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  • Posts Tagged ‘koshien’

    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.

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

    Osaka-Toin Wins Summer Koshien!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 19日 Tuesday

    Congratulations to Osaka-Toin who won this summer’s 90th Summer Koshien tournament in a more than dominating 17-0 crushing of Tokoha-Kikugawa of Shizuoka.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H
    大阪桐蔭 Osaka-Toin 4 0 1 0 1 6 2 0 3 17 21
    常葉菊川 Tokoha-Kikugawa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5

    Kikugawa started their injured ace Togari in a show of support even though he was barely throwing 120km/h (75mph) batting practice softies. It was painful to watch, but on this day, it didn’t matter who was pitching for Kikugawa, look at these ugly lines by each pitcher. Oh, and Toin’s Hagiwara hit homeruns in three straight games including this final, that’s a Koshien first or something as well.

    IP BF H SO BB ER
    回数 打者数 被安打 奪三振 四死球 自責点
    戸狩 聡希 3 18 9 1 1 5 Togari
    野島 大介 2(2/3) 18 7 2 2 2 Nojima
    萩原 大起 2(1/3) 11 4 0 1 2 Hagiwara
    浅川 将輝 0(2/3) 6 1 0 3 1 Asakawa
    戸狩 聡希 0(1/3) 1 0 0 0 0 Togari

    And Kikugawa’s powerful bats were shutout completely by Toin’s ace Fukushima who had pitched the majority of innings in all 6 games it took to win the championship, capping it off with an unnecessary shutout in the final even though he had pitched a complete game the previous day in the semifinal. Hope his arm doesn’t fall off.

    ———-

    And in Olympic baseball action Japan barely defeated Canada 1-0 on the back of Inaba homerun and more than solid pitching by Naruse (7IP 2H 0BB 10K 0R), as the lefty was pitted against the Canadian lineup featuring 8(!) lefties, and Hoshino’s plan worked perfectly as Fujikawa and Uehara shut the door in the last 2 innings with 1-2-3 innings. This is Canada’s 4th straight 1 run loss, and that’s gotta be heartbreaking, but the team has no plate discipline and seems to have serious problems laying off balls (very low number of walks and lots of strikeouts). While Japan’s problems have been the lack of clutch hitting which may or may not just be bad luck. Japan had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs late in the Korea game and came away with 0 runs, and the same lack of clutchness was on display against Canada late in the game again with a runner on 3rd and no outs.

    Korea’s had similarly difficult time scoring runs, and Cuba hasn’t been scoring boatloads either (except in the mercy rule win against the Dutch today), so this is a generally low scoring tournament so I guess the Japanese offense is not really an exception, maybe the Olympic baseball stadium is a pitcher’s park? USA and Japan look pretty set to grab the last 2 playoff positions, though Japan can’t cruise through tomorrow’s China game, as the upstarts have taken both the Taiwanese and Koreans to extra innings, beating the former. Taiwan lost a heartbreaker today against Korea as the team came back from an 8 run deficit to tie the game only to have Korea score the winning run in the 7th and shut them out for the rest of the game. Taiwan, and to a lesser degree Canada, being 1-4 at this point in the tournament is probably the biggest shocker, and fittingly these two teams face eachother on the final day of round robin play.

    Cuba 5-0

    Korea 5-0

    USA 3-2

    Japan 3-2

    Canada 1-4

    China 1-4

    Netherlands 1-4

    Taiwan 1-4

    Looking back at how the pitchers have been used, it doesn’t seem like Japan has a rotation set up. Maybe this is intentional, or maybe emergency measures because the team looked close to falling out of contention. Anyways, here were the starting pitchers so far.

    8.13 Darvish v Cuba (L)

    8.14 Wakui v Taiwan (W)

    8.15 Sugiuchi v Netherlands (W)

    8.16 Wada v Korea (L)

    8.17 off

    8.18 Naruse v Canada (W)

    8.19 ??? v China

    8.20 ??? v USA

    8.21 off

    8.22 Darvish(?) in Semifinal

    8.23 ??? in Medal game

    It seems impossible to predict the starting pitchers now, but a TV analyst (hope he had insider info) was saying Darvish in the Semifinal. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll see Darvish on a throw day tomorrow if Japan builds a big enough lead against China (IF that happens, Chinese managed to shut down both Taiwan and Korea, and the Japanese offense is equally anemic), I’m sure Hoshino will want him to face some live batters before the semis.

