Friday, March 31, 2006

Rain, Rain, don't go away, come again on Saturday

As mentioned on USSM: if it rains in Tacoma on Saturday, rather than rain out the game, the Mariners and Rainiers will play their exhibition game at Safeco Field instead. For free!

How cool is that? I was sort of bitter when tickets to the game sold out in about 15 minutes flat. Now, I guess we should feel bad for people who spent a ton of money on the tickets in the first place, but isn't it really cool that they'd let people come see the game for free if it gets moved?

So, stay tuned to KOMO or the site on Saturday morning -- and be prepared to head down to Safeco. There's something like a 65% chance of it raining all weekend, and for once, I'm hoping for it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hawks-Lions semi-liveblogging

My foot hurts, so I skipped volleyball tonight and napped the evening away. I ended up waking up at 1am and couldn't get back to sleep.

This would normally suck, except that since I'm actually conscious for the Softbank Hawks - Seibu Lions game broadcast tonight, I've been treated to an absolutely fabulous pitching duel between Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tsuyoshi Wada. I really like Wada -- beyond being a pretty intelligent, cute, left-handed, and well-spoken young guy, you have to admire a pitcher who wants to face the other teams' aces.

As I write this, the score is currently 2-1 Hawks in the top of the 8th, and not for lack of trying for more runs, but the pitching has been impeccable. The only run Wada gave up in 6 innings was a home run over the center field wall to the Lions shortstop Nakajima, striking out 7 and walking 3 among 4 hits. He was relieved by Fujioka, who also is pitching pretty well.

Matsuzaka is still out there pitching in the bottom of the 8th now, having thrown 118 pitches through the first 7 innings. Ouch. Sadly, one of the runs scored against him was when he walked ex-Mariner Jolbert Cabrera with the bases loaded. And in the time it took me to write the last two paragraphs, Matsuzaka got out of the 8th inning 1-2-3, now having thrown 129 pitches total, as the bottom of the Seibu lineup comes up at the top of the 9th and tries to score some runs for him yet again. (His line for the evening: complete game, 8 IP, 129 pitches, 9 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts) It's looking like it may be yet another one of these seasons for Matsuzaka where he's cursed by lousy run support, doesn't it?

With closer Mahara out on the mound for the Hawks, I'd normally say the game's just about over, although catcher Matoba (who has still been referred to ninety times in this broadcast as "Johjima's replacement blah blah") just barely barely missed throwing out Takaki at second off Kuriyama's bunt, and here goes another completely non-subtle bunt by Hosokawa, so one out, runners on second and third. This doesn't look good... oh WOW, he struck out Hirao. Talk about a huge strikeout. Akada's out there as the last great hope for Seibu, and... fouls one off... watches a strike go by on the outside corner... takes a ball... the announcers show a closeup on Matsuzaka in the dugout, as they say he must be thinking, "just get me a hit, dammit!"... takes a ball, slightly high... fouls off another one far into the stands... and FOOM, Akada just watches a 150km/h (about 93 mph) fastball jump by him over the plate. Game over, 2-1 Hawks, shiroboshi to Wada, kuroboshi to Matsuzaka. Tough luck, but dang, what beautiful pitching.

Game heroes are pitchers Wada and Fujioka, and... catcher Matoba, who hit the double that knocked in the Hawks' second and ultimately game-winning run. Heh. Matoba's actually pretty funny in his interview, I wonder if he feels a need to fill in for Johjima's charisma :)

(You know what's weird? Hearing them play "吠えろライオンズ", one of the Lions songs, over the loudspeaker... at the Fukuoka Dome, where the Hawks are the home team. I heard it a billion times last year watching Lions home broadcasts, but that's normal.)

Hum, the Marines-Fighters game is still going on, with the Marines up 6-3 in the 7th inning, but it's past 4am here now, so I'm hoping I can grab a few more hours of sleep before heading off to work, now.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Movin' right along, footloose and fancy-free

Happy Cy Young's Birthday!

(also the birthday of Billy Beane and several other people including Mariners relief pitcher Scott Atchison)

Happy birthday, Scott Atchison. Here's a demotion to minor league camp.

However, if you read that 3/29/06 transactions line carefully, you'll note:
"Optioned RHP Clint Nageotte and IF/OF Mike Morse to Triple-A Tacoma; Reassigned RHP Kevin Appier, RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Francisco Cruceta, RHP Sean Green, INF Greg Dobbs, INF Jose Morban, INF Cody Ransom, OF Adam Jones and C Corky Miller to Minor League camp."

This means that on the Opening Day roster, in theory, the half of the guys that aren't pitchers will be the expected nine of Ichiro, Reed, Ibanez, Everett, Johjima, Betancourt, Sexson, Beltre, Lopez... and Bloomquist, Rivera, Borchard, and Petagine!

In the immortal words of Ichiro and Ibanez:


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Petagine for DH!

Dear The Seattle Mariners of King Felix County:

Please, for the love of Gar and all that is Oley, get Roberto Petagine on the roster and give him the Dave Hansen Memorial Left-Handed Sockeye Salmon Seat on the bench.

Sure, I've mostly made fun of Peta for the last several years, but I'm serious now: this is the guy we need. You know why? Because he can hit a baseball with a bat. Like, even when someone hurls it at him really really fast from 60 feet 6 inches away. Oh, and get this, he can even hit the baseball really far away from him and run towards some white square thingies on the ground and get there before the other guys retrieve the baseball!

I know, I know, it sounds crazy. We like these dudes who eat grits and fight with spirits and all that stuff, and we believe in giving a second chance to those guys who pop pills as well as they pop flies. And yeah, okay, I know there's a pretty strict no-return policy on gay paleontologists, so sure, it might have been a mistake ordering one if you weren't going to save the receipt.

Yes, I'm aware that Olga Petagine is old enough to be Lisa Bloomquist's grandmother. That's not the point here. Mariners Wives don't go out and win baseball games, last time I checked, even if they do teach some of their husbands how to throw.

What wins games, in the end, is being able to get lots of your guys to run around those funny white bags more times than the opponents do. And in order to do that, they have to hit the little ball far away from the funny white bags and then run like an antelope out of control. Do you see what I'm getting at? They don't get to run around the bases unless they hit the little baseball far far away! If they swing the bat a lot and never hit the little baseball, it doesn't matter if they can run! It's so simple, isn't it?

And that is where our man Petagine comes in. I know that many things have been discovered during our short time together in this lovely mini-series called Spring Training, and there aren't that many episodes left before the finale. We have learned that our men are infact not Men of Teal, for example. We have observed that Felix is Still King. We've seen that in many cases, a pitcher IS worth a thousand words, most of which I can't repeat here because this is a family blog.

And above all, we have learned that Roberto Petagine knows how to hit a baseball.

So please, dear Mariners, I don't ask for things very often -- but I'm asking you for a bat and a roster spot for Petagine. I firmly believe that this will result in more of our guys running around the funny white bags.

Love, luck, and line drives,
Deanna the Marinerd

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Fantasy" Baseball

You know those stereotypes where they have a guy and a girl sitting there chatting about baseball, and the guy is going on and on about his fantasy team and the girl's sitting there bored and falling asleep? Well, if you'll pardon me for a minute, I'd like to be a girl and brag about my fantasy baseball team, which I drafted using my super-sekrit talent evaluation metrics to get the absolute optimal team with the players available during the draft.

