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    Japan v Korea! (Olympic Baseball)

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 16日 Saturday

    Yesterday’s games featured 2 games decided using the new fairy dust extra innings rule in the early games, and the 2 late games were both shutouts. Get the gory details from EWC for the new superball extra innings that led to Chinese victory over Taiwan and Cuba’s win over the US, and also for Korea and Japan shutting out Canada and the Netherlands, respectively.

    China’s victory over Taiwan was huge (possibly) for Chinese baseball. But this was engineered through having Taiwan play the night before against Japan after a rain delay at 8pm, while the China-Korea game was suspended because of the same rain, then the fatigued Taiwanese had to play the Chinese at 10am the next morning. Coincidence? Likely not.

    US is put in a tough spot with a 1-2 record, but their 2 losses are against the only undefeated teams in the tournament, Cuba and Korea.

    Though, the Korean lineup seems to definitely lack punch, as they were unable to score a run against China, of all teams, in 5 innings before the game was suspended scoreless. Then the lone run against Canada came on a homerun against a pitcher (Mike Johnson) who was below average when he did play in the majors, and that was 7 years ago!

    But Japan, in a seemingly stupid move by stubborn manager Senichi Hoshino (whose knowledge of PL baseball is often put into question), used their best pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi against an easy opponent in the Dutch (though this does put Sugiuchi on schedule for the final round robin game against the States), and Kenshin Kawakami closed out the game, so the starter of the Korea game is the only unused pitcher in this tournament, Tsuyoshi Wada, who has been very effective the past 3 years, but is having a subpar season by his standards (3.78 ERA, 83/29 K/BB). But seeing how ineffective ace Darvish was against Cuba (though they were very patient), and Wakui succeeding against Taiwan (whose squad may be weaker than usual), who knows how Wada will perform tonight, we may see Hoshino magic(!) after all.

    Canada’s fought valiantly against both the Cubans and the Koreans, losing both games by the smallest margin of 1 run. But they were clearly the inferior team. So, Canada, along with fellow 1-2 record holders Taiwan appear to be out of the running for the medal rounds. The US also has a 1-2 record but they’ll be facing relatively weaker opposition from here on in.

    Standings after day 3 (Korea-China game is suspended and will resume play on the 17th):

    3-0 Cuba

    2-0 Korea

    2-1 Japan

    1-1 China

    1-2 USA

    1-2 Canada

    1-2 Taiwan

    0-3 Netherlands

    Games today (day 4):

    10:30 USA-Canada

    11:30 Cuba-Taiwan

    18:00 China-Netherlands

    19:00 Japan-Korea

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

    2008.8.15 Koshien Quarterfinals and Olympic Baseball

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 15日 Friday

    Koshien

    Quarterfinal action started in Koshien today. After the last three games of round of 16 yesterday (yesterday’s games were all close, as Keio of North Kanagawa squeezed by Aomori-Yamada 2-0, Osaka-Toin outhit Toho of East Aichi 7-5, and Yokohama defeated Sendai-Ikuei 3-2), the stage has been set for the quarterfinals which has already kicked off with its first game Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) v Osaka-Toin (North Osaka) in the battle of local schools. Here’s the schedule:

    8.15 Day 14

    11:00 Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) v Osaka-Toin (North Osaka)

    13:30 Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa) v Keio (North Kanagawa)

    8.16 Day 15

    11:00 Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama) v Tokoha-Kikugawa (Shizuoka)

    13:30 Seiko-Gakuin (Fukushima) v Yokohama (South Kanagawa)

    Since both Osaka-Toin and Urasoe-Sho played their round of 16 games yesterday, they’re at a disadvantage of having to play on back to back days. And Urasoe seems to only have a single reliable arm, as it looks like Urasoe’s Iha’s set to go in the afternoon session, after a complete game yesterday. Iha is pitching on back to back days after already accumulating a lot of innings in a relatively short time period. Not only could Urasoe lose because of this, but Iha’s arm could be seeing an early demise in his career. (UPDATE: Osaka-Toin won comfortably 7-4 to advance to the semifinals. Uechi is starting for Urasoe instead of Iha, who starts in right field, that’s good to see.)

    Anyways, there are some interesting storylines here. Game 1 today is the battle of local schools, as Koshien Stadium is located in Hyogo near its border with Osaka. Game 2 today features Urasoe who defeated Spring Koshien champs Okinawa-Sho in their prefectural qualifier finals against the first Kanagawa team in the quarters and one of the most prestigious private schools in Keio. Game 1 tomorrow is the battle of ever present Chiben-Wakayama against the almost no-bunting attacking baseball of new powers Tokoha. And, finally, game 2 tomorrow features tournament favourites and the second Kangawa team remaining, Yokohama. We should see some exciting, close games over the next few days as the tournament heats up to the finals.

