I won't be ticking tonight's game. If anyone was actually counting on it, I'm sorry. I plan to do the final game in real-time, and I will probably translate Friday and Saturday's Fighters game logs, probably Friday night PST. Have I completely alienated all of the Mariners-type readers I ever had by now? It's not my fault the offseason is so dreadfully boring on this side of the Pacific.
Anyway, I called this Friday Foto because I have a few pictures to link to first:
First, for a change of pace, here's what the cheerleader girls look like for each of the four teams in the Asia Series. (Is that close enough to beer girls, Gary?) I'm biased, but I still think the Fighter girls are best:
Japan Cheer Girls
Korea Cheer Girls
China Cheer Girls
Taiwan Cheer Girls
Those are all taken from the Asia Series photo pages, except I can't seem to link to individual images, so I recaptured them. That way I can link to cool things like this dude batting with nunchucks.
I like this shot of Ogasawara bowing to the Tokyo cheering section.
And here is Konta getting initiated into Glovehead Central. It really did look pretty strange without Shinjo or some other third person.
The Hanshin Tigers' photos on Nikkan Sports feature the latest addition to the Tigers family: former Pittsburgh Pirate Ryan Vogelsong! Here they show him with his wife Nicole on a "Koshien Date", and holding a baseball, and um, this is a terrible joke but niko-Nicole.
This is the guy who will supposedly replace Kei Igawa: Tatsuya Kojima, the southpaw from Osaka Gas. (I don't understand the exact rules, but I think he's their confirmed pre-pick from the industrial/college draft, much like how the Fighters picked the Waseda lefty Ken Miyamoto)
(And yes, I said replace. In theory they're actually posting him. So, ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 Hanshin Tigers starting rotation: Old Man Shimoyanagi, Shinobu Fukuhara, Yuuya "CIA" Andoh, Ryan Vogelsong, and... Tatsuya Kojima? Whee.)
For more fun pictures from the NPB-MLB and the East-West games, take a look at Kazuo Fukumori's blog. Some of the captions: "Joe Mauer is a nice guy. Shame I didn't get to face him. His trademark is his sideburns! See why?" "Here's me with Julio Franco... he said he was 47 but I thought he looks 57. Sorry, Franco-san." "Here's the guy who replaced Kazuo Matsui as the Mets leadoff-hitting shortstop, Jose Reyes." "Here's me with Hichori Morimoto. Even out of uniform, that guy's a funny character." "Tomoya Yagi had to come out of the game today with worries about his shoulder condition." "Here's Kei Igawa. I heard he is going to the majors, so I wanted to get a memory of him. If he does go across the sea, good luck!" The final shot is him in Roppongi at a bar with a bunch of the MLB guys, including Andruw Jones. Whee.
Sometimes the things that end up in "sports photos" are sort of odd. Like this one of Kazumi Saitoh at a "touch the egg" roadshow for the movie Eragon. The real question is, could any other guy look that good in that girly a sweater?
In other news, Bay Stars journeyman free agent Ken Kadokura supposedly has two MLB offers. Wowzers. It doesn't say there, but an article in Japanese speculates that his offers are from the Royals and Pirates. He's not a superstar or anything but still, sucks for Yokohama. I don't really know whether he could be another sleeper like recent Bay Star Takashi Saito, but hey, nobody expected Saito to turn into what he did either. The game I saw Kadokura pitch in September, he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, mostly coming on a Tomoaki Kanemoto home run. Of course, he also gave up a single to the opposing pitcher, Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi.
The China Stars got walloped by the Samsung Lions this afternoon, this time with 2,024 people in attendance. Ouch. At least last night's Fighters-Lions game drew 15,147, which is about twice the normal attendance of a Fighters game back when they played in the Tokyo Dome. Just kidding. Sort of.
The CBA-KBO game was called on the mercy rule as well after 6 and a half innings with the Lions winning 13-1. It was mostly due to a huge 10-run 5th inning; yet again, they had a semi-decent starter, took him out, and then the bloodletting began. The sequence basically goes: single to left, single to left, sac bunt, lined out to third, intentional walk, 2-RBI single, RBI single, error, RBI single, RBI single, 2-RBI double, RBI double, RBI single, merciful ground out to short, going through 14 batters. Yow. Craziest is that they pulled off the last 9 batters on two outs.
Fun lineup tonight for the Fighters vs. LA New Bears. Same guys in the 1-4 slots and in the 9-spot for the Fighters, but Takahashi's catching, Kimoto's at third and batting sixth, Yukio Tanaka is the DH batting seventh, and Keizo Kawashima (!!) is playing left and batting eighth. Masaru Takeda is pitching. Oddly, the starting pitcher for the LA New Bears is former Hiroshima Carp pitcher Kenny Rayborn, who apparently had a pretty good year pitching in Taiwan (16-5, 1.94). Interesting.
I'm off to sleep, though.