Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NPB 2008 Team Slogans

These haven't really changed much from last year, with a few notable exceptions, but I noticed they were printed in the pocket meikan I bought today, so here you go:

Pacific League:

Fighters: 「熱く、頂点(サミット)へ」 ~F・A・N・S ’08~

("Atsuku, chouten e!" "Burning, to the summit!")

It's unclear to me whether they want to use "chouten" or "summit" to be honest. I'm sure if Hillman was still around they'd use the English word.

Marines: 「A Passion for Our Dream, a Commitment to the Flag ~夢に情熱を、フラッグに誓いを~」

("Yume ni jounetsu wo, FLAG ni chikai wo". Pretty literal translation.)

Softbank: 「めざせ世界一!」

("Mezase sekai ichi!" Again, no official English version, but they've had this slogan for four years now... effectively "Aim to be the best in the world!" It's also the Softbank company slogan in general, I believe.)

Rakuten: 「Smart&Spirit 2008 考えて野球せぃ!」

("Kangaete yakyuu seii!" which pretty much means "Thinking baseball!")

Seibu:「No Limit! 2008」

Orix: "One Heart Beat" ~鼓動をひとつに~

("Kodou wo hitotsu ni")

Central League

Giants: 「Show the Spirit-奪回-」

(It's the same as last year. That last part is pronounced "dakkai" and means "recapture". Technically, dakkai is the slogan, and "show the spirit" is the catchphrase, but whatever.)

Chunichi: "Road to Victory"

Hanshin: "Be the Best For the Fans" ~最高をめざせ! そしてファンのために!~

("Saikou wo mezase! Soshite FAN no tame ni!" literally "aim for the best! For the sake of the fans!")

Yokohama: 「なせば成る~Move on~」

("Naseba naru" -- same as last year)

Hiroshima: "All-In 激"

激, pronounced "geki", sort of means... violent/excited. They refer to a 激戦, a gekisen -- hard-fought battle -- as the way the Carp will play this year.

Yakult: 「Dynamic & Dramatic 躍動感あふれるプレーでファンに感動を!」

("Yakudoukan afureru PLAY de, FAN ni kandou wo!" I do think it's some sort of play on having doukan and kandou, but maybe I'm just reading more into it)

It doesn't make much sense literally in English, kind of like "Vibrant overflowing play, fans are deeply moved!", so I'd like to take poetic license and turn this into "Play bright, EXCITE!"

Yeah, I know open-sen has started. Unfortunately, even if I wanted to translate box scores, I'm not sure where complex ones are. The best ones I've seen are on the official site and even those are just simple boxscores, not events like Yahoo usually has. Alas. Even if I wanted to, though, I've just been running into weird troubles with Japanese text. I'm now running Debian on my USB stick, but it's still something of an adventure. No hard drive? No problem!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shukan Baseball 2008 Meikan Useless Statistics

I can't believe I wasted my braincells going through all the stuff in this issue, so I might as well share with you guys. It's pretty astounding what they'll put in these sometimes.

The first part had lots of uniform number changes, and more fun, some name changes. Sadly I can't input Japanese characters here (I'll edit in later) but the most amusing to me were that first, Lotte's Tsuyoshi Nishioka went from being "TSUYOSHI" to being... Tsuyoshi Nishioka (西岡剛). In other interestingness, Hanshin's Kentaro Sekimoto changed the kanji for his first name from 健太郎 to 賢太郎. It's still Kentaro, just spelled different, as it were. The first "Ken" means healthy, the second one means wise.

Okay, so random stats breaking down the 830 players in the NPB meikan this year:

Birthplace by regions:
Hokkaido & Tohoku: 52 (6.82%)
Kanto: 211 (27.69%)
Chubu: 110 (14.44%)
Kansai: 194 (25.46%)
Chugoku: 39 (5.12%)
Shikoku: 38 (4.99%)
Kyushu & Okinawa 118 (15.49%)
Foreign countries: 68 (8.92%)

Top 5 prefectures:
1. Osaka, 80
2. Kanagawa, 53
3. Hyogo, 43
4. Tokyo, 40
5. Kyoto, 34

Top 4 High Schools:
1. PL Gakuen, 20
2. Yokohama, 18
3. Osaka Toin, 12
4. Urawa Gakuin, 11

