Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox win World Series 4-0

Well, that was fairly lopsided. The Red Sox pretty much beat up the supposedly well-reseted Rockies. While both teams were riding winning streaks into the series I guess the Rockies momentum got killed by the down time and the Red Sox had too much talent to overcome.

Hideki Okajima gave up another homer, this time in the 8th inning which helped close the gap but it wasn't enough. A bit of an up and down post-season for Okajima as everyone was singing his praises through the ALCS and after Game 2 but he gave up two homers in his last two appearances.

Daisuke Matsuzaka became the first Japanese pitcher to win a World Series game and would have been slated to start Game 7. After his shaky Game 3 start in the ALCS he caught a lot of criticism but one wonders if his wins in Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 3 of the WS (which some people were saying was one of his best starts of the year) are enough for the Red Sox Nation to lay off on him for a bit (not that they care at this point). Oh, and 103 million dollars. He also was the victim of a trick on national TV as someone stuck a bubble gum bubble on the top of his hat which he was unaware of for a couple of minutes.

Kazuo Matsui was pulled towards the end of the game. I wasn't really paying attention as to why. But he ended with a .294 average and went 5-17. While he wasn't lighting it up he was one of the lone fairly bright spots for the Rockies. NHK also showed lots of shots of him looking down-trodden while sitting on the bench.

Congrats to the Red Sox. I don't mind the Celtics winning it all because I like Kevin Garnett but I really really hope the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl. In fact, I hope the Pats go through the regular season undefeated and then lose after the first-round bye. That would be fun. Not for them of course. Or Bill Simmons. But that's kind of the point.

There's always next year Mets fans!

Oh jeez. NHK is airing a highlight package and they have lots of happy shots of Matsuzaka and Okajima (to be fair they show Okajima giving up the homers) but they show pretty much every Matsui strike-out and the last shot of him is when he was sitting on the bench. Poor guy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Matsuzaka goes 5, Red Sox one win away from another title

Well, the Red Sox took an early 6-0 lead, held on at 6-5 and finally took Game Three 10-5 and now the brooms are looming.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's stats (from Yahoo! sports):
5.1 innings pitched, 3 BB, 5 K, 2 ER. He also went 1-3 with 2 RBI.
Not a bad outing for Boston's 103 million dollar man. He did walk two batters in a row which led to Sox Manager Terry Francona pulling him in the bottom of the 5th and those two walks turned into two runs when Javier Lopez was unable to get anyone out. A rare mistake by Francona but in the end the Red Sox pulled it out and Matsuzaka is now the first Japanese pitcher to win a World Series game. This was also probably his last start of this season as it looks quite unlikely that the series will go seven games.
Hideki Okajima also pitched in today's game and gave up a homer in the 7th (only one run was earned though). Not quite the lights-out form he showed in Game Two.
Also, the mini-rally in the 7th was sparked by Kazuo Matsui's lead-off bunt (he would go on to score on Holliday's homer). This was the best game of the series for Matsui as he went 3-5.

NHK General started broadcasting the game from around the middle of the 1st inning and then switched to regular programming somewhere around the 6th inning. Huh? Luckily, I have BS and was able to watch the rest of the game but still...that was really weird. You'd think NHK would be all over an event like this (they're interviewing him right now about being the first Japanese pitcher to win a World Series game).

Game 4 will be in Colorado tomorrow. The NHK BS-1 broadcast will start 9:15 AM.

Today's box score from Yahoo! Sports.

Even more eyes on Daisuke

Well, Daisuke came through (sort of) in Game 7. He went five and got the win but wasn't exactly impressive. Now the Red Sox are up 2-0 on the Rockies who have obviously come back down to earth after having to wait eight days between games. Daisuke will be back on the mound again for Game Three in Colorado. Unlike the Game Three of the ALCS there will be a bit less pressure on Daisuke to produce; the Sox are on the road and have a two game cushion and only need to take one on the road to get the series back to Boston for the finale (not that you necessarily want that to happen if you are a Sox fan). However, this is the World Series. In Game Two Hideki Okajima became the first Japan-born player to pitch in the World Series. Matsuzaka will be the first Japan-born pitcher to start in the World Series in Game Three. So there will be pressure. Also, the coverage of this game in Japan should be pretty extensive since the game will be played on a Sunday morning (NHK BS-1 from 9:10 AM -- watch the pitchers warm up! It's exciting! Or not. NHK General from 10:00 -- skip the warm-up and the US National anthem!). And don't forget the $103 million. Never forget the $103 million.

