the 1980 Miracle on Ice was announced as the #1 story on their international hockey stories of the century list.

    The win didn’t change the landscape of the game right away. It was a shocking and unexpected victory, but more importantly, it inspired a generation of American kids to play the game. When USA won its next important international event, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, almost every player on that team pointed to the Miracle on Ice game as their inspiration for wanting to play hockey.

    In time, the win also assured the international community that America would be part of the top nations. In the 1976 Canada Cup, for instance, the roster was a who’s who of minor leaguers and collegians. Soon after 1980, that never happened again. 

    This game was and remains the greatest moment in international hockey because of its impact at the time and its continued impact over time. For 20 college players to defeat a team that trained year round and won virtually every game it played before and after truly is, in a sporting sense, a miracle. There is no other word for it. 

    That this miracle became something lasting and enduring makes it all the more significant. The greater miracle is that it took a nation with nothing more than a mild interest in the game and made it into a world powerhouse that can today beat any other great nation on any given day. There have been greater teams which have accomplished greater feats over greater periods of time in international hockey, but there is only one game, one team, one moment, that can truly be called a miracle. And nothing can outclass a miracle. Nothing.

    And the IIHF also announced the Centennial All-Star Team. The list is Soviet heavy with Tretiak, Fetisov, Salming, Kharlamov, Makarov, and Gretzky. Methinks the voters were weighed towards Europeans, but then again this is an All-Star team for international hockey, and the Soviets dominated international play, so maybe it’s right. It’s interesting that Gretzky’s contributions in the Canada Cup is counted considering it was not an IIHF sanctioned event. But then again, IIHF was not obtuse enough to ignore the great impact the Summit Series and the Canada Cups had on international hockey, even if they were not officially sanctioned events.

    The six members of the All-Star Team are:

    Goaltender: Vladislav Tretiak (Russia)
    First Defenceman: Vyacheslav Fetisov (Russia)
    Second Defenceman: Borje Salming (Sweden)
    First Winger: Valeri Kharlamov (Russia)
    Second Winger: Sergei Makarov (Russia)
    Centre: Wayne Gretzky (Canada)

    The panel comprised 56 ice hockey experts from 16 countries representing a balance between North American and European countries, and included people who have worked in the game for an extended period and whose opinions are universally respected. One of the 56 votes represented the collective opinion of the staff of The Hockey News.

    Tretiak received 30 votes, Fetisov 54, Salming 17, Kharlamov 21, Makarov 18, and Gretzky 38.

    Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, International, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »