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One month and a day after an earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, and even as the nuclear threat level at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was raised to the highest level, baseball season got underway in the beleaguered country Tuesday.
While one team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who are based in hard-hit Sendai, won’t return to their home stadium until the end of this month, and teams shift games to daytime and try to drum up enough diesel generators for later in the season to minimize the use of electricity, Nippon Professional Baseball is carrying on for the fans and the country. The AFP reports:
“At a time of national crisis, the role that sports can play is far from small,” the mass-circulation newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said in an editorial, recalling the terror attacks in the United States of September 11, 2001.
US major leagues resumed play six days after the tragedy, with New York Mets Continue reading In Spite Of Everything, Baseball Season Begins In Japan
Filed under: Baseball, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, Fukushima Nuclear Threat Level Raised to 7, Hope Springs Eternal, Japan, Japan Baseball, Japan Earthquake, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Japanese Baseball, Major League Baseball, New Beginnings, Nippon Professional Baseball, Opening Day, Opening Day 2011 Japan, Opening Day in Japan, Pastimes, Sendai, Spring, The Show Must Go On, WWII
Say what you will.
Whether you watch baseball, can’t watch baseball, love baseball, hate baseball, listen to every MLB game at the ballpark with headphones on, think Bud Selig is a prick, or have no idea what RBI or a sac fly are…
…think Tim Lincecum’s ears must be lucky and Brian Wilson’s beard bitchin’…
….or wish they’d put bags over their heads when they pitch.
Or if, well…
Continue reading Frisco Gets Frisky
Filed under: Amazians, Brian Wilson, Brian Wilson's beard, Bud Selig, Game 5 of the World Series, Giants Win The World Series, Major League Baseball, Pitchers, San Francisco Giants, SF Giants, Texas Rangers, Tim Lincecum, Tim Lincecum's ears, World Series
Hails from: Yokohama, Japan
Occupation: Baseball pitcher
Why He’s a Babe: When the 22 year-old Red Sox right-hander pitches, his eyes get wide and his lips press together in a line, and he kinda looks like an adorable Sanrio character. But though the MLB newbie has a sweet baby face, there’s nothing babyish about his stuff, including his 97 mph-fastball that first impressed MLB scouts. “Taz” may have just been sent down to the Sox’s double-A farm team, the Portland Sea Dogs, because he’s still wet behind the ears, but we predict it won’t be long before we see his cute mug crop up in the bigs.
Hails from: South Korea
Occupation: Professional baseball pitcher
Why He’s a Babe: Because Park instigated one of the most memorable and unusual fights in MLB history back in ’99 as a Dodger when he tae kwon “doh”ed Rockies first baseman Tim Belcher for tagging him hard on a bunt. And because, after an illustrious start to his career, Park–the first Korean-born MLB pitcher in history–has battled injuries and getting sent down to the minors on numerous occasions, and is still fighting for a spot on the Dodger roster this season. Plus, not getting to sign autographs really makes Chan “Hulk” Park angry…and how many big leaguers can you say that about?
For me, there’s probably no mo’ poignant a player in baseball than Hideo Nomo, who signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals Friday. The 39 year-old pitcher is attempting an MLB comeback after being out of the bigs for three years.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles through both of Nomo’s stints with the Dodgers. The first one, beginning in 1995, was magical. I wasn’t really a baseball fan then, and I never saw him play at Dodger Stadium during that period, which I regret. But I remember, however, being shocked and captivated by the fact that, in America, 50,000 people in a major league ballpark would chant a Japanese dude’s name over and over like it was a sacred mantra. As a rookie, Nomo dominated, leading the league in strikeouts, starting the All-Star game, and winning National League Rookie of the Year. Nomo-mania infected everyone, even people like me, who mistakenly thought baseball was boring. Nobody was in the local news more except for O.J. Simpson.
