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Johnson Pitches A Gem: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 19th, 2010 by Dan

Abe after the Presidents Race

I love this shot of Abe

Josh Johnson tosses a shutout and the Rays win, but the red teams I love (Eagles, Carp, to a certain extent, the Nats) lose.

18 May

NPB
Hiroshima Carp (2) at Orix Buffaloes (11). Somehow I don’t think Hiroshima is going to win the Interleague title. The Carp drop to 16-26-0 in fifth. Their only saving grace is that the Swallows have been absolutely sucking recently, keeping them out of last.

Yokohama BayStars (7) at Rakuten Eagles (5). Marty Brown and the Eagles are having a real tough go of the season. If they want to go to the Climax Series, they’re gonna have to step it up, but they’re also gonna need serious pitching. Rakuten drops back into fifth with their 19-25-0 record.

MLB
Arizona Diamondbacks (0) at Florida Marlins (8). It sure is nice to see Josh Johnson dominate a team, even one so mediocre as Arizona. JJ threw seven glorious innings, allowing us to forget about all the Hanley Ramirez drama from last night. Florida’s record improves to 21-19, four games behind the Phillies.

Cleveland Indians (2) at Tampa Bay Rays (6). A game the Rays should never lose. They don’t disappoint. Their first place lead rises to three games with their 28-11 record.

Kansas City Royals (3) at Baltimore Orioles (4). Another win eludes Greinke, but this time it’s kind of his fault. The Orioles offense notches two against the guy, proving that he is human. Baltimore’s record improves to 13-27. They’re only seven games away from the fourth place Red Sox.

Washington Nationals (2) at St. Louis Cardinals (3). Chris Carpenter does what he does best and limits the Nats to two. Clippard has an uncharacteristically bad moment and surrenders a homer to Ryan Ludwick. That’s all it takes to lose a game. The Nats are in third with their 20-20 record after a heartbreaking five-game skid.

ICHIRO!: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 14th, 2010 by Dan

Ichiro ad in Tokyo

Went to the Orioles game last night to see King Felix and Ichiro play the Orioles. It was a great game (I’ll get into that later), but we were super amused by the fact that Ichiro’s name was listed on the All-Star ballot for the Home Run Derby. Ichiro? The Great Singles Hitter (TM)? At one at bat I motivated him by screaming “Ganbare!” and “Kettobase!”. He promptly responded by hitting a home run. You’re welcome, Ichiro.

13 May

NPB
Rakuten Eagles (6) at Hiroshima Carp (4). I hate seeing my two most beloved teams play each other, but not as much as I hate seeing the Eagles beat the Carp. It’s nice revenge by Marty Brown on the Carp for firing him, but I hate the loss. Hiroshima falls to 15-23-0 and the Eagles rise to 17-23-0. Both teams are in fifth place.

MLB
Seattle Mariners (5) at Baltimore Orioles (6). This game was won by a Luke Scott grand slam in the 8th and ended with a fantastic play at the plate as the tying run was thrown out on an Ichiro single. Great game. The Birds jump to 11-24 in last.

New York Mets (1) at Florida Marlins (2). I’ll take a win any way I can get one, even the classic walk-off wild pitch. A great pitching duel between Josh Johnson and Johan Santana that ended in a no decision for both. Florida is 17-18 and in fourth.

Washington Nationals (14) at Colorado Rockies (6). Whoa, what happened here. A wild game in the mile-high city. I didn’t think Coors gave up this many runs anymore. Washington rises to 20-15 and is at a shocking 5 games above 0.500 in second place, only one behind Philadelphia.

The MLB and NPB Are Both In Season! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 7th, 2010 by Dan

160 games in for some teams.

Words cannot describe how great it is to FINALLY have the 2010 season underway for both leagues! Since we had an MLB-only post last week, we’ll start with the NPB.

Sorry Min

What an unfortunate week it’s been for me to root for the Carp and the Eagles. Both teams put together three wins over the last week, which is pretty shameful.

Hiroshima faced off against two tough teams last week, the Giants and the Tigers, but managed to get their miraculous win over the Swallows who have had a hot start to the season. In other non-reputable news, Marty Brown, skipper for the Carp, got thrown out of the game on Sunday. He currently leads NPB managers in the number of times thrown out of a ballpark.

Rakuten has had a 100% better week with two wins, but it was still a pretty poor performance. The Hawks were supposed to be a pretty easy win for them, but they only took one of the series. The struggling Fighters provided their sole other win. Thank God the Eagles don’t have to face Darvish this week.

Marlins Mermaid, Nathalie

The Florida Marlins: America's Only Baseball Team With Cheerleaders

It’s been just two days since the MLB season started, but they’ve already been pretty exciting. A great play by Mark Buehrle, an exciting game from the Yankees and Red Sox, Obama throwing the first pitch, fantastic pitching performances by Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Johan Santana, and the exciting debut of Jason Heyward for the Braves.

My Fish didn’t fare too well against the Mets losing 1-7 against Johan Santana. It brought Johnson’s lifetime record against the Mets finally down to 7-1 in an outing in which he gave up four runs. There’s not much you can do against Santana, so it was pretty disappointing. Hopefully they can bounce back against the Mets tonight.

