Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rounding up, rounding down

A few notes about book club:

1. Book Club is next on July 8th at 5pm, before the Tigers game, in case that wasn't clear. I'd be overjoyed if some people actually showed up.
2. There hasn't been an August book selected yet. If you think you'll actually BE at the August book club meeting and would like to suggest a baseball book that you want to read and/or discuss with people, please do so. Otherwise I'm just going to make it Fantasyland because that's what I personally feel like reading.
3. The meeting on August 5th will be at "5pm, or after the Mariners game, whichever comes first", because it's an afternoon game against Oakland. I'll try to come up with a brilliant way we can all meet up for the game and the club and coordinate.

Yesterday was an off day, so I just have a brief (mostly NPB) random roundup:

No Pepper, a baseball webcomic, features a silly Bill Bavasi comic strip this week.

You may remember a few weeks ago Travis Blackley averred that "Clemens is going down" about their upcoming faceoff. Sadly, that was not the case as the Missions were totally owned. On the other hand, Clemens's trip through the minors has some other funny spots, such as him redecorating the Lexington clubhouse. I can just imagine Clemens coming in and dragging half the team staff to Best Buy like, "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping."

This isn't a link, but I just want to comment on how the Yomiuri Giants and the Yankees have had some wacky similarities this year, what with injuries and with trading and having some totally random guys end up playing with them. Case in point: the Giants now have Kazunari Sanematsu as their backup catcher. Sanematsu's about as close to the definition of "journeyman backup catcher" as you can ever possibly get; his lifetime batting average is .152. Oddly, he was the starting catcher in the first Fighters game I ever attended, so I have a soft spot in my heart for him. I totally didn't notice that he'd gotten traded from the Fighters to the Giants in the offseason, though, so it was bizarre seeing his name in the Giants lineup. Though, it looks like we got Hideki Okajima for him, and he's been a pretty good part of the bullpen this year, so.

Speaking of trades with the Giants, a week or two ago the Giants traded outfielder Shinsuke Yamada to the Carp for utility man Takuya Kimura, to fill more injury spots. That isn't amusing in itself -- what's amusing to me is that I had no idea there was a baseball player named Takuya Kimura. See, one of the most popular TV/movie/music stars in Japan happens to also be named Takuya Kimura, of the musical group and general media epidemic SMAP. Suffice it to say, the singer/actor is a lot better known than the baseball player, who has endured a career sort of like being the Hiroshima Carp's version of Mark McLemore.

Speaking of injuries on the Giants and/or Yankees, yesterday was Hideki Matsui's 32nd birthday.

Shane Spencer hit a grand slam off the generally awesome Fighters rookie Tomoya Yagi when the Fighters and Tigers played last week. Grumble.

And in an Arroyo-esque performance last Friday, Daisuke Matsuzaka not only pitched a complete game four-hit, 14-strikeout win over the Hanshin Tigers, but he also hit a 2-run homer in the eighth inning. The last time Matsuzaka hit a home run at Koshien was in 1998, when he was in the midst of winning the high school tournament with Yokohama High. (Here's a picture of him high-fiving after rounding the bases. Cute.) Matsuzaka hasn't really gotten many at-bats in his career nor played at Koshien much, since the Seibu Lions are in the DH-using Pacific League and the Koshien hometeam Tigers are in the Central League, and interleague play wasn't introduced until 2005.

In case you didn't hear already, Kazuo Matsui was traded to the Rockies for Eli Marrero. The Rockies optioned him to AAA Colorado Springs, which are a pretty terrible team (and who sadly aren't coming back to Tacoma this year, so I won't get to see him play). He was 1-for-4 with a double in his debut with them.

Hideo Nomo was released by the White Sox last week. I think his best bet at this point is to retire, but who knows. In theory, Orix has the rights to him if he comes back to Japan, but he supposedly doesn't want to do that, and they supposedly don't want him anyway.

As usual, no NPB roundup of mine is complete without a link to something Bobby Valentine said in his blog. This week it's about his insight into the Japanese minor league system, which doesn't really exist anyway. I've thought that it's a problem for a while, so it's nice to see someone influential speaking out about it.

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