The next year, he pitched a no-hitter at Coors Field, a feat never duplicated in that batter-friendly, mile-high park, and Nike named a shoe after him. But then things started going south. His delivery became, pardon the expression, less inscrutable to batters. He was traded after an abysmal start in 1998 and bounced around from one team to another (five total) and all up and down the minor league chain. When he returned to L.A. in 2002, I–now a budding baseball nut–like so many others, viewed this as both a homecoming and a shot at redemption. And his first season back, he was very good, showing flashes of the old Nomo, unreadable, untouchable. In his second, he was not so dominant. He gave up a lot of walks and hits when he was off, sometimes looking like a pitcher blindfolded. I remember more than a few times screaming his name, but not in a good way. No Nomo! No! No! Mooooooooooooo!
After shoulder surgery and racking up the worst ERA in baseball history for a pitcher with 15 decisions the next season, Nomo was bounced from L.A. a second time and became a baseball nomad once more, signing with three different teams before disappearing off the radar in 2005. In 2007, he played briefly in Venezuela.
Thirteen years after he threw open the doors for Japanese ballers to play here, Nomo starts over. I really want him to kick ass, although I can’t imagine how he will, given his age and history of injuries, unless he’s gotten his mitts on some of Roger Clemens’s juice. Sometimes I wonder what goes on inside Nomo’s head, how he wraps his mind around the high highs and low lows of his roller coaster career, whether or not he’s sad and depressed, and what he hopes to achieve in this comeback, but what I do know is that I’d like to hear 50,000 people cheer for him one more time, and I’m pretty sure he’d like that, too.
The Chicago Cubs reached an agreement to acquire 30 year-old Japanese player Kosuke “This” Fukudome yesterday, offering the left-handed slugger $48 million over four years. The AP reported that Fukudome is “(c)onsidered one of the best outfielders in Japanese baseball” and will play in right for the Cubs.
Will Fukudome help end the Cubbies’ 100-year World Series drought?
Alls I’m sayin’ is, the last three World Series winners had Japanese players on their starting rosters who played key roles in getting their teams to the big stage and winning it all. So Taguchi for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005, Tad Iguchi for the Chicago White Sox in 2006, and, of course, Daisuke “Badonkadonk” Matsuzaka and Hideki “All Is Forgiven after the Autograph Debacle” Okajima of MA SAWX.
The Associated Press reports:
The indictment charges Bonds with lying when he testified he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs, even though prosecutors say he flunked a private steroids test in 2000. Bonds’ personal surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, collected the blood sample and is expected to be called as a witness if Bonds’ case goes to trial.
Bonds, after a big display of waving and smiling to fans, maintained his innocence. And frankly, we didn’t buy it–not that it matters.
Perhaps his defense attorney, Allen Ruby, said it best: “Mr. Bonds is a Major League Baseball player.”
I’ve always thought that baseball announcer Joe Buck was wood. Or a robot. Or a wooden robot. So bland I couldn’t give two shits. But after the All-Star Game Tuesday, which Buck and Tim McCarver announced, I find Buck far more sinister.
In the bottom of the fourth, after interviewing Barry Bonds, who is four homers shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, Buck basically exonerated the steroidal slugger from any wrongdoing vis-a-vis performance-enhancing drugs with the following doublespeak statements:
“The public has realized that they’re going to have to tolerate a certain level of suspicion when it comes to sports, all sports, not just baseball…”
“We’re never going to know…who was doing what when.”
“This is going to be a cat-and-mouse game and a wild goose chase from now until the end of time.”
“Baseball is doing all it can to test…for the drugs that can be tested for, but…if there’s no known test for HGH (Human Growth Hormone), this is not a baseball problem, this is a problem for all sports, period.”
“There are always going to be guys who try to beat the system in all sports.”
So that’s it, huh? We’re just supposed to throw up our hands at rampant drug use in sports? Because there’s no consequence to it, other than athletes breaking records and making fans happy, right?
Click here for full story on why performance-enhancing drugs suck.
Three ballers from Japan have been selected to this year’s All-Star Game, which airs tonight at 5 PM PDT on Fox: Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, LA Dodgers closer Takeshi Saito, and Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, who was the last player added to the roster by popular vote.
Congratulasians boys! Reprzent!