Monday, August 14, 2006

NPB Roundup: Koshien and other fun

Koshien Round 3 starts today. Hokkaido's Komadai Tomakomai, the school I'm cheering for, is starting a match against Aomori Yamada in a little while. In Aomori's first game in the tournament, they won 7-0 as pitcher Yudai Noda threw a complete game shutout, striking out seven, AND slugged a home run as well. On the other hand, Komadai's star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka won their first game 5-3, pitching a complete game, striking out *14* (and walking 6).

(update: for whatever reason, Komadai started Kikuchi instead. Tanaka came in halfway through the third inning to deal with a 5-1 deficit. Ugh. Aomori's uniforms have an A on them that reminds me of Oakland's. Oh, now it's 7-1. Bleh.)

I guess in other matches of note, the second game today features Shigetoshi Hasegawa's high school, Toyodai Himeji, going up against Kiryu Ichi (attended by the hapless Rakuten's young hapless hotshot Yasuhiro Ichiba)

Sadaharu Oh's high school, Waseda Jitsugyo, plays Fukui tomorrow, having beaten out powerhouse Osaka Toin yesterday. Osaka Toin defeated Yokohama (Matsuzaka's high school) in the first round; it's odd having so many big-name schools face each other so early.

(Ichiro's high school, Aikodai Meiken, was knocked out 6-4 in the first round by Fukuchiyama.)

Those who watched the Kokoyakyu documentary will be delighted to know that Chiben Wakayama won their first game and their second, and get to face Okinawa's Yaeyama Shoko tomorrow.

Anyway, in other fun Japanese baseball news, Michihiro Ogasawara apparently wrote an autobiography! Neat! It's called "Guts no Full Swing", using the kanji 魂 for the word "guts". (Katamari players will also recognize that as the kanji pronounced "tamashii", usually meaning "soul". Ogasawara fans will recognize "Guts" as his nickname.) Anyway, he supposedly talks about the WBC and his family and other aspects of his private life, which is cool. Since he's generally been a fairly private guy who doesn't bathe in the media show and prefers to be humble to a fault -- almost superstitiously -- this should be a pretty interesting book. Hopefully I'll get a good chance to curl up with it and my Wordtank sometime in the offseason, assuming I'm able to find a copy.

As usual, the latest saga of the Hiroshima Carp's antics to support their manager via cool t-shirts is covered on Japan Baseball Daily. I can't tell exactly what the shirts say (pictures here and here) but it's definitely a "WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE" poster parody with some words about "arguing and cleaning bases: $2,000". I hope they make some of these available to fans. I totally want one of these and/or the "DANGER: My Manager Throws Bases" shirts. You've got to love the Hiroshima Carp for at least being *interesting* while they suck.

As for being interesting and sucking, there was an incident in a Hanshin-Yokohama game the other day. There's a bit of footage of it on the 8/10 NPB summary on YouTube, but it's still hard to tell exactly what happened. It seems that there were two batters on base when Takuro Ishii was up, and it got to full count. Andoh threw a breaking ball which bounced in the dirt, Ishii checked his swing, and the ball went bouncing past catcher Akihiro Yano, who thought there was a foul tip and thus didn't go after it. Various reports say that neither Yano nor Ishii moved; some say that Ishii waved the runners to advance on the passed ball; some say it looked like a foul tip and some say it just looked like a bad bounce. Either way, while Yano wasn't recovering the ball, two runs scored, and eventually he got so annoyed he started shoving the umpire around (as did several other coaches). Ishii, who walked, ended up on second before Yano was ejected and the ball called dead. This is just really messed up -- both the play itself, reminiscent of the AJ Pierzynski thing in the ALCS -- and that Yano's only getting like, a one-day suspension for attacking an umpire. Sheesh.

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