Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Postseason, heroes, and blogs, oh my!

Stupid Scheduling, or The Oakland A's Will Be At Work Earlier Than I Am During The ALDS

The first and foremost piece of business tonight is that the postseason schedules are up, and they're ridiculous. All of the 8pm Eastern games involve the Yankees or Mets. There are no games starting later than 5pm Pacific.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but... six out of the eight teams in the postseason aren't even on the east coast. Three of the eight (Dodgers, Padres, and A's) are even on the west coast. You can argue that the Twins and A's are small-market teams, but what kind of idiots wouldn't want to watch Barry Zito vs. Johan Santana at a time of the day better suited to pizza and beer rather than eggs and coffee? Oh, right, the sort of people who heard that Joe Mauer beat Derek Jeter for the batting title and said, "Joe Who?"

Over at Athletics Nation, the lovely and talented BaseballGirl went off and actually called the MLB commissioner's office, and found email addresses and phone numbers where one can vent their frustration at the situation. My housemate offered to Tivo some of the games for me, but I mean, a 10am game makes it highly unlikely I won't know the outcome and details of the game by the time I'd get home from work, which takes a lot of the fun out of watching it. If they seriously don't think anyone's going to watch the A's-Twins games, why not just have them start at a normal time for our small-market coast?

Players Blog It Too, or Wright Now Is Gum Time

In other postseasoniness, Michael Cuddyer and Barry Zito have joined the mlblogs.com family to theoretically blog the postseason. Oddly, the three mlblogs.com player blogs I've been reading for a while are also of players in the postseason -- Nate Robertson, David Wright, and Dan Haren, who really needs to update his. But none of these even remotely compare with Pat Neshek's blog, which he's been writing and maintaining on his own for the whole season, even before he made the majors. I've said it before, but if you don't read Neshek's blog, you're really missing out.

(morning edit: MetsGrrl informs us that Cliff Floyd also has a postseason blog. Neat.)

(evening edit: Derek Lowe joins the madness!)

Hometown Who-roes?

I was going to talk about the Hometown Heroes thing last week, since I thought it was really cool that Mike Schmidt was named Phillies Hero on his birthday -- but wanted to wait until all of the selections had been announced. Thing is, I still can't find a comprehensive page listing all 30. The first 20 are listed in this article, but that's it. Other choices not on that page:

Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr
Twins - Kirby Puckett
Red Sox - Ted Williams
Angels - Rod Carew
Astros - Nolan Ryan
Diamondbacks - Randy Johnson
Giants - Willie Mays
Padres - Tony Gwynn
Dodgers - Jackie Robinson

I can't seem to find one for the Rockies. Also, I think it's funny that Nolan Ryan is the hero for two teams and that Rod Carew is the ANGELS' Hero, since I always associate him with the Twins.

(EDIT: Yay! Tokyo Sam finds me the entire list here.)

Kazumi Saitoh, or I'm Sorry Being The Best Wasn't Good Enough

Alright, so the Pacific League season is over in Japan, and let me ask you all a question: What Japanese pitcher in the Pacific League do YOU think led the league in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, ERA, and just about every other category under the sun?

No, no, not Daisuke Matsuzaka. He didn't win any of those categories. Good as he is -- and I'm not going to say he wasn't -- the best pitcher in the Pacific League this year was easily the Softbank Hawks' Kazumi Saitoh. My friends thought I was crazy when I said I basically took a train 200 miles north to Sendai for an afternoon just to see him pitch, but no, it was worth it. Saitoh's amazing. His fastball registers in the low 90's and he supposedly throws one of the best forkballs in Japan. Also, he's like 6'4" or so; I have one picture I took of him up in Sendai where he's at the plate with an umpire, a coach, and catcher Matoba, and towers over them all. He also seems like an interesting and intelligent guy, from everything I know of him.

Anyway, his line for the season looks something like this (with Matsuzaka for comparison, though nobody else really comes close to these two):
             IP      H    ER   HR   BB    K    W     L    ERA    WHIP
Saitoh 201 147 39 10 46 205 18 5 1.75 0.94
Matsuzaka 186.1 138 44 13 34 200 17 5 2.13 0.92

But it gets even more insane. I've been reading Saitoh's blog on his official website for most of the season, and the latest entry nearly made me cry. It's basically an apology to the Hawks fans for the team not being first place in the Pacific League, and saying that he feels like it's all his fault for letting them down and not winning that last game against the Fighters. But he says there's still a chance in the postseason, and it'll be tough, but he will do his best and so will the team and they'll be fighting all the way to win. (as an aside, though -- it's going to be a tough fight, with the Lions having home-field advantage in all games, and especially with Nagisa Arakaki sick with appendicitis.)

Seriously, this is a guy who should be a shoe-in for the Sawamura award, who even has a pretty good case for being league MVP, and he's apologizing for going out there and pitching 6 innings, giving up 3 runs, walking none, and striking out 10 guys.

You know, the only way I could possibly love him more, I think, is if he pitched for the Fighters :)

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