Top 3 Universities:
1. Aoyama Gakuin, 19
1. Tohoku Fukushi, 19
3. Hosei, 16

Top 5 Industrial/Club Teams:
1. Shikoku Island League, 12
2. NTT Nishinihon, 9
2. Japan Express, 9
2. Toyota, 9
2. JFE Nishinihon, 9

Player ages:
40 and above: 12
35-39: 70
30-34: 182
25-29: 304
20-24: 213
19 and below: 49

(They have more of a breakdown in a chart, even with hitters vs. batters at each age. I noticed that Kudoh was listed at 45, then saw two 43-year-old pitchers unnamed, and to my credit it only took me about a minute to realize they meant Lotte's Komiyama and Chunichi's Yamamoto. Next oldest pitchers are three 40-year-olds. I could think of Shimoyanagi and Kida pretty quickly, but if anyone else can come up with the third off the top of their head without looking it up I'll give them a cookie, because I certainly had to go look it up.)

Handedness (Throws/Bats):
R/R: 499
R/L: 132
R/B: 27
L/L: 166
L/R: 5
L/B: 1

(The sole left-handed switch-hitter is Lotte pitcher Takuya Kikoh, in case you are wondering.)

Service time:
21+ years: 10
16-20: 30
11-15: 100
6-10: 230
1-5: 432
0: 28 (draft guys)

Birth month (yes, they really list this):
January: 48
February: 32
March: 38
April: 93
May: 88
June: 98
July: 97
August: 67
October: 74
November: 65
December: 62

Blood types:
Type A: 289 (143 pitchers 146 fielders)
Type O: 232 (115 pitchers 117 fielders)
Type B: 172 (80 pitchers 92 fielders)
Type AB: 69 (27 pitchers 42 fielders)
Unknown: 68 (41 pitchers 27 fielders)

Average Height/Weight of players in Japan:
Pitchers: 181.94cm / 81.89kg
Fielders: 179.43cm / 81.29kg
Total: 180.66cm / 81.59kg

Top 5 tallest guys:
1. Mike Schultz, P, Hiroshima: 201cm 100kg
2. Tom Davey, P, Orix: 200cm 103kg
3. Ben Kozlowski, P, Hiroshima: 198cm 100kg
4. Julio Zuleta, DH, Lotte: 197cm 113kg
5. Travis Hughes, P, Yokohama: 196cm 106kg
5. Yu Darvish, P, Fighters: 196cm 85kg
5. Matt Kinney, P, Seibu: 196cm 104kg

(For the record the only full Japanese guys in the top ten are Seibu's Koki Fujiwara at 195cm/80kg and Yomiuri's Ken Kadokura at 193cm/90kg.)

Top 3 shortest guys:
1. Kensuke Uchimura, taxi squad IF, Rakuten: 163cm 65kg
2. Kazuya Murata, OF, Fighters: 165cm 65kg
3. Makoto Kosaka, IF, Yomiuri: 168cm 65kg
3. Masayoshi Miwa, IF, Yakult: 168cm 67kg

(and then a bunch of guys at 169cm. I seriously didn't realize Shingo Nonaka was that short, actually. And of course it's sad that Makoto Kosaka isn't the shortest guy in baseball anymore. Almost as sad as it is that he doesn't play much these days. I used to love Kosaka... damn Giants!)

Top 5 cars driven by players:
1. Benz, 214
2. BMW, 59
3. Celsior, 34
4. Hummer, 19
5. Porsche, 16

I'm not entering the next part, which is about what "types" of women the single players like, and their favorite actresses (though I will say it is depressing that Nagasawa Masami tops out the list).

Top 5 hobbies:
1. Listening to music, 149
2. Watching movies, 80
3. Shopping, 75
4. Golf, 70
5. Fishing/boating, 68

(for the record, "computers/internet" is #16 with 12 players)

Also, in case you're wondering, which you're not, my laptop hard drive is still completely dead, but I'm running Knoppix while trying to figure out what I'll do in the long run. Whee.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I have a problem

No, just kidding. Actually, the problem isn't my addiction to collecting Yukio Tanaka baseball cards, but that my laptop died pretty much right after I finished resizing my Matsui Museum pictures and working on a spreadsheet of some cool stats, so... I meant to post a lot more recently, but I have bigger problems to deal with now. There's a decent chance I'll be computer-less at home for at least the next week. So I recommend picking up this week's Shube player meikan and reading some funky stats.