There are lots and lots of stories about Game Three but there is one in particular I'd like to share by Jeff Passan about Hideki Okajima: "He needs to touch the parrot," Red Sox reliever Kyle Snyder said. "Who knows what happens if he doesn't?"

Enjoy the..huh? What's that? Is someone waving in the back there? Looks like he's wearing a Rockies uniform. Hey, it's Kaz Matsui!

Actually, I'm just being mean. NHK has tried to make up for lost time (i.e. not airing any of the Rockies play-off games on TV) by replaying every Kaz at-bat several times. Unfortunately, Kaz is 1-8 so far in the World Series with three Ks (one of them to Okajima) and you can only look at multiple angles of strike-outs so many times. I'm sure that Kaz will get more airtime as the Japanese announcers try to milk the fact that he and D-Mat were teammates on the Seibu Lions.

Anyway, enjoy the game!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All eyes on Daisuke

While the hottest team in baseball (The Colorado Rockies, 21 wins in the last 22 games, including sweeps in both rounds of the play-offs) has been sitting at home since the 15th of October the ALCS is going to a game seven.

Down 3-1 the Red Sox have forced a game seven behind the pitching of Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling and now it's down to one of the biggest signings of 2007.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12 regular season, 0-1 postseason) will face off against Jake Westbrook (6-9, 1-1) for the second time in this series. Westbrook and the Tribe took game three 4-2 and knocked Matsuzaka out after four and 2/3rds innings of work.

D-Mat (not Dice-K) will be under pressure to deliver by the Red Sox Nation. Having someone spend 103 million dollars on you will do that.

Matsuzaka was not quite the sensation everyone expected him to be. Neither was he a bust. He was...just there. He has had control problems throughout the season (80 BB, enough for 6th in the AL although he tempered that with 201 SO, also good for 6th) and he has underwhelmed in the post-season in two starts despite a supposed reputation as a big game pitcher (I don't really know where that rep came from -- the Koshien? In the Japan League?).

Daisuke is also pitching against history. According to one of the announcers during game five (I pre-apologize if this is wrong) no Japanese starter has won during the post-season, going a combined 0-4 over the years.

Hero? Goat? Neither? In about ten hours we shall see.

Personal note: Honestly, I am not that big a fan of the Red Sox. I can't stand Curt Schilling and would have been perfectly fine with the Sox losing game six behind a sub-par effort from Mr. Was-it-really-blood-or-not? And a column of Bill Simmons whining about D-Mat and the Sox would just be annoying. I liked Fever Pitch though (the movie with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon). Oh, and this: <-- of course this isn't exactly something a Red Sox FAN would want to see (or hasn't seen already). I am a Mets fan after all.

Game Seven of the ALCS will be broadcast in Japan on BS-1 from 9:15 AM Monday morning and on BS-Hi from 9:45.

Related stories:
Howard Bryant at ESPN
Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports

Other notes:

Kaz Matsui continues the streak of Japanese players making it to the World Series. If the Red Sox make it, that would guarantee there being a third year in a row a Japanese player has won a World Championship.

As of right now, the NHK BS Sports page doesn't have Game Seven listed although the NHK daily TV schedule does but originally had it at 7 in the morning.

The BS live broadcast (whoops) doesn't seem to have the English commentary but the night replay does.

Friday, October 05, 2007

スポーツマンNo.1決定戦XXXVI SPORTSMAN NO.1 18th Geinojin Survival Battle Sort of Live Blog!

SPORTSMAN NO.1 18th Geinojin Survival Battle Sort of Live Blog!

Hey! Nakayama Kinnikun is back! And he wants to re-establish his Geinojin Sportsman No. 1 dominance! That means taking out Wakky!

Live from Tokyo Bay Colosseum! It's wait. It's the 18th Geinojin Survival Battle!