This all started a couple of weeks ago when I was having a conversation with a few people about fantasy baseball. Because this is my first time actually playing in a fantasy league, I was mostly just trying to get an idea about how the whole thing works. It went something like this:
Guy #1: [talks about super-complex system he's using to draft players]

Guy #2: [talks about different but equally super-complex system HE'S using to draft players] How about you, Deanna?

Me, joking: I dunno, I think I'll just draft all the guys I think are cute, and worry later about how well they play. Math is hard.

Guy #1: I see that Deanna's taking a COMPLETELY different stance on the word "fantasy" here...

However, aside from being sniped the first round for Chase Utley, I actually managed to put together a kick-ass team out of guys I think are cute. No, really:

The 2006 Red Swinglines*

1. 3B David Wright, NYM
2. OF Jason Bay, PIT
3. C Joe Mauer, MIN
4. SP Felix Hernandez, SEA
5. CL Joe Nathan, MIN
6. SP Barry Zito, OAK
7. 2B Tadahito Iguchi, CHW
8. SP Zach Duke, PIT
9. OF Brian Giles, SDP
10. OF Randy Winn, SFG
11. SS Bobby Crosby, OAK
12. 1B Sean Casey, PIT
13. RP Ryan Madson, PHI
14. 1B/OF Nick Swisher, OAK
15. RP Scot Shields, ANA
16. OF Mark Kotsay, OAK
17. SP Aaron Heilman, NYM
18. C Brian Schneider, WSH
19. SP Jamie Moyer, SEA
20. OF Lew Ford, MIN

* clever team name credit goes to Josh Buergel, who came up with it for our softball team

For the record, the only move that goes strictly against my All-Cute policy was taking Jamie Moyer instead of Jarrod Washburn (shut UP, Paul), and at that point I didn't think it would matter. I probably should have taken Noah Lowry instead of Barry Zito, too - did you see that photoshoot with him and Joe Mauer and Ben Broussard and all in Travel & Leisure? Sigh.

Amazingly, King Felix was still available in the fourth round. I got the impression from Gomez and others that Felix is a top ten pick in most Mariners-fan-centric leagues, but not elsewhere, so I guess I lucked out by being in a non-Mariners-fan-centric league; infact I'm pretty sure I have more AL West players than anyone else. There was one round where a guy picked up Danny Haren and John Lackey and I had to applaud that, but I managed to get Scot Shields with my 15th round pick, and that's just crazy, especially after I sniped the same guy for Ryan Madson and Nick Swisher in the previous rounds. Heh heh.

Anyway, it seems to me that a lot of fantasy baseball may turn out to be pretty random anyway -- injuries, good seasons, bad seasons, etc, and in the end there's a decent amount of luck to it -- so while one may laugh at me for seriously picking my All-Cute Team here, I'm not actually sure it came up with any more or less valid a team than I would have picked if I'd actually tried doing something complex with crunching numbers, especially since I was picking 10th out of 14 anyway -- David Wright was ranked #11 by Yahoo, I think, but you can't fault me for taking him with a first-round pick, now can you?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pacific League opening weekend roundup

I could write a play-by-play of the games in English, but someone has already done a much better job than I would of it: Saturday, Sunday

I stayed at home to see the opening pitch of the Lotte-Softbank game on Friday night, and I guess I should have stayed for more, as the Marines got absolutely hammered by the Hawks 7-2, and then also got smacked down again the next day 9-7. It's not a particularly encouraging beginning to the season except when you realize that the two best teams in the league were playing each other, and the Marines were down their two best starters to post-WBC training. Kevin Beirne started the second game of the weekend for Lotte, and utterly sucked it up, facing 14 batters in only an inning and a half of work and coming out of that with a 37.80 ERA so far -- no, I'm really not making that up. He walked 3, struck out 2, and gave up 6 hits, yielding 7 earned runs, 6 of which came from 3 home runs (Matsunaka, Ohmura, and Zuleta). Yeesh. Kazumi Saitoh continued his winning ways from last year in the opener by dominating for eight innings, striking out 7 and only giving up 2 runs in his last frame. Ex-Mariner Jolbert Cabrera hit a home run in the Opening Day game for the Hawks, too. Nobody except Fukuura seems to be getting off to a huge start in the hitting department for the Marines, either.

The Fighters won their first two games of the year, which would be encouraging if not for the fact that they were against Rakuten, a team which currently exists to prevent the Fighters from finishing dead last. They play Lotte next, which will be a much more interesting contest. The first game was won against lauded prospect Yasuhiro Ichiba though, so it's not all bad. Ogasawara launched the first pitch Ichiba threw him into the right field bleachers, too! Shinjo apparently drove out on a motorcycle before the game dressed like a rock star and drove players to their positions on the field. What a weirdo. Michael Nakamura is looking promising as a closer, and god knows we need it after Yokoyama imploded last year. Opening day starter Satoru Kanemura was supposed to be out still recovering from his elbow surgery, and I thought outfielder Tomochika Tsuboi was injured as well, but I guess I was wrong.

Seibu and Orix played and split the two games 1-1. Danny Serafini got hammered in the second game starting for Orix, and I'd feel bad except it's his fault Kevin Beirne is playing for Lotte. Old Man Kiyohara is off to a great start, whereas Nori Nakamura is off to an incredibly slow start. Small sample size, and you'd expect them both to pound Rakuten when they face them this week. Interestingly enough, you think I'd be kidding about calling Kiyo "Old Man", but in Sunday's game, Seibu had a teenage battery that, if you combined their ages, would still make them collectively younger than the 38-year-old Kazuhiro Kiyohara, with 19-year-old starting pitcher Hideaki Wakui and 18-year-old catcher Ginjirou Sumitani. I suppose this balances out last year when the Seattle Mariners tried to set a record for oldest battery when they put Jamie Moyer and Pat Borders out for a few games.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday link roundup

Today Dave Cameron has an optimistic viewpoint on the Mariners up on Hardball Times, which is an amusing read.

Unfortunately, a non-amusing Reed broke his wrist and may be out 6-8 weeks. I guess that trade for an extra outfielder may work out after all, huh. Sadly George Sherrill, for whom the Thornton trade practically guaranteed a bullpen spot, may also be sidelined with bursitis. Ack.

Jamie Moyer will be the Mariners Opening Day starter, which is really no surprise to anyone. However, astute observers -- that is, those of you who can count to five -- will notice that in the first four months of the season, if Jamie pitches every fifth game, 15 out of his 22 starts in that time period will be at Safeco, for a whopping 68%. The team goes on the road a bit more in the last two months and the overall total tapers off to 20 out of 34 -- but if the rotation "accidentally" shifts a day or two that could rise to 22 out of 33. He may become the inadvertant "home starter" after all.

Speaking of Opening Day, the day before it will be a USSM Feed which sounds like it could be a lot of fun. I'll be there for my country. Will you be there for yours?

The funniest article of the week, to me, was this one about the A's - Diamondbacks game featuring a swarm of bees. There's a good Astros joke in there, I'm sure, but I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader. Theories are that Conor Jackson walloped a home run that knocked a beehive loose behind the left-field wall to start the swarm. Nick Swisher wouldn't go back out to the field, and Eric Byrnes quipped, "I thought Swisher stayed strong. I'd be halfway up the bleachers."

