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Friday, May 22, 2015

5 things MLB can learn from baseball in Japan. | SportsonEarth.com : Molly Knight Article

This.

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.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 22, 2015 at 07:52 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Will two-way player Shohei Otani be Japan’s next MLB export?

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.

Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: May 21, 2015 at 05:26 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dh, japanese baseball

Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Very Stylish Ceremonial First Pitch

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.

pthomas Posted: April 09, 2015 at 08:17 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nippon Ham ordered to pay ¥41.9 million for failing to shield spectator from foul ball

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

Japan’s Shohei Otani Hits 99 MPH, Strikes Out 10 To Outduel Kenta Maeda - BaseballAmerica.com

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.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 12, 2015 at 06:17 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, kenta maeda, shohei otani

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Global buzz surrounds debut of Team Europe against No. 1 Japan Tuesday in Tokyo

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

Munenori Kawasaki on mission in Blue Jays return

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

IS JAPAN’S PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUE UNFAIR?

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.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 10, 2015 at 08:41 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: casey mcgehee, japanese baseball, ryan vogelsong, strike zone

Monday, February 09, 2015

Julio Franco, 56, joins semi-pro team in Japan as player-manager

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.

eddieot Posted: February 09, 2015 at 09:12 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: ageless wonder, japanese baseball, julio f-ing franco

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Blue Jays await Takashi Toritani decision | Toronto Star

[Takashi] Toritani, who hired notorious baseball agent Scott Boras to guide his transition to the big leagues, is currently mulling offers from the Jays and San Diego Padres, according to Japanese news reports. The Padres are believed to be offering a chance to play shortstop, while in Toronto Toritani would be moved to second, where he played at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Given his age, Toritani is likely to sign a short-term deal of just one or two years. Since he is a free agent, no posting fee is required to sign him.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 28, 2014 at 08:39 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, japanese baseball, padres, rumors, takashi toritani

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hiroki Kuroda Plans To Return To Hiroshima Carp – MLB Trade Rumors

Yankees need another starter.

Veteran righty Hiroki Kuroda is planning to return to the place where he made his name, the Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. Japanese media outlets Nippon and Chugoku Shimbun reported the news earlier today, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting via Twitter that Kuroda was in fact headed back to Japan.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 26, 2014 at 07:52 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: hiroki kuroda, japanese baseball, yankees

Ace Maeda re-signs with Carp | The Japan Times

He would have gotten more than $2,492,437.04 in MLB.

Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda on Wednesday re-signed with the Central League club for ¥300 million, up ¥20 million from last season.

“The club not only valued my results but also the way I played,” the 26-year-old said after signing the new deal at Mazda Stadium.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 26, 2014 at 08:30 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball

Sunday, December 21, 2014

JUNICHI TAZAWA & CULTURE OF DENIAL

Jim Allen is back writing about Japanese baseball on his new blog.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 21, 2014 at 09:35 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, junichi tazawa

 

 

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