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    Posts Tagged ‘suzuki’

    AL Preseason Shorts + Ichiro

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 September 7日 Monday

    • Oji Eagles and Nippon Paper Cranes played a pair of free admission preseason games in Tomakomai, Hokkaido over the weekend. Results were 3-2 and 4-1 for an Oji sweep.
    • Tohoku Free Blades were officially admitted into the league on 5 September. Well, this was just a rubber stamping process since the club is starting out its life on stable grounds.

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    • Ex-Seibu Prince Rabbit D Ryuichi Kawai and (probably) his younger brother and ex-Gatineau Olympique Takuma Kawai are going to be on the ice for the University of Lethbridge team’s tryouts, even though they’re both not enrolled with the university. Apparently the training camp has guys trying to crack AHL and ECHL clubs, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare. The brothers are staying and training with ex-Seibu Ryan Fujita whose home is about a 40 minute drive from Lethbridge, Alberta.
    • The immortal Ichiro earned his 2000th Major League hit in style with a double against the A’s. Always a showman who marks special occasions with crafty hits or big bombs more often than his usual slap and dash.

    Mariners Athletics Baseball

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    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, baseball, ECHL, hockey, information, MLB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2008-09 AL Season Review

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 9日 Thursday

    I’m currently lacking both the brain cells and the time to do this properly, so the 2008-09 Asia League Ice Hockey season will be reviewed in bullet point style.

    • Nippon Paper Cranes reign supreme again! Asia League power house returns to the top after fighting through 3 rounds of playoffs, and going the full 7 in both the semi and finals. The Cranes last won the trophy 2 seasons ago, so it was a short absence from the top.
    • Seibu Prince Rabbits fold. The tin foil hat says that this is part of Seibu Group’s attempt to rid of Tsutsumi colours (including the baseball team’s uniform colour, literally). There’s hope of the team being resurrected as an independent pro club team as seen in an earlier post on this blog.
    • Anyang Halla is back, but High1 falls back. Anyang Halla added quality imports, got its sniper Song Dong-Hwan back from 2 years of military service (he didn’t miss a beat, being 4th in league scoring 3 seasons ago as well as this past season), and rookies who immediately contributed by finishing top 10 in scoring (Kim Ki-Sung and Park Woo-Sang who were just from universities drafted in the offseason). High1 was 2nd in the 2007-08 regular season, but fell down to 5th place and immediately got swept in the first round play in against the Cranes. 1st to 4th this year was a complete toss up, but then there was a big gap to High1 in 4th. High1 will be looking to climb back up to the top half of the table next season, and especially not to finish the season below their Korean rivals Halla.
    • The bottom of the table was occupied by the usual suspects, the Nikko Ice Bucks and the Chinese entry, the China Sharks. But things were upside down this past season with the Sharks crawling out of the basement thanks in large part to Wade Flaherty’s Herculian efforts (he won the Best Goalie Award) and kicked the troubled Bucks down into the basement. 
    • Since there were no double digit blowouts like in previous seasons when teams could run up the score on Chinese teams, finally for the first time, stats in the Asia League is actually quite credible (no need to sift through strength of schedule, opponents, and run a query). So let’s take a look at the scoring board:
    • 0809_al_scoring
    • High powered offence of Halla has 5  players ranked in the top 11, including a rookie in Kim Ki-Sung, and sniper Song Dong-Hwan who returned to the league after missing the last 2 seasons due to mandatory military service for all Korean adult males (except big time celebrities and sports figures it seems, if they can win exemptions or wiggle their way out). There are many of the usual suspects on the list including Suzuki and Prpic of Seibu, but who knows what their future holds for now. And Chris Yule showed his former team that he was still an offensive force. 
    • Additionally, defenceman Jon Awe (AHL 12+17=29) finished on top of scoring for defencemen ahead of Asia League and national team vet Aaron Keller (OJI 5+19=24) and AL sophomore Richard Rochefort (SPR 7+17=24), and Halla’s other import Brad Fast (7+27 = 34) ranked high in league scoring, prompting an unprecedented move by an AL team when Anyang Halla re-signed all their imports to multi-year deals with scoring leader Brock Radunski signing a 3-year contract and the others to 2-years.
    • This was in part prompted by Halla’s awesome offence as they became the first non-Japanese team to win the regular season (and were one win away from becoming the first non-Japanese team in the playoff finals). The awesome Halla offence racked up 150 goals in 36 games for a very impressive 4.17 G/G with and converted astonishing 38% of their power play chances for 54 goals. I’m sure Halla is glad to have their offence intact for next season, as they were only a win away from reaching the finals.
    • While all other teams allowed 95 goals or more, the finally nicknamed Oji Eagles impressively only let in 77 goals, and were also 2nd in the league in both the power play and the penalty kill.
    • Finally, since Deanna brought her big camera with her to game 7 of the finals, we have some good pictures of the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits.

