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Pro Yakyu This Week - October 13, 2008

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Pro Yakyu This Week - October 13, 2008
It's come to my attention that some of you don't know where to find the broadcast when it's up live. The place to go is the same as the Pro Yakyu Live! broadcasts. Shortly before the broadcasts start, I'll be here. This is the same as the "Live!" link on the tabs at the top of each page.

I usually have oenka (cheering music/songs) going on before and after the broadcast for your listening pleasure.

Furthermore, it seems that I have been confusing people with what I've been saying about calling in via Skype. Skype is a free telephony system over the Internet. One of the things I really wanted to do with Pro Yakyu This Week is have people "call in" much like talk radio shows. (But hopefully with a more intelligent audience.) Since calling Japan may not be everyone's budget, and hooking up the land-line phone to my computer isn't in my budget, Skype is a great way to communicate in this manner. Those of you who use Skype to talk with friends and relatives who live half way around the world know what I'm talking about. More information about Skype, as well as how to download and install it, is available here. And, no, I'm not paid to advertise Skype. I just find it to be a useful tool.

Now, with all of that cleared up, it's on to announcing this evening's Pro Yakyu This Week. Topics to be covered (not necessarily in this order) include:
  • Final Standings
  • Title Winners
  • Final Attendance Figures
  • Stage I of the Pacific League Climax Series
Ken-chan has already sent me this week's "Hot and Not" column as well.

I regret to state that I missed all but a couple of innings of the Climax Series so far (family wants me on the weekends), so my coverage probably won't be nearly as good as if it were by somebody who did watch the series. I'm very open to substituting somebody else's words for mine on this topic if anyone wants to provide either a script or audio segment.

Finally, in an attempt to be more accommodating to you listeners, I'll be going on-line at or around 11:30 pm this evening (October 13, 2008) JST. Please check the World Clock for date/time in your location.

If you can't tune in live, I'll make the archive available in the audio archives for downloading to your favorite MP3 player after the show. The archives are located here. Scroll down to the bottom for Pro Yakyu This Week archives. The top part is for former Pro Yakyu Live! broadcasts.

As always, you can call in during the show with questions and comments. You're also welcome to send in submissions to the mailing list or directly to me to be address during the show.

As always, I hope to have you tune in live.
Comments
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - October 13, 2008
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 14, 2008 12:52 AM | YBS Fan ]

I hope that the rattling off of a lot of numbers don't bore you to tears as this is the wrap up of the regular season for both leagues. Sure, there's "fun with numbers," but this episode may carry that thought a little too far.

The full audio this week is located here [approx. 32 minutes, 11MB MP3]. Enjoy.

The full transcripts will follow tomorrow morning (JST).
Transcript Part 1
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 14, 2008 8:44 AM | YBS Fan ]

Pro Yakyu This Week
Week of October 6 - 12

The Races

Let's start off this week with a run down of the final standings in each league

The Central League
                  10/05              GR       Week Results                           10/12                GR
Giants 2nd 81 56 3 .591 0.5 4 == 3 wins 1 loss ==> 1st* 84 57 3 .596 - 0
Hanshin 1st 81 55 3 .596 - 5 == 1 win 4 losses 1R ==> 2nd* 82 59 3 .582 2 0
Chunichi 3rd* 71 66 5 .518 10.5 2 == 0 wins 2 losses ==> 3rd* 71 68 5 .511 12 0
Hiroshima 4th 69 69 5 .500 13 1 == 0 wins 1 loss ==> 4th* 69 70 5 .496 14 0
Yakult 5th 62 72 4 .463 18 6 == 4 wins 2 losses ==> 5th* 66 74 4 .471 17.5 0
Yokohama 6th* 44 92 2 .324 37 6 == 4 wins 2 losses 1R ==> 6th* 48 94 2 .338 36.5 0

The Tigers, after enjoying first place for first 140 games of their season, lost their number one spot in game #141, and then the pennant in game number 142 (the Giants clinching on their 143rd game in a 144 game season). The press was quite taken aback that the "mighty" Tigers lost to the "lowly" BayStars. Maybe the press didn't notice that the BayStars won 8 while losing just 3 (and tying 1) after their miserable 2 and 8 start against the Tigers? So while Yokohama may have been a big contributor to that early lead for Hanshin, everything evened out in the end.