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

    Koshien Final and more Olympic Baseball

    Posted by japanstats 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.

    Cuba 4-0

    Korea 4-0

    USA 2-2

    Japan 2-2

    Canada 1-3

    China 1-3

    Netherlands 1-3

    Taiwan 1-3

    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.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, olympics, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    2008.8.17 Koshien Semifinals

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 16日 Saturday

    Koshien fever is reaching its peak as we see the field wittled down to the final 4 in the quarterfinal action over the last 2 days.

    Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa) won in dramatic fashion as the boys from the south defeated the prestigious Keio (North Kanagawa) boys in a come from behind extra innings victory. Urasoe was down 2-3 after Keio scored 2 in the bottom of the 7th, but Urasoe came right back and scored 1 run each in the 8th to tie, then another run in the 10th to win the game. Ace Iha pitched the final 4 innings for the victory.

    In the first semifinal game tomorrow, Urasoe will be up against Tokoha-Kikugawa (Shizuoka) who outslugged Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama) 13-10 earlier today to stake their claim in the semifinals. Tokoha had led 13-2 after their monster 10 run 6th inning, but Chiben almost came back scoring 4 runs each in the last 2 frames, but fell short of fulfilling a comeback. But they didn’t give up and made the game interesting. Tokoha plays big ball (hardly bunts) and it shows with their big bats, but their pitching is questionable (won 11-9 in the previous game), so their date with Urasoe should be interesting. Although it’s good to see some teams playing a different variation of ball rather than the usual automatic sacrifice bunt style prevalent in Japanese baseball, Tokoha-Kikugawa is tainted with sexual harassment scandals by its former manager and player which is sort of kept under wraps since they involved female beat writers for the Mainichi and Asahi dailies, the papers supporting the Spring and Summer tourneys, respectively). The deeper you look into Japanese highschool baseball, it starts to resemble NCAA Football or Basketball in many of their uglier sides.

    Osaka-Toin (North Osaka) won comfortably over Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) 7-4 in the battle of local schools yesterday. And Yokohama (South Kanagawa) is in the process of humiliating Seiko-Gakuin (Fukushima) right now with a 15-1 lead in the 8th inning. The semifinal will pit the powerful Yokohama team against a well balanced Osaka-Toin team. (UPDATE: Game ended 15-1)

    Interestig tournament in that many big hitting teams have advanced further into the tournament than teams relying on a single ace playing small ball.

    8.17 Day 16 (Semifinals)

    11:00 Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa) v Tokoha-Kikugawa (Shizuoka)

    13:30 Yokohama (South Kangawa) v Osaka-Toin (North Osaka)

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, high school, information, 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 »

    2008.8.14 Koshien and Olympic Update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 14日 Thursday

    Koshien

    Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa) is leading the game against Kanto-Daiichi (East Tokyo) 3-1 in the top of the 9th right now. (UPDATE: Iha pitched a complete game in the 3-1 win and looked very strong even at the end of the game, getting strike outs (127 pitches, 9 strikeouts) and even hitting 145 on the radar gun. Kinda worried about his arm though, he’s pitched all 27 innings for Urasoe so far at Koshien. Kanto-Daiichi lost without using their ace Matsumoto, who had pitched 4 days earlier on the 10th in the round of 32, instead they used a couple of younger pitchers who gained some valuable experience for next year and beyond.)

    Follow up to yesterday’s action, the remaining games after Tokoha’s (Shizuoka) dramatic win was powerhouse Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama) absolutely destroying Komadai-Iwamizawa (North Hokkaido) 15-3 with Chiben’s slugger Sakaguchi smacking 2 homeruns in the 11 run 8th inning (a Koshien first). The last game yesterday saw Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) win 7-3 over Kagoshima-Jitsugyo (Kagoshima).

