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  • Posts Tagged ‘hanshin’

    Aniki 17 BayStars 5

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 10日 Friday

    Fun with early season statistics. 6 games into the Nippon Professional Baseball’s season, Hanshin Tigers’ Tomoaki “Aniki” Kanemoto has driven in 17 runs (4 HR, 29 TB, with a ridiculous slash line of .583/.593/1.208), and the 41 year old clean up hitter has topped it all off when he hit homeruns on 3 consecutive plate appearances to start off the game Wednesday in a 4 hit game against the Hiroshima Carp and drove in 7 of the team’s runs in the 8-2 win.

    In the mean time, the entire lineup of the Yokohama BayStars have managed to score paltry 5 runs in their first 6 games against the Chunichi Dragons and the Yomiuri Giants. The team is collectively batting a pathetic .176 and the woeful pitching has a 7.24 ERA. No other team in the 12 team NPB has scored less than 25 runs in their first 5~6 games of the season. So, what’s the over/under on Yokohama’s first win of the season? How about a game where they score 5 or more runs? All hail the Aniki the Astonishing!

    kanemoto

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

    Colonel Sanders Found!!

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 10日 Tuesday

    KFC’s Colonel Sanders statue thrown into Osaka’s Dotonbori River during Hanshin Tigers fan celebrations of their 1985 Central League championship was finallydiscovered this afternoon around 4pm after more than 23 long years at the bottom of the river sludge. The Colonel statue was discovered during waterfront work by an Osaka city worker.

    sanders

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

    A celebratory kancho

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 September 14日 Sunday

    There’s all kinds of ways to celebrate a walkoff “sayonara” hit in baseball, but this is the first time I’ve seen kancho being used. For the uninitiated, kancho even has a wiki entry:

    Kancho (カンチョー kanchō?) is an act often played out in Japan; it is performed by clasping the hands together so the index fingers are pointing out and attempting to insert them sharply into someone’s anal region when the victim is not looking. It is similar to the wedgie or a goosing, although the latter acts do not involve direct physical contact.

    Hiyama gave Yano (a Hoshino Japan Olympic team member) a kancho on the field after the latter hit a game winning double in the bottom of the 10th to break up the scoreless extra inning game and win one for the home team.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, NPB, random | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    NPB Power Rankings 08.6.26

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 26日 Thursday

    Interleague games officially ended on Monday but the title was clinched by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Sunday, even though they tied with the Hanshin Tigers with 15-9 records. The silly tiebreaker rule doesn’t take head to head record into account, if that were the case the Tigers would’ve won the (still) rather meaningless Interleague crown because they took 3 of 4 from the Hawks (also won 3 against the PL leading Saitama Seibu Lions). Anyways, after a few days off (scheduled as reserve dates for rainouts), regular intraleague play resumes tomorrow with a full slate of 6 games.

    Anyways, here are how things shook out following the conclusion of the Interleague period.

    1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 43-22-1 .662

    Tied for best record in Interleague without having the advantage of playing against the sorry Yokohama BayStars, and beat up on the PL leading Lions and Interleague Champs Hawks. Most balanced team in the league with an on base juggernaut offense (top 3 CL OBP leaders, and only hitters to have OBP over .400 in CL are Kanemoto, Akahoshi, and Arai, and Toritani checks in at 8th with .362) So the Tigers lead the league in runs scored (273) despite homering the least (35), and their shutdown bullpen helps prevent runs big time and they lead the league in this category too (218). The complete package.

    2. Chunichi Dragons(3) 36-28-3 .563

    Regains the penultimate position in this ranking largely thanks to the Lions tailspin at the end of Interleague, as the Dragons only had a .500 record against PL teams, but managed to take 3 of 4 against Seibu.

    3. Saitama Seibu Lions(2) 39-30-1 .565

    Ended Interleague campaign on a horrible note, losing 6 straight and 9 of the last 12. Even losing both games to the lowly BayStars. This is still a strong team and PL race has just gotten really interesting with the slumping Lions and soaring Hawks as the top 4 teams are now bunched together within 4 games of eachother. Lions are probably thankful that what turned out to be a dreaded Interleague season is finally over.

    4. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(5) 39-32-1 .549

    Was in the hunt for the Interleague title going into the final weekend, the team continues to win close games as the Fighters have only outscored their opponents by 4 runs for the season.

    5. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(4) 35-34 .507

    A team with very good fundamentals (310 – 256, RS – RA) sits in 4th place in the PL standings but definitely has the capability to be in a playoff position and should be there sooner rather than later. Had first ever winning Interleague season in its history with 13-11 record.

