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    Baseball and Hockey Blogalog

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 29日 Friday

    Deanna has another great interview, this time an insightful and long interview with the veteran (of NPB and other leagues) Fernando Seguinol. The Fighters in Sapporo Dome, Shinjo, playing in various countries, his travelling season so far, playing for Katsuya Nomura, different approaches at the plate playing for different organizations in different countries, learning the language, etc. all very interesting stuff.

    Update from the Seibu Prince Rabbits equipment manager about their Bavaria training camp. The team lost again, this time to a team in the second tier German league, but apparently the goalie Kikuchi is playing well and even received applause from the local fans. The defence must’ve been really porous giving up lots of shots. Anyways, there’s a funny anecdote (with pictures) about how him and another player went swimming in the cold lake after the team cycled up to the castle at Hussen. Most players are not strong swimmers because most Japanese hockey players are from Hokkaido where they don’t have swimming during phys ed. I’ll do a wrap on their Bavarian trip after their last game on the 31st. Japan NT and Seibu player Ryuichi Kawai has some pictures up from their Ingolstadt game, the atmosphere does look amazing, his brother Takuma is the first Japanese major junior player and is on Gatineau.

    One time LA King, and current ECHL Bakersfield Condors goalie, Yutaka Fukufuji visited Oji Eagle Kei Tonosaki in Tomakomai. They both entered Kokudo (which merged with Seibu) at age 18 and are now 26 year olds, how time flies. Fukufuji blanked a visiting Team Canada (Allan Cup winner, best amateur team in the country) in a warm up game in Tokyo before a Nagano Cup some years back, I guess that would be around 2000, when he was still a high schooler.

    Kazuma Takahashi explains his current situation, having to train alone because he’s not on any team yet, and how team building works differently between Japan/Europe and North America. In Japan and Europe the team is set during the off season, but in North America only the core of the team is set during the offseason, and the rest are based on tryouts during training camp, that’s how he ended up on the ECHL Utah Grizzlies (which was a step or two up from the previous season he spent in the SPHL.

    Good luck on the upcoming season to all the players!

    And, back to baseball, former Hanshin Tigers ace Kei Igawa has proven himself a true ace in America as well… in AAA. His numbers so far are 13-5, 3.55ERA, 6.92K/9, 2.64K/BB, 1.19WHIP. But got whipped around in his brief MLB stint again with 13.50ERA in 4IP in 2 appearances. Note to Japanese pitchers trying to break into the majors, you need something more than a decent fastball, mediocre location, and a good changeup.

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    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, baseball, culture, ECHL, hockey, information, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    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 »

    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 »