I'm still sometimes reading news and trying to catch up on stuff, but it's really weird not being able to watch the Japanese sports news or read Shukan Baseball and other sports magazines. I try watching the sports news here, but being as I'm in Philly, it's all about the Eagles, despite that they apparently suck this year. I think there are a FEW people in town aware that the local baseball team won some big games a month ago, but aside from the big display at Modell's, and a bunch of people in red jackets, I haven't seen too much evidence thereof.
(I really want a "Phinally" t-shirt.)
So, back to NPB, what can I say that hasn't been said already?
The 2009 Schedules are out. Lots of Fighters games in Kanto during April. I'm looking forward to it.
One important thing that happened in the last week is that Brian Sweeney re-signed with the Fighters for next year. Yay! That made me really happy to hear -- both because he'll be good for the team, and because I'll get to harrass him for another year.
And of course, now we're going to start calling him a "blue-eyed Dosanko" instead of a "blue-eyed Samurai", I think. Dosanko meaning someone or something born in Hokkaido; I don't know whether "I am Dosanko" was what he said or what got put in the translation of his comments, though.
(I forget if I ever mentioned it before, but Consadole Sapporo, the soccer team that the Fighters share the Sapporo Dome with, took their name from the word Dosanko -- if you turn it around in Japanese syllables, you get ko-n-sa-do, which they added "Ole!" to the end of, to make their team name. I still think it's the coolest soccer name in Japan by far.)
That stupid trade seems to becoming official as I write this; Nioka is supposed to be taking uniform number #23 from Ozaki, in theory. I'm still in denial about the entire thing. I'm just glad they didn't make him armwrestle Tsuboi for #7 or anything. (EDIT: New Player press conference says Nioka did indeed get #23 and Hayashi is taking #19, last used by failed Hanshin tradee Yasuhiro Nakamura before he got released. And apparently Ozaki will wear #53, Kudoh's old number. That's not good for him. Tsuda-kun moved up from #48 to #70 as well.)
Fighters Fanfest happened last weekend. Darvish dressed up as a bee and ran bicycle races against Sho Nakata, or something. Of course, Imanari dressed up as a... umm... I don't know. I really gotta find someone who actually WENT to Fan Fest to explain to me what was up there.
Either way, I vaguely doubt it could be as nuts as what apparently happened at Yakult's fan fest, where Norichika Aoki, backed up by Kawashima and Okamoto, sang the title song by baka-band Shuchishin as part of the player Karaoke event.
（No, really. Check out the Youtube video. It's not great quality and was filmed from the stands, but it's FUNNY if you know the original. Of course, it's a bit more disturbing to see this one of Yoshinori and Masaru Satoh in drag...)
The Yokohama Baystars and Shonan Sea Rex fan fests happened last weekend as well. Westbay blogged about them. I can't decide how I feel about them -- whether I'd have gone if I was in Japan still or not, that is. I had a really good time at Baystars fanfest last year, but that was before they had this abysmal year and also released my favorite player on the team.
Speaking of my favorite player on the team, Takuro Ishii, he was infact signed by the Hiroshima Carp, and had a press conference last week to be introduced as a new team member. I'm glad he found a place to go, and I might have to actually make it to more than one Carp game next year as a result, assuming they actually PLAY him. He's wearing uniform number 25.
(But now I'm torn -- if I do get a Carp jersey, do I get a Takuro jersey or still go with Yuki Saitoh, #21? I'm still tending to think the latter.)
On another note, there have been a lot of people going on about this guy:
Yeah, I took that shot of Junichi Tazawa at the semi-final at the All-City industrial league tournament back in September before all of this stuff started. Seems he's getting the heck out of Japan fairly soon, and signs point to Boston. I don't know. I don't really like the situation -- mostly the money disparity between the two nations.
I could rant about it, but what my opinion comes down to is that it's not the NPB's problem to get more money and pay their players higher salaries; the problem is that MLB players are simply paid too much. I'm never fully convinced that the exodus really has that much to do with the "challenge", but more to do with the money.
(I should perhaps make it clear that the preceding statement is not really about Tazawa but about the situation in general. I should perhaps also mention that I greatly dislike discussing this stuff.)
As for why I didn't really write much about watching Tazawa at the tournament games: first, I'm not a scout, second, I was mostly there to watch the marching bands, and third, I was too busy booing this guy:
Yes, Hisayoshi Chono seems to have a goal of making half of the fanbases in Japan hate his guts, as this time he apparently decided he will not play for Lotte.
This follows two years after the Fighters tried to draft him out of Nihon University and he said he'd only play for the Giants, invoking the ire of Fighters fans everywhere for the snub. He then went on to play for Honda Sayama's team, and has been a fairly standout player in the industrial leagues, at least judging by the amount of space he's given in the magazines and such. (When I saw him play, he did pretty poorly, but that might have just been karma.) Now, he's turning down Lotte. Does he really expect to get drafted again in two years? I think he's basically screwed over his chances at a pro career -- I doubt a 26-year-old outfielder will be worth all that much by the time he comes up again, and the Giants really have no reason to take him.
Something funny: my Japanese cellphone automatically completes, if I type 長野 (Chono), it suggests that the next thing I want to say is 馬鹿 (Baka). That should give you a good indication of how many times I typed it when discussing the draft in Japanese.
I guess this does solve one problem for me: I didn't think I'd be able to watch him at Lotte's minor-league park next year without getting an urge to boo him, so this way I don't need to worry about it.
I'm about halfway done reading the Wally Yonamine book; I slept more on my flights home than I intended to. Alas.