Japan, Hockey, Baseball, etc.

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    Justin Morneau the hockey interview

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 27日 Monday

    Puck Prospectus has a fluffy interview with Minnesota Twin and Canadian Justin Morneau about hockey. Morneau was once a backup goalie on a major junior team before fully commiting himself to baseball (good choice).

    DL: Do you come across many hockey fans playing Major League Baseball?

    JM: There are quite a few, but it’s mostly the Canadian guys. I’ll talk hockey with [Jason] Bay or [Matt] Stairs, and there are some guys from the Michigan and Minnesota areas that know the game, and what‘s going on. I try to convert as many guys as I can into becoming hockey fans.

    While the American players get busy with fantasy football as the baseball season draws to a close, Canucks will talk hockey anywhere any time.


    Posted in 02_English, baseball, hockey, MLB, NHL | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    KHL and the Russian Economy

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 November 7日 Friday

    A fascinating interview about the KHL and the Russian Economy by the first reporter who have conducted an English language interview with Jaromir Jagr since he made his move to the KHL club Avangard Omsk (RIP Alexei Cherepanov), from where else, NY Times’ Slapshot blog:

    Q: Your article last weekend portrayed a K.H.L. that seems to be on the rise. Has there been reaction from N.H.L. types, who generally have tended to play down the Russian league’s viability?

    ANDREW MEIER: To judge from reaction I’ve heard, N.H.L. officials are intrigued. Certainly if you ask anyone on the Rangers, who learned firsthand in their preseason game against Magnitogorsk, few doubt the level of play in the new league. And Magnitka, as your readers know, ain’t even close to the top of the K.H.L. I would not be surprised to see the N.H.L. moving eastward, as the Russians move westward — and we get N.H.L. season openers one day soon in Russia.

    Q: The world financial crisis of the last few weeks has hit Russia hard, particularly affecting industries like oil, steelmaking and mining. Since several teams in the K.H.L. are owned or sponsored by such industries, will they have to drastically cut expenses? Will we see a fire sale of players, for example?

    A.M.: Couple of things we have to remember when trying to gauge how hard the global financial crisis will hit Russian sports. First of all, Russia’s stock market began to plummet much earlier — back in May. It then sank in most dramatic fashion in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August. It’s down, way down, but still alive. (When trading gets too wild, they shut it down for the day.) Second: the Russian state has been saving up for this rainy day. The state oil reserve fund has at least $141 billion. Third: Putin and Medvedev have moved quickly to shore up the favored oligarchs, offering liquidity lifelines to a host of industrial and financial titans. Finally, even though Russia lives on oil and gas exports and the oil price has fallen in recent weeks, it’s still higher than the price pegged (roughly $70/barrel) in the state budget.

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

    Hiram Bocachica Interview at Marinerds

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 12日 Tuesday

    Deanna at the Marinerds blog has a neat interview with Hiram Bocachica of the Pacific League leading Saitama Seibu Lions. As she writes, the Lions don’t get much coverage in the English media (or even the Japanese media for that matter), so this is nice to see. And Bocachica is quietly having a solid season (.240/.330/.550, 15HR 32RBI in 57 games) hidden in the shadows of Olympic bound G.G. Sato (.946 OPS) and Hiroyuki Nakajima (.985 OPS), as well as Takeya Nakamura (27HR) and Craig Brazell (25HR) chasing the homerun title.

    Here’s a couple of tidbits that I found interesting.

    How does it feel to come to a championship team like this?

    Well, I did a bit of research before I signed, heard a lot about the team. You know, what players came out of this team, guys like [Daisuke] Matsuzaka and [Kazuo] Matsui, and I think that’s one of the reasons I signed with them. I knew it was going to be a pretty good team and was going to compete, so that helped to make my decision a lot easier.

    I didn’t know how much foreign players looked into new teams overseas before signing with them, so this was interesting.

    I was going to ask about the fans, actually. Do you think it’s good or bad with all the cheering?

    It’s pretty good! They don’t care about what the score is, they always cheer, they never boo you. They don’t look at the bad stuff, they only think of the good stuff, and I think that’s something the American fans could learn from the fans here in Japan.

    You’ve been doing great. You’re really popular.

    I’m doing all right. The fans are great, and like I told you, they only look at the things that you do positive, and that helps a LOT.

    For some players, fan reactions do matter (take notes, fans in New York and Philly  😛 ). So the constant cheering in Japan is good for someone like Bocachica.

    I’m sure in both cases above, they depend on the player, but I found these things interesting coming straight from a player’s mouth.

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

    Ichiro article in the SF Chronicle

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 21日 Monday

    Another usual Ichiro article, but there are some interesting points and I’ve got something to add.

    He reveals having to change his ever-crucial rhythm at the plate because most pitchers, unlike so many Japanese pitchers, don’t hesitate at the top of delivery. Before he reached the age of 20, he was rejecting the advice of respected hitting coaches because he knew he was right. He says virtually all of his home runs – usually stunning shots highly reminiscent of a power hitter – are intentional. He speaks of deliberately playing certain hitters shallow in the outfield, just to make them angry, “so they lose their temper a little bit and try to hit the ball too hard – but never once did a ball get past me.”

    Even when the mood becomes angry and confrontational on the field, you’ll find the man in character. If is a pitch is thrown straight at Ichiro’s head in the midst of a beanball episode, “I refuse to believe it was intentional,” he says. The pitch just got away, that’s all. Better to maintain his focus and concentration.

    Does anything ever break the man? Perhaps it came on a day in Oakland in 2003. Chasing 200 hits, his most cherished statistic, he’d been in a deep slump. When he finally got the hit (Sept. 20), he cried in right field, admitting, “That’s how much it meant.”

    He cried, however, behind the shield of sunglasses. No one knew.

    That’s very Ichiro. Determined, cool, hard working, and intelligent ballplayer. Then again, he was very openly emotional on the WBC champion Team Japan in 2006, but this took the Japanese public by surprise as well.

    Then there’s this:

    I suspect there isn’t much to know – not in a negative sense. Maybe he’s got a few secrets he’d just as soon keep to himself, but the Japanese media, like their counterparts everywhere, can be cruelly intrusive. As we’ve seen with Hideo Nomo and so many others, writers and photographers dutifully record every move, right down to the adjustment of a belt buckle.

    In the glowing reports about the latest Japanese pitching sensation, Yu Darvish (he has an Iranian father), we learn that he once posed naked for a magazine and actively cultivates an image that finds teenage girls swooning all over him. Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who played on the Giants’ 2002 World Series team, turned out to be most skilled in a modeling studio. And then there is Ichiro, his image spotless. It seems that his life away from baseball is a series of refreshingly blank pages.

    But weekly tabloid Friday reported in 2001, Ichiro’s magnificient rookie year, that the already married Ichiro was linked to a 20 year old Japanese exchange student and the weekly even got hold of a tape with their sexual conversation. That, and before marrying his wife Ichiro had relations with a married woman in his last year in Japan. Those are the only off the field scandals for Ichiro Suzuki. Still a pretty clean slate when compared to typical superstars (in any field), I’d imagine  😛

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