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Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21

Discussion in the NPB News forum
Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
Pro Yakyu Live fans,

I'll be going live this evening at around 7:00 pm JST with another broadcast of Pro Yakyu This Week. Check the world clock for time in your area.

If you can't tune in, I'll make the archive available for downloading to your favorite MP3 player after the show.

As always, you can call in [via Skype] during the show with questions and comments. You're also welcome to send in submissions for me to address during the show in reply to this message. (Audio questions or even commentary are especially welcome. Please send those to my handle atMark JapaneseBaseball.com.)

As always, I hope to have you tune in live.
Comments
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 22, 2008 7:48 PM | YBS Fan ]

Well, we had a little technical difficulty this week due to my kitten walking across my keyboard in the middle, but I think that otherwise everything went fine.

Ken D. provided the "Hot and Not" segment again. And Jim Nelson chimes in with "The Pacific League Playoff Report." Thank you both for your contributions to helping make this segment work.

You can download the full audio here [31 minutes, 11MB MP3].
Transcript Part 1
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 22, 2008 7:50 PM | YBS Fan ]

Pro Yakyu this Week
Week of September 15 - 21

Giants Catch Tigers

There is simply no other news story this week as big as this. The Giants have come from 13 games back on May 8 to catch the Tigers' tail and jump on their back. Winning 10 games in a row, including a weekend 3 game sweep of Hanshin at Tokyo Dome, the Giants have come even with their Osaka rivals and now share first place, each team with a 76 and 53 win/loss record. For details of the biggest comebacks in NPB history, I've posted a table of all comebacks from 10 games or more behind in reply to Sara B.'s question about the worst team collapses in the Pro Yakyu History forum.

The Giants coming back from 13 games is the third highest deficit to stage a comeback. The holder of the largest comeback is the Kintetsu Buffaloes, 16 games back on June 16, 1994 after which they went on a 32 and 6 span (.842 pace) to reach first place on August 10. Unfortunately for them, though, they finished the year in second place.

In 1963 the Nishitetsu Lions were 14.5 games back on July 12 after which they went 49 and 26 (2 ties - .653) to take first place on October 8 and win the pennant.

Nobody is hotter than the mighty Kyojin right now. And that leads us to your "Hot and Not" segment, graciously provided by Ken D.


Hot and Not

Any debate over who the hottest team in baseball is right now begins and ends with the Yomiuri Giants. Winners of their last 10 in a row, the streaking Kyojin have blazed their way into a first place tie in the Central League. The 76-53-2 team has been bludgeoning teams into submission. Just this past week their victories included a 14-1 trouncing of the BayStars and a 9-1 demolishion of Hanshin. This week alone Seung-Yeop Lee has belted 6 home runs, including 3 in consecutive at bats in the aforementioned BayStars' laugher. Cleanup man Alex Ramirez has cleaned up all year long to the tune of 40 HRs, a .308 batting average, and 115 RBIs. And veterans Shinnosuke Abe and Michihiro Ogasawara have rolled along like they do most years, with Abe contributing a .275 average with 21 long balls and Ogasawara batting .312 with 31 HRs and 88 runs driven in.

On the other side of the Central League standings, we don't mean to pick on our friends when they are down, but the Yokohama BayStars are cold right now in one of their coldest seasons. Losers of 6 in a row and eliminated from playoff contention long ago, the BayStars are waiting for 2008's merciful end. It seems on many nights the only thing they have going for them is the bat of Shuichi Murata, who checks in with a .329 average and 41 blasts. On their way to finishing dead last for the 5th time in the last 7 seasons, bright spots have been hard to find. One could point to the stellar hitting of infielder Seiichi Uchikawa or the always dependable ace Daisuke Miura's 3.38 ERA, but even those will likely be little consolation to long time Yokohama fans. With the team on pace to record a sub-50 win season and hold the highest team ERA in over 3 decades, 1998's championship seems like light years ago.

