Just Barely Squeezed In A Win: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter and Some Light World Cup Notes [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 30th, 2010 by Dan

Sliding Back to First

It's from the Baltimore series, but there was no way I could make it to Puerto Rico for this one.

Leo Nuñez likes giving everyone near heart attacks. He blew the save last night, but Florida still managed a win thanks to Dan Uggla.

29 June (David’s Birthday!)

Yomiuri Giants (12) at Hiroshima Carp (9). Six Giants homered (Ramirez homered three times) to put the Giants way ahead of Hiroshima who managed quite an offense themselves. An ugly game that puts them at 27-40-2. At this rate Yakult might pass them.

Rakuten Eagles (0) at Orix Buffaloes (3). Few teams play more erratically than the Orix Buffaloes, but they’re doing consistently well against the Eagles this year. Tanaka’s Tuesday role is not doing the Eagles any favors as he gives up three over eight and the team moves to 32-38-2, good for last in the PL.

Oakland Athletics (4) at Baltimore Orioles (2). A pretty solid start for Brian Matusz, but it just wasn’t enough to keep the Athletics at bay. I’m a little bitter that I’ll be missing Matt Wieters bobblehead night today, so that’s all I’ve got for Baltimore. They are 23-53.

New York Mets (6) at Florida Marlins (7). The Marlins were lucky to win this one in the ninth thanks to a walk-off single by Dan Uggla. The game also featured a Hanley Ramirez grand slam, but far fewer homers than the night before. Florida remains in fourth, but now holds a 37-40 record.

Tampa Bay Rays (5) at Boston Red Sox (8). The pitching just wasn’t there for Jamie Shields who gave up a few too many to an ailing Boston team. Tampa needs to take two out of three in this series to regain second and the wild card. The Rays now sit at 44-32 in third.

Washington Nationals (7) at Atlanta Braves (2). The Nats do everyone in the East a favor by knocking down the Braves and winning their first in ages. It’s a good thing, because Washington starters whose names don’t contain Strasburg have been seriously struggling of late. Their last place record improves to 34-44.

Boring Day: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 8th, 2010 by Dan

apollo sleeping

This is what I think happens to Min after reading these baseball posts.

Only the NPB had games (as far as teams I care about) yesterday, leaving me with little to do but think about how excited I am to see Strasburg pitch today and hear about Stanton’s performance in Philadelphia. Can’t wait until tonight. Until then…

Sleeping Dave and Domo-kun

7 June

Orix Buffaloes (21) at Hiroshima Carp (10). What in god’s name happened here? Only two of the seven pitchers Hiroshima sent out to the mound managed to not give up a run. This game was UGLY, featuring five home runs by Orix and two by Hiroshima catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara. The Carp record is 22-34-1, which, remarkably, puts them in fourth, somehow.

Sleeping Dave

Rakuten Eagles (0) at Yomiuri Giants (1). Darrel Rasner is really starting to pitch like he wants to keep his job. Nice work, Darrel, but the Rakuten record falls to 28-30-1 in fifth.

Sleeping Dave

No games (from anyone I care about)

Falling and Sleeping Dave


Swept By the Mets: The Weekend’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 7th, 2010 by Dan

Shea Home Run Apple

The old Shea home run apple. I hate this thing.

My friend Lee has somehow got his girlfriend into baseball, probably by pure force of will. This would be great, except she’s a Mets fan now and she loves to trash talk each time the Mets beat the Marlins. Thanks, Lee.

4 June

Softbank Hawks (4) at Hiroshima Carp (5). A huge fourth inning, including two RBIs by Eric Stults, puts Hiroshima just far enough ahead to win the game.

Rakuten Eagles (12) at Yokohama BayStars (0). Rakuten’s bats awoke in a BIG way, with four home runs, three of which were solo shots, off of Yokohama.

Boston Red Sox (11) at Baltimore Orioles (0). Didn’t I already recap this game? Oh yeah, this is an MLB game. Juan Samuel’s managerial debut didn’t seem to go very well at all.

Cincinnati Reds (2) at Washington Nationals (4). Liván Hernández pitches what should have been a win, but the offense doesn’t pick up the pace until the 7th.

Florida Marlins (3) at New York Mets (4). Anibal gives up one too many and that was all the Mets needed.

