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MLB 2010 Season Projections [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 31st, 2010 by Dan

Another year, another season! 2010 looks to be another good one. The Marlins don’t look like they’re about to run away with their division, but the Rays have a fighting chance this year. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s back up and go through this division by division like we do every year.

AL East

After a (glorious) season where the Yankees didn’t make it to the playoffs for once, the Bronx Bombers came back with a vengeance and took it all. The Yanks may have lost Damon and Matsui, but they’re still in a strong position in the AL East and look poised to make the playoffs in the division. Players are getting older on that team and the pitching isn’t as strong as they’d like, but, barring some kind of major injury, I stand by that prediction.

The Red Sox also made a few big moves, getting rid of Jason Bay and adding in Adrián Beltré, and they’re projected to have a solid season with strong defense and slightly weakened bat strength. I think a lot of how well they do this year depends on whether or not they’re able to produce runs at the plate with David Ortiz, who did not perform to standards last year.

My favorite in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays, have had a super strong spring. With the best spring record of the AL, they could upset the Yankees or Red Sox if and only if their rotation and bullpen return to 2008 form. The offense is there, the defense on the field is there, it’s just a matter of making outs. Will Rafael Soriano be enough to solve their closer woes? That alone will tell you what this team will do this year.

I’m excited to see what the Orioles put together this year. Their investment in youth is starting to bear fruit as prospects make their way onto the field, but this young, inexperienced team is up against juggernauts in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. I’m going to call this a building year for the Orioles, even if that’s selling them a bit short. They would have a good chance in any other division, but not the East.

There are few teams in baseball that bore me more than the Blue Jays (:cough: Royals, Pirates, and Padres :cough:). This is a team that acknowledged that they have no chance to make a run of it by trading Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

Projected Standings:
Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Remember that I’m a Rays fanboy and my positioning makes sense. I think the Rays have a strong chance to take the AL wild card this year.

AL Central

For a while there, this division was the Twins’ to lose. Then the second best closer in the game, Joe Nathan, went down for the season, muddying up the waters. Add in that the team is moving to a brand new ballpark and things could get interesting. Gone are the super-competitive advantages of the Metrodome, replaced by what will be a SUPER frigid open-air ballpark that will take some getting used to. When it comes to Joe Mauer, I’m reminded of the fictional words of Michael Bluth, “You gotta lock that down.” Lucky for the Twins, they managed to get that done with an eight-year, 184 M$ contract. It should help.

I hear a lot about Chicago’s rotation being so vastly improved, but it’s almost always followed by the caveat that Peavy needs to pitch well. It’s been a long while since his 2007 Cy Young campaign and he hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Despite how much Obama loves this team, I can’t stand A. J. Pierzynski and, by extension, the team.

Detroit has a team that I want to love. Those poor guys live in a third world city that is on the verge of absolute collapse. They keep giving Dontrelle Willis chances to succeed (and he might be in the rotation this year), but I’m not sure that they will be able to keep up with the Twins this year thanks to weak pitching. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys.

The Indians may be on the upswing and ready to bounce back, but I’m not ready to believe that yet. I don’t see much happening for this team.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke.

Projected Standings:
Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

AL West

Despite their stupid long name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have had one of the most consistent teams of the century. They contend every year and make it to the playoffs almost every year. It’s hard to ignore how solid this team is. Unfortunately, they’ve been fighting a war of attrition these past two years with Texas and Seattle getting closer and closer to robbing AL West dominance away from them. They gained Matsui, but lost vital starter Lackey. Will it be enough?

Seattle wants it this year. They went and signed Cliff Lee and even took the risk of signing the volatile Milton Bradley to bolster their bats. Things were looking great for Seattle until Cliff Lee ended up on the DL and Milton Bradley got himself ejected from two straight spring training games. Will they be able to keep it all together and make a real run for the West?

The Rangers are solid, but they have a lot of reliance on players like Josh Hamilton who are very injury prone. They’ve been just short of the playoffs for several years now and they’re real hungry for it.

I have so much apathy for the Athletics. I’m sure their team is pretty good and has a chance this year, but it never seems to pan out for Oakland.

Projected Standings
Mariners
Angels
Rangers
Athletics

I’m going out on a major limb there. I could be dead wrong.

NL East

My favorite division also contains two of my least favorite teams in baseball, both of which are set to have great seasons. Last year’s NL Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are still just as good with Roy Halladay instead of Cliff Lee. They’ve still got a great lineup with good pitching and, even without their closer, they should still have a solid season. They are The Team To Beat (TM) in the East.

Atlanta, my least favorite team, has got stars in their eyes for Jason Heyward, a top-prospect who made the team this spring. Heyward’s bat, combined with Hanson and Kawakami’s arms, could be very formidable in the East. This is a team that worries me.

The Mets have had such terrible luck recently that it’s almost bound to start swinging back in the other direction…right? With an adjusted outfield to help home runs, their offense might perform a little better, but that injury-riddled team is not looking all that much better this year. If they outperform the Marlins, I’ll be surprised.

Speaking of teams that won’t outperform the Marlins, Washington is almost guaranteed to make marginal improvements this year. Their rotation is still a mess, but veterans like Chien-Ming Wang and Liván Hernández can combine with the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg and the promising performance of Drew Storen and produce what might actually be a major league rotation. The lineup needs some work to score runs, but pitching is infinitely more important for a team that wants to win.

Speaking of a team that emphasizes pitching, we’ve finally arrived at my favorite team, the Florida Marlins. Over the off-season they finalized a strong contract for Josh Johnson and kept Dan Uggla, keeping the rotation and lineups strong. Combined with Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan destroying NL pitching and Ricky Nolasco’s brilliant performance on the mound, this is a solid team with only a few holes that need filling. If Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez live up to their potential, I don’t see much standing in this team’s way. There’s always a question of pitching with the back end of the rotation, but Chris Volstad has been looking good of late and Anibal Sanchez fluctuates, but trends on the better side most times. The real question is in the bullpen where the Fish will be relying on Leo Núñez to close games. I’m not confident in Núñez yet.

Projected Standings:
Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

NL Central

The Central has a chance to be interesting this year with strong squads being fielded by St. Louis, Cincinnati, and “this is our last chance for a while” Chicago. St. Louis has the best chance here thanks to strong pitchers Carpenter and Wainwright and their strong offense in Pujols and Holliday. Cincinnati has been a dark horse so many years in a row now that they’d better start performing. The promise of Aroldis Chapman could push them ahead if the offense follows, but otherwise the team has a strong uphill climb. The Cubbies don’t have much time left before they have to start “rebuilding”. If they don’t put together a playoff season this year, it might be a while before we see one happen again. I still love Fukudome, even if the Cubs don’t. He’s a consistent and solid player.

I don’t know much about Milwaukee’s squad this year, but they’re usually a solid team, but I didn’t hear much in the offseason that would convince me they were ready to push ahead of last year’s performance.

The rest of the Central, the Pirates and the Astros, really don’t make an impact in baseball nowadays. Pittsburgh is really a AAAA team and Houston has failed to make any kind of splash in a long while.

Projected Standings:
Cardinals
Cubs
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates

NL West

Colorado made the biggest turnaround I’ve seen since the last time they did it in 2007 to win the wild card last year and make the playoffs. After that strong finish and with LA’s messy divorce keeping them from making significant progress on their team, I see Colorado as the frontrunners in this division.

A messy divorce has been draining Dodger ownership of cash and the ability to run their team. At best, the Dodgers remain as good as they were last year. Realistically, they fall behind the Rockies and maybe even the Giants too.

Solid pitching, but not much offense. It’s been the same story for years now. A strong team only because it keeps the run count down on the opposing team.

What about the Padres?

Projected Standings
Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Padres

I’m bound to be dead wrong, per usual, but we’ll see how I’m doing in July and again in September. I can’t wait for Sunday/Monday!

Super Ichiban Travel Blog W Jersey Special [II]
Nov 13th, 2009 by Dan

The pride of my trip to Japan no doubt has to be the 12 jersey collection I brought home with me. Here is a quick rundown of each of the jerseys, a little background behind each, and what I think of it. I’m gonna cover them in the order that I got them, so that puts the Giants jersey a little later, even though that was the first game I went to.

Jersey #1 – Orix Buffaloes

The genesis of the Jersey Project began on a ridiculously sunny day outside Skymark Stadium. As you may or may not remember, I collect fitted, official baseball caps at each of the MLB stadiums I go to, so I was looking for something similar to collect at the Japanese parks. Unfortunately, neither of the two teams I’d seen had fitted caps. I had initially ruled out jerseys in the states because I knew how expensive they ran, but then I noticed that the Buffaloes jerseys they had for sale in their outdoor stalls were only ¥3500 (about $40 at the exchange rate I suffered). That was only $10 more than I was used to spending on caps in America!

My first NPB jersey!

My first NPB jersey!

It’s a pretty nice jersey and after I tossed it on in the ballpark I was certain that I’d made a good souvenir choice. The B’s on the front and the Orix patch on the left are both legitimate, sewn on patches. It’s a pretty sharp color scheme too. The white contrasts very nicely with the dark blue and the red/yellow trim around the sleeves and patches looks pretty good. All that said, it’s still kind of a generic jersey. There’s no team name, no city name, no prominent company name. I like it, but the other, more creative jerseys just look better.

