Archive > May 2009

Rangers Watch Top High Schooler

» 24 May 2009 » In nichibei, npb draft » 1 Comment

According to Nikkan Sports, the Rangers had two scouts watching high school lefthander Yusei Kikuchi on May 21st. Kikuchi didn’t appear in his team’s game, the first of an Iwate Prefectural tournament, but the Rangers watched him work out with a long toss excercise. Kikuchi was quoted as saying, “I’m happy to get this attention but I can’t consider how to proceed until the end of summer”. The Dodgers had assistent GM Logan White watch Kikuchi in a practice game in March, and he appears on the draft lists of all 12 NPB teams.

Kikuchi is among the consensus top class of this year’s draft candidates. Brandon Siefken has brief profile of him in English, and Draft Reports has more on him in Japanese. The Nikkan Sports Draft Guide gave him a “BA” rating, a rating that we would normally denote in English as “a/b”, saying that his fastball is good but he can work on his delivery to get a more movement on his pitches.

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Recommended Reading

» 24 May 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 2 Comments

One of the positive outcomes after the Kintetsu Buffaloes-Orix Blue Wave merger and the addition of Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2005 was the increase of interest in sports business from the general public. The development of the problem was publicized daily on every media and I personally remember wanting to know the details and learn exactly what was happening behind the scenes. I was probably not the only one developing an interest in the subject, as many teams around the league started to show signs of emphasizing the business side of their operations. From that time on there have been many books published on the business side of NPB and, for bilingual readers, I would like to recommend some of the books I have read recently and in the past which might catch your interest.

I will try introducing some good reads at times to get a better understanding and learn what happens behind the scenes in Japanese baseball and sports in general.

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» 23 May 2009 » In npb » Comments Off on ダルビッシュ投手のスピードチャート


この試合の投球データを集めて、スピードチャートを作ってみた。見たい方は、”Continue Reading”でどうぞ。

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Yu Darvish’s Latest Shutout

» 23 May 2009 » In npb » Comments Off on Yu Darvish’s Latest Shutout

Yu Darvish threw another shutout today, devouring the Yakult Swallows 3-0, striking out nine, but also allowing eight hits.

I’ve put together a velocity chart for this game, but if you’re on the homepage you’ll have to click the “continue reading” link to check it out.

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Kawakami Stops Jays

» 23 May 2009 » In mlb » 1 Comment

Kenshin Kawakami had the first really good game of his MLB career, putting up a 0 R/3 H/7 K/0 BB line against Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays. Here’s a video clip of some highlights that someone ripped from MLB and put on YouTube:

For more on Kawakami, check out these posts:

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NPB Live

» 22 May 2009 » In npb » 4 Comments

If you happen to be on the site right now, I highly suggest checking out the NPB Live page, where  you’ll have your choice of the Orix v Hanshin game or Lotte v Chunichi game. Orix’s Green Stadium Kobe Skymark Stadium looks great today. I can never understand why the Buffaloes don’t make that their permanent home as opposed to the drab Osaka Kyocera Dome (relative inconvenience notwithstanding).

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New Imports: Hanshin, Seibu

» 22 May 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

It’s being widely reported that Hanshin is ready to negotiate with/sign former Seibu Lion Craig Brazell. Brazell hit .234 with 27 homers and 87 rbis. He’s currently playing with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. Honestly this comes across as a knee-jerk reaction.

Rakuten manager Katsuya Nomura seems to agree. “Hanshin is really bad at acquiring foreign players,” he said, before adding, “they’re in 5th place and six games under .500? That sucks. When I was there, the media would start with the “quit, quit” articles. Don’t just do that to me, do that to (Hanshin manager Akinobu) Mayumi too”.

Meanwhile, Seibu is also looking to add an import, due the loss of Brazell and now the shoulder injury of relief ace Alex Graman. Graman is hoping to return before the second half of the season, but surgey hasn’t been ruled out as a possibility. Team president Maeda was quoted as saying “it’s not just hitter, we’re looking into pitching too”.

