Koshien Final and more Olympic Baseball
Posted by simon c on 2008 August 17日 Sunday
Well, my team in Koshien, Okinawa’s Urasoe-Sho, got bombed out 9-4 in the semifinals by hard hitting Tokoha-Kikugawa (Shizuoka) based on their 9 run 2nd inning. The team had engineered 10 and 7 run innings to win their previous 2 games as well, showing the Japanese baseball world how big ball can be played and that, yes, you don’t have to always bunt over a runner every time. Kikugawa will face Osaka-Toin (Osaka) who also won comfortably 9-4 over Yokohama (South Kanagawa) in this final-worthy matchup. Toin has looked stronger as the tournament goes on, defeating better opponents with ever more ease. The finals will pit upstart Kikugawa against hometown Toin in what should be a slugfest (but will probably turn into a pitching duel against all expectations, as these things tend to do) at 12:30pm on Monday 18 August.
Incompetently managed (both on and off the field) Japan also lost to Korea in Olympic baseball action (boxscore). A pretty resounding 5-3 defeat. I don’t even know where to start on this one, but I’ll list some of the shortcomings of Team Japan as managed by Senichi Hoshino (who has never won the Japan Series as manager, and indeed there might be a reason why).
- Despite the limited 24 man roster (NPB uses an expansive 28 man roster), the team took injury question marks Kawasaki and Murata with them to Beijing. Nishioka’s injury on top of this didn’t help matters, as the team was down to 11 position players at full health for the Korea game (though Murata played).
- This forced Hoshino’s hand and he started all glove no bat Araki at second and solid hitting catcher Satozaki at DH. These wouldn’t normally be bad decisions except he let Araki hit second even though he is by far the worst hitter on the team (classic old school baseball move). And for some unknown reason he, yet again, let incompetent Abe catch instead of the defensively superior Satozaki catch, and this cost the team a run when Abe’s errant throw to second scored a Korean run.
- Hoshino also left pitchers in too long in the game, with pretty good relief corps, he should’ve pulled Wada earlier in the inning, and he has admitted to this mistake. And he also left reliever Iwase in for too long even though he is clearly more hittable this year and is not a shutdown reliever like he used to be (or like Fujikawa, who didn’t get to enter the game).
Good news is that, despite Hoshino’s bumbling management, the team still has a decent chance of making medal rounds due to Canada always coming up just short (tough 1 run losses to Cuba, USA, and Korea), and Taiwan recording their first ever loss to China in pixy dust extra inning rules (China might be onto something though, as they managed to pull Korea into extra innings as well, though this time they lost 1-0). Korea and Cuba are both unbeaten at 4-0, but Cuba looks like the team to beat. Since Japan still has to play Canada, chances of both teams making it into medal rounds is slim to nil, considering that USA now has a relatively easy schedule having already played the 2 undefeated teams.
This Kuricorder Quartet version of the Imperial March might sum up my feelings pretty well at the moment, after waking up with a hangover from an all you can drink birthday party on the day of those defeats.