Sunday, April 24, 2011

Two Weeks In

Well, who on earth would have expected this kind of start...

Central League
1 Yakult 11 6 3 2 - 10
2 Hiroshima 12 6 4 2 .5 4
3 Yomiuri 8 4 3 1 .5 6
4 Hanshin 11 5 5 1 .5 4
5 Yokohama 11 4 6 1 1 15
6 Chunichi 9 2 6 1 1 5

Pacific League
1 Softbank 11 7 3 1 - 9
2 Nippon Ham 11 7 4 0 .5 11
3 Rakuten 12 6 6 0 1.5 7
4 Lotte 11 5 6 0 .5 6
5 Seibu 11 4 7 0 1 11
6 Orix 12 4 7 1 0 6

Crazier still: the top batter in the CL right now is Yakult's elder statesman Shinya Miyamoto with a .436 average, and the PL's top batter is Seibu rookie (he played a few games at ichi-gun last year but) Hideto Asamura with a .450. WTF? Asamura was a year behind Sho Nakata at Osaka Toin; maybe he can get in some good trash-talking.

The home run numbers are a little easier to figure out: Sledge had that 3-HR game and has 6 total on the season now, and Brett Harper has 3, so that's where most of Yokohama's gaudy total comes from. Hatakeyama (5) and Balentien (3) make up most of Yakult's. Similarly over in Pacific-Land, Okawari-kun is leading the HR total with 6, accounting for half of Seibu's, and the Fighters have gotten 4, 3, and 2 out of Hoffpauir, Itoi, and Koyano respectively.

I'm guessing that Yakult's doing well because I moved away! I guess we'll see how things continue. I've watched a few of their games over the internet because they're at a decent time for here in Seattle (day games in Japan start at 9pm for me here) and there's a guy on who's a big Swallows fan and broadcasts them all. So I saw Shohei Tateyama pitch a gem against the Dragons the other day, and then last night saw Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi face off against the Carp and Yuya Fukui. (Fukui, now that he's no longer at Waseda, is someone I'd like to see succeed, especially since he turned down the Giants in the draft back in 2005 and then got his first pro victory against them last week.) So Fukui came out of the game with the Carp down 0-2 to Yakult, and then Masubuchi ran into a roadblock and suddenly loaded the bases and then BAM, next thing you knew Tracy and Kurihara had hit the Carp up to 3-2, and Fukui would get the win if they won, except then Yakult's Hatakeyama decided to hit a 2-run homer and make it 4-3, with the Swallows eventually winning 8-3.

I've joked for ages that Hatakeyama sucks whenever I'm at the stadium watching him and is awesome otherwise, so he'll probably have a monster year, it seems. On the other hand, Yasushi Iihara got taken off the active roster a few days ago and is now playing in ni-gun alongside Miyade, making me really wish it was still just a bike ride away to their minor-league facilities.

As an aside, the guy who pinch-hit for Fukui was none other than my former favorite Baystar Takuro Ishii, who apparently played a full game the night before and went 3-for-3 with a walk and a sac bunt. He walked in this game too and is thus still 1.000 for the season with an OBP of 1.000 as well. Takuro turns 41 this summer and it's nice to see him still have some success down there in Hiroshima.

I couldn't sleep the other night and caught a Fighters game against the Eagles at the Stadium Formerly Known As Skymark. Though even from the start of the game I was like "Yagi doesn't look so good out there", and he even gave up an oshidashi run by hitting Toshiya Nakashima with a pitch. Leave it to former golden rookie Sho Nakata to tie the game up, though, before they eventually lost on a sayonara home run by Randy Ruiz.

Just as I feared, Yuki Saitoh won his first two starts for the Fighters, so his "Golden Rookie" status is only escalating more and more by the day. Would you believe that when I went looking for baseball cards before I left Tokyo, they were already selling his Rookie Edition card for 1000 yen? This is the first time in years that I didn't buy the Fighters RE set.

I suspect it'll take a few years and hopefully some hype dying down before I can accept him. (I made the mistake of re-watching the Waseda Jitsugyo vs. Nichidai San high school West Tokyo finals from 2006 the other night, a nailbiter that Saitoh won in 11 innings; I wonder how different things might be had Sanko won that game and gone to Koshien instead?)

On another note, I am happy that Ryota Imanari is sticking with the top team -- I was hoping that the team would get to a point where him and Shota Ohno were the team's regular catchers, but so far Ohno's doing the majority of the work behind the plate. We'll see, I guess. Tsuruoka's going to be out for a while, so the other two really have a shot to prove themselves.