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Shingo Takatsu Sighting

» 22 May 2009 » In international baseball » Comments Off on Shingo Takatsu Sighting

Shingo Takatsu is in the news again, at least if you read Nikkan Sports. The 40-year old former closer took part in a work out for college-level MLB draft candidates, auditioning before scouts from the SF Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks. Giants Far East Scouting Director John Cox was gave him a good evaluation: “his breaking stuff and the movement of his pitches was good. He’s not a young guy, he’s a major leaguer. He was very impressive and passed the test”. Shingo’s fastest pitch was clocked at 86 mph, which isn’t that far off what he was throwing with the White Sox a few years ago.

Whether this leads to a contract for Shingo remains to be seen. For his part, Shingo wants to keep playing: “I’m probably being indecisive. But, it’s easy to quit and difficult to continue. As long as I can move my body, and as long there is the possibility, I want to play even at 45 or 46”.

Shingo spent last season with the (Woori) Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization. He had an offer to return before the team pulled it due to foreign player restrictions. He was pretty good in Korea, posting an 0.86 era in 21 innings with an 18/6 k/bb ratio.

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Let the Alternates Begin

» 21 May 2009 » In npb » 5 Comments

NPB teams typically use interleague play as an opportunity to bust out the alternative uniforms. Interleague started earlier this week, and this season is no exception.

The SoftBank Hawks introduced their third uniforms yesterday, and Sanspo has pics here and here. I think I prefer this to their normal third jersey, but I hope at some point they bring back the helmet the old Daiei Hawks wore in the late 80’s.

The only other team to have introduced their throwbacks so far this year is the Hanshin Tigers, who have sensibly opted to revive their 1985 Nippon-ichi uniforms. If you’ve been following Japanese baseball over the last few years, you are probably aware that Hanshin has a checked past when it comes to alternate jerseys: last year’s awful fade/airbrush design, 2007’s alternate logo and yellow pinstripes on black, and the earlier 70’s era throwabacks, which I kind of like.

Seibu has plans to wear 80’s-era throwbacks, and Yakult is going to dust off their old Kokutetsu Swallows design, but neither team has introduced the uniforms yet, so don’t bother with the links unless you’re interested in re-reading what I just wrote in Japanese.

My favorite recent throwback was last year’s Lotte Orions revival. I hope they use those again. Lotte has one of the best home uniforms in Japan, the classic black pinstripes on white. But their road and alt uniforms… not so much.

For more on Japanese baseball uniforms, check out the two posts that UniWatch ran last month. UniWatch produces so much content it’s almost a sensory overload, but they don’t miss a thing and it’s worth the read, especially when you can find something like this set of 1981 Chicago White Sox prototype uniforms.

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More Than A Game

» 21 May 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 9 Comments

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are expanding their product beyond baseball, and into the dating industry. On the July 11th and 12th home games, the Fighters are selling special tickets directed to 50 men and 50 women looking for a partner. Participant are limited to people over the age of 18 for the purchase to Konkatsu Seat.

In recent years, only one of four young people in Japan are getting married and action needs to be taken place in order to reverse the trend and increase the number of marriages. The word Konkatsu (Kekkon Katsudou; Action for Marriage) has become part of the common vernacular. This is the main reason the Fighters decided to take a nationwide problem and utilize it in their business.

Here are some bullet points about the Konkatsu Seat project:

  • Male fans will be given a recognizable symbol to attach to their clothes. Female fans will recieve a card with a matching symbol. The couple will be assigned randomly with the male mark on their clothes matching the female mark on their card
  • Fans who purchase Konkatsu Seat tickets will be in a drawing for gifts such as a free pair of airplane tickets
  • Seat changes will occur between innings to add on to the excitement
  • The seats will be placed behind home plate and fans might need courage to participate as there is the possibility they will be shown on television

Fighthers star outfielder Atsunori Inaba comments on Sponichi: “It’s great that the Sapporo Dome can be the starting point. Having the same interest is important. We hope that new couples will come back to the game for a date”.

If a couple that meets at the game ends up getting married the plan is to invite them for the ceremonial first pitch to have their first appearance as a wife and husband on the field.

The results after the first day of sales for the Konkatsu seating are surprising… the female demand has surpassed the supply and the female ticket allotment sold out on the first day. On the other hand, the male tickets are still available and only about ten tickets had been sold after the first day. Team personnel were suprised by this result, and it might be a new opportunity to attract female fans to the ballpark.

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