Rank: 8 of 12. Solid, but just too generic.

Jersey #2 – Hiroshima Toyo Carp

Hiroshima is a city that’s really dear to my heart. Of all the places I visited in Japan, it left the most lasting effect on me, both from the team spirit and the indomitable spirit of the people who rebuilt the city with vigor. Beyond all that, the team’s most prominent color is red and, to quote Andy Bernard, my blood runs Big Red. Housed in Mazda Stadium, a brand new ballpark with all the amenities, the Carp had one of the more robust team stores filled to the brim with red from boxer shorts (complete with catcher signs over the crotch) to the all-important jerseys and caps.

One of my favorite jerseys.

One of my favorite jerseys.

This time the jersey fetched a heftier fee, ringing up at around ¥5500, if I remember right, with the premium version selling for ¥6500. Concerned with saving money, I’m pretty sure I went with the cheaper edition of the jersey, which is kind of a shame now that I think about it. I’m not sure if the more expensive one actually had sewn on names (or even if the real jerseys do), but the names on the jersey are printed on and it lacks the ridges on the premium jersey. Despite all of that, the Carp jersey gets extra points from me for being red, quite fetching to look at, distinctly Japanese with Hiroshima printed across the front, and it features my favorite Japanese ballplayer, Akihiro Higashide.

This guy hit his 1000th hit with me in the stadium watching. I love this guy.

This guy hit his 1000th hit with me in the stadium watching. I love this guy.

With all of these things going for it (and it being the jersey of my favorite team), one would expect it to top the bill, but I have to take some points away for its cheaper design and printed text. If it weren’t for those things, it would definitely rate higher.

Rank: 3 of 12. Ok, it doesn’t rank all that low, but still, it’s not #1!

Jersey #3 – Saitama Seibu Lions

You all remember how this jersey believes lions, right?

Makes me laugh every time...

Makes me laugh every time...

There’s one thing that the brand-conscious among you will notice right away upon viewing a picture of the jersey. I’ll give you a second to check it out…

Kind of plain, but made with nice material. Whats up with the armpits though?

Kind of plain, but made with nice material. What's up with the armpits though?

That’s right, the Lions are sponsored by none other than Nike, no doubt a deal that was penned (if it wasn’t already in place) following their victory in the Japan Series last year and, wouldn’t you know it, a brand-name jersey costs a lot more than the regular Joe editions pushed by the other teams. Already not a fan of the Lions because they play in the Pacific League in a strange quasi-dome, here I had to pay something like ¥7200 for this jersey. My little quest was starting to get quite expensive and I wasn’t happy about it.

Beyond that, there’s nothing really wrong with the jersey. It’s got a solid, old-school baseball look, but there’s not much to it beyond that. Grey is a terribly bland color (I suppose I could have bought white, but those were even plainer. There weren’t even blue highlights, if I remember correctly. The Saitama patch on the right arm and the Lions-ball-grasped-in-a-paw patch are both pretty generic looking too. The best feature is the “i believe lions,” but you can’t see that if the jersey is buttoned up or even in normal wear. All of that pales in comparison to the bizarre underarm of the jersey. For some godforsaken reason, the jersey does not have full armpits. Instead there are these vents, I guess to help get air to the underarm. I always wear an undershirt, but with these little vents exposing my armpits to the world, this jersey kind of forces the point.

Rank: 7 of 12. What’s up with the armpits on this thing?

Jersey #4 – Tokyo Yakult Swallows

By the time I showed up at Meiji Jingu for the Swallows game, I’d already seen the team play once. Counting that day, I was to see them play three more games. If you’ve been reading the blog, you know that I’m not a fan of this team, but they’ve actually got one of the nicer jerseys that I picked up.

That top red button really sells it for me.

That top red button really sells it for me.

The Swallows have a jersey that’s just different enough from the MLB sets that it really sells the whole “Hey, we play baseball in Japan, not America” thing. From the red accents on the side (can you tell I love red?) to the great patches on both the arms and above the team name, to the coup de grace, the red top button, it’s just a well-designed jersey. I don’t have the other buttons done, but they’re white, not red, which would normally annoy someone so obsessed with symmetry and patterns, but I love it in this case. It’s like the rising sun sits right at the top of the jersey. Best of all, the jersey returned to a more reasonable price. I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but it was definitely between ¥4000 and ¥5000. I still can’t believe how much I paid for a Lions jersey that doesn’t even have a marketable player’s name on the back.

Rank: 5 of 12. It’s the Rising Sun on my jersey!

Jersey #5 – Yomiuri Giants

The Yankees of Japan. What team do I hate (fourth) most in the states? Which jersey do I loathe from my collection?

This one hurt to buy.

This one hurt to buy.

I’ll admit, this is a jersey I hate for completely non-aesthetic reasons. Aside from being rather plain, I am a fan of the orange and black on the jersey. Beyond that, there is one major reason why I hate this jersey. Make that 12000 reasons. That’s right, I had to pay ¥12000 to get this thing. Why?

1. They’re the Giants. The most popular team in Japan
2. It’s another name brand. Adidas

I dont even know who this guy is...but he does have a great number.

I don't even know who this guy is...but he does have a great number.

Since I didn’t know that I was collecting jerseys on this trip when we saw the Giants the first night, this one comes from the day Dave left and I went to Tokyo Disney Sea. I will say that I saw the jerseys in the store that night and thought they were far too expensive, but here I was, stuck buying the premium jersey. Why? I hear you ask. It’s because there are no non-premium jerseys. Pay less than ¥12000 and you can get a t-shirt that looks like a jersey, but you will never get a jersey. I bit the bullet and bought the thing, but I still get mad thinking about it.

Rank: 11 of 12. Sure, I’m being petty, but it’s my list and my criteria.

Jersey #6 – Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

After paying so much for my Giants jersey, prices became mostly trivial, so my dislike of the Hawks jersey comes not from paying between ¥6000 and ¥7000 for the thing, but more from an aesthetic dislike.

White jersey with yellow armbands. Way to break the creativity bank guys...

White jersey with yellow armbands. Way to break the creativity bank guys...

Uninspired and lazy is what I think when I see this jersey. The most creative part of it is the goofy-looking Hawk mascot on the right sleeve and we all know how I feel about that bird and his kin. Two yellow stripes? That’s the best you can come up with?

Worse, the Hawks are thinking of changing their jersey next year to be more like the BayStars. Just you wait until I get to that abomination…

Rank: 9 of 12. Stupid mascot and yellow bands.

Jersey #7 – Chunichi Dragons

It’s probably time to call me inconsistent, but I rather like the Dragons jersey. Maybe it’s the old-school look with the linked ‘C’ and ‘D’ or maybe it’s the delicious shade of blue that the team uses (it’s the closest to Cubs blue that I saw in Japan and I love me some Cubs blue), but I really like it.

Its all about letter design.

It's all about letter design.

The player is pretty forgettable, but they don’t really sell Fukudome jerseys in the stadium anymore. I hear he’s a veteran who’s been playing a long time and he had a decent game, but he didn’t call out to me like Higashide or Toritani.

Araki is getting close to the end of his career, but I love his number and the fact that he plays second base.

Araki is getting close to the end of his career, but I love his number and the fact that he plays second base.

Beyond that, I like the wedge-shaped highlights on the sleeves and up the sides, but it’s a shame that the jersey doesn’t really have any patches.

Rank: 6 of 12. A solid effort, but the ones above it either have more sentimental value or sharper designs..

Jersey #8 – Hanshin Tigers

This is a jersey done right. Everything about it just exudes tight design. Pinstripes are a staple of baseball while the black and yellow interact fantastically everywhere they’re paired together.

Sharp.

Sharp.

Even the textures are nice on this sucker, with everything sewn on and a ridged surface, it’s also really nice to feel. Check out that fierce Tiger patch. Scary.

Toritani! My second favorite Japanese baseball player.

Toritani! My second favorite Japanese baseball player.

I almost unintentionally ended up falling in love with numbers and players that were part of the middle infield. While I’ve got a few pitchers thrown in there (and a first baseman), I’m pretty sure most of the jerseys I own with names belong to the middle infield. If that’s not supported by the data, then my favorite ones do, so can it. Takeshi Toritani is a fine shortstop and he was a clutch performer in the games that I saw.

Rank: 2 of 12. The highest ranked “traditional” jersey, this guy just gets it in all the right places. Pinstripes, black accents, yellow trim, and a badass tiger.

Jersey #9 – Hokkaidō Nippon-Ham Fighters

Back-to-back superstar jerseys. The Nippon-Ham I bought has everything going for it that you’d want in a Japanese jersey. How’s about a quick peek before we go over all the highlights.

Worth it just to see the faces as they read Nippon-Ham

Worth it just to see the faces as they read Nippon-Ham

Sure, Fighters jerseys fetch about ¥9000, but you really get what you pay for in this case. When the Fighters moved to Sapporo (they used to play in Tokyo and share the Dome with the Giants) they totally revamped their image and went with this completely non-traditional look. The most glaring difference is the left sleeve. Beyond the nifty, sewn-on patch, it’s an entirely different color from the rest of the jersey (this is the case for the home, away, and interleague versions of the jersey too). That bold accent, coupled with the hilarious Nippon-Ham adorning the front already seal the deal on this being my favorite jersey, but the best part is the player I got.