    A draw will be held after game 1 today (5th game in the round of 16) to determine the quarterfinal matchups. (UPDATE: Draw has been held, here’s the quarterfinals)

    8.15 Day 14 (tomorrow!)

    11:00 Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) v Toho – Osaka-Toin winner

    13:30 Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa) v Aomori-Yamada – Keio winner

    8.16 Day 15

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

    13:30 Seiko-Gakuin (Fukushima) v Yokohama – Sendai-Ikuei winner

    Now I’m really worried about Urasoe’s Iha’s arm if he’s going to pitch in the quarters, not sure how good their second pitcher is, as I haven’t seen him (I don’t think hardly anyone has).

    ————

    Olympics

    It looks like Saitama Seibu Lion Hideaki Wakui will start against Taiwan tonight in Beijing. This likely means Japan’s rotation will go something like this (if Hoshino is sane).

    8.13 Darvish v Cuba

    8.14 Wakui v Taiwan

    8.15 Wada v Netherlands

    8.16 Sugiuchi v Korea

    8.17 off

    8.18 Darvish v Canada

    8.19 Wakui v China

    8.20 Wada v USA (hopefully a meaningless game)

    8.21 off

    8.22 Sugiuchi (semifinals)

    8.23 Darvish (medal game)

    Don’t count your chicks before they hatch and all that, but this looks likely (hopefully), as Sugiuchi has been one of the best pitchers in Japan this season, and Kawakami was a disaster in the warmup game against CL selects last week so he’ll likely be used in relief, this rotation would make sense. (Yeah, I know I’m doing a 180 from saying that Kawakami is ace 1A next to Darvish, but this rotation will probably work best for Japan at the moment, and Kawakami could be valuable out of the pen.)

    ————-

    Swimming

    Kosuke Kitajima has just won the 200m breaststroke in Olympic Record time. With his double gold (100 and 200) in consecutive Olympics, the little man has shown that technique matters more than height and size in this discipline. (Kinda like how another short man, Shimizu, won the 500m speed skating in Nagano, surrounded by much taller opponents with longer strides.)

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, olympics, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    2008 Koshien Round of 16 and Olympic Baseball

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 13日 Wednesday

    Round of 16 for the 90th Summer Koshien tournament began today.

    Oh, and Olympic baseball also begins today with Darvish going up against the powerful Cuban lineup, that’s a definite can’t miss event. Darvish didn’t look good in his pre-Olympic warmup when he gave up 2 runs over 3 innings against a PL selects team. Team Japan was handed the 6-4 win to them in that game because the PL team threw in an inexperienced pitcher in there to get mauled. The following day Japan’s other ace Kenshin Kawakami absolutely collapsed following second baseman Nishioka’s error and gave up 7 runs without recording an out, Masahiro “Ma-kun” Tanaka then proceeded to give up 2 more runs before mercifully bringing the inning to an end in what ended up to be a 2-11 loss against the CL selects team.

    Then again, I’m not worried about Darvish since he always cranks it up a notch or two for big games, but the Japanese team itself is a source of worry as many players entered midseason funks immediately before the Olympics, and many pitchers haven’t been pitching particularly well this season. Then again, conditions in Beijing on an outdoor grass field facing international competition will be very different from the warmup games against fellow Japanese players in the friendly confines of Tokyo Dome, so Team Japan itself could be kind of an enigma.

    Anyways, at Koshien, 21st century power Seiko-Gakuin (Fukushima) just won the first game of this round 5-2 over Gifu-Sho (Gifu) in the battle of middle powers.

    Game 2 today features Kurashiki-Sho (Okayama), Team Japan Senichi Hoshino’s alma mater and an old baseball school, against recent powers Tokoha-Kikugawa (Shizuoka). I didn’t remember Shizuoka schools getting this far in Koshien, but this school won last year’s Spring Invitational (Senbatsu) Koshien tournament through an almost no-bunting offense. I’m liking the sounds of this, go Tokoha! (UPDATE: Tokoha came back from 6 runs down by scoring 7 runs in the 5th, and is currently leading 11-7 in the 9th. Oh, and here’s Tokoha looking very Yankees. Kurashiki made things close scoring 2 runs in the top of the 9th, but the game ended 11-9 with a win for Tokoha.)

    Game 3 pits Komadai-Iwamizawa (North Hokkaido) vs long time powerhouse baseball school Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama). I’ll be pulling for the boys from up north to pull off an upset here.

