Japanese Baseball Newsbeat
Friday, May 22, 2015
1. Really make hitters stay in the batter’s box.
Sorry Bryce Harper. I love you forever, because you’re the best, but you were wrong Wednesday night when you argued balls and strikes, took a leisurely stroll toward your dugout, and then flipped off MLB’s new “stay in the batter’s box” rule by tapping the chalk with your toe after the home plate umpire told you to get your ass back in there.
At first I was against this particular pace of play rule change, because I thought it would be awkward and rush epic confrontations that require as many mental gymnastics as fast-twitch muscle fibers. But in the Giants/Swallows game, the innings flew by, in part because batters only left the box if they fouled a pitch off into the crowd, and that was so they could give the home plate umpire time to retrieve a replacement ball from his side pouch and toss it back to the pitcher.
MLB made this a rule before the season, but hitters mostly ignore it, with Harper himself explaining after he was tossed yesterday: “I’ll take the fine, because it’s not a priority for us to get in the box unless we really need to.” Um, Bryce, you really need to. Trust me. The sport needs you to move it along, and may have to do so by making the batter’s box rule stricter than it is now. You may be annoyed, but on the bright side you won’t have to wait as long to hit again. And reducing the time between your at-bats, and Mike Trout’s at-bats, and Joc Pederson’s at-bats, would only make the game that much better.
Posted: May 22, 2015 at 07:52 AM | 20 comment(s)
Thursday, May 21, 2015
How about a pitcher who can swing for the fences? San Francisco Giants ace and reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner—who has two career grand slams and homered four times last season—is one such dual threat.
So is Shohei Otani. If you haven’t heard about the 20-year-old Japanese sensation, you will soon. He plays for the Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball, the highest level of baseball in Japan, but he has designs on playing major league baseball. His current team could “post” him in three or four years and allow him to sign with an MLB franchise.
Otani for is 20-4 with a 2.71 career ERA and 274 strikeouts in 259 innings over two-plus seasons in the NPB. He throws a 100 mph fastball—and he looked almost effortless while hitting that speed multiple times in this video from the 2014 All-Star Game. When he is in the lineup as a DH or outfielder, Otani hits with equal power. He has hit .251 with 15 home runs in 443 career at-bats.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Seen on Intentional Talk this afternoon.
Sudo is a mixed-martial-artist-turned Buddhist-internet-dancing-sensation that has wowed the world with choreographed robotic moves.
Posted: April 09, 2015 at 08:17 PM | 11 comment(s)
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The woman in her 30s sued the team, Sapporo Dome Co. and Sapporo city for their failure to prevent her from being hit by the foul ball, which resulted in her losing sight in her right eye, while she was in the infield stands during a game at Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido on Aug. 21, 2010.
I feel like there’s a tasteless joke somewhere in here about how ham is a poor substitute for steak in preventing black eyes, but please don’t be tempted to make it. Instead discuss whether this establishes any precedent for other leagues.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Facing Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda today, 19-year-old Nippon-Ham Fighters righthander Shohei Otani held the Carp to one run over five innings, striking out 10 with no walks while hitting 99 mph. Otani’s fastball was overpowering, sitting at 94-98 mph and hitting the upper end of that range consistently. His lone run allowed came on a hanging slider to Brad Eldred, who crushed Otani’s mistake for a home run.
Otani, who’s 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, overmatched hitters with his fastball, though his 84-88 mph splitter was a solid pitch at times. He also throws a 78-81 mph slider and a curveball that he manipulates speeds on, ranging anywhere from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. Otani would have pitched longer, but he sprained his ankle sliding into home to score a run in the bottom of the fifth (he’s also an outfielder batting .283/.343/.457 in 102 plate appearances), which ended his outing. On the season, Otani has a 3.13 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 17 walks in 54 2/3 innings.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The international stage is set for Tuesday’s opening of the historic two-game series where newly established “Team Europe” will make its world premiere against the top-ranked Japanese National Team at the iconic Tokyo Dome on 10-11 March.
There will be a live broadcast of the two-game series (Game times: 18:00 Japanese Standard Time). The games will be televised free-to-air nationally across Japan by the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). In Europe, Eurosport 2 will broadcast the games live across their platforms to potentially 73 million households in over 50 European nations.
Monday, March 09, 2015
Monday, February 16, 2015
The always quotable Munenori Kawasaki had an interview in the Star today. Highlights:
“I’ve been really working on my lower body — not my butt, but the area around my hips and hip joints. The idea is to increase the range of motion so I have the foundation to make better plays on defence and take better at-bats. The result might be a bigger looking butt, but you should stop looking there and watch the way I am moving now.”
“No one in Japan has ever heard of Indianapolis, but to me it’s a great city because that is where I did it: I threw a guy out at first base on a running, backhanded play in the hole at shortstop, where I jumped and twisted my body in mid-air and was able to throw the ball underhanded all the way to first. Until then I never had the confidence to try such a thing in a game. I love Toronto, but now I love Indianapolis, too.”
“In terms of what I want, the Blue Jays offered me the most magnificent deal in the history of baseball.”
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Maybe its time to say Domi Arigato and bring in Umpire Roboto.
Last Friday, Giants Ryan Vogelsong and Casey McGehee—while highly appreciative of their time in Japan and the things they learned while playing there—both independently referenced preferential treatment for homegrown stars in Nippon Professional Baseball.
From the other side of the plate, McGehee said that “you end up striking out looking a lot because there were a lot of times that if the catcher caught it, you were sitting down.” Using the Japanese word for foreigner, McGehee said the matchup was important: “Your best case scenario was when you had a gaijin pitching and a gaijin hitting.”
Jason Coskrey covers baseball for the Japan Times and has heard foreign players say this sort of thing before. He reached out to Jeremy Powell, who was with the Expos for two years and pitched in both NPB’s Central and Pacific Leagues from 2001-2008. While Powell felt that umpires were “focused on simply doing their best to do a good job,” it was a bit different when it came to big calls—“in crucial counts that really had an impact on how the inning may end up there were times that the call would favor the native player—it came with the territory (literally), it’s part of the game and I had to move on, albeit it was never easy.”
Monday, February 09, 2015
It has now been eight years since Julio Franco last played in MLB, but his playing days are still not over. The 56-year-old Franco went 6-for-27 (.222) in seven games with the independent Fort Worth Cats last season, and now he’s heading to Japan to continue playing. According to a report, Franco has signed with the Ishikawa Million Stars, a semi-pro team in Japan.
He made his MLB debut in 1982.
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