Marc Normandin from Beyond the Boxscore had the SB Nation AL West bloggers get together and do a roundtable of how this season looks for the division's teams. They're all up now, so links:

Texas Rangers roundtable - Lone Star Ball
Seattle Mariners roundtable - Lookout Landing
Oakland A's roundtable - Athletics Nation
Anaheim Angels roundtable - Halos Heaven

It's always interesting to hear different viewpoints on your team, even Rev Halofan's.

The posted starting pitchers for today's Marines-Hawks game are Kubo for the Marines and Saitoh for the Hawks. Ichiba gets the nod for Rakuten while Kanemura starts for the Fighters. Kawagoe will start for Orix while Nishiguchi takes the honor for Seibu (Matsuzaka will start on the 28th). Michael Westbay will be doing his "live" broadcast in English of the Fighters-Eagles game.

And on a final and completely random note, today is/was George Sisler's birthday, so says my desk calendar. Cheers to the man who set the record that made Ichiro's 2004 achievement so amazing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Book Club Reminder and NPB Opening Day link

I have nothing useful to say today, so I just want to remind you all that you should be reading Out of Left Field, as there's about a week and a half left until Opening Day, and thus about two and a half weeks until the first meeting of the Seattle Baseball Book Club!

Wait, I do have one useful thing to say. For all of you newly-converted yakyuu fans, Opening Day for the Pacific League is this Saturday at 1pm -- which is actually Friday night at 8pm in Seattle (thanks Sam - I got my timezone math backwards again). The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles will be playing the Nippon Ham Fighters at the Sapporo Dome, the Orix Buffaloes will be playing the Seibu Lions at the Invoice Dome, and the Chiba Lotte Marines will be playing the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks at the Yahoo Dome.

The last game is the most important, not only because these excellent teams played against each other in the PL playoffs last year, but because it's the one I know the link for if you want to watch it live over the Internet. I don't know what the other teams will be doing for live broadcasts this year if anything, but the Hawks will be streaming their home games over Yahoo again -- and thus, the Hawks-Marines Opening Day game will be watchable from this page via Yahoo. Several of the Japanese WBC players you enjoyed watching will probably be in that game -- Nishioka, Imae, and Satozaki of the Marines (and possibly relief pitchers Yabuta and Fujita; I'm not sure who's starting) and Kawasaki and Matsunaka of the Hawks (rumor is that the awesome Kazumi Saitoh is starting). And of course, the legendary Sadaharu Oh manages the Hawks and the ebullient Bobby Valentine manages the Marines. So stay tuned!

(EDIT: We've been informed that Kawasaki tweaked something sliding home to get through the Great Wall of Cuba, so he is sitting out the opener to make sure he doesn't aggravate it. So, uh, Matsunaka.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Reds and 'Rines

Tuffy Rhodes has retired after the Cincinnati Reds released him this past weekend. Rhodes may not be remembered for his MLB career, but he leaves a long legacy behind in Japan. Not many foreigners manage to play in Japan so long that they gain free agency and no longer count against the foreigner quota; and no other foreigner ever managed to tie Sadaharu Oh's single-season home run record.

In other Reds news, besides the Arroyo-Pena trade, the Reds also acquired catcher David Ross from the Padres. David Ross is another one of those players I have an irrational attachment to for no apparent reason, even if he does sort of look like that jerk catcher/DH Jake Parkman from the movie Major League II. I sort of hoped he'd finally get some playing time with the Pirates last year in Jason Kendall's place, but didn't; then he got traded to the Padres, who then picked up Doug Mirabelli and Mike Piazza; hopefully maybe he'll finally settle in with the Reds this year.

It also sounds like with Pena gone, rather than moving Adam Dunn to first base in Sean Casey's wake, they'll keep Dunn in the outfield and let Scott Hatteberg play first, which is also cool for the Pickin' Machine.


I saw a lot of cool shots of the Japan team 胴上げ (throwing the manager up in the air in victory), but my favorite post-WBC picture is this one:

Japan WBC Team with trophy

Even Ichiro's smiling. I wish I could have a picture like this as a wall poster.

Speaking of funky Japanese baseball-related pictures, Bobby Valentine posted this one to his blog the other day -- it's a poster advertising their home opener series next week between the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Nippon Ham Fighters. But that's not why it's cool. It's cool because I hadn't noticed this particular 2006 Marines font thingy before.

2 00 6 Marines-Fighters poster

See, much like the "12th man" deal here, the Marines do not have a player wearing number 26 on their roster -- number 26 is reserved for the fans, the "26th person on the bench". So the fan club is called "Team 26" or "Club 26" or what have you. Conveniently, the year 2006 is the number "26" with two 0's in the middle, which makes for some really interesting gimmicks, such as this one where they're using an infinity symbol for it. It's neat and symbolic and clever.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Man. I'd been rooting all along for Japan to go all the way in this tournament, but it was looking so unlikely for a while, especially with that ridiculous bonehead Bob Davidson out there. (Can you believe he was yelling at the Japan team for some of the guys having their feet on the top step of the dugout in the 9th inning?) But, overcoming all sorts of craziness, tonight was the final game of the WBC, and Japan proudly takes home the trophy.

Japan 10, Cuba 6

(a good play-by-play account is at japanbaseballdaily; I'm too lazy to write one)

That was a really fun game. Despite Japan running away with the 4-0 lead from the first inning, the Cuban team played well and played hard, and came really close to tying it up in the later innings, getting to 6-5 with the help of a few Japan errors. The errors were a bit frustrating to see, but some of the really nice plays made up for it; Ogasawara was great in the field, even though he didn't hit a home run for me. (The 3 RBI without actually getting a hit made up for it.) Tamura didn't kill himself today. Matsunaka was hilarious lumbering down the basepaths. Kawasaki barely grabbing a tiny piece of home plate while being blocked by the Cuban catcher twice his size was pretty impressive; Ichiro nearly somersaulting over the plate a bit later was pretty funny. After the first batter or two, Matsuzaka really did show his true form, which was pretty damn good. Getting to see Watanabe pitch again for a bit was a treat as well. I really enjoyed the game overall, especially the part where I got to see all my favorite players celebrating their victory at the end. And unlike the Japan Series, I didn't have to stay up until 6am for it!

What I really wish, though, is that we'd come up with the ESPN Announcer Drinking Game *before* tonight so we could put it into action! Now I'll have to wait three whole years to use it!

The Japanese Baseball ESPN Announcer Drinking Game

Sip every time the announcer says:
- "The legendary Sadaharu Oh"
- "Oh-san"
- "868 home runs"
- "Bobby Valentine"
- "Bobby Valentine's Japan Champion Chiba Lotte Marines"
- "41 stolen bases last year"
- "These guys are masters at bunting."
- "His knuckles practically scrape the ground!"
- "These Japanese pitchers really can throw strikes!"

Drink every time the announcer:
- Confuses one player for another
(drink twice if they do the same thing twice in a row, as in when they kept saying Matsunaka was playing first base instead of Ogasawara for about two innings straight)
(drink three times if the ESPN *display* actually has the wrong name, such as the other night when Kosuke Fukudome went out to play CF and the screen showed him as "Seung Hwan Oh")
- Mispronounces a player's name
("Matsuzaki", "Oooeeey-hora", "Fuku-doom", "Aki", "Osawagara... er... I mean, Guts!")
- Tries to say "Kantoku" (manager); drink twice if it comes out more like "Kon-tiki"
- Mentions how Aoki got 202 hits last year and is the only person in Japanese baseball besides Ichiro to ever achieve that

Drain your glass when the announcer:
- Attempts to say something in Japanese and fails miserably (ie, "Watashi wa Petco Park ni orimasu")
- Tries to explain the name of the Nippon Ham Fighters
- Actually has more than a sentence to say about someone *besides* Ichiro or Sadaharu Oh

Monday, March 20, 2006

Every Rose Has Its Thornton

And now, so do the White Sox.