    And the final game today is Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) who battled their way through tough Hyogo prefecture to get here, against Kagoshima-Jitsugyo (Kagoshima) who seem to be always representing their prefecture. Again, it’ll be good to see a new face reach the quarterfinals.

    Game 1 on Day 13 tomorrow features Kanto-Daiichi (East Tokyo) vs Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa). Despite the fact that I saw Kanto-Daiichi play in their qualifiers, I’ll cheering the team from the far south. Both teams feature solid pitching and hitting, so this should be a good match.

    Game 2 is an interesting matchup that pits recent powers from a small prefecture Aomori-Yamada (Aomori) against an old power in Keio (North Kanagawa) who have returned to the Summer Koshien for the first time in 46 years out of difficult Kanagawa.

    Game 3 features two big hitting teams as Toho (West Aichi) score 15 runs in their first game, and Osaka-Toin (Osaka) scored 16 runs in their opening game. Kanazawa almost knocked Toin off its perch in the round of 32 through wily use of multiple pitchers with differing pitching forms, but Toin narrowly pulled off a 6-5 win in extra innings.

    And the final game in the round of 16 is tournament favourites Yokohama (South Kanagawa), who had a very tough draw having to defeat powerhouses Urawa-Gakuin (South Saitama) and Koryo (Hiroshima) to get here, against northern powerhouse Sendai-Ikuei (Miyagi) in an intriguing matchup.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, NPB, olympics, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    2008.8.11 Koshien Update and Kitajima Wins Gold with WR

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 11日 Monday

    Sports world has kicked into an ultra high gear during my absence as Koshien continues, Japanese Olympic baseball team played preparation games against CL and PL selects (more on that in a later post, hopefully), Olympics has started, and NPB continues to chug along.

    Kosuke Kitajima just won gold in the 100m breast stroke with a world record time (58.91, first time the 59 second barrier has been broken) despite being 3rd at the 50m turn. Impressive. Of course, this race, moment, and his post race interview (with tears) will be played ad nauseum from here on in, so I’ll quickly lose interest, but it’s great at the moment. (The Japanese national anthem during medal presentation wasn’t greeted with jeers and whistles like during the Asia Cup football tournament in 2006 in China, the Chinese government is reigning in hard with the crowd control and behaviour.)

    Through a quick glance of the Koshien match results through day 8 after all 55 teams have played their first game, we see that there were no major upsets. Some interesting game results and notes (though I didn’t get to see most of the games):

    • Northern powerhouse Aomori-Yamada (Aomori) narrowly defeated Nihon-Koku (Yamanashi) 2-1 in the first round, then was just the better team right now as they won convincingly 4-0 against the young Honjo-Daiichi (North Saitama) in the second round game that has just concluded right now on day 10.
    • Toho (West Aichi) and Hokkai (South Hokkaido) played a slugfest on day 5 as the former defeated the latter 15-10. Hokkai kept on coming back from behind but that just wasn’t enough. In the mean time, powerhouse Osaka-Toin (North Osaka) crushed the minnows Nitta-Rinko (Oita) 16-2 in the biggest win of the tournament so far.
    • Tainted Kiryu-Daiichi (Gunma), a 2nd year non-roster player groped a girl after the team got to Osaka for Koshien, thankfully lost their first round match against Kanazawa (Ishikawa) who feature many usable arms, but will be hardpressed to win against Osaka-Toin tomorrow on day 11.
    • There were a couple of powerhouse matchups in the first round. One of the tournament favourites Yokohama (South Kanagawa), and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s alma mater, pulled off a 6-5 victory against Urawa-Gakuin (South Saitama). And the 53rd and 54th schools to enter the tournament, in the battle of powerhouses from small prefectures, Kurashiki-Sho (Okayama) defeated Saga-Sho (Saga) 2-0.
    • In round 2 games that started on day 8, Komadai-Iwamisawa (North Hokkaido) easily handled Morioka-Dai (Iwate), the 55th team and final team to play it’s first game in the tournament, 8-3. And in matchups of powerhouses, Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama) beat another tournament fave Kisarazu-Sogo (East Chiba) 5-2, meanwhile their sister school Chiben-Gakuen (Nara) barely lost to Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) 4-5.
    • As for teams with rooting interests, Kanto-Daiichi (East Tokyo) beat baseball school Naruto-Ko (Tokushima) 5-2, and Urasue-Sho (Okinawa) won against Chiba-Keidai (West Chiba) 12-9 despite Chiba’s late 6 run come back in the 7th inning.
    • Surprisingly, the remainder of round 2 doesn’t offer tantalizing powerhouse matchups, but it’ll be interesting to see if Kanazawa’s 4 pitchers can keep Osaka-Toin’s powerful bats off balance long enough to steal the game on day 11 tomorrow.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, high school, information, olympics, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    2008.8.5 Koshien Update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 5日 Tuesday

