Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NPB Roundup: Weighing in on the Olympics, and other fun

Just a few things while I stagger under the weight of an entry about Sunday:

We Love Hichorillusion

Our centerfielder is cooler than your centerfielder, because your centerfielder certainly does not do things like put a stunt double of himself in the dugout and then rapel down from the dome ceiling.

The Fighters beat the Marines 3-2 tonight. Positives for the Marines are that Satozaki hit another home run, and Hiroyuki Kobayashi actually pitched a complete game for once, even if it was a close loss. But the positive for the Fighters is better than all of that: seeing Makoto Kaneko as game hero is pure happiness to me. I feel really bad for not being more supportive of Kaicho while he was having such a rough start to the year.

The "We Love Hokkaido" jerseys this year, while not quite as awesome as the blue ones from last year, are actually pretty cool-looking. It took the entire team wearing them today for me to really appreciate that. The stupid part is, apparently they were selling them at the Tokyo Dome last week and I was too set on getting gatchapon pinbadges to notice. I'm a dumbass. Wonder if they'll bring them back here when they play at the Tokyo Dome next month or not.


Morino seems to have finally found his stride again, homering in two straight games and just kicking butt in general. It's just in time for two things: 1) his 30th birthday next week on July 28th, and 2) the Olympics, which he is going to!

Tatsunami got his 6th hit of the season yesterday, too, a 2-RBI double. I would put an over/under on his number of hits this year, but it would just be depressing.

Back in May, I said that my personal prediction for Masa Yamamoto's 200th win was around August 11th, his 43rd birthday. Then he stopped winning games and I was feeling stupid. But now he's kind of started again. With yesterday's win over Hiroshima (which, might I mention, Morino hit a home run in and went 4-for-5) that puts him at 198 career wins, and he should get at least two more starts before his birthday. So, it could still happen.

The downside is, if Masa gets to 200 wins, it's going to put a crimp in my vague plan to go around hunting down his career's worth of baseball cards this offseason. Although, I assumed that Meikyukai members' cards would become more expensive, and Yukio Tanaka's certainly didn't, so who knows.


is why Futoshi Kobayashi came out of the Baystars-Swallows game this evening after only two batteres. He hit Shinya "Captain Japan" Miyamoto in the head with a pitch and was ejected on the Dangerous Pitch Rule. Manager Akihiko Ohya was also ejected from the game in the 8th inning for arguing a call where the umpires said Saeki grounded out to first, but others thought the ball was foul. Kyohei Muranaka, who seems to be doing a pretty good job of being a Left-Handed Kenichi Nakata, got the win in the 4-1 Swallows victory.

Tatsunori Hara

likes birthday cake and is now 50 years old.

Hoshino Japan Gears Up For The Olympics

I saw Atsuya Furuta on TV tonight interviewing Senichi Hoshino, and all I could think was: I'm sad they're taking baseball out of the Olympics because I'd really love to someday cheer for FURUTA JAPAN. Sigh.

Everyone else has already mentioned it, but yeah, the Japan final roster is out for the Olympics.

Uehara (YG), Kawakami (CD), Iwase (CD), Fujikawa (HT), Darvish (HNHF), Naruse (CLM), Wada (FSH), Sugiuchi (FSH), Tanaka (TRGE), Wakui (SL).

You know what really confuses me when I read stuff about this pitching staff? It's not Uehara's inclusion; he's got international experience and blah blah relief whatever. No, it's more that it doesn't sound like people realize how good Sugiuchi really is. He's having another "on" year (that loss a few weeks ago to the Giants? Not his fault. That 9th-inning game-tying home run came on his 150th pitch of the night. That still bugs me), and I think he can bring that to China. Anyway, Darvish is of course the ace, but there's a pretty good staff here, and even four lefties in Naruse, Wada, Sugiuchi and Iwase. And uhh, Kyuji. He's so good I don't even notice anymore; it's when he's pitching like a mortal man that we go "Hey, that's right, he's not actually a god, he just plays one on TV."

Of course, today Masahiro Tanaka was deactivated from the Rakuten roster due to right shoulder pain; sounds like there's not much chance he can pitch at the All-Star game next week, though they're not ruling out the Olympics. Still, that sucks.

Abe (YG), Yano (HT), Satozaki (CLM)

You know, the funniest part about this is going to be watching the Giants second-string catchers doing janken to figure out who gets to wear Shinnosuke's mask while he's gone. I totally want to see Sanematsu out there. Anyway, whatever, Satozaki is going to hit like 5 home runs during the Olympics. It's going to be awesome. And I'm going to be even more terrified to speak to him when he gets back.

Araki (CD), Arai (HT), Murata (YBS), Miyamoto (TYS), Nishioka (CLM), Kawasaki (FSH), Nakajima (SL)

Wait a minute, this team has one 1B, one 2B, one 3B, and FOUR SHORTSTOPS?

(Well, counting Miyamoto as a shortstop. To be fair, I am betting he'll either play 3B or play Captain Japan: Veteran Presence.)

I suppose it makes sense. Hoshino was saying something tonight about wanting to DH Murata, anyway, although I think outfielder G.G. Satoh makes a better DH.

Dear god, Pro Yakyu Ai is going to have a ball with this and their Mune-Aoki-Tsuyoshi triumvirate, though. Add Hiro-chan into the mix and it's just going to be Ikemen Central.

Morino (CD), Aoki (TYS), Inaba (HNHF), G.G.Satoh (SL)

I was surprised, but pleased, to see that Morino got selected to the Olympic team. As Dragonbutt's biggest gaijin fan ever, I had thought he lost his shot at the Olympics when he suffered that freak injury two months ago at Jingu. But, apparently not. The odd thing is, I love him to pieces, but I'm not entirely sure I understand what he gives this team. They have plenty of other lefty bats, and plenty of infielders, although they don't have anyone else who can play all outfield positions AND all infield positions well like Morino. I hate calling him a "utility guy" because that always reeks of "crappy hitter who fills in various positions", when in reality he is "awesome hitter who happens to be able to play lots of positions, which is useful when you are on a team with guys like Tyrone Woods and Norihiro Nakamura playing the infield corners."

You likely know who Aoki is; he's hailed as being the next Ichiro. GG Satoh is a big dude with a big bat. Atsunori Inaba turns 36 next weekend (and I'm going to the Fighters game in Sendai that day!) but still plays excellent defense and is a great hitter, although he recently had a slight injury so I'm not sure what his status is.

I think my brain is going to explode from trying to follow Koshien and the Olympics all at the same time. Seriously.

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