Tampa Bay Rays (6) at Texas Rangers (9). Seems like every time Wade Davis gets above 0.500 with his record, he’s gotta lose one to make up for it. It’s not all that bad, though. Longo homered.

5 June

Hawks (9) at Carp (3). Takahiro Aoki had a tough day, giving up five in 3.2, dooming the Carp.

Eagles (5) at BayStars (4). A much more respectable effort by Yokohama. Also a surprisingly weak start by Iwakuma that is won thanks to a Randy Ruiz blast in the 9th.

Marlins (1) at Mets (6). The less said about this start the better. I wish Nate Robertson could only pitch against the Phillies.

Rays (1) at Rangers (6). The Rays slide continues. Lucky them that New York is having some difficulties too, but Boston is playing Baltimore. They need to step it up.

Red Sox (8) at Orioles (2). I’m only upset about this because it helps the Sox look respectable against the Rays.

Reds (5) at Nationals (1). Man, everyone had trouble today, didn’t they. It’s just a guess, but I think Atilano isn’t long for this rotation starting Tuesday when Strasburg comes up.

6 June

Eagles (10) at Yomiuri Giants (4). I always take great pleasure in seeing the Giants stomped, even if Ma-kun gave up an unprecedented three runs. This win streak is also great for a team that needs to start winning if it doesn’t want the NPB to fire all of its American coaches. Their record improves to 25-29-1. I can almost smell 0.500!

Orix Buffaloes (6) at Carp (1). So much for capitalizing on opportunities when the Giants lose. This disappointing loss puts their record at 21-31-1. 0.500 baseball is a long way off.

Marlins (6) at Mets (7). The Fish manage to screw up yet another Ricky Nolasco start and give the Mets a sweep and Yin something to goad about to me. Nice work, Marlins. You are now 28-30 in fourth.

Red Sox (3) at Orioles (4). Nick Markakis gets the walk-off win to salvage this series for Baltimore whose abysmal record improves to 16-41.

Reds (5) at Nationals (4). An extra innings loss. The Nats normally get much better relief work from Capps, but he’s been human the past few starts. They are in last with a 27-31 record.

Rays (9) at Rangers (5). Not Garza’s best stuff, but it gets the job done. Their record improves to 37-20, but New York and Boston are knocking on their door if they can’t hold it together.

Glad That’s Over: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 20th, 2010 by Dan

Hanley Ramirez on the Citizens Bank Park jumbotron

After embarrassing the team, acting like a primadonna, insulting the manager, and making everyone involved look bad, Hanley Ramirez either apologized to his teammates or the team has decided not to make a fuss about it, because he was back in the lineup last night doing fairly well. Thank god that’s over. The Marlins are rarely in the news, but I don’t want them in there because of this.

19 May

Hiroshima Carp (8) at Orix Buffaloes (2). Eric Stults notches his first win as the Carp manage to come out of their ten-games-under-0.500 hole for a day. Their record rises to 17-26-0 at a manageable 10.5 games back. That was sarcasm.

Yokohama BayStars (3) at Rakuten Eagles (2). Darrell Rasner actually tosses a great game against Yokohama, but the runs he gives up are just enough to combine with an unearned for the loss. Rakuten falls to 19-26-0, tying them with the 19-26-1 Fighters.

Tampa Bay Rays (10) at New York Yankees (6). Wade Davis and the powerful Rays offense combine to push this game increasingly out of New York’s reach. The lead rises to four games as Tampa Bay moves to a 29-11 record.

New York Mets (3) at Washington Nationals (5). Liván Hernández continues his dominant streak as he holds down the Mets for Drew Storen to come in for the win for Washington, boosting them out of their five game losing streak. The Nats record increases to 21-20 in third place.

Baltimore Orioles (3) at Texas Rangers (4). Guthrie puts together quite the game, but the Orioles bullpen can’t hold on, giving them their 28th loss.

Florida Marlins (5) at St. Louis Cardinals (1). The back-to-back shutout is prevented, but that doesn’t mean that Aníbal Sánchez didn’t have electric stuff last night. Florida’s off-field woes stayed off-field as Hanley went 3-5 with an RBI and the rest of the team contributed as well. Florida’s 22-19 record is good enough for second, but with the Nats breathing down their necks can they hold on against Adam Wainwright tonight?

