Tag Archive > Hideo Nomo

Nomo Travels With Orix

» 15 April 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

Since retiring, Hideo Nomo has been working as a “technical advisor” with the Orix Buffaloes, the current incarnation of his former NPB team. Nomo just went on his first road trip with the Buffaloes, accompanying the team on their three-game trip to Hokkaido to face the Fighters. He won’t be in uniform, but he’ll be watching the games and working with team’s pitchers.

That’s pretty thin news, but it’s an excuse to say that I always thought it was lame the way Nomo went out — released by the Royals after a vagabond trek through the minors, disabled lists and South American winter leagues. I was hoping Orix would sign him to a one-day contract and give him a proper sendoff, but judging by the shape he’s in I don’t think it’ll happen.

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Red Sox Notes: Matsuzaka, Saito & Tazawa

» 16 February 2009 » In mlb » Comments Off

The Red Sox have four Japanese pitchers on their 40-man roster, and as such are getting their share of coverage in the Japanese media. 

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka has been training in advance of the WBC with his former team, the newly re-uniformed Saitama Seibu Lions. See if you can spot him in this YouTube footage. The catching drill around 5:55 is worth watching too.
  • Perhaps taking a cue from Ichiro, Matsuzaka also found his way to the batting cage. Matsuzaka took 28 swings off Seibu ace Hideaki Wakui, hitting 13 over the fence. A passing John Wasdin commented, “it’s Japan’s Big Papi”, probably with a tone of sarcasm that didn’t make the trip from English to Japanese and back. Matsuzaka did make at least one pinch-hitting appearance in his Seibu days.
  • Junichi Tazawa is getting a quick start on his Boston career. He’s been in camp for a couple days and is working out with Takashi Saito. Sanspo has pics of his first Red Sox bullpen session: 12. He threw 62 pitches.
  • Tazawa followed that up with a 54-pitch session on the 14th.
  • Takashi Saito celebrated his 39th birthday with a 4km run.
  • And I’ll close with an English-language article, an Alex Speier piece reflecting on Hideo Nomo, with comments from Tazawa and Saito.

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Top 10 Stories of 2008

» 02 January 2009 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

Every new year begins with a list about the old one. Here’s my 2008 list of notable events in Japanese baseball.

10. Ichiro Reaches 3000 total NPB/MLB hits; has 8th consecutive 200-hit season
Ichiro has started his MLB career with eight straight 200-hit seasons, tieing Willie Keeler’s century-old mark for most consecutive 200 hit seasons. Ichiro has also surpassed 3000 hits in his NPB/MLB career and needs three more to surpass Isao Harimoto’s record for Japanese players (3085).

9. Daijiro Ohishi keys surprising Orix turnaround
Orix was 21-28 when manager Terry Collins quit on May 21. Ohishi took over and led the team to a 2nd place finish with a 75-68-1, including a 55-40-1 mark while he was at the helm.

8. Kazuhiro Kiyohara Retires
Kiyohara finally succombed to injuries after being in the national baseball spotlight since the early 80’s, first as a high school star, then as a 22-year NPB veteran.

7. Hideo Nomo Retires
MLB pioneer retired in June after being released from the KC Royals and failing to hook on with another team. He was last seen coaching for the Orix Buffaloes in the team’s fall camp. 

6. Junichi Tazawa signs with Boston
Tazawa became the first consensus first-round draft pick to forgo professional baseball in Japan for a career in America.

5. Bobby Valentine and Chiba Lotte agree to part ways after the 2009 season
After a series of disagreements, Bobby V and Chiba Lotte agreed not to renew the manager’s contract beyond 2009.  Bobby took the Marines from being a perennial doormat to being a perennial contender, while also serving as one of the top advocates for Japanese baseball.

4. Hisashi Iwakuma edges Yu Darvish for the Sawamura
Iwakuma won 21 games  for the also-ran Rakuten Eagles to take his first Sawamura Award & Pacific League MVP. Darvish was more dominant by some measures but had to settle for second best in ’08.

3. Seibu beats Yomiuri for Japan Series Title
 In a return to form for both teams, the Lions beat out the Giants in a closely fought, 7-game Japan Series. Seibu remarkably won the Series just two years after losing ace Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Red Sox.

2. Team Japan Disappoints in the Olympics
Japan’s NPB star-studded team couldn’t beat Korea, Cuba, or the USA and finished out of the medals for the first time since the 2000 games in Sydney. The performance led to Senichi Hoshino’s departure as the Japan National Team manager. 

1. Sadaharu Oh Retires from Field Duties
 Oh retired as field manager of the Fukuoka Daiei/SoftBank Hawks after 14 years on the job. Oh led the Hawks to Japan Series titles in 1999 and 2003, and a Japan Series appearance in 2000. Oh will remain with the Hawks in a front office capacity.

Honorable mentions: So Taguchi becomes the latest NPB vet to win a World Series Ring; 2008 crop of Japanese MLB imports mostly disappoint; Hiroki Kuroda thows a gem against the Braves; Hisayoshi Chono refuses to sign with the Chiba Lotte Marines in the hopes of being drafted by the Giants

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/11/01)

» 01 November 2008 » In npb » 2 Comments

Time for another edition of NPB Bullet Points. Randomness abounds, as usual.