Fighters Kamagaya fanfest is next weekend (Sunday March 2). I'm so there. Or maybe that's "sho there" as the case may be these days.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I watch too much TV

And now, so can you.

Part 1: Katsuya Nomura is a grumpy old man

And he makes me laugh way too much.

First, this is a commercial I see on TV a lot. I still giggle every time I see it.

The non-baseball player is Kimura Takuya, of the music/talent group SMAP, explaining that with this new technology by Fujitsu you can record things and play them over and over again. So Nomura-kantoku, of course, records Masahiro Tanaka and then puts him out there to pitch again. "Now substituting for Ma-kun... Ma-kun!" "Not bad, huh?"

Okay, second, this is a bunch of the KMJ clips -- Kumejima, where the Rakuten Golden Eagles are holding spring camp. (Nevermind that even after a week and a half, every time I see Kumejima -- 久米島 -- I think of the Softbank Hawks pitcher Yuuki Kume, 久米勇紀, who I saw pitch for Meiji University last fall. And I'm like "Why are the Eagles training on Kume's Island?" But that's beside the point.) Anyway, if you go into about 1:04 of this video, you'll see the part that I saw the other night and again couldn't stop laughing for several minutes...

A bunch of kids ask Katsuya Nomura for his autograph. "Sign?" they ask. He looks at them and says, "Sine? Cosine. Tangent! Sine, cosine, tangent. It's today's math lesson! Repeat!"

It's funny, I used to think Nomura was such a grumpy old man and nothing else, who just muttered random things to mess with people, but now I've come to realize he's actually a lot more brilliant than most people give him credit for. Really, look out for Rakuten this year. They really might come out of nowhere and kick a significant amount of butt.

Part 2: Buchimeki King, Yuuki Yoshimura!

I'm amazed this is on YouTube since I just saw it last night, but I'm glad, because this was made of pure awesome.

First, let me make it clear that I am sick and tired of seeing Sho Nakata on TV all the time. Infact, the only thing I might be more sick of hearing about is the Erik Bedard trade over in Seattle. So, at first when I saw this on J-Spo I was like "Great, another Sho Nakata special," but then I saw, "hey, wait a minute, it's actually Hichori vs. Nakata. That's got to be good!"

"Buchimeku" means to go through, so what they were doing was setting up 10 boards and then seeing which player could hit a ball through the most boards with one swing. So naturally Hichori has to trash-talk quite a bit. (I won't ruin the ending and let you know who won and by how many, though -- maybe I will in the comments. I will say that this kind of thing takes not only POWER but AIM and leave it at that.)

Part of why it's funny is also because in the Shukan Baseball magazine this week had a quote from Hichori like "Nakata? Cleanup hitter? What are you TALKING about, *I'M* going to be the Fighters' cleanup hitter this year... I'm gonna hit .300, steal 30 bases, hit 15 home runs, and get another golden glove and best nine nomination. Ok?"

Also, for the record, the woman in these segments is TV talent Sheila, a Japanese-Cuban who I'd seen on a bunch of TBS sports shows before but never bothered to look up. Apparently she comes to America to do MLB interviews in Spanish and Japanese from time to time. Lucky girl.

Right, so onwards to another favorite team of mine, the Yokohama Baystars, as they also take the Buchimeki King challenge:

First up is Daisuke Miura. Yes, Miura's a pitcher, but who cares, he's also the "Bancho" of the team, which loosely means "gang leader", although to me it means "dude with too much hair gel". To his credit, he beats Sho Nakata.

Second up is, naturally, 2007 CL Home Run King Shuuichi Murata, who ties Miura's total. I know I've thought about this before, but if I had to pick one of the Baystars guys as a huge line drive hitter, offhand I'd pick Yuuki Yoshimura over Shuuichi Murata. Murata hits huge blasts of home runs but they do often go up in the air, so it should be no surprise that Murata's shots in the Buchimeki game also take an arc to them.

