Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Shin-soo Choo!

You're being sent back to Tacoma! What a great present for your 24th birthday!

Poor guy.

People have been rumoring that Adam Jones was going to be called up this week, but until I saw the press release linked above, I didn't want to say anything about it. Of course, the question most people may be wondering is: Dobby the Bench Elf? I guess it makes sense with Petagine gone, to have another lefty bench bat.

While we're at it, there've been two reasonably high-profile trades in the last two days -- today, the Nats traded Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Daryl Thompson, Brendan Harris, and Royce Clayton for Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner. No, really. This is a huge trade, and it makes me wonder what the heck is wrong with the Reds front office -- this just shortly after trading us Perez for Teddy Beardado?

Yesterday, the Devil Rays traded Aubrey Huff to the Astros for two minor league prospects, and the Astros optioned down Jason Lane. Wow. It's weird, because Huff was off to a super-slow start and injured and all, but he's been really hot lately. Maybe this is all so that the Devil Rays don't need to worry about the possible embarrassment of having Scott Kazmir get 50% of their wins.

Aubrey Huff, however, is happy to go "home" to Texas, and even knew it was coming. "They usually have a bobblehead day for me or a poster, and that was kind of a hint," Huff said of the Devil Rays.

In other news, the Yomiuri Giants just got swept by Chunichi, Hiroshima, and Yokohama in succession, furthering their skid in the Central League, where they're now in 5th place and threatening to drop below Yokohama for the cellar. After vaulting off to an amazing 23-10-1 start through May 11th, the team has gone 13-37-1 since then, due to injuries and other fun. Ouch. You know that when a team has to give significant -- which is to say, any -- playing time to guys like Kazunari Sanematsu, or signs guys like George Arias, they've got major problems. However, the hapless Hiroshima Carp have played .500 ball since the Marty Brown Throws Bases incident, and have crept up into 4th place above the Giants. In a CL predictions thread, I was one of only two people who said Hiroshima wouldn't be in the dead cellar, and also said that the Giants would place 5th. It'd be hilarious if things actually worked out that way.

So, the thing I didn't want to mention in words was that the Fighters had racked up an 11-game winning streak, which tied the club record set in 1961, when they were still the Toei Flyers. Darvish Yu actually got the 11th win while wearing a jersey borrowed from Tomoya Yagi. So, go figure, the next day, with the club record on the line, Yagi pitched against Matsuzaka and lost. Well, no, not really, Micheal Nakamura got the loss, but still.

Being a Nippon Ham Fighters fan these days is a lot like being a Phillies fan. You know they'll break your heart, but you follow them anyway, never knowing when they're going to go on a winning tear or a losing tear... and knowing that it's possible they'll lose a big part of their core after the year ends, so if not now, when? Still, I have to admit that waking up yesterday and watching the Pacific League review (which are being posted to YouTube daily by terioh), and seeing Ogasawara hit those two home runs -- putting him into third place in the PL home run race -- that was pretty damn cool.

Sadaharu Oh is in the hospital undergoing treatments for a stomach tumor. Much as I'm an anti-Hawks fan, I wish him health and all. He's been watching Hawks games on TV from the hospital, and some articles even say he's hoping to be back as soon as August 8th, though they know that's an extremely optimistic outlook on "one month recovery".

As usual, no NPB entry of mine is complete without mentioning Bobby Valentine, so I figured I should mention that he's doing a series of posts on his blog about the differences between NPB and MLB -- part 1, part 2.

In his second entry he also mentions Kokoyakyu, a documentary about Koshien, the high school baseball tournament in Japan. It originally aired on July 4th, and if you're in Seattle, it's going to re-air TONIGHT at 10pm on KCTS. I haven't seen it yet since I was out of town over the 4th, so I'll be watching it tonight. Koshien's a fascinating thing -- every high school baseball player in Japan wants to win that tournament. It gets more media coverage than the pro leagues do. This'll be one of the first times it gets significant air time in English, so I'm really looking forward to watching!

Also, I'll be in Japan (staying in Osaka for some time and Tokyo for some time) from Sep 1st - 18th, so if anyone's reading this who's out there wants to get together for a baseball game, let me know. Except for Fukuoka or Sapporo, there's a reasonable chance I'll end up at a home game in pretty much every other stadium, though I'm probably skipping the Tokyo Dome because I've been there so many times, and Miyagi Fullcast because I don't want to trek up to Sendai and not be able to get a ticket.

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