Light years ago or not, I'd like to stroll down memory lane for a bit.


1998 Version of Machine Gun Offense

No1BayFan and others often talk about how they've heard about Yokohama's Machine Gun Offense, but fail to grasp why those of us who witnessed it enjoyed it so much, and why we are rooting for Ohya-kantoku to revive it. I'd like to take you back to July 26, 1998 to get a feel for it was like. Here's an exerpt from Nikkan Sports to give you an idea:

League leading Yokohama tied a club record set 30 years before of winning 10 games in a row. The Machine Gun Offense exploded big time. Knocking a Central League high for the year: 21 hits for 16 runs, it was an overwhelming victory over Hanshin. Number 4 batting Rose went 5 for 5 with 5 RBIs, and continuing from the previous day, has reached base 11 plate appearances in a row and marked 9 consecutive hits in as many at bats. He only needs two more to reach the Japanese record of 11 consecutive hits held by Reynolds (Taiyo).

Inning by inning:
        1B  2B  3B  HR  Runs
1 2 1
2 1 0
3 3 1
4 2 1 3
5 2 0
6 1 1 2
7 0
8 5 6
9 1 1 1 3
Tot 17 3 0 1 16
As usual, Miura got the win against Hanshin, and Yokohama went up 13 wins to 5 losses against the Tigers on the year.

Ah, those were the days.

And speaking of the "good ol' days," ...


Sayonara Hiroshima Shimin Kyujyo

Sports commentators for Hiroshima games, even for the visiting team, are waxing nostalgic for Hiroshima Shimin Kyujyo. Every player has a story to tell. This weekends' games between the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Chunichi Dragons were filled with commentary about both teams players' professional debuts, first hits, first home runs, first wins, and first saves. There was even a memory of the Koshien qualifier rounds at Shimin Kyujyo by one player when he was in high school.

Opened on July 24, 1957, Hiroshima Shimin Kyujyo has witnessed many generations of baseball. Currently, it's one of only three home stadiums in Japan with real grass (the other two being Koshien and Skymark Stadium in Kobe). With foul poles just 91.4 meters from home plate, and center field just 115.8 meters deep, Hiroshima Shimin Kyujyo is the smallest stadium in Nippon Professional Baseball. (Yet, it's always bothered me that the Carp don't build a powerful team to match the size of their park. They seem to try to recreate the speedy Carp of the 1970s and '80s.)

There are now a number of state-of-the-art sports facilities surrounding the 51 year old stadium, not to mention Ground Zero from the atomic bomb that was dropped on the city at the end of World War II, Atomic Dome (a relic from that blast), and Hiroshima Peace Park. Hiroshima Castle is also a short walk away and full of information and exhibits about the development of this city built on top of a delta hundreds of years ago. I had read that the trolly car that ran to the ferry for Miyajima was retired earlier this year, and so, too, will this old stadium at the end of this season. The New Hiroshima Shimin Kyujyo is scheduled to open on April 10, 2009.


Standings for the week:
   Start of play September 15:            End of play September 21:           The week's results:

1 Hanshin 74 49 1 .602 - \/ 1 Giants 76 53 2 .589 - at YOK 3-0, vs HAN 3-0 = 6-0
2 Giants 70 53 2 .569 4 /\ 2 Hanshin 76 53 1 .589 - at CHU 2-1, at YOM 0-3 = 2-4
3 Chunichi 61 60 5 .504 12 \/ 3 Hiroshima 64 63 4 .504 11 at YAK 2-1, vs CHU 2-1 = 4-2
4 Hiroshima 60 61 4 .496 13 /\ 4 Chunichi 63 64 5 .496 12 vs HAN 1-2, at HIR 1-2 = 2-4
5 Yakult 55 64 3 .462 17 5 Yakult 58 66 3 .468 15.5 vs HIR 1-2, vs YOK 2-0-R = 3-2
6 Yokohama 43 78 1 .355 30 6 Yokohama 43 83 1 .341 31.5 vs YOM 0-3, at YAK 0-2-R = 0-5