Murata says, "Let's go get my kohai to take a shot at this", so they go grab Yoshimura and get him to try it. I just have the following to say:

- And that high school, Higashi Fukuoka, is also the alma mater of Kensuke Tanaka (Fighters 2B) and Keiji Uezono (Hanshin 2007 ROY)? And Murata and Kensuke played together at the 1998 Summer Koshien which is like the craziest Koshien ever?
- Yoshimura. Is. Amazing. Just watch.

Part 3: Baseball Dorama, "Full Swing"

Actually, I haven't watched this yet. Infact, I wasn't even aware of it until I managed to finally catch part of the NHK taiga drama "Atsu-Hime" the other night, and saw a commercial for it. But I'm going to go try to find and watch it sometime soon.

Full Swing - Official NHK Webpage

Basically, this TV show is a 6-part miniseries about Michihiro Takabatake. Takabatake was a marginal player for the Hawks in the late 1960's and early 70's, before becoming a coach and scout for several teams. He went back to school to become a certified high school teacher in his late 50's, and then after only a year or so of teaching, died of pancreatic cancer.

I believe that the show mostly focuses on his teaching career, but I'm betting that there's a really fascinating story behind the guy. I mean, for one, why he reregistered his name as Yasumasa in 1977. And why exactly did he decide to become a teacher? And more, why did he turn down being drafted by the Giants in 1966 out of Chuo University, only to accept being drafted by the Nankai Hawks out of Hitachi in 1967?

Unfortunately, I don't have time to figure out the story right now. If anyone happens to read this, and actually knows the story, please please please tell me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

古田さんのトレーニング, or, How Furuta Stays in Shape Nowadays

I'd seen the Atsuya Furuta commercials for the Nintendo Wii on TV once or twice, but today while heading home, I was in Ikebukuro station and saw this on the wall and thought, "Hey, I recognize that guy!"

You can see the Furuta WiiFit television commercials on the official Wii site. His are numbers 11, 12, and 16. 16 is undoubtedly the funniest, involving the hula hoop exercise.

But to be honest, if you want to know what Furuta is up to these days besides playing Nintendo Wii games, he's restarted his blog on a non-Swallows site.

While I'm at it, in other things I saw on TV tonight, they had some features around the various Spring training camps. Apparently the foreigners on the Baystars were introduced to the Japanese holiday of Setsubun today, which involves throwing beans to "cast out evil spirits". (I was supposed to celebrate it today, but since it was snowing and freezing cold in Tokyo we decided against it.) They also did the normal tour of showing the young hotshots working out -- it was nice to see some of Rakuten's Hasebe finally, I'm really looking forward to seeing him pitch this year. Saw Kazuhisa Ishii wearing #61 and not looking quite as cool as Seibu's #16, Wakui, who has a trendy but messy hairstyle these days.

But the kicker -- the absolute most awesome thing I saw -- was from the Chiba Lotte Marines spring camp, which is in Yuuta Omine's hometown of Ishigaki. The Marines drafted another guy named Yuuta, Yuuta Shimoshikiryo, in the college/industry draft this past fall. Shimoshikiryo, in addition to having an extremely long name, also has an extremely low release point. As in, he's another submariner. So, he's been working out with Shunsuke Watanabe, and they were interviewed on the news together, where Shunsuke was being funny about having a "lower" classman, and Shimoshikiryo was like "BEST. SEMPAI. EVER."

Bobby Valentine is excited to be back in camp but fortunately does not weigh in on the ugly new Lotte uniforms.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tatsunamitude - #3 on the 3rd

A bit ago I had noticed that there was this "Mr. Dragons Exhibit" in the Nagoya Central Towers, basically some sort of display dedicated to Kazuyoshi Tatsunami. Since I couldn't really get down to Nagoya on my own to go see it, I bugged my friend Jeff to go check it out. Jeff is one of the best photographers I know, hands-down, and he's also been a big Dragons fan for the last 15 years or so and an even BIGGER Tatsunami fan. Or, in his words, "To me, [Tatsunami] is the closest the Dragons are ever going to get to having their own Cal Ripken."

Anyway, check out Jeff's pictures, this is great stuff. It's kind of depressing how Tatsunami is likely to be one of the very last of these sorts of players -- long distinguished career all on the same team. They're dying out in Japan the same way they died out in America, although now it's more because of guys defecting to the MLB, not because of the typical hot-stoving that scatters careers nowadays.