Go figure, they'd trade Thornton barely hours after I write him into a song. To be honest, I always cheered Thornton last year; I really wanted him to be a good pitcher, and I did see him have some pretty good outings. But just like every night has its dawn, and every cowboy sings his sad, sad song, every rosy Thornton outing had its thorny Thornton outing.

(Though to take the joke further, I didn't think he was that much of a team poison.)

We got Joe Borchard in return; since I don't know much about the guy, I'll just link to Dave Cameron's take on the trade over at USSM.

The other big deal of the day is that Bronson Arroyo is going to Cincinnati in exchange for Wily Mo Pena.

Song Parody: I Hope I Get It

I was listening to some musical soundtracks today, as I do from time to time, and as I was listening to A Chorus Line, I realized that you could easily take the tone of that show, a bunch of people auditioning for a musical... and it'd be awfully similar to the tone of a lot of those guys out there in Spring Training hoping for a roster spot, and well, I just started singing new lyrics to it, and one thing led to another...

God, I Hope I Get It
(to the tune of the opening song from A Chorus Line)

Step swing hit catch throw tag... Again!
Step swing hit catch throw tag... Again!
Step swing hit catch throw tag... Again!
Step swing hit catch throw tag... Right!
That connects with
Seam grip pause push toss step,
Step swing hit catch throw tag.
Got it? -- Going on, and
Toss catch step step plant toss,
Pivot, step, walk, walk, walk.
Right! Let's do the whole combination, take your positions in the infield.
From the top, a five-six-seven-eight!

[Players do infield tosses and drills as the coaches observe.]

God, I hope I get it
I hope I get it
How many pitchers does he need?
(overlapping) FIELDERS: How many fielders does he need?
God, I hope I get it,
I hope I get it.
Which guys will start, who's in the pen?
Which guys will start, how many...?

Look at all the people!
At all the people.
How many players does he need?
How many pitch, how many bench,
How many fielders does he...?

I really need this job.
Please God, I need this job.
I've got to get this job.

Okay, let's go back to the outfield and do some running. Half of you
line up here, half of you over there. Go!

[Coaches stand there timing the players as they dash across the field.]

God, I really blew it!
I really blew it!
How could I move as slow as that?
Now they're gonna cut me!
They're gonna cut me!
He doesn't like the way I throw.
He doesn't like the way I hit.
He doesn't like the way I...

All right, let's see how you guys swing those bats. Just take it easy
and hit the ball.

[Players take batting practice as the coaching staff take notes.]

God, I think I've got it.
I think I've got it.
I knew they'd sign me all the time.
Still not on the roster. ROBERTO PETAGINE: Who'll be cut next?
Not on the roster.
I can't imagine what he wants. DAVE BURBA: Am I screwed now?
God, I hope I get it!
I hope I get it.
I've come this far, the goal's so near
Escape Tacoma for the year,
How many players does he...?

I really need this job. MATT THORNTON: All of my options are gone.
Please, God, I need this job. GREG DOBBS: They can't resist my swing.
I want to reach the Show.

Who am I anyway?
Can I still really play?
That is the question with an answer I don't know.

I'll show them I'm not through.
What should I try to do?
Those youthful faces all around, and here we go.
I need this job, oh god, I miss the Show.

Anyway, whee! WBC Japan vs. Cuba tonight. 6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern, 11am Japan time, and it's 春分の日, so you should be home from work to watch the game!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Third time's the charm

Japan Finally Beats Korea 6-0

But this time, it counts a little more.

Kosuke Fukudome has been godAWFUL this entire series (.105/.182/.263 in 19 AB), but today he came in and pinch-hit a home run. In Petco Park. With the wind blowing in. In the rain. To start the scoring for Japan at 2-0, with the inning eventually ending with a 5-0 lead by the Japanese team.

Koji Uehara was as magnificent as ever, and with a little help from Petco (I swear, in the fourth inning, three batters in a row, I yelled "NO!!!" and then "Whew!" as one of the Korean players launched a ball really far into the outfield, only to have it caught a few feet short of the wall. Tamura had a particularly impressive diving catch against a set of doors in the left field foul territory; I was amazed he wasn't injured or unconscious after it) and some rain, came out of this outing looking pretty good. Considering he threw 86 pitches in 7 innings, I almost wondered if he could get a complete game, but the rain delay sort of killed that.

It amused me how ESPN still kept playing the Roger Clemens WBC ad where he said "There's no way we'll lose" and all, even after the US has been knocked out.

So, Monday night, Cuba faces Japan. It'll be crazy. Even better, Cuba used up their two best pitchers today to beat the Dominican Republic team, but Japan still has Matsuzaka and Watanabe available for the next game.

(Yeah, in case it hasn't been obvious, I've been hoping for Japan to make the finals all along. I've probably worn my Uehara #19 jersey more times in the last few weeks than I have in the last year.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

World Baseball Musings

The curious part of yesterday's WBC game, to me, was that Mexico effectively eliminated themselves from the WBC by scoring a run in the third inning, which is why I figured there was no way they'd bother playing well enough to hold off the USA and win the game. Why play hard and score runs when scoring runs will knock you out of the competition? Why should there ever be a scenario where it's not in a team's best interest to score runs?

Check out the "Classic Scenarios" sidebar at the bottom right of this article. The tie-breaking procedures are at the bottom of the WBC Standings page. While I suppose I understand the logic, and I don't really have a better suggestion for a tiebreaking system, it really did bring about a really bizarre situation, didn't it?

If the US won the game against Mexico, there was no issue, as it'd be Korea 3-0, US 2-1, Japan 1-2, and Mexico 0-3 for games won/lost, and there were no tiebreakers involved. But if the US lost the game, since the standings would be 3-0, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, and each of the 1-2 teams had lost once against the other 1-2 teams, it went to the runs and earned runs.

But in the case of Mexico winning, that's where things got weird.

Mexico could only advance if they managed to get their RA/9 below Japan's, and raise the US's RA/9 above theirs. In order to do the first part, they had to pitch 13 scoreless innings to the US team, and in order to do the second, they had to score at least 3 runs and win.

You'll note that in order to pitch 13 scoreless innings to the US, first, they had to go into extra innings. Second, they had to go into extra innings with the score tied 0-0. If they scored a run at all, heck, even if they scored the 3 runs and won the game 3-0, they would still not advance, because their RA/9 would be higher than Japan's.

So, in effect, scoring a run in the third inning eliminated them from the WBC. But I think that was the right and honorable way to go. Trying not to score runs themselves would look really bad, and if the US DID score any runs, they'd automatically be eliminated anyway, so why not just go for the win?

I was surprised it happened, since I didn't think the team would really feel they had anything to play for at that point besides national pride, but maybe national pride is a bigger motivator than I thought.