Razor Ramon HG is there! Wow!

1st Battle: Beach Flags! A race to grab a flag! Who is the fastest?

Wakky has the red jersey (denoting your defending champion). Kinnikun has a yellow...I don't know why.
1st Round:
Nomura something something, Tomoyuki, Sato Hiromichi, Dante (the softbank commercial guy), Shiroishi something soccer guy, Morohoshi Hikaru Genji guy, Nakayama Kinnikun.
Head down! Hrm..Sato, Dante, Tomoyuki, Kinnikun and Morohoshi all get flags.

Wakky, HG and a bunch of other guys.
Wakky, HG, guy from that Circus group and some other guys are through.

2nd Round:
Dante, Kinnikun, Morohoshi, Tomoyuki and Sato. Five to three.
Dante, Kinnkun and Tomoyuki are through.

Wakky, HG, Korean guy, two other guys I don't know.
Wakky, not HG and not Korean guy are through.
HG got a bad jump on it.

3rd Round:
6 to 4
Model guy, Wakky, Tomoyuki, Dante, Kinnikun, Yasuda Dai Circus guy
God, I hope they eliminate the guys I don't know so I don't feel so stupid.
I get my wish!
Wakky, Tomoyuki, Dante and Kinnikun are through!

4th Round:
4 to 3
Kinnikun, Wakky, Dante, Tomoyuki
Kinnikun is out! Wakky, Dante and Tomoyuki. Kinnikun was obviously the slowest of the four.

3 to 2
Tomoyuki, Dante, Wakky
Wakky and Tomoyuki are through!
Dante originally went towards Wakky's side then changed to Tomoyuki's. It may have cost him.

2 men enter! 1 man leaves...a beach flag champion!
Wakky vs. Tomoyuki
Here we go! Wait. CMs. Morinaga!

Head down! Whistle! Wakky! Wakky! Wakky by a lot!

Beach Flags No. 1: Wakky!

2nd Battle: Spin Off! There is a giant ball and you have to get it out of the ring on your opponenet's side. Who is the strongest?

Sato Hiromichi vs. Shirai Ryo (Model guy)
Winner: Sato Onisan!

Dante America shushin! vs. Model Tomoyuki
Winner: Tomoyuki in spirited battle!

Nakayama Kinnikun vs. Passion Yarsomething
They've both been Spin Off champions!
Winner: Passion! Passion!
It doesn't look good for Kinnikun's return!

Che Hyon vs. Morohoshi
Winner: Che Hyon!

Wakky vs. Nomura actor guy!
Winner: Wakky!

HG vs. Ishimaru actor guy!
Winner: Ishimaru! Ishimaru!
HG got taken out by an old guy!

2nd Round
Winners: Tomoyuki, Passion, Che Hyon, old man killer Wakky
(Sorry, I got a bit lazy there.)

3rd Round
Tomoyuki vs. Passion Yara?
Winner: Passion!

Che Hyon vs. Wakky!
Winner: Che Hyon! He's tall.

Final: Passion Yara vs. Che Hyon!
I'm slowly getting the names.
Wow! What a back and forth battle! The ball crossed the middle line several times.
Winner: Che Hyon!

Spin Off No. 1: Che Hyon!

Wakky is still number 1.

Oh god. Everyone, take a break RIGHT NOW. Eat dinner. Send e-mail. Paint that garage you've been meaning to do for ages because it's that time suck vortex known as the Monster Box.

Battle No. 3: Monster Box
I'm not going to do play by play here until later; I'm sorry but things don't heat up until about the 16 box point. And they're starting at 11.
I will, however, comment on how awkward HG looked as he took his first try.
At least Iketani Naoki isn't here to make the whole deal pretty much a foregone conclusion. Until Tomoyuki arrived on the scene, Iketani dominated the Monster Box like no other. Like Iketani, Tomoyuki has a gymnastics background and it gives both of them the form and timing to really kick some Monster Box butt.
While I was typing all that, Ishimaru, Dancho (Yasudadai Circus guy), HG and..Kinnikun didn't clear 13 boxes. Masaka Kinnikun! I think he's rusty.

Shiraishi Gamba Soccer guy is our first run into the box and not even make a jump guy.