    (Photos courtesy of Deanna)

    Cranes celebrate first goal of the game by Darcy Mitani.

    186-goalscored

    Seibu Prince Rabbits and Japan national team captain Takahito Suzuki who almost singlehandedly won the championship for Seibu, scoring the game winner with 45 seconds left in game 6, then both of Seibu’s goals in game 7.

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    Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa, the playoff MVP, who unbelievably stopped 54 of 56 shots for the game 7 victory.

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    Cranes with the Asia League trophy, congratulations!! (and let’s hope there are at least 7 teams in the league again next season..)

    460-trophy

    more photos after this break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, statistics, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Cranes Win! Seibu goes into history

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 26日 Thursday

    Monday 23 March 2009, Higashifushimi, Tokyo.

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    Game 7 of the 2009 Asia League Ice Hockey Finals. The full house witnessed history.

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    This was going to be the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits (formerly Kokudo and Seibu Railway hockey teams) no matter the team won or lost against the Nippon Paper Cranes. The two teams have been waging an epic battle for the championship with Seibu coming back from being down 1-3 in the series to force the deciding game.

    In fact, the Cranes themselves came back from being down 2-3 in their semifinals against Anyang Halla of Korea to reach the finals, and before that they dispatched the other Korean team in the league, High1, in the play-in round of the playoffs with a 2 game sweep (best of 3). Meanwhile, Seibu swept the semifinals against the Oji Eagles, but all games were decided by a 1 goal margin (excluding the empty netters).

    Game 7 started off quickly, like Game 6, on a Cranes goal as Darcy Mitani opened the game in the 4th minute with a power play tally. But unlike Game 6, the first period did not turn into a wild goalfest, and both teams played solidly, though not without chances.

    Crane (and former Seibu/Kokudo) Chris Yule sitting alone in the Cranes bench after the first period.

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    sp3230057

    The Cranes added 2 more goals in the 2nd period and seemingly already wrote the end of the history for the Seibu hockey club. But captain Takahito Suzuki came out huge for Seibu as he scored with 4 seconds left in the period assisted by retiring Kiyoshi Fujita (thanks Ryan! you were the best player in the league for a long time, Theo Fleury of Japan in the best sense, and lots of fun to watch, you’ll be missed) and Daisuke Obara. This was a huge goal as going into the second intermission being 2 goals or 3 goals down makes a massive difference to team morale. 

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    In the third period, Seibu continued to pressure and kept on peppering the Cranes net with shots but Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa totally stood on his head as he saved 54 of 56 shots (!) on net to earn the victory and championship for the Cranes.

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    Congratulations, the 2009 champion Cranes! And thank you Seibu for all the memories! (and hopefully the team will survive in one form or another and elite level hockey will be played in Tokyo next season.)

    Playoff MVP Hisashi Ishikawa who backstopped the Cranes to the championship capped off by his herculean efforts in Game 7. Ishikawa played 14 of the Cranes 16 playoff games, and was a well deserving recepient of the award.

    sp3230088 

    Joel Dyck Oshiro holding up the AL Championship trophy properly (that is, sideways)

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    More random photos and videos from the game follows this break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    2009 AL Finals Game 6

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 23日 Monday

    The Seibu Prince Rabbits, in their final season of existance, were down 1-3 in the Asia League Ice Hockey Finals against rivals Nippon Paper Cranes. Facing elimination and in front of the Cranes fans of Kushiro, Hokkaido, the team pulled through with a 7-4 win to bring the series back to Tokyo. Seibu eradicated their scoring draught which only saw them score 4 goals in the 3 straight losses in the previous 3 games.