    6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(6) 38-34 .528

    Interleague champions nudged their way up to claim the 3rd and final playoff position in the PL. The team seems to have woken up, it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep this up in their own league.

    7. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(8 ) 34-33-1 .507

    Solid Interleague campaign of 14-10 has the team back in black. Good pitchers Takahashi and Uehara are returned to the big club after rehabbing from injury. The former should go into the rotation and the latter in the bullpen where he was a successful closer last season. Beneficiary of the new Free Agency rules agreed upon between NPB and the Senshukai (Players’ Association) reducing the number of years of service until domestic FA to 8, a quirk in the rule allows FA eligible imports to not count as imports, meaning that slugger Alex Ramirez will not count against the import quota starting next season.

    8. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(7) 30-32-2 .484

    A decent 13-11 record in Interleague. The dog days of summer may be very helpful to the Carp this year as all of NPB’s best will be at Beijing while the Carp will likely not lose anyone to the Olympics. They’ll just have to hang on until then, as a 3rd place finish and a seat in the playoffs is needed for Marty Brown to extend his contract as the manager of this feisty club that lost its cleanup hitter (Arai) and ace (Kuroda) to FA after last season. (Though Colby Lewis is doing a fine job filling in for Kuroda with 10-5, 2.28 ERA on a mediocre team playing in a hitters park.)

    9. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(9) 30-34 .469

    Norichika Aoki is back and has been his awesome self with a slash line of .331/.391/.506. NPB hitters may be getting wise to the ways of the Lim though, as the closer has given up 5 runs (4 earned) over his last 5 appearances. Aaron Guiel’s rehab seems to be going well, as he’s played 2 games in the minors recently (going 0-3 with a walk), hopefully he’ll be fully recovered soon and back with the big club. An Aoki – Hatakeyama – Guiel cleanup could be pretty awesome.

    10. Chiba Lotte Marines(10) 31-41 .431

    10. Orix Buffaloes(11) 31-40 .437

    Both teams had uninspiring Interleague season (10-14 and 11-13). Still no end in sight to their woes, but neither of them are even close to the patheticness of…

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 19-45-1 .297

    Only team to win less than 10 games (.417) in Interleague, the sad BayStars went 6-18 (.250), their saving grace was the sweep of the slumping Lions at the end of Interleague. U-G-L-Y.

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

    Pink baseball merchandise

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 19日 Thursday

    From the AOL FanHouse post, MetsGrrl.com writes

    “No real female baseball fan I know wears a pink hat,” wrote Caryn Rose, a writer living in Greenpoint, on her blog about the Mets, called MetsGrrl.com. “The pink hat exists so that boyfriends or husbands (or heck, lesbian partners of girly girls), who feel guilty that they have dragged their girlfriend to the game, can go to the team store and buy something to placate them: ‘Oh, it’s pink, it must be for a girl.’ Give me a break.”

    Of course things are very different here in Japan. Not only are there pink hats, there is pink everything for the female fans, and they’re not designed just for the casual/bandwagon/unwillingly-accompanying-the-bf-to-the-park female fans either, but then again pink is the national colour for Japanese women, and being cute is everything. So, there are hardcore female fans in Japan in the bleachers with the oendan cheer squad who stand on their feet and constantly cheer for their hitters while their team is up at bat.

    Here, a couple of Hanshin Tigers fans in their pink jerseys. I bet they’re not fairweathr fans, but I could be wrong.

    Do Japanese female fans like pink merchandise because they’re cute? Sure. Are Japanese women oppressed in society? Well, there is definitely still a glass ceiling, but Japanese wives and moms completely rule the household, controlling everything in the household from finance (holding the hammer on what to buy for the house, or receiving the husband’s entire pay cheques only to give him small montly “allowances”) to other matters like deciding on which school to send their kids to. This behind the scenes power sort of balances thing out in Japanese society where women don’t try to compete with men by becoming more like men, but are very good at controlling men anyways.

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

    2008.6.16 NPB Update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 17日 Tuesday

    Yeah, I know this is a couple of days late, but these numbers are only missing the Eagles-Giants game yesterday.

    Let’s look at the Central League first:

    Hanshin remain strong, both in the real life standings and in Pythagorean win expectations based on runs scored and runs against. But I’m starting to think that maybe the Tigers record is inflated due to the unusually weak CL this year. With interleague play almost finished CL teams have gone 53-67 against their PL counterparts so far, but then again maybe this is mostly the fault of the pathetic Yokohama BayStars who are 3-17 in interleague and sport a 16-44-1 (.267) record overall. The utter incompetence of the BayStars are probably helping other CL teams look more respectable, and tipping the balance in favour of the PL. With the slumping and injured Giants, the race for 3rd and last playoff spot in the CL is a three horse race between Yomiuri, Carp, and Swallows. (The Swallows getting it done on defence is a bit of a surprise as that’s not typically talked about.) The Dragons are doing about as well as expected, no better no less, but they are much stronger now with Kawakami back in full force.