I've been following Tokyo Big 6 but haven't gotten a chance to actually watch the back games yet, so haven't written much. The most interesting thing so far, IMO, is Keio's decision to convert Koji Fukutani into a closer role, sort of along the lines of what Waseda did with Tatsuya Ohishi. I think it's a great idea since Fukutani is actually a very Ohishi-like player, and this way he can get even more gaudy strikeout ratios and still wow people with his ability to hit 96 mph on the radar gun. Hopefully both him and Daisuke will make it to the Japan-USA college tourney this summer!

(Well, also interesting was the Battle of the Koryo Aces yesterday, as Koryo 2007, Meiji's Yusuke Nomura, took the mound and won against Koryo 2010, Waseda's Kohei Arihara. I suppose you could say that the Keio-Hosei game was between two former Chukyodai Chukyo teammates who are both captains of their respective college teams now, Keio's Hayata Itoh and Hosei's Masashi Nanba. Nanba was team captain when they were both in high school, but Itoh has unquestionably had the much more successful college career...)


Anonymous said...

3 things of note:

1. HOW did you find the Fighters game on the Internet? I've tried at least 25 cites and cannot find much Pa-league games. Is there a link you could provide me? I would be hugely indebted!

2. If you can't see all the game due to sleep, etc.., google 'Korizuni's channel youtube' and up pops this GREAT youtube site that re-broadcasts a great highlights show (don't want to name it since I don't want to tempt fate) in its ENTIRETY and the highlights are extremely thorough and (keep fingers crossed), the big wigs at you-know-where haven't put the kibosh on it.

3. The Jingu radar gun is very 'optimistic', let's just say that. Yoshinori routinely hits in the upper 150s and it would be interesting to see how he fares in other ballparks.


Deanna said...

I think I really truly lucked out with the Fighters game, I can rarely find PL stuff either to be honest. I probably wouldn't have stayed up all night if I hadn't found the game :)

(And PA-TV doesn't seem to want to accept my credit card... wish I could figure out some way to give them money in exchange for them letting me watch games...)

I know about Jingu's radar gun being pretty silly. Fukutani, on the other hand, actually HAS that speed regardless of Jingu -- I confirmed that with a few scouts who have their own guns. Fukutani's still a relatively unknown name considering how damn good he is, kinda like how Ohishi was too for a while. And he's a really great kid too.

Shin said...

I've been trying to watch some games over the weekend on justin tv, but with Asia having that limited free viewers thing, I'm getting kicked out every 30 seconds. So frustrating when u wanna sit around to watch a game.

As for Saito Yuki, people are already saying he's nothing special right now, and how Ma-kun's so far ahead of him at this stage of their career. I watched a bit of him last night as well, and ya, I don't think he will have those run supports all year long, so he's gonna end up with a mediocre record and the hype will hoepfully die down.

Deanna said...

Is THAT why I used to get kicked out of so often when I was in Japan? Sheesh!

Saitoh, well, he's been really lucky that he became a high school star by pitching 234932849823958239482 innings, but SINCE that time I don't think he's had to throw more than 6 innings at a time EVER. He's had great run support behind him and good bullpens... a lot of other guys of his generation haven't had that luxury. Not that I'm saying he hasn't done well for what he's been given, but I sometimes think he only looks that much better than some of his peers because of the circumstances he's been able to pitch in.

(Which actually makes Yusuke Nomura that much more impressive, if you think about it...)

Isaac said...

Hi, Dragons fan in Seattle,
I bugged you about a Kawakami sticker awhile back.
I was wondering about as well, haven't had much too much luck with it.
You may already know about Keyhole TV, my wife put it on our computer a while ago, it lets you watch live tv from Japan, the only problem is that it on a really small screen, but it's better than nothing.

Deanna said...

Yeah, seems random. I've only gotten lucky because I'm a secondary Swallows fan, and they're playing a lot of day games, I think.

I've never seen Keyhole TV. That's interesting... I may have to check it out. If nothing else I could listen to games, although a lot of stuff doesn't get broadcast on the main channels besides Giants games and whatever they feel like showing on BS1.

Isaac said...

Forgot to mention that besides the network channels on Keyhole, there is a channel that shows Fighters games under gogofighters and a newer channel that shows Rakuten games, not sure if they show the full games or if they are showing the middle portion (as shown by the network channels)

Anonymous said...

bad news, Korizuni's channel was BUSTED by the good folks at Fujii TV. No more incredible highlights. Ugh.


westbaystars said...

I've also been kicked off of Justin.TV a lot lately while on my computer. But watching it on my iPhone has no "too many viewers in your country" issues, although I haven't changed countries. That is interesting news.