I was so close to seeing Darvish pitch...

I was so close to seeing Darvish pitch...

Yu Darvish is a superstar. No other pitcher in Japan approaches how great this guy is right now. He was hurt for most of the season, but he even came out to pitch in Game 2 of the Japan Series while hurt. Instead of pitching to his usual velocity, the guy just relied on curveballs and other tricky pitches and still only gave up two runs on one home run. The guy’s a stud on the mound. I really hope he comes to pitch in the states one day.

Rank: 1 of 12. Darvish + the off-color arm = win

Jersey #10 – Yokohama Baystars

From first to absolute worst. I don’t even know where to start with this guy…

Worst. Jersey. Ever.

Worst. Jersey. Ever.

Oh wait, how about the fact that its NOT EVEN A JERSEY! The traditional jersey has buttons. There are no buttons on this jersey. Everything on it is printed, even the cheesy stars on the shoulders that, I kid you not, I did not notice until two minutes before I wrote this sentence. Everything about this jersey screams forgettable.

Is he any good? Who would know on this team.

Is he any good? Who would know on this team.

At the very least Uchikawa is pretty good. He led the league in 2008 in batting average, but, beyond that, I couldn’t care less. He plays for a garbage team.

Rank 12 of 12. I’m so glad I only had to pay ¥4000 for this thing. It’s not even a jersey!

Jersey #10 – Chiba Lotte Marines

When I first saw these jerseys I thought they looked kind of cool. The different colors and zig-zag of the sleeves look kind of cool from far away, but something about this jersey soured me to the idea not long after I got it.

What kind of a jersey sponsor is The Hartford?

What kind of a jersey sponsor is The Hartford?

When you look closely at the jersey, the most bizarre thing pops out at you. They prominently display the logo of The Hartford. An investment firm on a baseball jersey? Just doesn’t feel right.

I think I have more corner infielders than middle. Oh well, I still like the middle fielders more.

I think I have more corner infielders than middle. Oh well, I still like the middle fielders more.

I know I’m being nitpicky here, but I don’t really like the design they chose for the numbers on the jersey. I also don’t like that it cost me ¥11000 and it doesn’t fit all that well.

Rank: 10 of 12. I can’t explain precisely why I don’t like it, but it’s not that great.

Jersey #12 – Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

I was really pulling for the Eagles to make it to the Japan series this year. After seeing them battle back and beat the Hawks with a grand slam and watching Masahiro Tanaka turn in a stellar pitching performance, the team became my favorite in the Pacific League.

Check out the wings on the team name!

Check out the wings on the team name!

Beyond that, just look at what they did with a fairly simple jersey design. There are no fancy patches or color swatches, but they did do something neat with the logo on the jersey. Instead of going with the regal, refined look, they put freaking wings on the thing. It’s sweet.

Tanaka - my second favorite Japanese pitcher.

Tanaka - my second favorite Japanese pitcher.

The plentiful red is always appreciated and so is Tanaka’s name. A fine jersey and one of the better teams I saw on the trip.

Rank: 4 of 12. Wingtips! On the name!

What do you think of the designs? Would you arrange them differently?

Super Ichiban Travel Blog Part XI: “That’s my wife. You no touch.” [II]
Oct 8th, 2009 by Dan

Folks, from here on out, the SITB (that’s Super Ichiban Travel Blog for the uninitiated) will be shifted to a Tuesday/Thursday(/maybe Saturday) schedule (there are really only nine or so posts left, including this one) so that the blog can return to its regularly scheduled programming on MWF. The MLB playoffs have started and here I am still talking about my time in Japan. I need to be covering this! You’ll recall that I wrote daily posts about the playoffs last year. Neither the Marlins nor the Rays made it this year, but that won’t necessarily keep me from adding in extra coverage as I see fit.

You ever find yourself thinking, If only I had my own city...? Mine is in Fukuoka

You ever find yourself thinking, "If only I had my own city..."?

Fukuoka seems like a neat city with tons to do, but we were on a schedule and the place is just too remote for us to make a hub, so off to Kyoto we went.

Cue travel montage.

We rode past Mazda Stadium (Home of the Carp) on our way to Kyoto.

We rode past Mazda Stadium (Home of the Carp) on our way to Kyoto.

It’s a short montage. I only took two pictures and they were both of Mazda Stadium, so I’ll spare you the other one.

I lied.

I lied.

There really was no need for that, it’s clearly an inferior picture, but, oh well, it’s done and I can’t take it back.

We rode past Mazda Stadium (Home of the Carp) on our way to Kyoto.

I'll put the better one back up again.

Ok, the travel montage is actually over now. We arrived in Kyoto, but this time we were staying in a different hotel from before. For some reason, Kyoto has two hotels named APA Kyoto whose only difference is an address. We were at the one located further from the rail station, behind some side streets, and across a path in which several of the folks in our tour were almost killed by bicyclists. The only cool part was that I had to pass a Bic Camera on my way to the train station and you bet that I was going to go in and look for good import games for my region-free systems.

A Bic Camera employee demoing Wii Sports outside the store.

A Bic Camera employee demoing Wii Sports outside the store.

Having skipped breakfast that day, I was looking for a quick pick-me-up once we returned to the station that would tide me over until I got to the ballpark for lunch. At a shop on the platform (almost every major platform has food kiosks that carry snacks and newspapers), I noticed a box of something I saw in Metal Gear Solid 3: CalorieMate.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

I honestly had no idea what exactly CalorieMate was, I just knew that it restored Snake’s health meter all the way when consumed, so it couldn’t be all that bad for you, could it? When I researched it a little later on, I found out that the stuff is produced by a pharmaceutical company and that it’s meant to be an energy bar type food. The one I got was a biscuit-type that tasted of lemon, so I was totally ok with it. My favorite part about it was the disclaimer on the box that said something like “Caution: To ensure freshness, please eat your CalorieMate as soon as possible after opening the package.” As I crunched on the bar, I imagined all the strange chemical reactions going on in my body that might be going on or what would happen if you left it out in the open (EXPLOSION!), but in general it wasn’t that bad and I even had one again on the tour.

Not Pictured: Hours later ambulances rushed to the scene to save Dan after his stomach exploded. When asked what could have happened, his travel companions said He exposed the CalorieMate to five minutes worth of oxygen, what did he think would happen?

Not Pictured: Hours later ambulances rushed to the scene to save Dan after his stomach exploded. When asked what could have happened, his travel companions said "He exposed the CalorieMate to five minutes worth of oxygen, what did he think would happen?"

Once we got to Nagoya we had to make our way to the Nagoya Dome, so it was time to board local public transportation. Like any other major city in Japan, Nagoya has a subway system that can be used to easily get around. Its subway also housed the first sign of the fabled “Women-Only” cars I’d heard about before, but had yet to see.

The first time I tried to take this picture, Alexs umbrella was out of focus and in the frame looking like a rather sinister black, phallic object. I think this is the better choice.

The first time I tried to take this picture, Alex's umbrella was out of focus and in the frame looking like a rather sinister black, phallic object. I think this is the better choice.

If you’ve never heard of female-only cars, they’re a result of sexual assault (read: groping) becoming far too common on the ridiculously crowded trains of Japan. Since some of the ones committing assault (read: assholes and perverts) could plausibly claim that it was the crowdedness and bumpiness of the ride, not their evil actions, Japan fought back with women-only trains.

We were all set to make our way to the nearest metro stop and get off right by the stadium, when a conductor popped out and told us this train had reached the end of its line. In retrospect, I’m sure that we could have waited for the next train, but instead we got off and started the long walk to the dome. It wasn’t all that bad, we got a chance to see a little more of Nagoya on the way to the ballpark, but it was a gloomy, semi-rainy day, which put quite a damper on the fun of sightseeing.

Remember all those slime toys and Snoopy toys I mentioned at the Square Enix store? Now you know who buys them: this random van owner in Nagoya.

Remember all those slime toys and Snoopy toys I mentioned at the Square Enix store? Now you know who buys them: this random van owner in Nagoya.

After some walking and following of kids in Dragons gear, we eventually reached the Nagoya Dome, home of the Chunichi Dragons.

Home of the Chunichi Dragons! I wonder why that older Japanese guy is dressed like a bellhop/limo driver and standing outside the stadium.

Home of the Chunichi Dragons! I wonder why that older Japanese guy is dressed like a bellhop/limo driver and standing outside the stadium.

Most of you don’t know this, but, coming into Japan, my favorite NPB team was the Chunichi Dragons. This started back when all they hype about Kosuke Fukudome awakened in me an interest in Japanese baseball. When I investigated his home team, I found a squad that played by National League rules (a plus), wore a nice, blue color (always a plus for me…I can’t resist a girl in Cubbie or Dodger blue), and had a Dragon as a mascot. How could you go wrong with that? Of course, actually being in Japan taught me that the Carp were just waiting for me to show up and adopt them for my own, but the Dragons are easily my second favorite team now. (the Nippon-Ham Fighters claimed third).

The mascots of the Chunichi Dragons! Theres the pink dragon, the blue dragon, and...the koala?

The mascots of the Chunichi Dragons! There's the pink dragon, the blue dragon, and...the koala?