Tampa Bay opened last night against the Orioles in a real nailbiter that went down to the wire. Thanks to Carl Crawford, the Rays were able to win in a walk-off in the 9th. It was good to see the bullpen hold Orioles pretty close and give the Rays a chance to score the runs they needed. This team could go places this year.

Enjoy this new Longoria commercial for New Era caps.

Super Ichiban Travel Blog Part XVI: Unstoppable Force, Meet Immovable Object [II]
Oct 27th, 2009 by Dan

When you’re on a 2.5 week trip, it hardly seems like it’s ever going to end, but it was my last day in Tokyo and it felt pretty surreal. It would be my last chance to tie up all my loose ends, so I headed out to get my final souvenirs and replace that stupid sake cup that I broke.

The plan was to go over to the Square Enix store to grab a CD for Min, the Tokyo Seibu Loft to try and replace the sake cup, somewhere to find another bag because my suitcase was now too full to travel, the Tokyo Dome to get Fighters jerseys for Eric, and maybe a CD shop to look for a live Persona music DVD/CD.

It would be a busy Thursday as I worked to get everything done and have enough time to see the sumo tournament I had tickets to and catch the ballgame that night. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it involves a lot of train switching and walking and nothing really opens until 1000 or 1100.

They text just as much as we do out in Japan, if not more.

They text just as much as we do out in Japan, if not more.

To make a long story short, my day was met mostly with adversity. The first two or three stores I went to didn’t have travel bags. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Square Enix store was closed because it was Thursday, so the long trip out there was a waste of time too. The only real highlights were being able to get Eric and Danielle’s jerseys, the Persona DVD/CD (and a few other soundtracks), and my final CoCo curry lunch of the trip. All the running around the city got me back to the hotel with barely enough time to get to sumo (only an hour and a half left of matches that day) and a guarantee that I’d be late to the stadium in Chiba.

Frustrated, I finally reached the station by the sumo venue. How did I know it was the right one?, I hear you ask.

Lucky guess, I suppose.

Lucky guess, I suppose.

Sumo has a religious context to it too, a first for any sporting event I’ve ever seen. Because of that and probably the national germophobia, I was required to purify my hands at the gate after entering with hand sanitizer. It was strange, but I also got a sweet sumo fan out of it, so I couldn’t really complain.

Exhibit A: Sweet sumo fan.

Exhibit A: Sweet sumo fan.

A nice usher lady took me to my seat in the arena and I saw some great bouts. There’s a lot of starting and stopping in sumo that I really didn’t understand, so each match takes a really long time. Rather than explain it, I took a video of the match:

There are so many videos because of the limit in how long an upload can be on Flickr.

Once I’d had my fill of watching the most awesome wrestling style on the planet, I decided to head on over to Chiba Marine Stadium. Before I got too far, I noticed barricades being set up for spectators to wait and watch the departing sumo wrestlers. A steady stream of those already done with the day’s matches flowed out of the stadium and excited fans waited for a chance to take a picture.

Leaving the arena for the night.

Leaving the arena for the night.

One older lady walked right up to a sumo wrestler, but he brushed her off. As I was walking toward the station I noticed a much younger, very good-looking lady stop to talk to the same sumo and he gladly stopped to chat with her. It’s comforting to know that sumo wrestlers are men just the same.

They may have the mass of three men, but they still have the brain of one.

They may have the mass of three men, but they still have the brain of one.

By the time my train and taxi made it to Chiba Marine Stadium, it was already dark out and the game was just getting started. I bought my jersey, but not before almost going insane listening to the Marines fight song on endless loop, and made my way to the seats.

Your usual fake grass outdoor ballpark. At least the dirt is real here.

Your usual fake grass outdoor ballpark. At least the dirt is real here.

The Marines are one of the few Japanese teams managed by an American, Bobby Valentine, in this case, and, contrary to what you might think, the fans of the team totally love Valentine. Despite the fan adoration, the team did not renew his contract in Chiba, so it was his last year managing the team. Fan response was vehemently against letting Valentine go, so much so that the cheer section carries a large Bobby Valentine flag with them to every game. Still, the team is looking to go in other directions, so they’ve even ignored the fan petitions and pleas to keep Valentine. With his dismissal, the lone, remaining American manager is Marty Brown, who was fired from the Carp this season, but will go on to manage the Eagles next year.

An early shot of the scoreboard.

An early shot of the scoreboard.

Since Ken was there and, if you recall, he loves the Lions, I was actively rooting for the Marines, even though we were seated within the Lions section. I was lucky this game, because it was one of the few where the home team prevailed, with the Marines eventually winning 6-3, bucking the home team loss trend of the trip once again.

The last out for the Lions walks dejectedly off of the field. Reminds me of the episode Good Grief in Arrested Development.

The last out for the Lions walks dejectedly off of the field. Reminds me of the episode "Good Grief" in Arrested Development.

Chiba Marine Stadium was nothing really to write home about. The decoration was mostly spartan and kind of reminded me of late 80s stadiums in the States. Most of the atmosphere comes from the Ňćendan. If you remember from that Buffaloes game, those guys go nuts all game long, waving their flag and jumping up and down to their fight song. They really get into it and make it lots of fun.

Yet another shot of the field

Yet another shot of the field

Another game marked off, we now had only one left and only one more full day. Since we had to catch a very early shinkansen, I had yet another boring night as I packed up what I could and turned in for the night. To Tohoku and Sendai tomorrow!

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