    ————

    Olympics

    Beijing was thunderstorming yesterday with a torrential downpour for a good part of the day. This added a twist to the baseball tournament which is being played in temporary outdoor stadiums. Even in those weather conditions, the US had no problems dispatching the Netherlands (Antilles) 7-0 in the game called after the 8th because of the weather. And No.1 draft prospect and only amateur on the US team, Stephen Strasburg, dominated, going perfect for 4 2/3 and keeping a no hitter for 6 1/3 innings. The other game that was being played at the same time was Korea-China, and surprisingly the it was still scoreless when the game was postponed after 5 innings, the game will resume on the 17th, an off day on the calendar.

    I was sitting in a faux British pub in Tokyo last night with Garrett from the Tokyo Yakult Swallows blog, not really expecting the Japan-Taiwan game to be played after hearing about the weather in Beijing, when suddenly the TVs in the pub showed the stubborn Japanese manager Senichi Hoshino on a live feed! We were getting the game after all. Well, we watched the game between consuming alcohol and talking, so I was far from my attentive self when I watched the Cuba game. But Japan’s inability to figure out Taiwanese starter Hsu Wen-Hsiung (5IP 3H 4K 1BB 1ER on a Yomiuri Giant catcher Shinnosuke Abe’s homerun no less, after we’d been bitching about how he should’ve been replaced in the starting lineup by the Marines’ Satozaki as Abe’s not particularly having a good season) and Japanese starter and Saitama Seibu Lion Hideaki Wakui’s more than competent performance (6IP 3H 6K 2BB 1ER) made the game very tight and exciting until the very end…

    when Japan managed to score 4 runs in the top of the 9th to ease Koji Uehara’s first Olympic appearance an easy one, protecting a 6-1 lead, though Uehara did look impressive as he had good stuff and command and set the side down in order. Regular closers Hitoki Iwase (Chunichi Dragons) and Kyuji Fujikawa (Hanshin Tigers) were the setup men, blanking the Taiwanese in the 7th and 8th innings while protecting the 2-1 lead. Iwase allowed a hit, but Fujikawa was particularly impressive striking out the side. He looked very different from the man who was hit very hard by the Cubans and was lucky to put the side down in order (not much of a surprise as Fujikawa’s high heat would be fairly normal in Cuba, but pretty rare in Taiwan). We’ll see how Uehara does protecting a closer lead, and we’ll also see how long Hoshino sticks with Takahiro Arai as the cleanup hitter, he’s so far only had one sacrifice fly in 8 PA and hasn’t looked sharp at the plate. But Hoshino is very loyal to his men, and both Uehara and Arai were integral parts of the Japan team that qualified for the Olympics last November.

    In the other game Canada put up a valiant effort against the Cubans, barely losing 6-7. But it’s apparent that the Cubans are obviously the superior team despite being outhit 9-5 in the game. Their command of the strike zone was impeccable, yet again, drawing 6 walks to Canada’s 1. And only striking out 5 times compared to Canada’s 12.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, olympics, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Happy Canada Day!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 2日 Wednesday

    モントリオール・エクスポズが無くなってしまった今、唯一のカナダ在籍のメジャーのチームであるトロント・ブルージェイズ。

    7月1日はカナダ・デー(建国記念日)で、アメリカの独立記念日みたいに国を挙げたお祭りなのであり、当然ジェイズのカナダデーの試合も観客の入りが多くお祭り騒ぎになるし、ジェイズもカナダデー仕様のユニフォームを着て盛り上げている。

    でも、ここ2年、何故かブルージェイズはカナダ・デーをアウェイで過ごしている、このスケジュールは球団がMLB になめられているという事なのか?

    今年のカナダデーはシアトルでの試合、ちょっとだけカナダデータッチになっているのが、帽子のブルージェイが赤くなっているとこ。なんでブルージェイなのに赤なんだ、これじゃカージナルじゃないか、と初め思ってしまった程控えめなアピール…

    まあ、過去例がこんな感じ↓だからユニフォーム的にはアウェイで正解なのかもしれないw

    Posted in 01_日本語, baseball, culture, information, MLB | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    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 »

    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 »

    Quarterfinals set for 2008 Worlds

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 14日 Wednesday

    The quarterfinals for the 2008 World Championship in Halifax and Quebec City has been set. With the disappointing performance (combined with the ineligible German player controversy) sent Slovakia down to a relegation series against Slovenia, which it won (France, with Huet being the difference maker, won the other relegation battle against Italy.)

    Quarterfinals on 14 May are:

    Czech Republic – Sweden

    Norway – Canada

    Russia – Switzerland

    USA – Finland

    The CZE-SWE and RUS-FIN matches will be great clashes of titans, and the Swiss are always strong and can easily give the talented Russian squad a run for its money. Canada has the easiest draw, but the team only won 2-1 over Norway thanks to a last minute Nash goal, so we’ll see if Grotnes can pull off the supergoalie gig yet again. 