     

    Now onto the Pacific League: 

    The Lions continue their dominance, but the reliance on the long ball didn’t work against the Tigers as the king of the jungle lost 3 out of 4, getting outplayed by a much better balanced Les Tigres team full of on base monsters (Arai, Akahoshi, and Kanemoto lead the CL, with all three OBPing over .400 and Toritani is no slouch either at .370) and killer relievers in JFK+Watanabe which makes their games 5-6 inning games. So, the Lions fortunes come October may not be so bright as they play Yankee style big ball susceptible to opposition pitching in the playoffs which usually only consist of aces.

    I’m beginning to think that the ultra-low scoring Fighters getting it done almost entirely on pitching, defence, and the cavernous Sapporo Dome last year was not a fluke, as they continue to outperform their Pythag expectations (with the staggering .718 Defensive Efficiency, far and away the best in the PL and NPB), winning one close game after another (they’re like the winning version of the Padres in this regard). 

    The Eagles are for real, they’re getting it done both with hitting, pitching, and defence (they, in fact, have the highest Pythag win% in NPB!), I expect them to pull ahead of the Hawks to secure themselves a playoff position and battle the Fighters for 2nd place.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Lions manager Watanabe and Taiwanese baseball

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 13日 Friday

    I didn’t know that one time ace of the Seibu Lions during their dynasty in the 80’s and early 90’s and now manager of the team Watanabe spent time in Taiwan as a player-coach, and that his appreciation for the power game is partially responsible for the Lions success this season, especially with the long ball. The Lions have half the number of sacrifice bunts (42) as the ultimate smallball team, the Fighters (84). But the team up in Hokkaido is more of an exception, as the rest of the PL teams have sacrificed 36-51 times so far this season.

    Watanabe, who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the Lions starter in Game 1 of the 1994 Japan Series (featured because the majors were on strike that year), has come a long way since he was considered the pop idol of the otherwise-stodgy club.

    After retiring from Japanese ball, Watanabe went to Taiwan, ostensibly as a coach.

    “It was funny. My career was over and I was there as a coach. But I couldn’t speak a word of Chinese so I had to demonstrate,” Watanabe told The Hot Corner early this season. “And I could still throw hard–so I became a player-coach in camp.”

    Living in a rural town between Tainan and Taichung, Watanabe studied with a tutor and within a year his Chinese language skills were “fairly useful.” He is still fond of the country and its game. Although Taiwan’s baseball people have a lot of respect for Japan’s skill level, Watanabe says the thinking there is somewhat different.

    “They’ve had Japanese coaches going over there for the last 20 years, so they look to Japan,” Watanabe said. “But they aspire to a more powerful game; the hitters take big swings.

    “I liked that.”

    In Watanabe’s early days as a pro, the Lions were the hardest hitting team in Japan. But that didn’t prevent managers Tatsuro Hirooka and Masaaki Mori from steering the club toward a painfully predictable Japanese-style game, picking opponents apart with sacrifice bunts, pitching and defense.

    I have a pet theory that the fact that Watanabe is letting his team run wild on the bases with league leading 53 steals might help because that places runners in scoring position without sacrificing an out, thus leading to higher probabilities for big innings (especially with all those homeruns). But then again, being caught stealing 24 times is too undisciplined, as a success rate below 70% must surely be detrimental, but maybe it’s still better than bunting.

    Then again, the big bats of Seibu were no match for the shutdown bullpen (JFK + Watanabe) of Hanshin Tigers, as the CL leader took 3 of 4 from the Lions in their interleague games. The fact that the Tigers don’t have to leave their starters in games accumulating fatigue and losing effectiveness with every pitch over 100, coupled with the powerful bullpen and lineup full of on base machines means that the Tigers are a way more balanced squad than the Lions and the best team in the nation at the moment.

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

    2008.6.10 NPB Pitching and Batting Leaders

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 11日 Wednesday

    We’re 2/3 of the way through interleague play with 16 games played, and the Eagles are on top of the interleague standings tied with the Tigers with 11-5 records. The eagles had strong numbers in runs scored and runs allowed heading into interleague, so this is no fluke, expect the strong performance of the Eagles to continue past the interleague period.