1 Seibu 70 55 4 .560 M10 1 Seibu 75 56 4 .573 M2 at RAK 1-0, vs LOT 2-1, at SFT 2-0 = 5-1
2 Orix 67 62 1 .519 5 2 Orix 70 65 1 .519 7 at NIP 0-1, vs SFT 2-1, vs NIP 1-1 = 3-3
3 Nippon Ham 65 64 2 .504 7 \/ 3 Lotte 67 67 1 .500 9.5 vs SFT 1s0, at SEI 1-2, vs RAK 1-0-1-R = 3-2-1
4 Lotte 64 65 0 .496 8 /\ 4 Nippon Ham 67 68 2 .496 10 vs ORX 1s0, at RAK 0-3, at ORX 1-1 = 2-4
5 SoftBank 60 64 3 .484 9.5 5 SoftBank 61 69 3 .469 13.5 at LOT 0-1, at ORX 1-2, vs SEI 0-2 = 1-5
6 Rakuten 54 68 2 .443 14.5 6 Rakuten 57 70 3 .449 16 vs SEI 0-1, vs NIP 3-0, at LOT 0-1-1-R = 3-2-1
Transcript Part 2
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 22, 2008 7:51 PM | YBS Fan ]

Young Lions Defeat Old Bird

It was Appreciation of the Elderly Day on Monday, giving us an extended weekend here in Japan. But 73 year year old Nomura-kantoku wasn't feeling much love. With a 5-3 lead going to the top of the 9th against the front running Lions, 26 year old Nakajima tied the game with a 2-run home run to center, marking his 20th home run of the year. After Brazell grounded out to second for the second out, it was Okawari-kun, 25 year old Nakamura who hit a home run to center to give the Lions a 6-5 lead, which is where the game ended, Graman closing with a pair of strike outs and a fly to center.

The home run by Nakajima marked the 5th Lion this season to reach the 20 home run mark. Nakamura leads the team and the league with 40 (as of Monday), Brazel has hit 27, G.G Sato 21, Bocachica 20, and now Nakamura with 20. This ties the Pacific League record for most players on a team with 20 or more home runs shared with the 1970 and '71 Lotte Orions, 1980 Hankyu Braves, 1990 Kitetsu Buffaloes, and 2001 Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.

Monday's games concluded weekend cards in the Pacific League, Seibu taking the rubber match; 2 out of 3 against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Nippon Ham sweeping Orix, and Lotte sweeping SoftBank.


Iwakuma Wins 19th

Rakuten's Iwakuma continues to be a bright spot for the Pacific League cellar dwellers, winning his 19th game of the year on Tuesday, defeating the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 6-0. Iwakuma threw a no-hitter through the first 6 1/3rd innings, allowing just three hits overall while striking out 8 and walking 2. Iwakuma is bidding for the first 20 game winner since Saitoh and Igawa doubled did it in 2003.


Lee Hits Three

After spending most of the first half of the season at ni-gun, then helping Korea to Olympic Gold, Lee Seung-Yeop has been on a tear for the Giants, a big contributor to their 10 game winning streak.

On Tuesday at Yokohama Stadium, Lee lit the Giants' Fire with a 3-run home run in the third, a 2-run home run in the 4th, and another 2-run home run in the 6th, driving in 7 of the Giants' 14 runs and homering in three consecutive at bats, all in the same game.


The Pacific League Playoff Report (by Jim Nelson)

As hot as it was for the Pacific League a couple weeks ago, it's cooled off somewhat. The only certainties are that the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles will both miss the playoffs. The Hawks have fallen off the face of the earth, only winning three games so far this month of September, and even though they're not mathematically eliminated, watching the Hawks tells one that they're done, and they will miss the postseason for the first time since 2002, and they are poised for their lowest finish since 1998. For Rakuten, what started as a season filled with hope and promise it ends with the Eagles finishing out of the PL playoffs again.