Passion is out at 13. Next is 15. Until 16 or 17 you have only one chance at clearing. After that, you have two tries to clear. The "World Record" is 23 boxes.

Oy vey. Wakky is out at 15! Well, actually 11. That actually means that Kinnikun finishes with a higher Monster Box score than Wakky. Tomoyuki is number 2 in total points so if he just gets close to his personal best (22 - he has done 23 but it's not officially recognized by the World Monster Box Association Alliance of the Universe) he'll take the lead.

Morohoshi is getting fired up! He's a cocky one.

We're into two try territory (17 boxes)! Morohoshi, Shirai, Che Hyon, Dante (mondainai), Sato and Tomoyuki are your participants.

Only Sato Hiromichi clears 17 on the first try. (Tomoyuki passed I think)

Morohoshi is out! He should have worn the skates. So is Dante. Che Hyon is through. Shirai is out as we get a "nice" look at Tomoyuki's man parts (how's THAT for a potential google hit?)

18 - Sato Hiromichi, Che Hyon and Tomoyuki

Sato and Che Hyon fail on their first try. Tomoyuki passes.

Sato and Che Hyon both fail on their second try. All Tomoyuki has to do is pass once at any height from now on and he's your No. 1

He's going for 20! It's traditionally the point where it gets REALLY hard. But it's not! He had air to spare! Kirei na!

Whoa! He's going for the record! Right now! On TBS! And this is in a competition so it will be recognized by the World Monster Box Association Alliance of the Universe! Aka no zone!

If he clears this, he'll be with Iketani and a bunch of Olympic medal winning gymnasts.

1st Try! Muscle Musical leader Tomoyuki! NO!

I guess he only gave it one go.

Monster Box No. 1: Tomoyuki

Tomoyuki is in the lead now by about 60 points.

Battle No. 4: Muscle Gym - Sit ups, sort of reverse sit ups and push ups. One minute of each.

1st group: HG, Nomura, Ishimaru, Shiraishi
Ishimaru with 218! His nose is red from hitting the button so much!

2nd group: Dancho, Kinnikun, Morohoshi, Shirai Ryo
After this battle you have to be in the top six to keep going. I think.
Shirai has 232. Kinnikun has 227.

3rd group: Dante, Passion Yara, Sato Hiromichi
Dante is not really built for this kind of event. Hiromichi onisan is. He has 229. Passion has 209 and Dante 167.

4th group: Wakky, Che Hyon, Tomoyuki
CMs before we hit the final minute.
Poor Che Hyon is an afterthought right now. Jeez, they're hitting that button like mad. The last thirty seconds are the mark of a true champion. Tomoyuki! 241! Wakky! 222!

Muscle Gym No. 1: Tomoyuki!

Kinnikun is edged out by Passion Yara for the final spot.

Battle No. 5: Shot-Gun-Touch! You have to touch a ball dropped from the ceiling before it hits the mat.

Tomoyuki, Wakky, Che Hyon, Sato Hiromichi, Shirai Ryo and Passion Yara are your finalists.

The winner gets a new car!

Passion and Shirai get their first chance but Sato misses. Che Hyon at 12m. Shippai!

Wakky's first attempt is at 12m for 75 points (the farther you are, the more points you get). He's got it!

He's still 45 points short but because Che Hyon missed he's moved into 2nd.

Tomoyuki just has to not miss I think to keep things going for himself. His first attempt is 11m60cm. NO!

He's still in the lead though. Contestants have a total of three attempts. If you miss early you have to go farther back to make up the lost ground.

2nd attempts for Sato, Passion and Che Hyon go awry. Shirai moves 30 points from first and into 2nd.

Wakky is pumped! He's going for 12m again to take the lead. YES! The pressure is on Tomoyuki. Wakky is now in the lead by 30. If Tomoyuki makes this it'll all be down to the last attempt.

Tomoyuki is going for 11m60cm again as we go to commercial.

We're back!



Tomoyuki is back in the lead. Don't know what happened in the first attempt but he nailed the second.

The higher Wakky goes, the higher Tomoyuki will have to go to beat him.

3rd attempt for Sato doesn't go so he'll be sixth with 185 points..

