First, are you curious what all-star ballots look like in Japan? I know I certainly would be if I wasn't here. I don't have a scanner, so I took pictures of it with my dSLR and it should be good enough to at least give you an idea. Click on either of these small ones to see a little larger one. Also, you fill in a circle on these, instead of punching out the paper holes like you do in America. (My dad has great stories about using punched-card computer machines in the 1970's to fill out All-Star Ballots... but that's another story.)
Anyway, MY choices. Usually who I think is the best player at each position, but sometimes just who I felt like voting for:
SP: Shunsuke Watanabe, Marines
MP: Yuuki Kume, Hawks
CL: Daisuke Katoh, Buffaloes
C: Shinya Tsuruoka, Fighters
1B: Shinji Takahashi, Fighters
2B: Kensuke Tanaka, Fighters
SS: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Lions
3B: Toshiaki Imae, Marines
OF: Hichori Morimoto, Fighters
OF: Atsunori Inaba, Fighters
OF: Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Hawks
DH: Takeshi Yamasaki, Eagles
First, I honestly can't decide for SP between Darvish, Iwakuma, and Sugiuchi. There's reasonable arguments for them all, and I admire them all, so I decided to just toss them all out and vote for my ex-boyfriend Shunsuke. I admit that his recent decision to start wearing high socks had a lot of influence on my vote.
Kume over Hisashi Takeda for middle relief is really close too, but I am really impressed with the way former Meiji ace Kume-kun has pretty much hit the ground running this year. I'm almost wondering if he'll be in the running for PL ROY when all the dust settles. Also, he has great taste in okonomiyaki.
Daisuke Katoh is honestly the only Orix player I can vote for with a clean conscience. He really is a pretty darn good closer. I wonder when Orix will trade him away for a sack of beans. I realize Alex Graman is probably a better closer, but I'm also anti-Seibu. Did I mention I'm biased?
I picked Tsuruoka at catcher because I don't know what Hashimoto's status is, Satozaki is listed as being the Marines' DH instead of catcher, and Shinji Takahashi was listed at 1B, and Hosokawa can bite me.
I feel really bad for voting for two guys with broken hands, but it's not really Shinji's fault, so. I think it's almost comical that Akira Etoh is on there.
Kensuke Tanaka is a straight choice. He's just FANTASTIC and an all-star in every way.
The fact that I despise Seibu and still picked Hiro-chan for shortstop should tell you exactly how freaking good he's been this year. Besides, then he and Kensuke can make the All-Pink All-Number-3 middle infield. Or something.
I had a tossup between Imae and Matsuda at 3B, but I think Imae is actually entirely the better player here. Plus he is fuzzier (although I think Matsuda's goatee look is better than Imae's gorilla look in general).
Hichori and Inaba were pretty obvious choices, even with Hichori's broken hand. If nothing else, he should be at the ASG to pull off some stunt or prank! I am aware that Matsunaka is actually on the ballot as DH, but I think of him as 1B/LF, plus, he doesn't trump Takeshi, but he does trump a lot of the OF candidates. Also, due to my anti-Seibu bias I didn't want to pick GG Satoh, despite that he's absolutely RAKING this year. It's almost unfair. Wait, it IS unfair.
Oh yeah, and everyone knows I'm a big TAKESHI SMASH fan. BOOM!
SP: Colby Lewis, Carp
MR: Takehiko Oshimoto, Yakult
CL: Kyuji Fujikawa, Hanshin
C: Motonobu Tanishige, Dragons
1B: Tyrone Woods, Dragons
2B: Hiroyasu Tanaka, Yakult
SS: Hirokazu Ibata, Dragons
3B: Shuuichi Murata, Yokohama
OF: Masahiko Morino, Dragons
OF: Tomoaki Kanemoto, Hanshin
OF: Seiichi Uchikawa, Yokohama
I am, perhaps, biased against a particular team. I wonder who?
Anyway, Colby Lewis has been OWNING the Central League. It's pretty crazy.
As for Oshimoto as middle reliever over Kubota, this is just me being partial because I was angry we traded Oshimoto away from the Fighters. Plus he's doing a fantastic job over there with Yakult (and the 0.33 ERA doesn't hurt either). I think he's given up exactly one earned run... against Lotte last week. (But what I can't figure out is why Araki's home run off of him on April 27th was NOT counted as an earned run. I was there, I know it was a really short HR into the first row of seats, but still. I fail to understand how a home run with no outs is unearned. My best guess is that Fukukawa dropped a pop foul. This is what gets lost in box scores, and I didn't even write it down on my card.)
You know, I can't really decide whether I should vote for Fujikawa because he's unreal, or vote for Iwase because he needs my vote. I may just alternate when filling out ballots. I'm sure they will both get all-star spots regardless.
I think I will basically vote for Shige until his legs fall off. He's just my absolute favorite catcher in the CL now that Furuta retired.
If you don't know why I voted for Tyrone, you don't read this blog enough :) Though I will admit that he would be an ideal DH candidate (even if he would disagree), and that'd open up the 1B slot for Arai.
Something scary about the 2B selection is that I didn't see any particular person jump out immediately at me as OMG HAVE TO CHOOSE THEM. They're all mostly pretty great in their own way. It is a little weird for me to not choose both halves of Arakibata, but, I have to admit that I am partial to second basemen named Tanaka. Yeah, I know Higashide is suddenly batting up a storm out of nowhere, but when it comes to being an all-around good batter/fielder/etc, I have to choose Beavis.
So the deal with SS is, I'd rather vote for Takuro Ishii because I'm a huge fan, but in reality, I know darn well that Takashi Toritani is going to get the fan vote at shortstop. So I might as well vote for Ibata, since I think he is a better shortstop. (He's just amazing to watch in the field, seriously.)
Third base: It came down to deciding between Norihiro, who's really a 1B wearing a 3B glove, or THE MAN? Yeah, I had to go with THE MAN. They're also probably both going to end up on the team one way or the other.
I do not care that CF/3B Morino is injured, he gets my vote because he's my favorite player.
Aniki is Aniki. He doesn't really need my vote, but if ever there was a guy who had "All-Star" virtually tattooed on his forehead, it's Kanemoto.
You might have noticed my write-in for Seiichi Uchikawa. I don't think he'll finish the season at .400, but well, I feel like either he or Ohnishi or both should be recognized for how well they're doing this year.
I should perhaps choose a "WTF Are They Doing On The Ballot" team while I'm at it.
Anyway, none of this really matters, of course. I'm just one crazy fan out of millions.
Who are YOU voting for?