In all honesty, and maybe it makes me a pinko commie mutant traitor, I wanted Team USA to get eliminated. Despite the implications of the American team losing at the All-American sport, I think it's more interesting to watch all of these other players that we don't usually get to see on ESPN; most of the Cuban, Korean, and Japanese players are largely unknown to the baseball fans in the USA. And as Beerleaguer points out, San Diego has a huge Asian and Latino population, so the international showdown aspect of the WBC should appeal to a large number of people, especially in the midst of March Madness.

Anyway, the only thing that's sort of stupid right now is that they're having Korea play Japan yet again tomorrow. Ideally, the Dominicans would play Japan and Korea would play Cuba. On the other hand, Korea's now beaten Japan twice in very close games, and I'm sure the Japanese players are *pissed off*, which could make for an interesting game. The Dominican games have been pretty exciting as well, and all Mariners fans are enjoying watching Adrian Beltre slug up a storm. So, we'll see.

But, I hope Bob Davidson isn't umpiring. And so does most of Japan. (Scroll down to the bottom of that page -- Gary Garland posted scans of a bunch of Japanese newspaper articles full of anger towards the umpires from the US-Japan game.)

Anagramming Chase Utley

This post is mostly here as a placeholder for me to add to.

For some reason, in the last few weeks, if I'm bored waiting for a bus or for a meeting at work to start or whatever, I occasionally start trying to come up with cool anagrams for my favorite second baseman, Chase Cameron Utley. It's such a great name to play with.

After all, first we started by noticing that an ace homers cutely.

But then in the WBC, there was that one day where it was a clean arm, cheesy out.

Then the other day I wondered about his music preferences -- after all, Motley Crue has acne!

With "chase" as a verb, we could think, Chase Cameron Utley -- or catch Manuel's eye?

And while he was breaking in as a regular following the Polanco trade, we couldn't help but notice how his play at second base would accrue ease monthly.

After all, he's so versatile, like a cuter chameleon, say?

And I do believe he's found the solution to the Marlins -- cyan cure: steal home.

If you're wondering where you can order your very own Chase Cameron Utley, try Charley's Taco E-Menu.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

2006 Mariners Commercials and Stuff

First, let me say that I'm really saddened to see that Japan lost to Korea in the WBC game today. I watched for a bit, but left to play volleyball during the 5th inning while it was still 0-0. Watanabe looked great, much better than he did last time he pitched. Thing is, for Japan to advance at this point, the US has to lose to Mexico and give up more than 2 runs... with Roger Clemens on the mound. Bleh. It's just not going to happen. I'm really hating those umpires from the Japan-US game.

Anyway, I watched the new Mariners commercials, as mentioned in the last post, and let me just sort of summarize them, in the order I enjoyed them, worst to best:

6. The Great Wall of Adrian
An exaggeration of Beltre's ability at 3rd, with him getting more and more ridiculous until he's basically sitting on a wall. I think it's dorky along the same lines of that Bret Boone one from two years ago.

5. Tribute (Jamie Moyer)
This one features a historical perspective on Jamie Moyer's "illustrious" career, which apparently started in 1926. It's a cute idea, but a disturbing picture of Moyer with big 70's hair.

4. Kollectors (King Felix)
In this commerical, Mariners fans are acquiring K's from all over -- movie theaters, the Pike Place Market, etc. I thought this one was nicely directed and I like the idea behind it - I would have liked to see them steal the K from a Seahawks sign somewhere, though I guess that'd be taboo.

3. Epidemic (Ichiro)
This one features a whole bunch of people in various professions doing the Ichiro sleeve tug as they're doing their jobs. It's also really nicely directed, and I think people will appreciate it when they see it on TV.

2. Talk To The Glove (various)
This is in theory supposed to be the silly one involving the whole team, and it IS pretty silly -- it has various Mariners guys going various places but always talking into their glove if they talk at all, like getting in a taxi, ordering fast food, etc. It's cute.

1. The Legend of Big Richie (Sexson)
And this, my friends, wins the Marinerds Seal of Approval as The Best Commercial of the 2006 Batch. This is so incredibly awesome that I almost wish I'd thought of it myself. It's basically this folk song about Richie Sexson, hugely exaggerated, with him interjecting the truths behind the myths as a folk song choruses behind him, "Big Richieeeeee". Infact, I liked it so much I'm going to transcribe the lyrics here. Richie's words are in italics:

He wears a ten foot glove to field the ball
And stands a full forty oxen tall
Actually, I'm 6'8".
(Big Richie!)

He throws a semi truck across the street
He wrestles bears and eats raw meat
Uh, they're sunflower seeds.
(Big Richie!)

He swam the Nile
With a crocodile
And he hits that ball...
A country mile.
As a matter of fact... I do!
(Big Richie! Big Richie!)

So, yeah. An improvement over the Lame Shopping Network, I'll grant, but I think there's some wasted potential here. Ah well.

I have to wonder if they'll use the Legend of Big Richie song at any time as stadium music, though. I bet Sexson would kill them if they made it his at-bat song.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mariners 2006 Commercials are up!

I can't watch them until I get home from work, unfortunately, but hey, they've got the 2006 Commercials up on the Mariners' site. Take a look. I'll edit this post later or make another one with my comments on them, I'm sure.

And while you're at it, they also have the Mariners Commercials, 1994-2004 on their site, if you need a fix for watching the All-Griffey Team, or Jamie's Killer Changeup, or Kazu Learns English the Niehaus Way, or the infamous Edgar "I took my geoduck to Puyallup" lesson, and so on.

In a few weeks I'll hopefully get around to doing my 2006 version of the Commercial Awards, too, once most teams have posted them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Catching up

I went to Vegas for the weekend to hang out with some friends. I had my laptop with me, and a wireless connection, but it wasn't particularly good, and I wasn't really paying attention to baseball anyway. All the sports betting bars, unsurprisingly, had college basketball games on.

However, I got back last night and watched the last two innings of the Japan-USA WBC game from Sunday, and I'm really annoyed. That was a TERRIBLE call by the umps, you can clearly see on the replays that Nishioka tagged up just fine, and Randy Winn's throw was terrible. (Infact, as they even pointed out, Nishioka knew there was no reason to leave early.) Sure, it doesn't necessarily mean Japan would have won the game -- but this is just wrong. It's a terrible, terrible call against an extremely, extremely good base runner.

(On the other hand, they did get the call wrong on Matsunaka's checked swing a few batters earlier, which clearly went across the plate. I have to wonder if the plate umpire denied Japan that run to make up for it.)

While I was gone, Derek Zumsteg apparently decided he needed to give the Cartoon Laws of Physics writers a run for their money, and wrote an impressive piece about Baseball Bugs Bunny. Derek scares me.

In other news, from Rain Delay, we learn that the official Damian Moss Deathwatch is over, as he's been signed to a minor league contract by the Braves, coming full circle.

Also, there's a pretty funny article in the P-I about Matt Thornton. Just throw strikes, son.

Today was Kirby Puckett's birthday. RIP, Puck. Batgirl's got a story about Sunday's memorial with some pictures and stuff.

It's also Kevin Brown's birthday, Bobby Jenks's birthday, and speaking of coming full circle, it's also Pi Day. We here at Marinerds will not divulge exactly how many digits of Pi we have memorized, but we will admit that it's higher than the number of batters Matt Thornton has walked in his career.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Seattle Baseball Book Club, Update

Okay, I've talked to some people including the bookstore staff and whatnot, and here's what I've got so far. We'll be meeting at the Elliott Bay Book Company, in the downstairs cafe.