    Some great quotes from the Norwegians  🙂

    Even getting this far is an amazing triumph for the Norwegian national hockey program, which operates on an annual budget of less than $1-million. Heatley alone operates on an annual budget 10 times that.

    It is a team that boasts a former NHL player, 32-year-old Anders Myrvold, who last played for the Detroit Red Wings in 2004, and a collection of European professionals, semi-pros and amateurs.

    But they have, Myrvold said, a secret weapon.

    “We have Viking blood,” he said. “You know Viking blood? It doesn’t exist in Canada.”

    The players are salesmen and teachers – one for kindergarten – but mostly they are in building trades, carpenters like Grotnes, electricians and plumbers.

    “If you need anything, just give us a call,” Myrvold said with a laugh. “You can’t call the Canadian team. All they can do is play hockey.”

    Hahaha.

    Surprisingly, attendance has been disappointing, especially in Halifax where all Canada games have been held so far.

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

    IIHF Uniform Watch

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 10日 Saturday

    The great, the good, and the ugly

    Canada, of course, in a money grub move have new sweaters for this IIHF 100th anniversary tournament they’re hosting at home. Other teams all have the same Nike template uniforms, which are all boring except for a couple of them. Luckily, all teams wore throwback jerseys from various eras, and they were mostly good.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, culture, hockey, information, International, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Prince Albert at IHWC

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 5日 Monday

    This was unexpected, but then again I didn’t know that he went to the 2007 tournament in Moscow too. I met him and talked to him briefly at Nagano ’98, wishing him luck on his upcoming bobsleigh competition. He was really easy to talk to, not stuck up at all. I guess those born into royalty can be easygoing like that, instead of nouveau aristocrats. Didn’t know he spent time in Philly though, that was unexpected.

    The son of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and Grace, Princess of Monaco (née Grace Kelly, a legendary Philadelphia-born film actress), gained his rulership in 2005, and is known as an avid sportsman. His Serene Highness graciously granted IIHF.com an interview during the second intermission of Sunday’s Czech Republic vs Russia game.

    “You know, René Fasel had talked to me about the World Championship here, and I knew I had to be in Quebec and Montreal around these dates,” said the Prince. “So I said: ‘Well, can I come over and watch a game?’ And here I am. I was at the World Championship in Moscow last year as well, and it’s great to be at these big events, these international competitions. This is a very special one here in Quebec, because it’s the 100th anniversary of the IIHF and the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. Both Quebec and Canada have a very strong tradition in hockey, as powerhouses in this sport. I’m happy to pay my respects.”

    The Prince participates in everything from tennis and swimming to handball and fencing. He has a particular passion for winter sports. In fact, he represented Monaco in bobsleighing at five straight Winter Olympics between 1988 and 2002. It’s no wonder he’s developed a taste for hockey as well.

    “Over the years, I’ve been watching different games in France, Europe, and at the Olympics,” he said. “I was also a student in the United States, and I saw the Rangers play a few times, as well as the Flyers, because part of my family is from Philadelphia. Perhaps I shouldn’t talk about the Flyers too much today, because they beat the Canadiens last night! I also watched the Flames play in Calgary many times. Because of bobsleighing, I was in Calgary a couple of times a year.”

    The Prince’s personal favourites in hockey are based on his family background and appreciation for pure skill.
     
    “Because my family is from Philadelphia, I’ve always followed the Flyers a little more intensely than other clubs. As for players, I had the chance to see Wayne Gretzky play a few times in his day. He was an incredible player, with incredible talent and charisma. I would also say I remember watching Slava Fetisov play. He’s now the Russian Minister of Sport, but he was an incredibly talented player too.”

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

    ホッケーユニホーム

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 25日 Friday

    カナダが新デザインのユニホームを発表。国技で何出しても売れるからって、これだけ頻繁にユニホームのデザイン変えたり、サードジャージ出したりするのは、やりすぎでしょう。

    アウェイの赤は好きだけど、ホームの白はダサいなぁ、赤い肩だからか…?

    ちなみに今年一番かっこよくなったで賞はディビジョン I A ホスト国のオーストリア、新旧を見比べれば一目瞭然。

    あと、今年のユニでかっこよかったのがアイルランドとニュージーランド。ホッケーではマイナーな国だけど、見た目はシャレてる。

    ]

    日本代表はやっぱりミズノでしょ、凄いかっこいいわけではないけど、あのナイキ製のででんと日の丸はあまりにもイマジネーションが無さすぎ(国旗そのまんまかよ)でダサダサだったから、それよりは全然マシ。

     

     

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