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

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.

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.

Frustration: The Weekend’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 3rd, 2010 by Dan

It's Blooper!

I did a search for "blooper" in Flickr to express my frustration and this unexpectedly came up. Not what I had in mind, but it relieves some of the stress.

My PS3 decided to stop reading discs correctly for the second time in its lifespan, temporarily halting my video game NPB season with the Carp just about to widen the gap between third and fourth by beating the Swallows. Hopefully I get the system back before next week, but it’s leaving me at a loss for stuff to play this week. Looks like L4D2 and Sam & Max will be getting my attention.

30 April

Chunichi Dragons (0) at Hiroshima Carp (9). Nothing like a solid, blowout, shutout win to get the weekend started.

Orix Buffaloes (1) at Rakuten Eagles (2). Winning the close ones is key. Rakuten’s weekend rotation is among the strongest in the NPB, so it’s nice to see them get wins.

Boston Red Sox (4) at Baltimore Orioles (5). The only thing better than the Sox losing to the Orioles in a game is being there in person to witness it (which I was).

Washington Nationals (7) at Florida Marlins (1). What happened Ricky?

Kansas City Royals (3) at Tampa Bay Rays (2). Probably the only time all year KC’s bullpen will outduel anyone. There’s a reason Maddon is riding the starters hard in Tampa. Still, it was a strong effort by Jeff Niemann, yet again.

1 May

Dragons (12) at Carp (6). Chunichi gives back as hard as it took.

Buffaloes (1) at Eagles (2). Two nights in a row!

Royals (4) at Rays (2). Another late inning loss despite solid pitching by David Price.

Red Sox (9) at Orioles (12). Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first start back doesn’t go quite like he hoped, giving up six earned (seven total).

Nationals (1) at Marlins (7). This is what I like to see. Way to go Volstad, who throws a complete game gem against the Nats and finally gets his stuff together this season.

2 May

Buffaloes (2) at Eagles (3). Whoa! Series sweep! This puts the Eagles tied for fourth with their 15-19-0 record!

Dragons (3) at Carp (4). Hiroshima takes the rubber game and holds on for the series win. 13-18-0 has them a game behind Yokohama and half a game up on the Swallows.

Nationals (3) at Marlins (9). Another solid win for Josh Johnson who was not as sharp as last time, but sharp enough. Both Florida and Washington end their weekend at 13-12, tied for third, 1.5 back from first.

Red Sox (2) at Orioles (3). Another sweep for the weekend. These three wins put Baltimore at 7-18. They’re still in last, but now they’re only 9.5 games back.

Royals (0) at Rays (1). An old fashioned pitching duel between Greinke and Davis ends with Wade on top. The Rays go into this week still in first with an 18-7 record and a 1.5 game lead.

First MLB Weekend Complete: Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 12th, 2010 by Dan

No witty captions today, sorry.

9 April

Hiroshima Carp (0) at Yokohama Baystars (5). Not the outcome I would have expected, but Yokohama is deceptively strong at times (and Hiroshima is pretty weak this year).

Orix Buffaloes (8) at Rakuten Eagles (3). Orix made some serious upgrades in the off-season, but I wonder if they can keep this pace up all season.

Toronto Blue Jays (7) at Baltimore Orioles (6). The Orioles blow their home opener and not many are surprised. Tough break for the (orange) birds.

Los Angeles Dodgers (7) at Florida Marlins (3). Tough loss for the Fish who had an awful showing for their home opener.

New York Yankees (3) at Tampa Bay Rays (9). David Price might just have that season everyone thought he would have last year this year.

Washington Nationals (2) at New York Mets (8). About what you’d expect.

10 April

Carp (7) at Baystars (3). Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Buffaloes (1) at Eagles (6). More wins for my teams.

Nationals (4) at Mets (3). Surprising comeback for the Nats (almost any win is kind of surprising for them). Can they take the rubber game too?

Yankees (10) at Rays (0). An embarrassing shutout in which C.C. Sabathia throws 8 innings of no-hitter baseball. This one hurt.

Blue Jays (3) at Orioles (0). At least it wasn’t the Orioles closer who blew this game.

Dodgers (6) at Marlins (7). Walk-off wins are always nice.