The first meeting was:

Saturday April 8th, 4pm - Out of Left Field by Art Thiel

The next two meetings and books will be:

Saturday May 6th, 4pm - Baseball Between the Numbers by Baseball Prospectus writers, edited by Jonah Keri

Saturday June 3rd, 5pm - The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty by Buster Olney

We'll meet and talk about the book for about an hour, and then possibly continue the discussion over at Safeco Field during the Mariners game. I suggest showing up a little early if you want to shop for books or look around the store a bit.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment here or send me email (dr4b at hotmail dot com). I'll try to make up a separate book club web page soon with information and further schedules, and maybe some fliers to post in a few bookstores and baseball-like places if it's possible.

The May 6th game is followed by an Indians - Mariners game at 6:05pm. The June 3rd meeting is followed by a Royals - Mariners game at 7:05pm.

In general, meetings will be before or after the first Saturday Mariners home game of the month. We'll be trying to decide/announce books two months in advance, so there's time for the bookstore to order copies if necessary and for people to acquire the books and read them.

So please come to the first meeting with ideas for books you'd like to read in the future, and if you haven't already read Out of Left Field (believe it or not, I haven't), please try to read it by then (but we won't kick you out if you haven't). I've seen it in most bookstores around town and I believe they sell copies at some of the Mariners Team Stores as well.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Whoa, Baseball Canada!

A brief book club update: I confirmed with Elliott Bay Book Company that they'd be okay with us using the cafe space for baseball book club meetings. They also said that they can order books for us with appropriate lead time. May 6th will definitely be a book club day and the book will be Baseball Between the Numbers. April 8th will probably be a book club day. I'll confirm that ASAP.

Anyway, the WBC definitely does make for some interesting games, I think.

For example, who would expect team Canada to beat team USA? But that's what happened. I had a friend IM me when the score was 8-0 Canada, and we were surmising about how amusing it'd be if the Canadian team tacked on two more runs and invoked the mercy rule. Shortly after that, Canada had to change pitchers and the US team scored 6 runs, including a grand slam by Jason Varitek. Canada held on for the 8-6 win, though, and is almost guaranteed to advance to the next round.

The Mariners played against the Japan WBC team and lost 6-5, as Uehara completely kicked their butts. Various details are around in writeups (like here and here, pictures here including a pretty funny one of Nishioka) but no box score that I can find. Still, despite that it's not exactly the biggest achievement to score a bunch of runs off a still-rehabbing Travis Blackley, it sounds like the Japanese team did pretty well. I'm still sort of amused by the implications of the fact that Ichiro hit better against the Mariners pitching than he did against the Chinese, Taiwanese, or Korean pitching last weekend.

Kiyoshi posted to Westbay-san's forums with attendance figures for Pool A. The evening games averaged 30,000 people, and the afternoon games averaged 4500 people. Unsurprisingly, the Japan team games were the best attended, but they were also conveniently all in the evening, so the figures are a bit misleading if you think about it that way -- how many people could realistically go to a game on Friday afternoon, or even Saturday afternoon (which is also a work day) there?

While I have to admit I wasn't as interested in following the other games as much as I am in cheering on team Japan, I do have to admit that Adrian Beltre socking two home runs the other day against Venezuela and another one today against Italy, is pretty cool. Perhaps being surrounded in the lineup by Pujols, Ortiz, etc is helping, but it's still really promising.

Panama, South Africa, and Italy have all been eliminated so far, and I doubt that any of those surprised anyone.

(A post-note on the USA-Canada game: after reading elsewhere that Chase Utley did a triumphant Booney Bat Flip only to have his long ball caught by Adam Stern at the wall, I decided that the anagram of the day is not "Chase Cameron Utley == An Ace Homers Cutely", but actually "Chase Cameron Utley == Clean Arm, Cheesy Out".)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The True Arrival of Spring

"All right, guys, you ready?" [opens the box, holds up the stack of season tickets, sniffs the whole packet, hands out ticket sheets to everyone else to sniff]
"Ahhh... a new season!"
"A clean slate!"
[breathes in deeply] "Yup. This smells like the year."

  -- Fever Pitch

This morning I was running late to work, but I had gotten a notice saying I had a package in the building manager's office, so I stopped in on my way out the door to run down my bus. It was a white postal envelope, just large enough not to fit in my mailbox. What on earth could this be? I thought to myself as I sat down and took a breath, having just made it onto the bus in time.

I shook the envelope. It felt sort of like a thin book, with an accompanying CD. I couldn't think of any book orders I'd made recently. I didn't recognize the return address, from a PO Box downtown.

I opened the envelope a tiny bit and looked in, and saw... my Mariners 16-game-plan season tickets! At last!

But I didn't want to look through it all on the bus. So I resealed the envelope, carried it to work, kept it in my desk all day, and finally took it home in the evening.

There's something magical about the day season tickets arrive. The sheets look so pristine, so perfect -- each game connected to the next, all together, waiting for each one to happen. There's a new design every year, but they've always got the same familiar section number and row and seat number on them. These tickets represent what is yet to come, and what the season could be.

Sure, this year could suck too, but not while these tickets are still perfect and unseparated, untouched by scanners or ticket-takers' hands, not yet wrinkled from being crushed in the fold of a backpack, or dropped in the aisle and trampled by vendors, covered in the dust of an evening at Safeco Field. Right now, this year is still filled with possibilities, and each one of these tickets holds the possibility to see a great game.

Okay, flowery speech aside, I received my season tickets today. In case you're wondering, they realized how ugly the "generic Safeco Field" tickets last year were, and went back to putting players on them. (I guess they decided not to for 2005 after the housecleaning in 2004 meant that by the end of the year, half of the guys on the season tickets weren't even on the team anymore.) This year, we have Adrian, Eddie, Ichiro, Jamie, Richie, and Raul, as our ticket pictures.

I scanned in the sheet to show what the six pictures looked like, but then realized that there was a really obvious internet gag to parody here with a little help from Photoshop's colorize option:

Ticket Rainbow
Mariners Season Tickets are love.

Heh heh.

Anyway, they also included yet again, a Limited Edition "oh, thank GOD you renewed your season ticket plan!" DVD. I think it's pretty telling that the 2005 DVD contained the 2004 commercials, but this year's DVD doesn't contain last year's commercials. What it does contain is:

1. Fan Appreciation Video - one of those video montages of lots of smiling happy fans at Safeco Field

2. 2005 Great Plays - At least one great play for pretty much every guy on the team. There was a ton of Betancourt footage, a lot of the Jeremy Reed sliding diving catches, some great pitcher plays including Sherrill's awesome backhand grab and throw to first, some of Eddie's pins, lots of Ichiro and the Spiderman catch, and even an awesome jump by Morse to catch a foul ball in the LF stands.

3. Dave's Diamond Gems 2005 - They show Ichiro's speech that he gave when Bud Selig came to town and honored him for the single-season hit record. I don't remember actually seeing or hearing it before, so that was cool. They also had Jamie Moyer's 200th victory, Beltre's 1000th career hit, Ichiro's 1000th career hit, etc, many things which I was there for anyway.

4. Felix! - No, really, that's what the chapter on disc is called. They showed Felix's first start and his first two home starts. Having been at all of those, it was just nice to relive some of the moments. Anne and her "K" signs got shown several times.

5. 1995 Reunion - Footage from their 1995 reunion thing, which I was out of town for, so I guess it was nice to see, but I didn't live here in 1995, so whatever.