The stadium facade was pretty neat in places, allowing you to see the people inside eating and also offering neat, artistic takes on the Dragon theme.

A big, blue, Japanese-style dragon. If you look in the left corner youll spot...

A big, blue, Japanese-style dragon. If you look in the left corner you'll spot...

...mini Chunichi-style dragons atop the building near the old-style dragon.

...mini Chunichi-style dragons atop the building near the old-style dragon.

When I got into the field, I noticed something that seemed to be a bit dangerous. The Nagoya Dome doesn’t feature a real warning track. Instead, they’ve got a line that you’d better hope you see on the field, because there is no texture change.

The left half of the Nagoya Dome. Note that there is no real warning track

The left half of the Nagoya Dome. Note that there is no real warning track

The opponent for the night, the (aren’t you tired of them by now too?) Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Based on what I said above, who did you think I was rooting for?

Nothing like a nice afternoon game. Too bad it was both rainy and in a dome.

Nothing like a nice afternoon game. Too bad it was both rainy and in a dome.

Early on during the game I went out in search of food and found a neat takoyaki set that also included fries, chicken sticks, and a drink. I don’t totally remember, but I think 9/10 of the purchase stemmed from the fact that they put the fries over the drink so it looks like you’re drinking fries.

French Fry soda. Yum.

French Fry soda. Yum.

The best part of the Nagoya Dome (aside from the close, 4-2 game that was full of excitement), were the people I interacted with. On my trek around the stadium for my usual jersey acquisition, I steeled myself for the usual attempts at broken Japanese and pantomime to try and get a feel for the available sizes. As I struggled with my Japanese, the clerk all of a sudden burst out with perfect English. It was a shock to hear such great English from an unexpected source. We quickly resolved the size issue and I left with one of my favorite jerseys of the trip in hand.

My second encounter was more of a group thing. Ken, one of the guys on the group, can speak rudimentary Japanese, so he tries to talk to as many people around us in a stadium as possible. Noticing a rather large crowd of rowdy, excited people behind us, he started talking to them. It turned out that they were all bankers out for some post-shift socializing. It was from this group that the line in my title was gleamed from. One of the guys, enjoying conversation with us was telling us about the group. He indicated where the boss was and that they were bankers before going and saying “That’s my wife. You no touch,” to Ken. It was wildly hilarious, but also probably pretty serious underneath the levity of the situation. BONUS: I later looked up at the Boss and noticed that he was at the top of the group and he had a woman in each arm. Maybe sexual harassment ends with the workday here in Japan?

Our favorite group of bankers. Stripes, the aforementioned wife, is the one posing in the photo with her thundersticks.

Our favorite group of bankers. Stripes, the aforementioned wife, is the one posing in the photo with her thundersticks.

The last of the great experiences came from a young, maybe six or seven-year-old girl. Every time a Dragon run was scored or a Swallow struck out, she would run down to us gaijin and high five as much of us as she could. It was absolutely adorable.

Not adorable at all. Kind of creepy, really.

Not adorable at all. Kind of creepy, really.

As we were leaving the ballpark (GO DRAGONS! 4-2 ), I kept on the lookout for Kosuke Fukudome jerseys. His fame would surely keep fans wearing his clothing. In fact, I wore a Cubs shirt with his name written in Japanese specifically for the purpose of interacting with fellow Fukudome fans. My vigilance was rewarded when we found a small boy wearing a shirt and I snapped a quick shot. The young boy and his mother were both impressed by my shirt and wished us a happy trip.

Sorry about the blurry shot, the lighting was terrible.

Sorry about the blurry shot, the lighting was terrible.

The trip back was uneventful (aside from Ken nearly killing an old woman he ran headfirst into) and I made it back to the hotel without incident after a lengthy Shinkansen ride back. Some of the group had peeled off to find an ex-pat sports bar, but I wasn’t interested in hanging out with Americans and eating American food, plus I wasn’t feeling too well (bad takoyaki batch). Awaiting this fatigued traveler was a nifty little treat from the hotel staff. A little something to say “Welcome Home.”

It was a nice gesture. Too bad the room was even smaller than the last one.

It was a nice gesture. Too bad the room was even smaller than the last one.

Standings and Predictions + Pics from Os vs. Rays on 10 April [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 15th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

15 April may mean the tax man is coming around, but I like to think of it from a better perspective: Jackie Robinson Day. That’s right, on 15 April 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers, finally breaking the color barrier in baseball and paving the way for civil rights in America. Jackie Robinson was a hero and I’m glad that baseball honors him each year on this day by allowing players to wear Robinson’s league-wide retired #42.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
-Jackie Robinson

Now for the standings and predictions:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 0.5 Games Back (GB)
New York Yankees 2.0 GB
Tampa Bay Rays 2.0 GB
Boston Red Sox 4.0 GB

Surprising as the standings are today, I don’t think this can realistically continue throughout the year. The current bottom three are just too good for this to stay like this all year. A more realistic October looks like:

Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

Most of sports news America has the Jays above the Os and the Rays anywhere between first and third. I think the Rays outplay both the Yanks and the Sox and I’ve seen the Orioles do some major slugging. Even with the rotation difficulties they’re projected to have, I think their offense might be able to make up for it, but not enough to beat the Yankees. If the Yankees can’t get their act together with their bullpen and starting pitching (CC is looking better, but Wang is awful), things could be further shaken up.

NL East

Florida Marlins
Atlanta Braves 1.0 GB
Philadelphia Phillies 2.0 GB
New York Mets 3.0 GB
Washington Nationals 6.0 GB

The Nats are off to an awful start, mostly thanks to the incredible Florida Marlins who are a MLB-best 6-1 right now. They’re riding high off of good hitting and pitching, but I don’t think they have the depth to stay that high. Their hitting is a little too inconsistent and the rest of the division is just so darn good. That being said, I don’t think that the Phils can win the East again, mostly thanks to an ailing Cole Hamels, so I see them coming in definitely behind the Mets who have a rebuilt bullpen. Nats will continue to suck. The Braves are good, but I don’t know if they’re contenders yet. We’ll have to see as the season progresses.

Mets
Marlins
Phillies
Braves
Nationals

AL Central

Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox 0.5 GB
Detroit Tigers 1.0 GB
Minnesota Twins 1.5 GB
Cleveland Indians 4.0 GB

Trey Hillman is doing a heck of a job with his Royals so far this year, but I don’t think they can stay atop the Central all year long. I predict that the newly rebuilt and re-motivated Tigers will do much better, Cleveland will continue to suffer from whatever losing disease they have (no starting pitching), and the Twins will suffer some major losses thanks to Mauer’s injury. Here’s how I see it ending up:

Tigers
White Sox
Royals
Twins
Indians

I think I might be wrong with the Twins and Royals, but we’ll see when I reevaluate at the All-Star break.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals 0.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 1.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 1.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 3.5 GB
Houston Astros 4.0 GB

This one is harder for me to predict cause it’s the division I know the least about. The Cubs are on top, as most would predict, partially thanks to my boy Fukudome doing his part again. I really hope he stays strong all year this time. The Cards are tearing it up with Pujols and I think they’re a lock for second in this division. Despite being everyone’s dark horse for the NL Central, I don’t think the Reds can outplay the Cubs or the Cards. Pirates are doing well out of the gate, but for how long? The Astros just stink and the Brewers can’t compete without the pitching they had last year.

Cubs
Cardinals
Reds
Brewers
Pirates
Astros

AL West

Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics 2.0 GB
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2.5 GB
Texas Rangers 3.0 GB

If you would have told me at the end of last year that the Mariners would be atop the AL West at any point I would have called you crazy. Some key things have changed out west, making it an open division. Injuries plague the Angels bullpen, the Athletics are just mediocre, and the Rangers stink, but somehow Wakamatsu, the new Mariners skipper, has pulled his team together to make them compete. Maybe it’s the return of Griffey, Jr. or something Wakamatsu’s putting in the water, but the team is jiving together much better and it shows.

Mariners
Angels
Athletics
Rangers

IFF the Angels starting pitching is out for an extended period of time.

NL West

San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers 1.0 GB
Colorado Rockies 2.5 GB
Arizona Diamondbacks 3.0 GB
San Francisco Giants 3.5 GB

The Padres are off to a great, but unmaintainable start. No offense and no pitching means no winning. They’ll fall back in place. The rest of the West is pretty ugly too. San Francisco has great pitching, when Lincecum isn’t sucking, but no offense. The Rockies lost Matt Holliday, and the D-Backs have Webb on the DL. LA is easily the best in the division.

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Arizona is only high if Webb comes back soon. Otherwise they can’t hold on.

Those are my early season predictions, but we’ll see how well I’m doing come mid-season and adjust from there.

Pictures from the 10 April game:

Longoria at 3B

Longoria at 3B

View of Camden from our sweet seats

View of Camden from our sweet seats

I like this shot of Aki, even though hes in the background

I like this shot of Aki, even though he's in the background

Preparing for the next pitch.

Preparing for the next pitch.

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Rounding the bases

Rounding the bases

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Looks like a diving miss

Looks like a diving miss

Good swing

Good swing

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Good hit and baserunning

Good hit and baserunning

Domo-kun was at the game too

Domo-kun was at the game too

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

The end of Hendricksons windup

The end of Hendrickson's windup

Kapler coming in Pete Rose style

Gross coming in Pete Rose style

Im convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

I'm convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

Loosening up to make the calls

Loosening up to make the calls

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

Infield meeting to slow down the Os. Longoria doesnt pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

Infield meeting to slow down the O's. Longoria doesn't pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

One of Longorias two homers for the night.