11 April

Buffaloes (1) at Eagles (4). Yet another win for the Eagles. Their record rises to 7-10-0 for the weekend, but they’re still in fifth by 1.5 games.

Carp (3) at Baystars (6). It’s good to see them scoring runs, but the Carp couldn’t take the series. Their record falls to 4-10-0, but they’re surprisingly only 5.5 games back from first and 1.5 from fifth.

Nationals (5) at Mets (2). Washington takes the series with a huge win over Johan Santana who gave up a grand slam to Josh Willingham. The Nats are a decent 3-3 and tied for third (with Atlanta) in the NL East.

Dodgers (5) at Marlins (6). Another close one that the Fish won thanks to the powerful bat of the Mexican slugger, Jorge Cantú. The Marlins now have a 4-2 record and sole control of second in the NL East.

Blue Jays (5) at Orioles (2). Baltimore needs to do something (but not for the next three games against Tampa) to start turning this team around. They are 1-5 in last for the AL East which, surprisingly, has Toronto leading it at 5-1.

Yankees (7) at Rays (3). Another tough loss to swallow, but Tampa Bay needs to turn around and beat up on the Os to lift their record and spirits before they head to Boston at the end of the week. Tampa Bay is 3-3 and tied for third with the BoSox.

And We’re Off! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 24th, 2010 by Dan

It’s still just under two weeks before the MLB baseball season is set to start, but the NPB has already gone and started its season.

To be more specific, the Pacific League started its season last Saturday, but their second series won’t begin until the Central League starts on Friday. Are things looking good for my favorite squad? Nope, they’re 0-3 in their first series against the Orix Buffaloes. Tanaka and Iwakuma had pretty solid starts, but the run support wasn’t quite right to make either game a win.

In the meantime most every MLB team is getting ready to trim their rosters down to 25 men, finalizing their rotations and starting lineups. Most disappointingly, the Nationals have sent Stephen Strasburg down to their minor league affiliate in Harrisburg for further seasoning, experience, and to stave off his arbitration clock.

I’m finding it tough to focus any more on Spring Training, I’m just anxious for the season to start.

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.



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 X: Boredom on the Orient Express [II]
Oct 7th, 2009 by Dan

Todays post brought to you by Coca-Cola (Not really! Please dont sue me!)

Today's post brought to you by Coca-Cola (Not really! Please don't sue me!)

Ok, so I’m being a little dramatic in the title, but with David gone and most of the day occupied by riding bullet trains across Japan, the day was definitely on the dull side.

The thrilling remains of a lunch eaten on an exciting train ride to Fukuoka.

The thrilling remains of a lunch eaten on an exciting train ride to Fukuoka.

Most of the train ride was spent playing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, an SRPG whose setting is within the JR Yamanote line of Tokyo. The coolest part of the ride was the fact that we had to take an underwater tunnel to get to Fukuoka, since it is on Kyūshū, one of the four major islands of Japan. There was one other major event that occurred: the bullet train, shining example of punctuality, was ten minutes late to Fukuoka. So jarring was this tardiness that I almost got off at the wrong stop anyway because we it was time, we had to be there. I’m sure it’s not the first time the Shinkansen has been late, but it was the first (and last) time any train anywhere in Japan was late when I was there.

Station, taxi, hotel. Hoo boy…the Tokyo Garden Palace, The Official JapanBall Tokyo Hotel of Choice, had a decent-sized single that they put me in. This hotel, the Fukuoka Garden Palace, put me in a hotel room single smaller than the smallest single dorm room. Funny thing is, this wouldn’t be the smallest hotel room, by any means, that I’d stay in on the trip. That title goes to the room in Kyoto, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My spacious room in Fukuoka.

My spacious room in Fukuoka.

Most of the group decided to head to the local Hard Rock Cafe, but I opted not to go because I was doing my best to avoid as much Western food as I could while I was out in Japan. Beyond that, I’m not even a fan of the HRC when I am in the states thanks to its overpriced, mediocre food. Instead I hung out in the room and watched tv/uploaded pictures for a bit before catching a cab to the the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome.

This idol was on tv giving a concert. I think she sings a lot of anime songs, because she sang the theme songs from Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and many others.

This idol was on tv giving a concert. I think she's famous from anime, because she sang the theme songs from Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and many others in her set. I have no idea who she is

The taxi dropped me off near the stadium, but it was far too early to start to get to my seat, so I decided to investigate the nearby “Hawks Town.”