There are still two playoff spots to be decided, as the Seibu Lions have clinched a playoff spot of their own, and have a magic number of 2 to win the Pacific League. The Orix Buffaloes, who are as hot as any team in Japan right now (except for maybe the Yomiuri Giants), have a magic number of 5 to make the playoffs. Barring a total collapse, this will make Orix's first appearance in the postseason since their 1996 Japan Series victory, and the first with the current playoff format.

The only playoff spot that is truly up in the air is the third and final playoff spot, and that is being contested between the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, the two teams that took their 5-game championship series to the limit last year. At present, the Marines have a half-game lead on the Fighters, and even more interesting is that these two teams play each other on the 28th and 29th, and those games may have immense playoff implications, barring any major losing streaks this week.

I'm going to do a little prognostication, and say that the Marines have the edge on the Fighters because the Marines can hit. Tasuku Hashimoto has been excellent both behind the plate and at bat, and Shunichi Nemoto has been good in the #2 spot all season long. There are other contributors in Saburo, Nishioka, and Benny Agbayani, the rotation still has Yoshihisa Naruse, and the bullpen is good enough.

The Fighters by contrast have an excellent pitching staff between the starting rotation of Darvish, Masaru Takeda, and Brian Sweeney, and the back end of the bullpen in Micheal Nakamura, so they have the pitching to win a short series, and with Ryan Glynn back, the rotation just gets better. The problem the Fighters have is that their only hitter who is batting above .300 is Atsunori Inaba, and while Shinji Takahashi and Terrmel Sledge both hit well, there's nobody that can hit other than those three in the lineup.

If the season were to end today, the Lions would have the first-round bye, while the Orix Buffaloes would take on the Chiba Lotte Marines in a 3-game series, all on Orix's home turf. My early bet for the Pacific League representative in the Japan Series would be the Buffaloes because they have the pitching to win in a short series with Satoshi Komatsu, Mamoru Kishida, and Kazuki Kondoh. Also, they have the PL saves leader in the bullpen, Daisuke Katoh. The lineup is hitting hot, with Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera hitting well, the rest of the lineup is fairly consistent, and the team defends well.


Third Time a Curse?

SoftBank's Wada threw 10 innings for the third time this season on Saturday, getting tagged for the loss as he gave up a solo home run to Hosokawa with two outs in the 10th, the only run in the ball game as the Hawks lost 1-0 to Seibu. You may recall that three weekends earlier these two teams met up to draw three games in a row. On the final game of that series, Wada threw 10 innings of shutout ball as the Lions and Hawks ended the game tied 0-0. That was Wada's second 10 inning game of the season. His first 10 inning outing came on July 27 against the Chiba Lotte Marines, leaving the game tied at 2-2, with the Hawks winning that one on a sayonara hit by Honda in the 12th. So Wada going 10 innings has gone from an eventual win, to an eventual tie, to his 6th loss of the season. I'm not sure that this is a good trend.


The Maeken Is Coming

Just like a hurricane, there doesn't seem to be any stopping Hiroshima's Maeken (Maeda Kenta). The second year rookie threw his first shutout on Saturday, a 10-0 Dragon slaying. That brings Kenta's record on the season to 7 and 2 while helping secure Hiroshima's playoff bid, going two games up on the Dragons at the time. Maeda only allowed 4 hits, two in the 4th and two in the 5th. He allowed no other base runners (no walks or hit batsmen), and thanks to a double play in the 5th, threw to just three Dragons over the limit. With a slider as fierce as the intensity he puts into throwing it, I think that Maekan has become my choice for Rookie of the Year this year.


That's a Wrap

And with that, I'd like to thank you all for joining me this evening, live or via podcast.

Pro Yakyu This Week is a production of JapaneseBaseball.com and is distributed under the Creative Commons License. You may copy, redistribute, and/or rebroadcast in whole or in part in any way you wish provided that you give credit to JapaneseBaseball.com.
Re: Transcript Part 2
[ Author: rojo71 | Posted: Sep 25, 2008 6:33 AM | CLM Fan ]

Great stuff, Michael! Really well done and informative.