    Also, Hoshino, manager and GM for Team Japan at Beijing Olympics, has added 4 players to the list candidates for the Olympic team and they are G.G. Sato and Hoashi (both Lions), Yoshimi (Dragons), and Watanabe (Tigers). Sato and Watanabe have both shown that their great performances last season weren’t by chance, and among the 70+ players already named as candidates, many are off to slow starts or injured which prompted this announcement. The final team will be announced in July… but the first game that counts is on 13 August. I expect some changes made between the team is announced to the opening game against Cuba.

    Anyways, just a partial update, only the batting and pitching leaders this week.

    Batting leaders (2008.6.10)

    Familiar faces up top, and we see a new name in the table in the league leading batter Uchikawa(!) of Yokohama who sports a handsome .395 batting average at the moment after getting enough playing time to qualify. Perhaps a Sato, Aoki (missed time with injury, returned to lineup recently), and Inaba outfield in Beijing?

    Pitching leaders (2008.6.10)

    Lewis is doing an incredible job for the Carp who are 1.5 games behind the Giants for 3rd place and the last playoff spot. Komatsu is pitching pretty well for the Buffaloes too even if he’s not getting the run or defensive support. Hoashi has a sparkling 1.55 ERA but his FIP is 3.20 suggesting he’s gotten benefits of both good luck and defense, still wouldn’t be a bad choice for the Olympics (though, he’ll probably hurt Seibu more than benefit Japan). Tanaka is pitching in the shadows of resurgent Iwakuma this year, but he’s contributing nearly as much as his teammate to the Eagles’ success when you look beyond the won-loss record and the ERA. Kawakami has returned, he’s pitched 8, 7, and 7 innings in his last 3 starts allowing 1, 3, and 1 run each time out.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    NPB Power Rankings 08.6.3

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 3日 Tuesday

    Another busy week, so a short poster here. This interleague week’s day off was Monday. We have completed the first 2 weeks of interleague play now.

    1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 34-17-1 .667

    6-4 against PL teams, most importantly winning both games against PL leading Lions at home in Koshien. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll fare in the return trip, but this definitely cemented the Tigers place at the top of this ranking.

    2. Saitama Seibu Lions(3) 34-21-1 .618

    Lost both games to the Tigers (though took the other cats to extra innings in the second game), but split the pair of games against the Dragons at home. 76 homeruns in 56 games is still far outpacing the next best homerest NPB team Dragons with 50 in 53 games and Buffaloes with 46 in 57 games. Bocachica with his amazing .997 OPS is still hitting 9th in the order, because the team’s still winning and pro athletes tend to be superstitious (they started him off hitting 9th when he first came back from the minors, understandably). 5-5 in interleague so far. Brazell continues to suck hard in the middle of the order with a .263 OBP and .416 SLG (and he started off the year scorching hot too!), there’s absolutely no justification for continuing to let him hit in the 4 spot… other than superstition.

    3. Chunichi Dragons(2) 28-22-3 .560

    4-6 in interleague competition so far, slowly but steadily falling behind the Tigers in the CL standings and in this ranking as well. Split its games against the Lions, but lost both games to the Fighters, it’s never a good sign when you give up 11 runs to the weakest hitting club in the nation.

    4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(4) 29-26 .527

    7-3 in interleague, the team is starting to play up to its Pythagorean expectations (248 – 195 RS – RA), this team is for real. Surprisingly, they’re getting all this run scoring (2nd in PL) done while hitting by far the least homeruns in the league at 26.

    5. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(5) 32-25-1 .561

    Team continues to defy Mr. Pythagoras (197 – 192 RS – RA). With the team having played 40% of its game, this is probably real too (again), a repeat of last season. The ability to win low scoring games favours the team in the postseason as well, so I suppose I could/should rank them higher… oh, another 7-3 team in interleague here.

    6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(7) 30-28 .517

    7-3 in interleague. Trailing the Eagles by only half a game, the battle for the final playoff berth in the PL is interesting too. Though this team’s propensity of giving up runs (242 RA is by far the worst among the top 4 PL teams) means they should be further back.

    7. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(10) 23-25-2 .479

    6-4 against PL teams. The team’s winning again, doing a good job of keeping the Giants at bay.

    8. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(7) 25-28-1 .472

    5-5 interleague record so far. Sunk below the poor Carp in the CL standings though. The team of high rollers continue to sputter along, making it a 3 horse race for 3rd place. 

    9. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(6) 22-28 .440

    Struggling, with a 3-7 record against PL teams. Guiel’s posting a pedestrian .734 OPS, but his BA of .216 is by far the lowest amongst all qualifying CL batters and is acting as a black hole in the lineup. He struck out twice in key plate appearances late in the game that I went to see. He needs to start hitting, and with Aoki back in the lineup, the team has better potential to get back into the playoff race.