    The 90th Koshien Summer Tournament is chugging along as we’re now in day 4 of first round games.

    11 games have been played so far and powerhouses Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama), Kagoshima-Jitsugyo (Kagoshima), Chiben (Nara), Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo), Kanto-Daiichi (East Tokyo), Kisarazu-Sogo (East Chiba), and Urasoe-Shogaku (Okinawa) have all won their first round games, and young Honjo-Daiichi (North Saitama) with a starting lineup consisting seven 1st and 2nd years (with a 1st year 1st baseman slugger hitting cleanup, most unusual as most teams lineups are loaded with 3rd year students as they’re more physically and technically developed at this age) is currently tied with Kaisei (Shimane) 4-4 in the first game of the day right now. (Update: Okuda Pedro just won the game for Honjo by leading off the bottom of the 9th with a walkoff homerun to deep centre on a difficult pitch.)

    Some other notes of interest:

    • Baseball exchange students are on some teams. Iizuka (Fukuoka) had Kim Dong-Ming(? 金東民) from Korea as it’s leadoff hitter and starting shortstop, as a 2nd year, definitely the core of the team. Magario Mike(?) is a Japanese-Brazilian 2nd year outfielder and 187 cm tall slugger for the powerhouse Aomori-Yamada (Aomori). And Honjo-Daiichi (North Saitama) also features two Japanese-Brazilians, ace Ito Diego and starting shortstop Okuda Pedro. They have both gone through the “Centro Trainament Yakult”(?) baseball academy before going to Honjo-Daiichi. Ito Diego (left) and Okuda Pedro
    • Urasoe-Shogaku’s (Okinawa) cap is designed like the Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap, and this is probably intentional as Urasoe is the Okinawan city where the Swallows hold training camp every spring.                   Urasoe-Shogaku         Tokyo Yakult Swallows
    • Pitch counts are often mentioned during game commentary, mostly as how it wears down pitchers, and some teams even talk about a walk being just as valuable as a hit (not true, but close, and way better than discounting the walk). The tides are slowly changing even in high school ball.

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

    Oops and Ichiro’s 3000th

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 1日 Friday

    I had planned on doing a Pythagorean review of the season so far along with the Power Rankings for NPB during its current 4 day All Star break, but urgent work and real life has gotten in the way. The first week of August promises to be a hectic week for Japanese baseball as the Koshien high school baseball tournament kicks off (March Madness of high school baseball, basically) on 2 Aug, the second half (or rather the latter third) of the NPB season resumes play on 3 Aug, and the Olympic team being assembled for workouts on 2 Aug with warmup games starting on 5 Aug against the Giants farm team, then against PL selects and CL selects on 8-9 Aug. The chances of me being able to keep up with this mayhem is rather slim from the current outlook, which is unfortunate.

    Meanwhile, Robert Whiting and other baseball figures weigh in on Ichiro’s 3001 career hits, a combined figure between his NPB (1278 in 9, not completely whole, seasons) and MLB (1723 and counting in his 8th season) hit totals. If NPB players NPB stats are to be counted towards Cooperstown, then they should not qualify for rookie of the year honours. It’s as simple as that, you can’t have your cake and eat it too (stupid saying, but y’know). But then again, there may be a gray zone when it comes to considering NPB stats for Japanese MLB players considerations for the Hall, perhaps a weighing the NPB numbers would be a more reasonable middle ground instead of either extreme. Either way, if Ichiro hits 3000 in the majors, and his career totals approach 5000, then he should be a lock for the Hall, like Whiting mentions.

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