One of Longoria's two homers for the night.

A disappointing loss, but a great time had by me and my friends.

25 Random BASEBALL Things About Me
Feb 22nd, 2009 by Dan

When Schneider tagged me in her version of this I almost pulled a Linus Torvalds (http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2009/02/25-things-about-me.html), but instead I decided not to do one at all.

Then I came across two “25 Random Baseball Things” articles and fell in love with the idea as a way to release pent up excitement about the upcoming baseball season. Hope you enjoy it..

1. Baseball was the first team sport I ever played. To this day I don’t really understand what motivated my father to sign me up for the game. My grandfather is afraid of playing catch due to an incident where he got beaned, my dad is mostly apathetic toward sports in general, including baseball, and my older brother hated little league baseball. My best guess is that we were living in the mostly Cuban (at the time) Hialeah where little league baseball is the predominant sport.

2. I always wanted to play catcher as a kid, but I never got the chance to. I wasn’t ever going to be a pitcher, but I figured that catching involved the second most amount of action on the field. Instead most of my time was spent in the outfield, where I did a pretty good job, and one glorious season at second base. Whenever I play softball or baseball, I will usually play catcher or second base, unless the team needs me to play outfield.

3. My favorite team is the Florida Marlins and I still remember going to a game at Joe Robbie Stadium, as it was called then, to see them play in April of 1993. This was the first professional baseball game I ever attended and was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me before then until I actually walked on the field some years later.

4. I very quickly developed an intense hatred for the Atlanta Braves that still sticks with me to this day. It’s no coincidence that I also despise the Florida State Seminoles who share the absurdly racist and obnoxious tomahawk chop chant. Last year I found out that my uncle used to be a Braves fan since they were the closest team to Florida before 1993. I still feel deeply betrayed by this fact, even though he is now a Marlins fan.

5. When my family moved to Oregon sometime in 1995, I experienced something of a baseball Dark Ages that I didn’t really kick until 2003 and didn’t fully kick until last year, despite moving back to South Florida in 1997. Between 1995 to 2003 I went to one AAA baseball game (Portland Rockies), two pro baseball games (Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins), one spring training game (Tigers at Yankees) and watched almost no baseball on tv.

6. I’m very ashamed to say that I maybe watched one or two of the games of the 1997 World Series, neither of which were Game 7. To this day I still root against the Cleveland Indians, partly because of that World Series, partly because they remind me of the Braves, and partly because living with Ohio-native Dean Strelau in 2007 allowed me to gloat about snatching two National Championships away from Ohio State, which led to a general dislike of any team from Ohio.

7. I quit playing baseball and started swimming competitively in 1998, a decision that I regret to this day. Sure, I wasn’t a very good ball player at that point, considering I did it mostly for fun, but I wish I had stuck with it. In case you were wondering, I wasn’t a very good swimmer either.

8. In that final season, my team played in a tournament against a team that traveled over to the states from Japan. We held our own for the first two or three innings, but eventually they got the best of us. I still remember that we had to use Japanese-style balls, but we didn’t have Japanese bats, which had some sort of rough coating on them that made them a bit different. I have a sneaking suspicion that we might have played a little better with access to their special equipment or if we used the standard American baseballs and bats instead.

9. The event that led to my baseball renaissance was the Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 postseason. Bartman will always be a hero of mine thanks to his paving the way for the Marlins 2003 World Series victory. I will gleefully ask any Cubs fan about how devastated they felt back in 2003 to be robbed of a pennant.

10. When the Marlins made it to the World Series in 2003 I wore a Marlins jersey that I’ve owned since the mid-90s to school. I’ll never forget that day, because in first period AP Statistics, Dan Gollins called me a front runner because he’d never seen me wear any Marlins paraphernalia before. I stand by the fact that I’ve been a Marlins fan since their inaugural year and I still get mad thinking about him calling me that, but I also kind of understand where he’s coming from and begrudgingly admit he’s got something of a point.

11. Speaking of the 2003 World Series, I have distinct memories of watching two of the seven games at Cornell during a campus visit that DPE flew me up for. I watched one of the games in the now-destroyed Class of ’26 with two Yankees fans. The other I watched in my brother’s apartment down on Gunn Hill.

12. This is a complicated one: I attended middle school and one year of high school down in South Florida at Cooper City High and the rest of them up in Central Florida at Sickles High. After prom at Sickles, I was invited down to Cooper City for prom with my old friends as my ex-girlfriend’s date, much to the ire of my current girlfriend. I still remember being quite insensitive as I called my girlfriend from their prom and told her that I wanted so badly to stay an extra day so that I could go with Josh Kushner to see the Marlins play the Diamondbacks that Sunday (23 May 2004 – http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO200405230.shtml) because Dontrelle Willis was pitching against Randy Johnson. Better sense prevailed and I ended up going home as scheduled. The Marlins lost 4-3 that day and I’ve still yet to see Randy Johnson or Dontrelle Willis pitch in person.

13. The first Orioles game I went to was on 27 July 2005 against the Texas Rangers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200507270.shtml). I’m pretty sure it was Sammy Sosa Bobblehead Night, although I could be wrong. It was a Wednesday, so I was worried about how long it would take me to get home cause I had work in the morning, but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. After a 97-minute rain delay, the game FINALLY got underway. The Os and Rangers tied up the game in the 9th and the game ended in the 11th with the Rangers winning 11-8. I got home at 0200AM, but that baseball game is one of the best I’ve ever experienced.

14. One of my goals in life is to see a baseball game played in every ballpark. So far I’ve seen games in Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro Player Stadium/Dolphin Stadium (Marlins), the Kingdome (Mariners), Tropicana Field (Rays), Camden Yards (Orioles), RFK Stadium (Nationals), and Shea Stadium (Mets). Of these stadiums, the Kingdome, Shea, and RFK no longer house their respective teams, the Marlins will be leaving Dolphin Stadium by 2010ish, and the Rays are trying to get a new stadium approved leaving me with one solid stadium visited out of thirty. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

15. Once I’ve visited all the MLB stadiums, barring further stadium moves, I have decided to undertake the much more ambitious and difficult goal of seeing a game in all 13 Nippon Professional Baseball stadiums. I’ve only been to Japan once and Okinawa doesn’t have a baseball team, but I will get this done some day. Koshien Stadium here I come!

16. I am absolutely opposed to the DH rule in baseball. To me, it makes sense that any player who takes the field should have to bat for himself. Sure, it allows aging players or players with poor defense to have a spot on the roster, but I just think it takes away from the spirit of the game to have a guy whose only job is to bat while you have a whole group of guys whose only job it is to pitch. You could argue that pinch hitters serve that role in the NL, but the rules state that those guys have to step onto the field after they hit, unless there’s another substitution. Lack of a DH promotes greater strategy in baseball, period.

17. Rookie of the Year was the first baseball movie I ever saw. I’ve also seen Little Big League, A League of Their Own, Major League, Mr. Baseball, Hardball, and The Sandlot. My Netflix queue includes Field of Dreams, Mr. 3000, The Bad News Bears, and Fever Pitch. I think A League of Their Own and Little Big League are my two favorites.

18. I have a man-crush on 2008 Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria.

19. I’ve been to two games at Tropicana Field, one when the team was known as the Devil Rays and one after the name change. I was initially totally opposed to the name change, but it’s amazing what a name change, color scheme change, and a winning season will do for a team and their venue. The Trop is still one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever been to, but it was a lot more fun to go this past year.

20. I boo Darek Jeter when he comes up to bat for absolutely no reason. In retrospect, I should have been booing A-Rod this whole time.

21. There’s something about eating a hot dog in a ballpark that makes it taste infinitely better.

22. I always semi-rooted for the Devil Rays, but I definitely jumped on the Rays bandwagon this year and I fully intend to continue to root for them as my AL team. My NL team is, of course, the Marlins. I will actively root against the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, and Indians. In the All-Star game, a non-Braves/Phillies game, or any Interleague game, I will root for the National League team. I don’t mind rooting for the Cubs unless they are in the postseason. I think it’s funny that they haven’t won a World Series in 100 years and I want the streak to continue.

23. My favorite ballplayers through the years: Benito Santiago, Chuck Carr, Cris Carpenter, Brian Harvey, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Lowell, and Evan Longoria

24. I have never caught a foul ball, ground rule double, or home run in the stands. It’s a selfish thing to do as a grown man, but I’m not sure I’d be able to give any ball I caught in the future to a kid at a game. Wouldn’t it be enough to give the second or third away?

25. Once they are old enough to enjoy it, I plan to take my recently adopted little brothers and sister to a ball game in the hopes that it will inspire the same love for the game that I have in them.

Grand Slam: The MLB All-Star Game
Jul 16th, 2008 by Dan

This will be in a sort of liveblog fashion.

First off, let me state that I hope we’ll get a NL win this year, I’m so tired of seeing the NL lose to those AL jerks…

Lineup announcements:

Slight cheering in the NL until they reach Mets players, then booing. How great is that?

In AL, booing at the Red Sox players. Yankees fans can do something right, I guess? If only I can get them to boo the Yankees too.

First commercial break:

I’ve said this time and time again, Flomax commercials are like the male Tampax commercial…

House, M.D. has new doctors. Not sure if I like them…

Back to the game…More Lineup Introductions

Rollie Fingers has a great mustache

So does Goose Gossage, just not as ridiculous.

The whole Hall of Fame thing with the positions is actually really cool. In case you didn’t see, they’ve got a whole lineup of Hall of Famers standing at each position. They announce all of them and then the All-Star voted in goes up to that position and stands next to them.

I didn’t know Cal Ripken, Jr. was originally a shortstop. I guess as he aged they moved him to a less demanding position.

FUKUDOME! Yeah, expect to see a lot of that if he does well tonight.

Josh Hamilton kicked some major ass in the home run derby last night, it’s too bad he didn’t win.

Yogi Berra is way shriveled up. Got a lotta cheering though.

Second Comercial Break:

I’ve got to see Sarah Connor Chronicles one of these days.

National Anthem/First Pitch

Sheryl Crow was ruined for me by a work CD when I was at Busch Gardens. She plays it safe. I wanna see a José Feliciano type event. Stealth bomber flyover is cool though.

Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, and one other guy (I missed his name) pitch to a bunch of other Yankees. Neat event.

More Commercials

Can it really still be called Prison Break if they’re not in prison? Maybe they’re trying to make a statement about the free American life being a prison itself? Maybe I’m over thinking this…

More Pre-Game…Sheesh, Start it Already…

I really wish they weren’t tearing down Yankee Stadium. It’s got so much history and awesomeness…What a crazy choice by the Yankees.

Frutista Freeze

The Diamondbacks Taco Bell Frutista Freeze commercial is HILARIOUS. I hope it’s on Youtube later…

Game Time! Top of the 1st

Hanley strikes out =[

Cliff Lee is burning through the NL so far. Two strikeouts now in under ten pitches. Too bad Chase…

Berkman flies out to center. Sheesh…1. 2. 3 first inning.

No more commercial counting…

I’m pretty sure the new Mummy movie is gonna stink…

Lou Piniella fake screaming commercial is great. Maybe I’ll reference these commercials tomorrow? (SEE BELOW FOR EMBEDDED COMMERCIAL)

Bot 1

Ichiro flies out on like the first pitch.

Ugh…Jeter…He gets on with a hit that basically bounces against Utley’s face. Should have let Uggla start instead.

Bah…Jeter steals…

Hamilton strikes out. Two outs.

Now it’s A-Rod who pops out to Soto. That wraps up the first, with Soto slipping on a weighted bat getting that pop up.

Top 2nd

Pujols to A-Rod who tosses him out.

Chipper Jones gets a single. Man do I hate the Braves.

Matt Holliday moves Chipper to second, but is out at first.

Ryan Braun, the Hebrew Hammer, strikes out. Three outs.

Bot 2nd

Manny, Manny, Manny…almost hits a home run. Foul ball saves us. Chases one into the dirt and strikes out. Way to go Ben Sheets.

Milton Bradley, whose name is a board game company, steps up. By the way, I like seeing the players in their own team uniform instead of league uniforms. Sheets walks Milton. Camera spots him mouthing a giant F-bomb.

Kevin Youkilis, one of seven Red Sox involved in the game tonight. Shameful…Bradley steals, Soto fails to stop another stolen base. Youkilis’ batting stance is so stupid. Sheets strikes him out.

Holy cow, Ben Sheets got himself a $50,000 bonus for starting tonight.

Joe Mauer steps up. Draws a walk.

Another Red Sox player up to bat, it’s Dustin Pedroia. He has the most annoying batting glove adjusting routine between pitches. Without fail, he will adjust his gloves between each and every pitch. Drives me mad. He flies out to FU! KU! DO! ME!

Top of the Third

Joe Saunders comes out to pitch for the AL. Fukudome up to bat. He almost hits a homer, it goes wide left. FOX is being cheeky, Fukudome’s name and stats appear in Japanese. Ball goes to Youkilis, Fukudome is out.

Soto flies out to Hamilton. No good.

Stop interviewing Yogi Berra, you’re not calling the game very well when you do that.

Hanley’s back up! Hanley gets a base hit with a ball to right field.

Chase is back up for his second round. He hits a bouncer to Youkilis and is out.

Holy cow, Berra is short. I saw a highlight of him in his prime as a catcher, he’s a short kid.

Bot 3

Oh man…Step Brothers looks so stupid. Why do people pay Will Ferrell to be such an idiot?

Carlos Zambrano comes out to pitch against Ichiro. Ichiro gets a base hit to right on the second pitch. This is his 8th All-Star game and he hit the first ever inside the park home run in an All-Star game last year.

Jeter hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Two outs.

You know, nice work on kicking drugs and making your life get in line again Josh Hamilton, but I’m getting tired of hearing the story so often. I think it’s just cause I’m keeping on top of baseball coverage, so I’ll be soft on this point for the rest of the night. Hamilton hits into an out.

Top of the 4th

Roy Halladay takes over pitching duty for the AL against Lance Berkman. Sheesh, another strikeout.

Pujols is up. He hits a long one into the corner, but the slowpoke gets greedy and Ichiro tosses him out at second with ease. Slow motion shows that Pujols was actually safe, but no big deal.

Chipper hits out to Jeter. That’s three.

Bottom of the Fourth

Zambrano is still in the game against A-Rod. He strikes out. Yay!

Carlos almost hits Ramirez in the head with a breaking ball that gets loose. I like their neat little breakdown of the strike zone batting averages. Ball goes to Utley, he manages to catch it this time and tosses him out at first.

Milton Bradley up to bat again. He’s safe as Hanley’s toss is high. Hanley ends up getting an error.

Youk is up. Whoops, Bradley gets thrown out at first.

Commercials

I’m excited for Pineapple Express It’s gonna be funny. I haven’t seen Judd Apatow fail yet.

Upper 5th

Josh Hamilton is now in left field, Grady Sizemore is in center, Ervin Santana is pitching.

Matt Holliday is up to bat. HELL YES! Matt Holliday homers. At this point I’d like to mention that Matt Holliday is the top home run hitter of my fake MLB Power Pros team. He even broke the MLB record with somewhere around 150 homers in fake MLB land. Nice work Matt!

Braun hits it to Pedroia.

A-Rod comes out of the game for Joe Crede at third. My man Fukudome comes up. He strikes out with an uncharacteristically undisciplined swing. Wow, that was ugly.

Useless stat: There are 41 players on the All-Star lineup whose salaries are more than what it cost to build Yankee Stadium back in the day ($2.5 million)

Geovany Soto strikes out. That’ll be the end of that half of the inning.

Bottom 5th

Dan Haren on the mound, Nate McLouth in Center, and Russell Martin at the plate

Youkilis up to bat.flies to Holliday.

This was the first game since 1990 that was scoreless into the 4th.

Joe Mauer comes up to bat. He hits one over Haren, who knocks the ball slow and kills the play. Mauer at first. Ian Kinsler comes in as a pinch runner.

Dustin Pedroia up to bat. He’s doing that stupid glove thing again. Kinsler steals because Martin’s throw is too high. They could have had it if it was lower, I think, contrary to the announcer’s comments. Pedroia walks with Ichiro coming up. Bad move Dan Haren

For someone who is 43 years old, Sarah Jessica Parker’s kind of a hottie when she’s not in her ridiculous Sex and the City getup. She gave some presentation with Sheryl Crow and another dude about cancer before the game.

Ichiro strikes out (whew), but now Jeter’s up (uh oh)

He’s showing some discipline in the count, racking it up to a full count with two outs. It’s go time now Dan. Jeter hits it back to Haren, he catches it this time, tosses him out on first.

Piniella commercial again, I love it.

Couldn’t find

Top of the 6th

Justin Morneau on first, Ian Kinsler on second, Pedroia out, J.D. Drew in right, Jason Varitek at the plate.

Justin Duchscherer is pitching. What a long name. He pitches a great pitch to Hanley who gets a base hit with a ball to Left field.

Utley up to bat with Hanley on first. Apparently there are twelve players in the game who have never played a game in Yankee Stadium. This is Chase Utley’s first. Hit and run play, Utley gets a base hit to Right, Hanley gets himself all the way to third base with the cleanup hitters of the NL coming in. This means trouble for the AL.

Berkman up to bat. He hits one all the way back to the warning track. Sac fly for Berkman as Ramirez runs in. 2-0. Gross…Hanley gives Chipper a high five. I guess they’re on the same team, but still.

Derek Jeter comes out for Michael Young of the Rangers. Pujols comes up to bat. He doesn’t swing at a beautiful first pitch, but that’s ok. Base hit into center up the middle. Utley to second, Pujols to first.

Laaaaarry is up to bat. Chipper may have the highest batting average in the Majors and play for the National League, but I can’t put my Braves hatred aside. I silently pray that he gets out. Chipper strikes out. I am happy.

Holliday back up to bat. Pop fly to Kinsler. End of inning.

Bottom of the 6th

“You either discover a star or you don’t. You arrogant punk”

Adrian Gonzalez now at first. Dan Uggla at second. Miguel Tejada at short. Aramis Ramirez at third. Corey Hart in right.

Hamilton gets a base hit. Holy cow, I remember this guy’s story now. Back after the Marlins world series win there was an article in Sports Illustrated about how the Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked Josh Hamilton over Josh Beckett. Back then he was so stoned and suspended from baseball that it looked like a really stupid idea. I’m actually now really happy about this guy’s story. Too bad Tampa lost him, he’s really producing now. Good work dude.

Crede up to bat. Pops out to Uggla. What defensive work =p

Sizemore up to bat. Hamilton steals. Martin throws a WILD ball to second that goes into center. Fourth stolen base for the AL. Grady racks up a full count. He strikes out on a ball to the corner. You gotta swing at those buddy.

Bradley up to bat. He’s caused lots of trouble, but he flies out to McLouth in Center.

7-Up

Carlos Quinten in Left, Joe Nathan pitching.

Ryan Braun steps up to the plate. Things are gonna get tougher for both teams now with closers coming in to pitch. Ryan Braun has a really terrible check swing and strikes out.

Nate McLouth up to bat taking over for Fukudome (boo!). Fly ball to Grady Sizemore in Center. Two out.

Up to bat is Russell Martin for his first at bat. Another fly ball to Sizemore. 7th inning stretch time.

Josh Groban comes out to sing “God Bless America.” Whatever happened to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”? This lanky kid has a deeper voice than one would expect. I guess the song is a classic, but I find “God Bless America” boring. What a voice Groban’s got on him though. Good stuff for a small guy.

Can’t wait to see Heath Ledger’s Joker soon. The Dark Knight should rock.

7-Down

Ryan Ludwick in Left. Edinson Volquez on the mound.

Justin Morneau at the plate. Hits one past Corey Hart in center to get a double.

Ian Kinsler up to bat. Grounder to Tejada. Morneau to third, Kinsler out at first.

Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays comes up to bat for Jason Varitek. He stays at the plate for a while, racking up six pitches before striking up looking. Two outs.

J.D. Drew up to bat now. Damage control time Volquez, keep Morneau from scoring. Camera cuts to show former catcher Joe Girardi catching in the bullpen. That’s crazy to see a GM catching in the pen. J.D. Drew hits a homer to right. Tie game against the pitcher with the lowest ERA in the majors. Barely makes it over the fence too. Too bad the Yankees fans cheered this Red Sox home run.

Now up to bat, Michael Young. I’m starting to worry now. NL hasn’t won an All-Star game since 1996. I’d like to see this streak end. Young strikes out.

Top of the 8th

Dioner Navarro is catching now. Jonathan Papelbon is pitching. Greeted with boos. He supposedly said he should close the game, so the Yankees hate him.

Tejada up to bat. Single to Right field.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Strikes out on a terrible pitch.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Tejada steals second and a bat throw gets him to third. Sac fly brings Tejada in. That could have been bad, but how awesome is that? NL has the lead.

David Wright up to bat for Pujols. He strikes out. Yankees fans boo Papelbon off the mound. I love it. If only there was another stadium full of people to boo Yankees fans tonight.

Bottom of the 8th

Roommate just made some cup noodles. He’s making me hungry for some cheap, salty noodles.

Carlos Quinten up to bat. Brian Wilson up to bat. NL leader in saves. He’s pitching poorly on his first two pitches. Fly ball to Nate McLouth in Center. One out.

Carlos Guillen pinch hits for Joe Crede. Francona out of bench players at this point. He’s supposedly the last substitution. What about Evan Longoria? Guillen gets up to a full count on seven pitches. He strikes out. That’s two.

Billy Wagner comes in for the last out in this inning. Sizemore up to bat. Longoria on deck. I saw Giuliani in the stands. Sizemore singles to right.

Evan Longoria up to bat for Milton Bradley. Was this wise? Bradley’s done one of the best offensive jobs in this game, but I guess they wanna give Evan a chance to hit. Sizemore steals second, this is bad…Martin doesn’t even throw. Longoria hits a double down the left field line. As much as I love the kid, I can’t help but be upset about the RBI ground rule double.

Morneau taps one to Wagner, Morneau out at first.

This is upsetting since Papelbon won’t get the loss and now the NL win is looking like it might be in dire straits, what with Mariano Rivera coming in to pitch.

I like the Cubs girls in that BoA commercial.

Top of the 9th!

Huh, I was wrong. K-Rod comes in. Francisco Rodriguez is pitching for the AL.

Aramis Ramirez up to bat. Aramis is taking some terrible swings. He takes it to a full count. The walk goes to Ramirez.

We watch Tejada’s stolen base again that brings the NL to three runs and then Sizemore’s run and Longoria’s hit.

Cristian Guzman pinch runs for Ramirez. Hart flies out to right.

Ryan Ludwick up to bat. K-Rod goes out of the game, Mariano Rivera comes in. They play “Enter Sandman.” Great music to come in on. Flashes all around the cheering stadium.

One on one out. Rivera has never missed a save opportunity this season…

Ludwick will have to do his best to get a hit. He’s having a disciplined at bat when he whiffs and brings the count up to 2-2. Cheers erupt from the crowd. You’d think he struck out. Full count. Strikes out. Guzman caught stealling at second by Navarro. End of the inning with a double play. Talk about dramatics. Wish it would have gone the other way.

Bottom of ze 9th

Is Bones any good? Saw a funny commercial tat makes me curious.

Ryan Dempster pitching to Ian Kinsler. He’s got a crazy pitch with wavy glove motions designed to confuse the batter, I guess. Francona’s kind of in trouble if this game continues, what with no position players left on his bench. Kinsler strikes out.

Dioner Navarro comes up to bat. That goofy glove motion is really strange to watch. I’m gonna have to see if they try to reproduce that in MLB Power Pros 2008. Dioner racks up a full count and then strikes out.

J.D. Drew comes up. Dempster will have to be careful. Full count again. Drew watches strike three. EXTRA INNINGS! Way to go Dempster! Three straight strike outs.

10p of the 10th

Nate McLouth up to bat. Rivera still pitching. How long can he hold out? Doesn’t really matter, since Francona has plenty of pitching left. He racks up a full count. Strikes out looking.

Russell Martin is up now. Interesting fact about Rivera, he only throws one non-fastball pitch, he just can move it in two directions. Martin is staying alive in this at bat with four foul balls and seven pitches before a base hit past Kinsler to Drew.

Miguel Tejada steps up to the plate. Let’s make something happen NL. Tejada gets a base hit down the middle past Young. I can see Rivera’s sad face as he sees the situation he’s in: runners on first and third.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Can he make a difference? Man I hope so. Marlins having a decent showing tonight, it would be sweet to see more. Uggla hits into a double play. Dammit…

Rivera gets lucky.

Bottom of the 10th

If Tejada had slid in, would we have seen a slower throw keep Uggla safe? Michael Young hits one to Uggla, it bounces out of his glove. Error.

Carlos Quentin up to bat. By the way, Aaron Cook is pitching. Ball smashes to Uggla under his glove. Runners at first and third. Error.

Uggla doesn’t get pulled from the game. He’s gotta feel terrible right now. I feel bad.

Cook intentionally walks Carlos Guillen. This is looking way dangerous.

Grady Sizemore up to bat. Outfield and infield playing in. No outs. Sizemore hits to Uggla. Dan catches it, tosses it home, gets the out.

Evan Longoria up to bat. Uh oh. Infield plays back for double play. Evan looks like this is the easiest thing he’s ever done. He’s laughing at the plate. Longoria to third. Guzman gets it, throws it home. Two outs. Come on NL, you can get out of this yet…

Now we see Morneau. My heart is beating rather quickly now. They keep showing Dan Uggla. Slow roller to Tejada who barely gets the toss off to first. What a save! Uggla is thanking the baseball gods right about now.

Let’s finish this up, please NL. I’ve got to go to work in the morning.

Top of the 11th

I’m pretty sure we won’t see Rivera when the 11th starts. We’ll probably see George Sherrill of the Orioles.

I’m wrong, Joakim Soria of the Royals is pitching instead. Adrian Gonzalez is up to bat. Base hit to Sizemore in center.

The announcers are talking about a potential Tie. I was pretty sure that baseball wasn’t gonna ever do that again.

David Wright steps up to bat. Whiffs his way to 0-2. Strikes out. Thanks dude.

We’re now up to Cristian Guzman with one out, man on first. He takes two quick strikes before popping out to Sizemore and getting the second out of the inning.

Corey Hart is now batting for the NL. Hart misses a pitch down the pipe. Misses another for a 2-2 count. Pops out to J.D. Drew in Right.

:sigh: Bottom of the 11t

Ian Kinsler lines to center for a base hit.

Dioner Navarro. Looks to bunt, but abandons on the next pitch. Martin FINALLY throws someone out as he catches Ian Kinsler. Replay shows it’s a miss. Navarro walks.

Drew gets a hit down the center. Runners on first and second.

Michael Young at bat. Ball up the middle, base hit. Navarro comes around third, but Nate McLouth throws him out from center. Great out.

Last out of the inning. Runners on second and third. Aaron Cook is having a crazy night. Announcer states that three of the last five NL outs have come at home plate. Quentin is up to bat. Ball to Guzman who makes the play at first. Three blessed outs.