    11. Chiba Lotte Marines(9) 24-34 .414

    Woes continue with 3-7 record in interleague which brought them all the way to the bottom of the PL standings. Can’t decide if Bobby’s Marines are worse than the Buffaloes, but they’ve definitely have sunken to the bottom of the heap.

    11. Orix Buffaloes(11) 25-32 .439

    Hey, 5-5 against the CL, not bad, not bad at all. And managed to climb above the slumping Marines in the PL standings to boot.

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 15-35-1 .300

    Exactly .300! 2-8 against PL teams, so far so bad, as expected.

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

    MLB in Japan

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 2日 Monday

    This is not news, since the ESPN Jim Caple story was posted a few days ago (following his great piece on Yu Darvish), EWC covered it, and Michael Westbay of Japanese Baseball had a conversation about it a few weeks ago with Jim Allen and Robert Whiting, both extremely knowledgeable veterans covering Japanese baseball (would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall there).

    All the ideas that are bandied about are still pure speculation, but it’s interesting that the ideas of MLB putting team(s) in Japan or MLB absorbing NPB have gained more traction with the coming of the new NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato who is a former diplomat to the US, and absolutely loves MLB. The thought of him being a great improvement over bumbling Negoro was my initial reaction, but Kato’s US ties does bring up interesting MLB possibilities.

    Caple’s comparisons with the Dodgers and Giants moving to the west coast is interesting. Having Yomiuri (who, let by grumpy old former “owner” Watanabe, threaten to leave NPB to form their own league from time to time) and Hanshin (the 2 reliably profitable NPB teams with some financial clout), and maybe 1-2 teams from Korea and Taiwan who are similarly financially stable form the “Asia Division” of MLB might be an interesting and possibly feasible idea that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Yomiuri Newspaper did sponsor the MLB season opener which clashed with the Pacific League season which had already opened, so there’s another jab.

    Then again, neither the owners or players in the States will ever let something like this happen. Jet travel has become more accessible than back when the teams relocated to SF and LA, but it hasn’t shrunken travel time across the Pacific enough to seriously merit this idea… until a new generation of supersonic airliners are developed  😛  Even then, the time difference and jet lag will be balked at, as TV money is key in the States, and major leaguers are more delicate than normal human beings who regularly cross the Pacific and go to work the next day.

    Another pie in the sky scenario that I’ve always envisioned is the Asian Baseball League. We can include all existing NPB, KBO, and CPBL teams here, that’ll be 12, 8, and 6 for a total of 26 teams. Not bad. The problem here is that NPB (and KBO and CPBL) depend on gate receipts, and the country is small enough that teams usually count on visiting fans to boost attendance (especially in the more geographically compact Central League). Then again, up in Hokkaido and down in Fukuoka, the Fighters and Hawks seem to do pretty well drawing fans despite their geographic isolation from the Japanese mainland of Honshu, but overall the economic situation of NPB teams are much unhealthier than their MLB counterparts where they work together to promote MLB as a whole instead of NPB where the owners bicker with each other and only look after their own team’s interests, but NPB teams tend to be advertising arms of corporations so being in red ink isn’t seen as being too much of a big deal (though obviously it would be better to be a profitable entity on its own, like the Giants and Tigers).

    Incidentally, I thought the more progressive Pacific League forming an Asian League with KBO and CPBL while leaving the staunch Central League in the dust would’ve been interesting, this popped up a few years ago before CL relented to interleague play. But this still faces the same attendance problem. Asia League Ice Hockey (4 teams in Japan, 2 in Korea, 1 in China) games have much lower attendance figures for international matches than domestic matches, again because of fans of the visiting teams tend not to travel overseas (even though it’s now affordable in this region). And another thought that crossed my mind was that if Yomiuri and Hanshin tried to join MLB on their own, that move sort of mirrors the Rangers and Celtic trying to join the English Premiership from their Scottish Premier League, leaving aside obvious geographical differences, this is the big fish in small pond thing, at least financially.

    Now I’m just rambling, so I’ll stop here. Nothing will change in the short term, but the increased mainstream media attention and the new NPB commissioner does bring an interesting twist to this MLB in Japan story that reanimates itself every now and then. But for Asian baseball development, an expanded Konami Cup/Asia Series or some interlocking scheduling between NPB, KBO, and CPBL would be more beneficial than MLB rolling in as an 800 pound gorilla.

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, baseball, culture, football, hockey, information, MLB, NPB, opinion, soccer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »