Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What a Tangled Web We Weaver

I forgot there was a Mariners game today until around 2pm, at which point they were already down 13-1. It seems that I'm probably better off for that. From what I understand, Jeff Weaver was just very, very bad today. Offhand, my biggest thought after the game was how the Nippon Ham Fighters really could use Hideki Okajima (now doing well with the Red Sox) or Brad Thomas (now sucking with the Rainiers) back, as the lefty side of their bullpen has been abysmal.

I really need a good way to share random links here without making an entry for each. I've been sort of collecting them on the side and figured I'd regurgitate them all at once, even if they're a few days out of date.

So, something I wasn't aware of was that the teams in the KBO actually draft the Korean players in the MLB, regardless of whether those players have any intention to come back to Korea. The SK Wyverns picked former Mariners prospect Shin-soo Choo with the first pick. The Hyundai Unicorns picked Byung-Hyun Kim. And apparently, the KIA Tigers picked the struggling Hee-Seop Choi, who actually sounds like he might return to Korea.

I thought it seemed crazy to have the Indians play a series with Milwaukee as their home, but it looks like almost 20,000 people attended the "home" opener anyway. Google maps tells me that it's a 7-hour drive from Cleveland to Milwaukee, so my guess is that it was mostly the Wisconsin chapter of Grady's Ladies filling the stadium.

Still, the snowfest in Cleveland was worth something -- a good Mariner snow fight. Is the "snow ball" an outlawed pitch these days too?

And speaking of the Angels, I thought it was really cool how Troy Percival retired as an Angel -- signing a minor league contract with them on Opening Day, then retiring, and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch that evening. I used to really like Troy Percival -- he just always looked so badass out there on the mound, like he was going to crumple a beer can into your forehead if you stood in the way of him getting his three outs. And it was way cool of him to literally build his alma mater a new clubhouse a few months ago. So, with Percy and Salmon retired and Blue Eyes on the Mariners now, that about does it for Angels I used to really like, I think. Well, there's always Shields, I guess.

This is not a baseball link exactly, but the Washington Post recently pulled what I think is an excellent stunt -- they got Joshua Bell, who is basically the Johan Santana of violin playing, to go stand in a subway station in DC and play violin for 43 minutes and see whether anyone actually noticed. They surmise that nobody noticed because people just don't pay attention to beautiful music OR crappy music performed by buskers. My hypothesis lies in the opening sentence of the article describing Bell's appearance: "a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap." It's quite obviously the Nats cap that made people rush by. Duhhhh.

I have no point here, I just want to forward an awesome Page 2 article on Sal Fasano.

Though I guess that could make a nice segue into Jonah Keri's hilarious
Page 2 story lines for the season article. The best part is point 6, calling out Pat Neshek (rightfully so) as the best baseball player-blogger. Pat, of course, had to live up to that, and responded in his own blog, mentioning that you should never suggest what sounds like a ridiculous memorabilia trade to him -- after all, he actually HAS the Simpsons trading cards in question.

And completely out of nowhere, just because I want to remember the link, Pat Venditte is a switch pitcher. Who knows if he'll make it to the majors, as usual, but it's still cool.

To transition between sides of the pond, here is an awesome audio documentary of Adam Hyzdu, which Mark Moran forwarded me. It's long -- an hour -- but basically Hyzdu had a tape recorder with him in spring training for several years, and he and his family recorded diaries as he made his journey through the minors and majors, and even into the start of his playing time in Japan (where, incidentally, he is also in the minors currently. Poor guy).

Robert Whiting, who is the man when it comes to writing about Japanese baseball, is doing a series in the Japan Times this week on MLB's effect on Japanese baseball. The first piece is out and as usual, Whiting says everything I'd want to, only better than I ever could. I look forward to the rest of the series.

You know, the Fighters bullpen isn't just having trouble with lefties -- their closer, Micheal Nakamura, just got de-activated from the roster due to shoulder pain. Arrrrgh. Same article mentions that Jason Johnson has an inflamed elbow. On the other hand, Seibu is still winning games and Nippon Ham is not, so pffft. At least this explains why Darvish pitched a complete game the other day in order to get the win.

Okay, the season's officially started now that Orix manager Terry Collins managed to get himself ejected from Sunday's game arguing over a balk that Tom Davey made which eventually led to a Seibu win. Here's a picture of him blowing his top.

Hanshin Tigers ironman Tomoaki Kanemoto turned 39 last week and celebrated by hitting a grand slam.

As I mentioned, Fighters veteran Yukio Tanaka is getting close to reaching 2000 hits (he started the season with 1982). Here he is, with 16 left! and 15 left!. One could argue that putting in a utility infielder who's way past his prime might be part of why the Fighters are losing games, but let's face it, they basically lost way too many key parts of what made the team so great last year. I'm not ready to give up on the season yet, but from what I have seen, there just aren't enough new guys who can fill the old shoes. At any rate, if the team's losing, at least they can let Yukio hopefully get enough at-bats to reach his goal so he can retire and become a coach or whatever. I have mentioned it's weird seeing old Fighters centerfielder Tatsuya Ide as a base coach for the Softbank Hawks, haven't I?

Speaking of big round numbers of hits, remember I mentioned a few weeks ago that Chunichi's Hirokazu Ibata is the best shortstop in Japan? Well, in addition to being a kickass fielder, he also just reached 1000 hits last week. Misero yo Ibata, indeed!

I was all ready to make a post last week called "Dragonbutt for Third!" after my pet Dragon, Masahiko Morino, went and hit three home runs in three consecutive games. As of April 4th he was a collective 9-for-17 with 2 doubles and 3 home runs, for a whopping .529/.555/1.176 line. The next day, Tyrone Woods said "I am not about to be outdone by Deanna's Dragonbutt", and went and smacked three home runs in one game to overtake the team HR lead, and since then Morino hasn't hit another homerun and has dropped to a mere .382/.405/.706 clip, behind Tyrone Woods's .344/.475/.875 line. Alas.

Also, in case you haven't seen yet, I released the first version of my Japanese box score translation scripts, and you can see the boxscores on the front sidebar at Exciting, isn't it? I've already got a bunch of changes I need to finish testing and put up there -- and soon I'll be generating player game logs and other fun stuff.

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