Nothing like team branding to get people in a shopping mood!

Nothing like team branding to get people in a shopping mood!

The shopping mall wasn’t too huge and it contained the usual Japanese staples: clothing stores, restaurants, an arcade, and a toy store. Looking to kill some time, I entered the Toys R Us and was reminded that Pokemon is still king in this country.

Pokemon and Doraemon, that is.

Pokemon and Doraemon, that is.

The toy store had its share of toys from other anime and video game series, but Pokemon dominated the list by far. Whether it was the arcade machines near the door, the figurines, the plush toys, or the other merchandise, Pikachu and his pals were the most represented in the store. I also found a great, kind of creepy looking Woody mask.

Its both awesome and kind of creepy the way those empty eyes seem to stare into your very soul.

It's both awesome and kind of creepy the way those empty eyes seem to stare into your very soul.

After successfully killing the aforementioned time, I decided to make my way to the stadium to take some photos and complete by jersey-buying ritual. Corporate name sponsorship is nothing new to baseball. From Tropicana Field to LandShark Stadium and Citi Field, there are tons of examples of MLB ballparks with corporate sponsors. Even Japan has its share of them, so I initially thought nothing of the fact that the Hawks played in a Yahoo!-branded ballpark, assuming that the corporate representation would be fairly standard when compared to other stadiums. Note the foreshadowing…

Not to mention that Yahoo! is kind of a dying brand out here in America. I have a feeling this ballpark may change names soon.

Not to mention that Yahoo! is an increasingly irrelevant brand out here in America. I have a feeling this ballpark may change names soon.

I kind of liked Hawks Town and the surrounding area because it seemed to show team spirit. The escalator up to the ballpark was specially painted to show pictures of the mascots, which was also pretty cool. I started to notice a problem when I saw a sign showing what you couldn’t bring into the stadium.

Is it just me or does it look like the final picture is saying No burgers with cigarettes inside!

Is it just me or does it look like the final picture is saying "No burgers with cigarettes inside!"

It’s not immediately obvious from the picture, but I was concerned about the number of mascots populating the bottom of the sign. Wow, I thought, there sure do seem to be a lot of them. Most of the ballparks had multiple mascots, but I’d say the average count was three. The Giants had four space bunnies (mom, dad, two kids), the Swallows had three (dad, boy, and girl), the Buffaloes, Tigers, and Marines had two each, and the Carp had one on-field and one for merchandise (the Phanatic knockoff is the former and the young boy is the latter). Represented in this picture were six Hawks. I realized why when I got up to the stands set up outside the ballpark: merchandising.

Gotta collect all the mascots!

Gotta collect all the mascots!

Say you’re a team located in a country that trends toward owning complete collections of things. Say you’re a team that wants to make money. Why not have a ton of mascots so that, while some will only collect the ones they like, plenty will try and complete the whole set. Release limited editions with different costumes or even uniforms and you’ve earned yourself quite a bit of cash. It’s brilliant marketing.

Also brilliant marketing.

Also brilliant marketing.

You already know about my hatred for domed stadiums, so I won’t retread old ground, but the Yahoo! Dome’s youth works toward correcting some of those problems. Unlike other domes in Japan, the Yahoo! Dome has a retractable roof, so fair weather can be enjoyed when it’s there while too hot days and rain can be bypassed. There was an ever-present threat of rain that day, so the dome remained tortuously closed that night, bringing my Games in Dome count up to 2.5 (the Seibu Dome counts for half).

Another result of the domes youth is newer, corporate food stalls.

Another result of the dome's youth is newer, corporate food stalls.

As I made my way to my seat, the full stadium greeted me in all its ad-filled glory. Aside from the batter’s eye, there was not one spot missed by the clever ad-space leasing crew.

Not a bad field, for a dome, buy why bother with artificial turf when youve got a retractable roof?

Not a bad field, for a dome, buy why bother with artificial turf when you've got a retractable roof?

The upper sections of the stadium were filled with luxury boxes, something that was lacking in most of the smaller or older stadiums I’d been to on the trip before today.

Someone needed to tell the Yahoo! folks that theres such a thing as too much luxury.

Someone needed to tell the Yahoo! folks that there's such a thing as too much luxury.