Passion hits a personal best at 11m80cm which puts him at 4th with 265.

Che too tall. Like Dante he can't quite get the timing down. He'll be 5th with 210 points.

Shirai is still alive at third. He's going for 12m40cm. Yes! Wait...let's go to the ULTRA SLOW. NO! The ball hit first. Shirai will be third. He's crying. He'll finish with 310 points.

Wakky! He's going for a personal best at 12m20cm. That means Tomoyuki has to go for 11m80cm, his current personal best to beat Wakky.

Wow, Wakky is one serious guy when it comes to this. CMs.

Wakky, going for 12m20cm for 95 points and the lead.

HERE HE GOES! YES! PERSONAL BEST! AND THE LEAD! He pretty much caught the ball. Itazo!

It all comes down to this! Wakky has 455. Tomoyuki has 395. Tomoyuki is going for 11m80cm. That will be 65 points and the title if he makes it.

Here he goes! YES! Commercial.

We're back.

Replay. Wait..did he get it? NO! He had the distance but he had his head down and the ball landed on the SIDE of him.

So your champion...WAKKY! He gets the yellow jersey and the car!

Final standings:

6. 185 points 佐藤弘道 Sato Hiromichi
5. 210 points チェ・ヒョノ Che Hyon
4. 265 points パッション屋良 Passion Yara
3. 310 points 白井涼 Shirai Ryo
2. 395 points 知幸 Tomoyuki
1. 455 points ワッキー Wakky

Event standings:
Beach Flags: ワッキー Wakky
Spin Off: チェ・ヒョノ Che Hyon
Monster Box: 知幸 Tomoyuki (20)
Muscle Gym: 知幸 Tomoyuki (244)
Shot-Gun-Touch: ワッキー Wakky

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MLB Play-Offs and Japan

Well, the Major League Baseball season has concluded and my sort-of-beloved Mets imploded and went from first in the NL East to sitting on their butts at home. But in Japan, there is still something to look forward to since a total of 6 Japanese players are on play-off bound teams:
Boston Red Sox: Pitchers D-Mat-not-Dice-K and Hideki Okajima
New York Yankees: Outfielder Hideki Matsui and pitcher Kei Igawa (Igawa is not on the 25 man active roster though)
Colorado Rockies: Infielder Kazuo Matsui
Philadelphia Phillies: Infielder Tadahito Iguchi

D-Mat, Okajima and Igawa are in their first year with MLB so this is their first time in the MLB play-offs. Kaz Matsui is also playing in his first play-off series since he was traded by the Mets before the end of the season when they won the NL East in 2006.

Hideki Matsui has ample play-off experience with the Yankees who have made the play-offs every year he has played for them.

Tadahito Iguchi was the first everyday Japanese player to win a World Series ring when he played the White Sox in 2005.

Of course like the American media, most of the games being aired on NHK BS 1 are the ones involving the Red Sox and Yankees. Sorry on behalf of NHK to all those Colorado and Philly fans.

Other stats:
At least one Japanese player has made it to play-offs every year so far this decade.

If any one of these players wins the World Series it would mark the third year in a row a Japanese player has been on a World Champion (Iguchi in '05 and Taguchi in '06).

There has been at least one Japanese player on a World Series team since 2002.

For more up-to-date news on how your favorite Japanese player is doing, go to Japanese Ball Players for daily news and stats. Oh, and also, sorry on behalf of MLB to Korean and Taiwanese baseball fans since they get their players kind of squashed into the side of the Japanese Ball Players page.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ube woman kills sleeping husband with bat and kitchen knife

Wow. No English translations yet so you'll have to take my word for it.
Ube-shi Higashikiwa resident Toshio Nagai (61) died from wounds to the head and neck that he received after being attacked by his wife Kazuko (59) in his sleep on September 30th.
While Mr. Nagai was sleeping his wife hit him in the head with a metal baseball bat and stabbed him in the neck with a kitchen knife. He was found by relatives who then called the police.
Mrs. Nagai was taken in by the police. She admits to hitting her husband but denies having stabbed him.

Sponichi Annex story
Nikkan Sports story
Chugoku Shimbun Online story
FNN story with video