6. Farewell to Dan - I was there for that too, of course. It's footage from the September 30th game with narration from Niehaus. I still have the picture of Dan hugging Jamie Moyer up on my wall, too.

7. 2006 Season Preview - A speech from Mike Hargrove about what to look forward to, highlighting all the possibilities of the guys on the team.

In between some of these were speeches from players like Raul, Richie, Dan, and even Felix, saying "thanks for getting season tickets again!"

It was a good watch. Reminded me of the GOOD parts of last season with none of the bad parts. Between the DVD and actually having some lovely lovely beautiful crisp tickets in my grubby little paws, I think I'm finally really ready for this season to start.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Seattle Baseball Book Club

Book Club update here!

(Update: We'll be meeting at the Elliott Bay Book Company, in the downstairs cafe. The first two meetings and books will be: Saturday April 8th, 4pm - Out of Left Field by Art Thiel and Saturday May 6th, 4pm - Baseball Between the Numbers by Baseball Prospectus writers, edited by Jonah Keri)

Alright. I'm going to stop being lazy about this and make it happen. The USSM post about the new "everything you ever wanted to know about baseball but were afraid to ask" book that Jonah and the good folks down at Baseball Prospectus wrote reminded me that I keep forgetting to follow up on this.

So. Book club. As in, a get-together-and-discuss-baseball-books club.

Right now, my plan, pending confirmation from the Elliott Bay Book Company, is something to the effect of:

- Once per month, generally the first Saturday of the month, meet at Elliott Bay [or other place near Safeco if it turns out that way].
- Discuss the month's book and probably generally talk about other random baseball-related stuff for an hour or two.
- Pick book to read for the next month's meeting.
- Those interested can walk down to Safeco afterwards and take in the evening's Mariners game.

Looking at the M's schedule, book club meetings could work out something like this (this is not set in stone, just my thoughts):

April 8th : Oakland, 6:05pm game, 3:30pm book club meeting
May 6th : Cleveland, 6:05pm game, 3:30pm book club meeting
June 3rd: Kansas City, 7:05pm game, 4:30pm book club meeting
July : not sure, either the 1st (Colorado, 7:05pm) or 8th (Detroit, 7:05pm), 4:30 book club
August 5th: Oakland, 1:05pm game, book club meeting following the game (sorry, this was listed as 7:05 originally, dunno why it changed)
September 9th: Texas, 6:05pm game, 3:30pm book club meeting

And after that, if it works out, continue on the first Saturday of each month meeting somewhere and discussing books. Isn't it fun to keep baseball in your heart by reading books during the offseason anyway?

I think if we had "Baseball Between the Numbers" as a book club book, though, I would want to do it for May, not April -- it may be short notice for people to acquire a copy, particularly since I'm not sure it's even in every store around town yet. I'm also thinking it'd be fun to have people read something by Jim Bouton before he comes here as part of the SABR convention this summer.

The Elliott Bay Book Company is about three blocks from Safeco Field. I think it may even be possible to get discounts on book club books if we pick them in advance and order a whole bunch.

Anyway, I WILL make this happen this time. Even if it's just me and Conor Glassey sitting around talking about books. But y'all should come along as well.

I hope some people will be interested in this! I'll post more details as soon as I can work them out!

(incase you didn't see the link at the top, there's an update here!)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kirby Puckett

A few days ago, I noticed on my baseball ballparks calendar which I mention on here from time to time (this month's park: Bank One Ballpark in Arizona, with a horrendously bad picture where half the field is covered by shadow from the roof) that Kirby Puckett's birthday is next Tuesday, the 14th.

This morning, I scanned through the blogs and saw on Bat-Girl that Kirby Puckett had a stroke and might not even survive until next Tuesday. ( link if you don't have a strib login.)

[ original "send karma and prayers towards Kirby" stuff edited out ]

EDIT 5:43pm> Kirby Puckett, dead at 45. Bleh.

As usual, if you want a heartfelt write-up on Twins-related happenings, go see Bat-Girl's eulogy. I also like what Ball-Wonk wrote.

I'm sort of at a loss for words, and I don't really have specific memories of Kirby to share, except a silly one -- when I was a kid, since I grew up in a National League city before interleague play, I had trouble remembering all the weird names of players on the Twins, and for a while I thought they had this super-awesome player that everyone loved named "Kirbek".

Meche's Oblique

I have no point here, I just felt like saying that "Meche's Oblique" sounds like a phrase that should be followed by "The latest book by Douglas R. Hofstadter" or something.

Or perhaps it's the latest science-fiction movie: _The Oblique Strain_.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

More World Baseball, Japan vs. Korea

Now that I think about it, given that I figured the wins for this were going to be Japan 3, Korea 2, Taiwan 1, and China 0, I have to wonder why they scheduled it such that Japan and Korea would be playing an essentially meaningless match for the third game. This is the game I've been looking forward to, but I'm worried they won't really play hard, because both teams are already advancing. (Yeah, I watched some of yesterday's game, but Matsuzaka sucked. The funniest moment was probably when he "balked" by accidentally dropping the ball mid-throw.)

5 out of the 9 guys in Korea's starting lineup are named Lee.

I'm mostly watching to see what else Speed Star Nishioka, Boy Wonder, is going to pull off... and of course, I want to see Shunsuke Submarine Watanabe, as if I haven't mentioned about three thousand times already that he's awesome. And of course, Michihiro Ogasawara, my favorite Fighter. And well, everyone on the team. It is *really* weird to see Watanabe throwing to Satozaki with Seung-Yeop Lee as the hitter, though, being as they were all teammates on Lotte this year.

I'll be up for another hour or two, so maybe I'll liveblog a little.

Watanabe looks great. Struck out the first guy, second guy grounded out to first, and then he got Seung-Yeop Lee to hit back towards the mound, knocked it down, threw it to first. Whee!

Ichiro really has been kind of sucking it up on the hitting front this series, and this is no different, as he lines out. Nishioka, who has been kicking butt, gets yet another hit. (Man... Nishioka in this series is TOTALLY reminding me of Imae in the Japan Series; if only both of them were getting to play more here!) And Nishioka steals. Woo. Fukudome breaks his bat and moves Nishioka to third, and here comes the big man, Matsunaka. And he's got great speed even for a slugger, beating out the slight bobble from the second baseman. 1-0 Japan as Nishioka scores. Yokohama's slugger Tamura comes up next, fouling a ball off the catcher's mask, and then getting a single. Whoooosh. Iwamura comes up and the announcers talk about how he wants to go to MLB yet again... so he hits into a 6-3 and the inning ends.

You know, I hope Tadahito Iguchi is watching and regretting not being there to play 2B with Nishioka at SS.

The announcers have astutely picked up that submarine pitchers get a lot of ground balls, as the first two guys ground out, and then Boy Wonder Nishioka flies by to make the catch for the third out as Park hits a blooper into the middle infield.

Hmm... I swear that Guts has been pretty bad while I've been awake to watch, as he grounds out to short. Doh. Satozaki flies out, and here's Kawasaki... ha! Just like the other night with Nishioka's unexpected homer, WHOOSH, there's a home run from Kawasaki. 2-0 Japan. I hope Kawasaki's making fun of Matsunaka in the dugout right now. Ok, Ichiro singles, and err... "steals", as Sunny Kim nervously throws a bit wild at Nishioka. But, alas, he bounces the ball to second and doesn't beat out the throw, ending the inning.