    Then yesterday was another do or die game for Seibu, as the Cranes were ready to clinch the AL championship in Tokyo.

    The game started off chippy with 10 penalties being called in the 1st period, and it was a wild beginning too with 5 goals being scored as Seibu took a 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission. Seibu’s first goal was a nifty wraparound/bounce off goalie’s leg goal by Obara. And Prpic and Rochefort’s power play goals were perfectly executed with the players set up in the slot with passes from the goal line.

    We were expecting a high scoring and a rough game based on the first period (much like the first game of the series), however things calmed down in the second and the game became a tight affair. Chris Yule, of long time Kokudo/Seibu fame, tied the game in the middle of the second with a power play goal. And the game became deadlocked even though speedy Seibu forwards created many scoring opportunities by blowing past (or trying to) Cranes defencemen. They also managed to hit the post with a shot on one play.

    But, as things were increasingly looking like they were heading to the NHL style endless overtime (20 minute periods, sudden death), Chris Yule took a fatal tripping penalty with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. This gave Seibu a crucial power play at the end of regulation, and with less than 1 minute to go, captain Takahito Suzuki took the puck from the neutral zone, flew past a Cranes defenceman, neatly tucked the puck in to avoid goalie Ishikawa’s poke check and deked him out at the same time and put the puck in the net for what proved to be the game winner. Seibu 4 – 3 Cranes!

    The Seibu Prince Rabbits club survived to see one more day, and today is the deciding Game 7 of the Asia League Ice Hockey 2009 Finals at Higashifushimi, Tokyo. Seibu has the chance to finish their history with an exclamation mark tonight at 7pm.

    Some photos and videos from the game.

    Seibu wins!

    Cranes fans also brought their big flag, this one saying 最強 (saikyou = strongest) which looks way more badass than the Rabbit logo adorned Seibu flag.

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    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Japan-Korea atmosphere videos

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 13日 Friday

    The atmosphere at the Japan-Korea I went to see (Japan won 14-2 in 7 innings on the mercy rule, the first time either country’s done it to each other… of course, the Koreans came back 2 days later to shut down Japan 1-0 in its usual nail-biting fashion) was absolutely electric, probably the best sporting event atmosphere that I’ve been in.

    Here are some videos from that day (7 Mar 2009, Tokyo round of 2009 WBC).

    Taiwanese fans doing the Atlanta Braves tomohawk chop-like cheer against China in the day game.

    Ichiro’s at bats, crazy camera flashes in his first plate appearance, bunt single in his second, and crowd going crazy after his 3rd hit of the evening.

    More videos after this break.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    WBC Opens

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 6日 Friday

    But Japan only beats China 4-0 (Japan Times) (box score).

    murata

    Some thoughts:

    • China’s definitely improving, their pitchers seemed much less like batting practice pitchers this time around, but their play on the field was still sloppy from time to time. Japanese baserunning was sloppy too though.
    • Darvish was pulled with less than 50 pitches so he’s eligible to pitch again in the Asia Round.. but unless he manages to gain command of some of his breaking pitches with the WBC ball, he’s not going to be too useful just with his fastball.
    • Murata bashed a homerun, and he’ll be useful in the Asia Round in the friendly confines of the Tokyo Dome, but his big swings aren’t gonna become homeruns in Petco Park and Dodger Stadium which are pitcher’s parks. Ideally I’d like to see Hara try Uchikawa at first and Ogasawara at third, but this probably won’t happen unless Murata is a total disaster, and with this homerun he’s secured third base for himself even if he’s useless once the team travels across the Pacific.
    • Nakajima and Fukudome showed great plate discipline, but they needed guys behind them to drive them in. Super free swinger Johjima also managed to draw a walk. Japan left 24(!) runners on base, so even though they had the same number of hits as the Chinese, the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
    • Ichiro went 0 for 5 and looked horrible at the plate. But then again he didn’t start hitting in 2006 until the games moved to the States, and he’s a notorious slow starter even in regular MLB seasons (he seems to really start hitting in June).
    • Kyuji Fujikawa closed out the game, but his fastball wasn’t up to his usual velocity. If he doesn’t gain velocity, he’ll be an easy target for the sluggers from the Americas (but not A-Rod).
    • Japan now awaits the winner of the Taiwan-Korea game tonight. Taiwan has a depleted roster with major leaguers and half the CPBL players missing (2 of 4 teams didn’t release the players). So, it should be Korea pulling through, but stranger things have happened in baseball (China pulling a fairy dust extra innings upset over Taiwan at the Beijing Olympics, for one).
    • Koreans are going to get to see WBC games on free TV thanks to a last minute deal between the rights holder and TV stations. Korea seems to take a similar approach to big ticket sporting events where multiple TV stations share broadcasting rights. This time around TV Asahi has exclusive rights for the Tokyo Round, and TBS has exclusive rights from round 2 to the finals (though pay sports channel J Sports will show all WBC games). In 2006, NTV was also in the mix, and it’s surprising that they’re not this time around considering that Yomiuri is a sponsor for the event and a group company.
    • If the over/under for tonight’s Korea-Taiwan attendance is 20,000, I’ll take under  😛