I wish I knew how to download this into a format that allowed syncing with my iPod.
Re: Transcript Part 2
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 25, 2008 9:09 AM | YBS Fan ]

- I wish I knew how to download this into a format that allowed syncing with my iPod.

The iPod (and iTunes which is used to synchronize) support MP3 format, so that isn't the problem. The problem is most likely that you're just clicking on the link to the audio and your audio player starts playing it as though it were a stream.

What you need to do is [control]+[click] on a Mac (or [right-click] on Linux and others) on the link and select "Save as..." from the pop-up context menu. Once you've saved the file to your hard drive (desktop), drag and drop it into iTunes. Once it's in iTunes, you can copy it over to your iPod.

The key is to download the file instead of just listen to it on the PC's media player.

Can anyone give instructions for loading onto other portable media players? Or make the description easier for non-techies? (I know I sometimes describe computer related things with words that aren't in non-techie vocabulary. So a translation would be most helpful.)

Hope this helps.
Re: Transcript Part 2
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Sep 25, 2008 9:21 AM | SFT Fan ]

- I wish I knew how to download this into a format that allowed syncing with my iPod.

This process should work if you're using Windows, I'm not familar with Apple:
  1. Downloading the MP3 file from here
  2. Open iTunes on your computer
  3. Click File < Add File To Library
  4. File should be 20080711liveHIRvsHAN.mp3
  5. Click that file, Click Advanced < Create AAC Version
To sync to your iPod all you should have to do is insert your iPod after following the above steps and make sure the box "Sync Only Checked Songs And Videos" is checked, then click Sync.
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: Jgribbins | Posted: Sep 23, 2008 12:01 AM | HT Fan ]

Michael,

Once again thanks for posting the MP3 of Pro Yakyu This Week. I love listening to this when I get to work in the morning!

One question, where can I find mp3 downloads of the team "theme/fight" songs?

Thanks again.

Jim
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 23, 2008 12:40 AM | YBS Fan ]

My pleasure.

As for getting oenka, I get them one of three ways:
  1. Record audio at a game. This method doesn't work too well as there's usually a voice located nearby that I'd rather not have in it.
  2. Use a search like this one for Carp oenka. Many of these are done by people who use my first method, but some of them actually sound pretty good. Other sites have MIDI (synthesizer) files which are OK, but not the same.
  3. My preferred method is to get used CDs from places like Book Off.
Unfortunately, others have reported that Book Off doesn't ship overseas. Hmmm. I wonder if you could convince the guys at YakyuShop to act as a middle-man for finding oenka CDs and shipping them overseas.
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Sep 23, 2008 1:01 AM | NIP Fan ]

Err, it depends on what you mean by getting ouenka. If you mean the songs that the fans sing for each players' at-bat, you can usually find YouTube videos with a lot of the more common ones, and I think there's a video of at least one instance of each team's 1-9 and opening up there. Plus there are tons of sites with lyrics and MIDI files and whatnot.

Or do you mean some kind of actual decently-recorded MP3s of the team's official songs? You can order team CDs from amazon.co.jp if all else fails.
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: Jgribbins | Posted: Sep 24, 2008 10:12 AM | HT Fan ]

Thanks for the info. Files I can download, decent quality, are fine. I have been searching and found a few, any help would be great.

Thanks again!
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: Guest: Spence | Posted: Sep 27, 2008 8:09 PM ]

When can we expect japanesebaseball.com's most infamous correspondent on the podcast? For someone without a lot to say, I thought he would be chomping at the bit!

Please Christopher, we want to hear you!
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - September 15-21
[ Author: Guest: Steeltown | Posted: Sep 28, 2008 1:21 PM ]

I second that motion! Can we get Christopher on the broadcast?
About

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)
Founder

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