Ooo, Ichiro just made a pretty nice run to get a ball in short right field. but... holy crap, Watanabe hit Jong Beom Lee. Bases loaded and here comes Seung-Yeop Lee. did I mention it's weird to see Watanabe pitching to him? Oh, whew, he popped up high to third. Inning over, crisis avoided.

Hmm, a 1-2-3 inning for the Japanese guys. Sunny Kim finally gets a strikeout as he catches Tamura looking.

...and a 1-2-3 inning for the Koreans.

Ah, there's Iwamura singling, and HERE'S GUTS OGASAWARA! I love his stance, I really do. It just amazes me how he can hit like that. And, speaking of hits, there's a single from him too. And... a bunt from Satozaki? Aaaaand... Sunny Kim is gone. Jung Bong comes in for him to pitch to POWER HITTER KAWASAKI. Ahh... dang, that was actually a really nice play by the Korean shortstop Park, as Kawasaki hit it there, and he got it and fired it home to catch Iwamura at the plate. So, um, Ichiro walks, and here is Nishioka! It sounds like there are plenty of Lotte fans out at the Dome tonight, as Nishioka rips a crazy drive to right field which is snagged by Lee (all of the outfielders are named Lee). Though, actually, that was a super-sweet play, a running diving sliding catch, but he got it... otherwise, that's worth at least 2 runs to Japan, seriously.

Huh, after a single... Watanabe hits another batter? Wow. Ok, a bunt, so runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Oh, dang.. a long sac fly to right field, and Ichiro does the Ichiro thing and fires to third, but barely barely doesn't get him in time. Park scores for Korea, so it's 2-1. Ha, Jong Lee nearly fell over backwards fouling off that ball before Watanabe... hit him too. Whoa. This is REALLY weird. Watanabe hit four guys ALL YEAR LAST YEAR and hit THREE of them today. Well... he's gone, anyway, at 60 pitches or so, so someone else will come in to pitch to Seung Yeop Lee. I wonder if it'll be another Lotte player.

Oh, wow, it is! Lotte's lefty setup man Fujita! Sweet. Heh, he knocks him down and catches him off-balance for a strikeout. Nice, nice. Hmm... come to think of it, Lotte's Yabuta is also on the roster, but closer Kobayashi isn't. Wacky.

Ok, Japan's inning was pretty short, and here's... ooo, here's 2005 PL MVP and Sawamura winner Sugiuchi pitching for Japan, against Korea, and Hee-Seop Choi is up. Strikeout. A groundout, then Iwamura runs out for a foul pop-out, and the announcers mangle yet another name, saying it was a good job by "Sugiyoshi". Sigh.

I may go to sleep soon, I think, it's 3am.

Umm, I am still awake, but I was doing other stuff while listening to the game, and uh, goddamnit, Seung-Yeop Lee just smacked a 2-run homer off Hirotoshi Ishii, so it's 3-2 Korea now. Sigh.

okay, I'll admit it, I'm still awake. It's the last out of the game. Chan Ho Park is pitching to Ichiro...

...who pops out.

I don't believe it! Korea actually won. Holy shit. I bet Ichiro bitches out Iguchi and Matsui next time he sees them. And, wow. Talk about an upset. I mean, I knew this would be the closest game, but I didn't actually expect Korea to win. DAMN YOU, SEUNG-YEOP LEE!

Friday, March 03, 2006

World Baseball Commences

Yeah... I'm still in the process of recovering my computer, so no Friday Foto.

On the other hand, the WBC has started. Not that it's any surprise Japan is beating China, but Uehara looks great. 4 strikeouts in 2 innings so far, even. I'm guessing Japan will sweep this the way they swept the Konami Cup, but who knows.

I'm probably going to have to strangle the ESPN2 announcers (I'm watching over for their pronunciation of the Asian players' names, but otherwise, this is pretty cool. The Tokyo Dome looks about as full as it did when the Nippon Ham Fighters used to play there, though, which is to say, not very.

Really, I'm just happy to get to see these guys play, which is why I'm excited about it. I'm not even sure I'll watch the Pool B, C, or D games this week, because I can see most of those guys playing during the season, but I have no idea what the internet broadcasting situation of the NPB games will be this year. I expect the Hawks and Lions will continue to broadcast home games over Yahoo, but still, that's only a small portion of the games. Hopefully I'll get back over there in August or so.

Ooh, China just changed pitchers to a lefty sidearmer! But I need to go to sleep.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Boone retires, Winn and Ibanez sign extensions

My new computer arrived today. Whee. Unfortunately, I'm having issues moving things from the old computer, so I may not be doing Friday Fotos for a bit. The offseason's just about over anyway.

Bret Boone retires

I'm not really sure what to say here. Unlike most people who either loved or hated The Boone, I mostly couldn't care less about him. There were these little kids who sat behind me in section 334 who absolutely adored him though, to the point that they'd always be asking their parents, "Where's Bret Boone? What did Bret Boone do? When will Bret Boone bat?" even after Boone was DFA'ed.

I think msb does a good job of telling the story of the Boone roller coaster in a comment on USSM.

Randy Winn signs 3 year, $23 million contract extension

I know, people think this is a bad contract. In my mind, I just compare it to Johnny Damon, who's getting paid twice as much for pretty much the same skillset (reasonable hitter, runs fast, good outfield defense, awful arm. And Randy's a switch-hitter, too) and the same age, and Randy Winn is a local boy for the Giants and all.

Since I always liked Randy Winn, despite him having the Napoleon Dynamite DVD in his player basket during the Mariners Care auction, I'm happy for him getting a big contract.

Raul Ibanez signs 2 year, $11 million contract extension

I started writing this to be silly the other day when I first heard about the contract (but it wasn't finalized then), so I might as well post it.

R is for the runs you score, which help to make us win;
A is for the attitude and class that you bring in.
U is for unusual, that Buhner-Brynner 'do;
L is for the left field line so often in your view.

I is for "intangibles", a word we often hear
B is for the bat you swing, and fences that you clear.
A is also assets like your awesome arm and aim
N is for the new guys who you welcome to the game
E is for eleven million reasons you belong
And Z's for Warren Zevon, who sings your intro song.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

WBC Japan pitching heads-up

Of course this isn't set in stone, and maybe Sadaharu Oh's just trying to mess with everyone's mind, but for the Japanese games this weekend, the news has been talking about the starters as being:

Friday March 3: Japan vs. China - Japan starter: Koji Uehara
(this game is on at 1:30am Friday morning, Pacific time)

Saturday March 4: Japan vs. Taipei - Japan starter: Daisuke Matsuzaka
(this game is on at 1am Saturday morning, Pacific time)

Sunday March 5: Japan vs. Korea - Japan starter: Shunsuke Watanabe
(this game is on at 1am Sunday morning, Pacific time)

While I know that most of you guys have probably heard a ton about Matsuzaka, and even Uehara has gotten himself into a decent amount of press with the MLB-NPB all-star games, I really think the most interesting of the three starting pitchers is Shunsuke Watanabe, a submarine pitcher who led the Chiba Lotte Marines to the Japan Series championship and the Konami Cup championship. He's really fun to watch. Also, in my completely biased opinion, I think the Korean team will be the most difficult challenge for the Japan team, so that also makes it a really interesting interesting game to watch.