Archive > 19 May 2009

Sanspo: Hanshin Moving to Acquire Reinforcements

» 19 May 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

Sanspo has published multiple articles about the Kevin Mench situation. This one says the Tigers have a list of six or seven guys, and quotes team president Nobuo Minami as saying they won’t release Mench, but are looking for him to make adjustments. An earlier report has Hanshin sending a team representative to America to negotiate a contract with a new slugger. According to the article, the trip is being delayed by the swine flu scare, but scouts Tom O’Malley and Andy Sheets are collecting data.

Sanspo is putting former Seibu Lion Craig Brazell in the lead for the spot. Brazell is with the St. Paul Saints after getting cut by Baltimore at the end of spring training, and should be available at a discount price. Surprisingly, Julio Zuleta’s name has been mentioned again. Zuleta had some good years in Fukuoka, but was pretty bad in his last few NPB seasons with Chiba Lotte, and currently sports a .233/.315/.391 line in the Mexican League. 

So who else might be on Hanshin’s list? They’re clearly after a power hitter who can play first base or right field.

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New Stadiums: Big Hits & Long Games

» 19 May 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 5 Comments

With the first home and away series’ finishing for both Central and Pacific leagues, attendance and average game time figures have been made public. The biggest impact is seen at the Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium in Hiroshima. I wrote about the Carp’s new stadium in a previous article.

The opening of the new stadium in Hiroshima has generated more than a 91 percent in attendance compared to last season. To take advantage of the impact generated from the new stadium, the Carp has developed memorabilia items for the fans to purchase. Another strategy which caught my eye for the Carp in the early stages of the season is the number of celebrities attending to throw first pitches. Generating news and publicizing the new stadium to different demographics is a great public relations strategy.

Another team which has not been affected by the economic climate is the Seibu Lions, who’ve seen a 33.5 percent increase in attendance compared to this time last season. The stadium, which has been reconstructed with some of the Dice-K money, is creating an atmosphere for the fans to fill in the stand. Both leagues have increased their attendance at this stage of the season and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact the economy will have in the course of the season.

Attendance is a major concern for any sports franchise this season with the economic uncertainty, but another concern for NPB is the average game time. The NPB has tried to reduce the average game time to under three hours and installed a new 15-seconds rule. However the effect has not been seen yet as the Central League average game time has actually increased four minutes.

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Armada Introduces Irabu

» 19 May 2009 » In international baseball » Comments Off on Armada Introduces Irabu

The Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden League formally introduced Hideki Irabu on May 18. Sanspo quoted Irabu as saying, “I want to feel the joy of standing on the mound and have fun out there. I’m excited”. Sanspo also has a couple of photos of Irabu in his jersey and at the press conference. That’s Long Beach manager Gary Templeton on Irabu’s left in the second picture, and a guy who kind of looks like actor Ray Liotta on his right. Irabu is scheduled to make his first game appearance on June 5.

Last month, Long Beach’s Golden League rival Calgary Vipers announced the signing of Mac Suzuki as well (thanks to reader Dave G for the tip), so we’ll have two of the Japanese MLB pioneers in the same indy league this year. Ironically, along with Hideo Nomo, Irabu and Suzuki hold an ownership stake in the independent Elmira Pioneers, who currently participate in the New York State Collegiate League. So we have a couple of guys who own a team in one league playing in another.

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