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

    Ichiro at bat

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 2日 Monday

    Whenever Ichiro was at bat, the camera flashes went crazy like fireworks in the stands. This video doesn’t quite do justice as the campact digital camera’s video mode’s not sensitive enough to capture all the flashes. There were at least 2-3x more visible than what is captured here.

    As for the WBC warmup games themselves. Saitama Seibu Lions beat down the Japanese national team 7-2, and the Yomiuri Giants barely lost 1-2 in extra innings on a wild pitch. And both club teams were lacking a few regulars to the national team, and were in full spring training mode by the latter half of the games, with lineups full of bench players and minor leaguers taking the mound. Needless to say, Samurai Japan looked horrible on both days, but hopefully this (and the opening game against China on Thursday) serves as a wakeup call for the team, otherwise they may not even make it out of the 1st round held at home in the Tokyo Dome. Notorious slow starter Ichiro is also having a horrible lead up to the WBC with only 3 hits in 23 at bats (and at least 2 of them were of the infield kind).

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    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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 »

    Ichiro in the homerun derby?

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 10日 Thursday

    EDIT2: Now Sports Navi is reporting an Ichiro quote that his participation in the homerun derby is unlikely. This is a more credible source (Kyodo News) than the Sports Hochi original report who often jump the gun, and it contains an up to date Ichiro quote. He is quoted as saying his participation in the derby is “tabun nai” (多分ない) meaning “unlikely”. 2 out of the 4 HR derby spots are still unfilled for the AL, which spawned this rumour. The man makes news without doing anything.

    EDIT: Looks like this might’ve been the creative works of Sports Hochi paper’s writer. We’ll see, but no other source is reporting this story, so it seems unlikely, I’ll reprint the original Japanese article below, just for record keeping.

    The greatest batting practice slugger in the majors (by many eye witness accounts both on and off the field) has reportedly entered this year’s homerun derby which will take place on the 14th, the day before the All Star Game (which counts for World Series home field advantage! But is still lame nonetheless). Anyways, the slugger is of course Ichiro Suzuki. Yes, the slap happy 200+ hits per year hitter who has all of 70 HRs in 1208 career games, and only 3 so far in 90 games this season. Then again, Ichiro himself claims that he can hit 40 homers per season, if him and the team don’t mind that he hits for .220 average. He has steadfastly refused to enter the homerun derby (for fear of messing up his swing mechanics, etc.) but has made an exception this year, probably due to the combination of this being the Yankee Stadium’s final year, his appreciation of NYC fans, and the Mariners absolutely sucking so this is the least he can do to please baseball fans.

    Despite his batting practice heroics, he hasn’t fared well in his past 3 appearances in NPB homerun derbies. In 1995 he did alright, hitting 4 homeruns in 10 swings as a PL representative. In 1997 he only hit 1 homerun in 5 swings, and 1999 was the same result as he lost to Roberto Petagine in a mono a mono homerun derby with Petagine hitting 3 in 5 swings. (Japanese homerun derbies have predetermined number of swings, where as in MLB homerun derbies players keep on hitting until they hit into predetermined number of “outs”).

    This will be the most interesting part of the All Star festivities (including the game) for me to see whether Ichiro can live up to his often cocksure approach and hopefully we’ll finally get to see his batting practice slugging glory on a big stage with the world watching, well I guess there might be something about it being Yankee Stadium’s last year or something…

    Read the rest of this entry »

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