There’s no escape from the advertising, even the armrests were adspace.

Down to the armrests you can find ads in the Yahoo! Dome.

Down to the armrests you can find ads in the Yahoo! Dome.

Worse than that was that between at bats the jumbotron even showed a commercial for whatever product they were hocking that day. There is no peace in Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome to enjoy the game of baseball without an ad screaming at you.

Even the free fan they gave me was advertising a new piece of software.

Even the free fan they gave me was advertising a new piece of software.

There are two things which I will always associate with the Yahoo! Dome: ads and this guy.

If you couldnt tell, this guy is the white dude in the photo.

If you couldn't tell, "this guy" is the white dude in the photo.

I’m not quite sure if he’s a major part of every game or if he only comes out a few times, but this guy will always be the unofficial mascot of the Hawks. He knows Japanese well enough to speak it in a lame, cheesy, game show announcer voice and he appears in video segments before the game and during most of the between inning video segments. I’m not kidding when I say he’s as corny as they come. There’s just something about him that screams inauthentic, but it seems like the Hawks and the fans are totally into it.

Let’s talk about the actual game. There was yet another rare instance of the Japanese national anthem being played. That’s only the second occurrence in six games and all of them were in Pacific League games.

In six games weve only heard this twice. A far cry from the USA.

In six games we've only heard this twice. A far cry from the USA.

Another thing I noticed were the elaborate team introductions. Beyond just the usual name and number, they go and put up height, weight, hometown, and handedness. It’s nothing beyond what you’d get on a typical baseball card, but it’s more than I’d seen before on the trip, so I thought I’d snap a shot.

All thats missing is Likes: Long walks on the beach

All that's missing is "Likes: Long walks on the beach"

This game also marked the first time I’d seen something kind of interesting for the kids. Instead of having the typical player introduction, a mascot and a kid went out to every position on the field (That’s nine mascots, up from the six I mentioned early. That’s right, there’s some sort of grandfather hawk and an uncle hawk and something else). The cool part is that each of these kids is there when a player comes out on the field. I would have killed to be out on the field before a baseball game to meet a ballplayer as a kid. Hell, I’d kill to do it now!

Here we have some green, old Hawk mascot. Its like theyre just making up Hawk variants.

Here we have some green, old Hawk mascot. It's like they're just making up Hawk variants.

The game itself was a solid affair. It was close for most of the game, but the Hawks were ahead 3-1 by the time the game entered the ninth inning. Some teams would give up, but they’re not the Golden Eagles. Thanks to a pitiful performance by their closer, the Eagles were able to knock in six runs in the ninth, four of which came from a grand slam. For the rest of the trip, my fellow tourgoers and I would remark that a team was not yet safe in the ninth until it had passed beyond Grand Slam Range.

If only she knew what kind of heartbreak was awaiting her that night.

If only she knew what kind of heartbreak was awaiting her that night.

As a quick aside, at the ballgame I ate something I’d never had before and would absolutely love to have again. Tell me, would you trust a pizza from a place called Strawberry Cones?

Everyone knows that Strawberry Cones is synonymous with pizza!

Everyone knows that Strawberry Cones is synonymous with pizza!

I saw the stand and almost dismissed it off hand for being Western food in Japan, but then I saw a picture of one of the pizzas they offered, and I knew I had to try it. Only one problem, the guy in front of me got the last one. The only thing left to do was pray for symmetry and walk around the stadium searching for another stall.

The pizza in question. Yes, those are shrimp, calamari, and other miscellaneous seafoods.

The pizza in question. Yes, those are shrimp, calamari, and other miscellaneous seafoods.

I know what you’re thinking. “Seafood pizza? Come on Dan, that can’t be good…can it?”

Yes. Yes it can.

Yes. Yes it can.

And that was all she wrote for the Hawks and Fukuoka. We took a cab back to the hotel and got set to head back to Kyoto the next day. It would be our home base as we went to see games in Nagoya (the Dragons) and Nishinomiya (the Tigers). I’ll close with a picture of the hat of my favorite vendor at the Yahoo! Dome.

Its blurry, but its the best I got. This is the hat of a takoyaki vendor at the Yahoo! Dome.

It's blurry, but it's the best I got. This is the hat of a takoyaki vendor at the Yahoo! Dome.

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