Japanese Articles:

English Articles:

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The Tazawa Penalty

» 22 October 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 4 Comments

By now this is old news, but this is one of those posts that I started drafting, got interrupted, and haven’t had the time to get back to until now. Better late than never.

So, to get caught up, “the Tazawa penalty” is a new rule banning Japanese players who have opted out of the NPB draft to sign internationally from joining an NPB team for up to three years after leaving their international organization. The idea is make top Japanese amateurs think twice about bypassing NPB for MLB by eliminating the assumption that they have an easy path back.

Though I haven’t found anything concrete on this, I’m guessing the rule will be in effect from Tazawa forward, so Robert Boothe shouldn’t have anything to worry about if he wants to pitch in Japan in the future.

Tazawa has commented on the situation: “Personally I only thought about going to America. I wasn’t thinking about the next person, so this is something I have to apologize for”.

It feels like this is kind of a sour grapes move by the NPB establishment and they’ll eventually get over it. There is some historic precedence to suggest that they will: the cases of Hideki Irabu, Kazuhito Tadano, Hideo Nomo and Mac Suzuki.

Irabu is perhaps the most informative example. Prior to being a bust with the Yankees, Irabu was under contract with the San Diego Padres, whom he refused to play for. At the time, the NPB establishment felt that they had been embarrassed by Irabu’s antics and said that he wouldn’t be allowed back in, but Hanshin signed him for the 2003 season. He won the fans over with a strong start.

Kazuhito Tadano was a top college pitcher who went undrafted because of his appearance in an adult film. The story was that NPB teams were worried about their images, but a couple of years and MLB appearances later, the Nippon Ham Fighters had gotten over it and selected Tadano in the second round of the NPB draft.

There was severe backlash against Hideo Nomo after he pulled his retirement stunt to make it to MLB, but it didn’t take too long for him to turn that around and he’s now widely recognized as one of most significant figures in Japanese baseball over the last 20 or so years, along wth Ichiro. I’m not aware of similar backlash against Mac Suzuki, but when he decided he was ready to move to NPB at least two teams (Yakult and Orix) were interested in drafting him, and Orix did draft and sign him.

So my gut feeling, and my hope, is that this new rule basically amounts to an idle threat. Instead of threatening Japanese nationals like this, I’m hoping to see a little more effort to make signing and playing in NPB more appealing, and at the same time, investing a more in developing young talent, particularly young international talent.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/07/27)

» 27 July 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

Mixing up the English and Japanese again. Most of these links are English though.

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Reactions to Nomo’s Retirement

» 19 July 2008 » In nichibei » 2 Comments

So I must say that I’m disappointed to see Hideo Nomo‘s career end as it did. Although Nomo was obviously a shadow of his former self these past few years, I still think he deserves better. It would be nice to see him get a one-day contract with the Dodgers or Orix Buffaloes so he could get a last cheer from the fans. Nomo suited up for a lot of different teams over the last 18 years, but I’ll always think of him as either a Dodger or a Buffalo.

If you’ve made your way to this site, you can no doubt find the many English language articles that have been published on Nomo in the last day or two. So I’m going to focus on Japanese language content (translations courtesy of me).

Comments from Daisuke Matsuzaka, via Sponichi Annex:

“He was the one who inspired me to clearly aim for the Major Leagues while I was in middle school. Since then my goal had been to stand in the same park with him.

“It’s a shame that we couldn’t meet on the field while we had the chance this year and last”

Comments from (Kintetsu Buffaloes teammates) Daijiro Ohishi, Motoyuki Akahori, Hideki Irabu, and Yu Darvish, again via Sponichi Annex:

Ohishi: “I knew he was going to retire someday, but actually hearing it makes me sad. He was a strikeout/walk pitcher, so as fielder it was tough defending (behind him).”

Akahori: “He really was an amazing pitcher. It feels like an era has ended. I want to say ‘well done'”

Irabu: “He was the one that contributed the bridge between Japanese and American baseball. I’d like to tell him ‘you did great work’. I hope that he’ll continue to work hard for baseball in another form”

Darvish: “I think he can still play. I expect him to come out of retirement, but for now I’d like to say ‘well done'”

And last but not least, here’s a YouTube video of Nomo’s first career victory for the old Kintetsu Buffaloes team. It was Nomo’s third career appearance and he struck out 17 Orix Braves, mostly with his splitter.

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Nomo Retires

» 17 July 2008 » In mlb, nichibei » 1 Comment

Hideo Nomo has retired. The announcement was posted on his website according to the Japanese media. I can’t get to his site right now, but here’s the English language press release.

Update: I finally got to the site but there was nothing enlightening there. All signs were pointing to Nomo being done anyway; pitched in three games for the Royals earlier this year but was awful and got released. Sanspo reported earlier in the year that Rakuten was in negotiations with Nomo, but nothing ever came of it. That’s too bad, I was hoping to see him make a farewell tour in Japan.

I think the baseball community owes Nomo quite a bit: he helped create a new opportunity in MLB for Japanese players, and opened up the Japanese market for MLB teams. The two sides are certainly closer now than they were 15 years ago, and it started with him.

While Nomo’s legacy will mostly be as a pioneer, let’s not forget he was a great pitcher as well. He won 201 games between Japan and America. He also threw two MLB no-hitters, the first of which was at Coors Field. Although he was inconsistant in his later years, he was certainly dominant at times.

Mainichi.jp has a nice photo retrospective of Nomo’s career.

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