Top of the Twelfth

OK NL, it’s 0026, make it happen tonight.

Ludwick at the plate against Soria. He walks to first base.

Nate McLouth puts a bunt down and MAKES IT TO FIRST SAFE. What a good call by the first base ump, that was really close. No outs, runners at first and second.

Russell Martin up now. Pushes a bunt to first, runners at second and third. One out.

The hot bat of Miguel Tejada is up, Soria intentionally walks him to load up the bases for the double play. This will put Dan Uggla up again. Oh man do I hope that the last double play was just setting up for this great game-winning hit. Uggla’s great at the walk-off in Florida, please let us take this now.

Dan steps up. Swinging strike one. My heart thumps yet again for this game. He watches a beautiful strike two. Uggla strikes out. Damn.

Francona comes out to swap in George Sherrill for the Adrian Gonzalez at bat.

Man…I was really hoping Dan Uggla would be able to redeem his errors. I didn’t want him to feel bad about this game. At least Hanley did a great job tonight.

Francona’s only got one pitcher left: Scott Kazmir. Gonzalez is up to bat. Two strikes right off the bat (ha ha). Strike three. We move on to the bottom of the twelfth.

Bot 12

“The Most Interesting Man in the World on Rollerblading:”

“No”

Carlos Guillen comes within two feet or so of being a game-ending home run. Guillen gets to second.

Sizemore’s dangerous bat comes up against Cook. Aaron does a questionable balk move. Ball goes to Uggla who can’t catch it, but knocks it down and sends it to first. Guillen is at third. Normally a great defensive player, I think Dan is just feeling the pressure of the game, but then again, every error on the NL team has come from the Marlins, one of the weakest defenses in baseball.

Now we see Longoria at the dish yet again. Martin makes another great defensive play on a foul ball. Longoria strikes out. What luck for Aaron Cook’s first strikeout.

Cook now faces Aaron Morneau. who is intentionally walked for Ian Kinsler.

A perplexing choice, but will they also walk Kinsler? Runners at first and third for Ian. Morneau steals second. Doesn’t get a stolen base due to indifference. Ball to Guzman, tossed out at first.

Wright, Guzman, and Hart coming up.

Top of the Unlucky 13th

David Wright picks up a stick against Sherrill. Base hit on a shattered bat pop fly into center that no one can reach.

Now we see Cristian Guzman at the plate. He signs bunt, but Guzman bunts too far to Sherrill who is able to take out Wright at second.

Corey Hart steps up. Whiffs and strikes out for the second out.

The lineup gets us back to Ryan Ludwick. Sherrill runs the count to 3-0 before he throws his first strike. Ludwick wisely doesn’t swing at it, but it’s a clean fastball down the pipe. Pops up to Kinsler. Time for the bottom.

We’re Still Going? Bottom of the 13th

Here’s hoping for a 14th, even though I need to go to sleep. New Yankee Stadium is gonna have the same dimensions, which I think is pretty cool. Hopefully the feeling doesn’t change much.

Carlos Marmol gets on the mound against Dioner Navarro. Ball goes to Uggla who tosses Dioner out at first.

J.D. Drew against Marmol now. He works to a full count. Bad hop ball to Uggla, Drew makes it to first. Jeez that looks bad. Error again for Dan. All four NL errors against Marlins, three against Dan. It’s a tough break for the guy, but we all know he’s good.

Dan has set the record for most errors by any one player in an All-Star game.

By the way, Michael Young has been up to bat and he’s at a full count. Young strikes out, Drew steals second on a bad toss to Uggla. Martin tosses out a few profanities.

Carlos Quinten at the plate. This guy is dangerous. He thankfully strikes out. 14th, here we come.

Time-Wise Longest All-Star Game’s Top of the 14th Inning

I’m afraid to say it, but I can’t stay up longer than 0200 tonight. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Sherrill pitching against McLouth. Goes back to the track, almost fools us into believing it’s a home run. He’s out.

Russell Martin up again. Pretty soon some of these guys are gonna be approaching a real nine inning game. Rest-wise it’s way better to be a starter in the All-Star game, I guess. Martin knocks one almost to the warning track getting everyone’s hopes up again.

One of the better players on the NL team steps up with Miguel Tejada. The out comes with a hit to Young tossed back to first.

Bottom of the Gruelingly Long All-Star Game’s 14th Inning

I can’t hate Evan Longoria, but I can be annoyed that he’s made me stay up this late.

Brandon Webb takes the mound for the NL against Carlos Guillen. Tejada catches a nice line drive for the first out.

So many dangerous bats on the AL. Grady Sizemore comes up against Webb. Funny thing about saving starters for the end of the game is that I feel they lack a lot of the oomph that a closer brings to these games. Starters are about the stamina, not taking these hitters out with stellar stuff. Webb totally makes me look stupid by sinking a ridiculous pitch against Sizemore and scoring the strikeout.

Webb vs. Longoria. If anyone was gonna end this, I wouldn’t mind it being him. He strikes out on a pitch in the dirt.

15th Inning…Wow. The Top

Longest ever All-Star game goes to the 15th. Will this game beat it? After making home field advantage such a huge part of the game, will Selig end the game in a tie again if Kazmir pitches too many innings?

Uggla up again against Kazmir. I don’t think Dan has historically hit well against Kazmir. Stirke out again.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Francona has gone through his pitching too fast. What will he do if Kazmir racks up a huge pitch count? Fly ball to Quinten.

David Wright! Can he do it? Walked.

Guzman. Grounder. Game continues.

Bottom of the (Yippee!) 15th

Still amused by the Piniella commercial.

Brad Lidge up to pitch against Morneau. I’m seeing the wear of the long game start to take its toll against the hitters who have been in the game a lot longer. Base hit into center.

Sportscasters tell me to expect Kinsler to bunt, but he swings away. Two strikes, his bunt chance is more or less eliminated. Ryan Ludwick makes an amazing diving catch to keep the game in check. One out.

What’s gonna happen now with Navarro at bat? Base hit into Center. Men on first and second.

Oh no. J.D. Drew up to bat. Lidge seems to be pitching outside of the zone. I’m not sure I can watch another inning, my eyelids are getting quite heavy. Wild pitch kept down by Brian McCann whose entrance into the game I completely missed. Lidge issues a walk. Bases loaded.

Michael Young up to bat. Pops up to right. Will this be a sac fly? WHAT! He was totally tagged out, but he’s called safe. The streak continues with an AL win.

The ASG MVP has been named to be J.D. Drew. I, quite frankly don’t buy it. Evan Longoria’s tying RBI was way more valuable than Drew’s 2-run home run. I guess he had a lot of things happen with him throughout the game, but I just don’t see it for him. Oh well, he gets a car.

Night guys, it was a wild night. On replay, the tag was late. It was a clear win. Nice work AL, I hate you guys. See you guys tomorrow.

Embedded Reporter: New Announcements, New Details
Jul 7th, 2008 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

Two videos for your viewing pleasure today.

The first is the debut trailer for a port of one of my favorite games of all time, Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger DS is (kind of unfortunately, I want a sequel) a direct port with an added dungeon, wireless battle capability, and two-screen utilization, but the changes have yet to be seen.

The next video is for an upcoming console baseball game that regular readers of my blog just might know a thing or two about. The US debut trailer for MLB PP 2008 shows the in-game opening and highlights some of the new changes.

If you watched the video, you may have noticed a certain much talked about Cubs outfielder running back to catch a hit ball…

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Fukudome
Apr 30th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ‘em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

It’s been a long while since I last posted due to homework, projects, and a general game overload (MGS3, MGO, Persona 3: FES, GTA IV, MKW), but I’m back in business today and we should be seeing a return to our regularly scheduled programming for the foreseeable future. So let’s get back to it!

There’s been quite a bit of buzz about one of the most interesting new baseball players to hit the MLB and my new favorite players, Kosuke Fukudome. While he’s not technically a rookie (Fukudome already had a productive career playing for the Chunichi Dragons of the NPB), this is his first year of stateside play and he’s already making quite a splash in the Cubs’ roster. You see, Fukudome comes to the states with a very interesting new philosophy that’s translating to one of the highest on base percentages in baseball for the Cubs.

Kosuke Fukudome brings patience to the batter’s box, a quality that’s not generally present among the current Western-bred baseball players. When he’s at the plate, Fukudome basically refuses to swing at anything that’s not clearly a strike and he’s getting amazing results. His batting average is somewhere in the high .300s and a very high, for someone who’s not a power hitter, walk count (13th in the leauge). You see, Fukudome subscribes to a Japanese philosophy of kotoshi koso, which translates to “It’s going to happen,” so as a result he’s got the highest pitch count of any batter in the MLB. He waits for his perfect pitch and he doesn’t swing recklessly, putting him in the bottom 15 of all MLB htiters for strikeouts.

The best part about his philosophy is that he’s positively influencing his teammates as well. At least two of the new players on the Cubbies are also actively drawing way more walks. The team as a whole has shifted to a brand new, for the Cubs, philosophy of patience that has pushed Chicago up to the top of the NL Central (tied with the surprisingly powerful Cardinals).

Enjoy some articles about the great Kosuke Fukudome along with this great embedded video of some of his NPB highlights (hopefully this makes up for my lack of a video yesterday)

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3363255
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080422&content_id=2569206&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

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