I got criticized for pulling for the Giants on Wednesday's game at Tokyo Dome. I think that some anti-Giants fans, especially of the Hanshin fan variety, don't realize how much the Tigers have become the Giants the last several years. While Hanshin fans are quick to point out the evils of the Giants for raiding Yakult of Greisinger and Ramirez, they conveniently ignore their own Carp raids of Kanemoto and Arai. Then a recent comment on the forums by a Tigers' fan stating that he didn't and shouldn't have to care about the other teams really struck me - Giants fans tend to not know about anybody other than the Giants. Tigers fans sure are appearing to be the same.

And this is reenforced on TV. Giants game (on NTV) and Tigers games (on GAORA) don't tend to update their viewers on what's going on in other games often, if at all. Yet other scores are routinely displayed on other games I watch, especially Pacific League games. Christopher has repeatedly infuriated me with his refusal to acknowledge that the BayStars deserved credit in their victories over Hanshin, it always seeming to be the Tigers who lost, not Yokohama who won. (I know Christopher isn't the atypical Hanshin fan, but such behavior does seem to be universal.)

Yokohama may not have done much as a team this season, but they defeated both the first and second place teams on the final week, and games that were vital to both of their opponents. That seems like a good finish to me.

With that hornets nest stirred up, it's on to ...

The Pacific League
                  10/05                        Week Results                          10/12              GR
Seibu 1st* 76 64 4 .543 - 0 == ==> 1st* 76 64 4 .543 - 0
Orix 2nd* 75 68 1 .524 2.5 0 == ==> 2nd* 75 68 1 .524 2.5 0
Nippon Ham 3rd* 73 69 2 .514 4 0 == ==> 3rd* 73 69 2 .514 4 0
Lotte 4th* 73 70 1 .510 4.5 0 == ==> 4th* 73 70 1 .510 4.5 0
Rakuten 5th 64 75 3 .460 11.5 2 == 1 win 1 loss ==> 5th* 65 76 3 .461 11.5 0
SoftBank 6th 63 76 3 .453 12.5 2 == 1 win 1 loss ==> 6th* 64 77 3 .454 12.5 0


There were just two games remaining this past week in the Pacific League regular season, the battle for the basement between Rakuten and SoftBank. The Hawks took the first game, then the Eagles took the second, so the final two spots remained the same as last week. I'm a bit saddened that Oh-kantoku's final game was a loss, and was really hoping that the Eagles could break into A-Class this season.

Sticking with the Pacific League, let's have a look at the title winners in the Pacific League.

Pacific League Titles
Leading Batter    Rick (RAK)     .332 (1st)
Home Run King Nakamura (SEI) 46 (1st)
RBI King Rhodes (ORX) 118 (3rd)
Most Hits Kuriyama (SEI) 167 (1st)
Kataoka (SEI) 167 (1st)
Stolen Base King Nakajima (SEI) 50 (2nd)

Best ERA Iwakuma (RAK) 1.87 (1st)
Most Wins Iwakuma (RAK) 21 (2nd)
Best Winning % Iwakuma (RAK) .840 (2nd)
Most Strike Outs Sugiuchi (SFT) 213 (1st)
Most Saves Katoh (ORX) 33 (1st)
Most Hold Points Kawasaki (LOT) 31 (1st)


Pacific League Attendance

SoftBank 72 2,250,044 31,251 2,307,160 - 2.5%
Nippon Ham 72 1,873,931 26,027 1,833,054 + 2.2%
Lotte 72 1,601,632 22,245 1,558,430 + 2.8%
Seibu 72 1,413,583 19,633 1,093,471 +29.3%
Orix 72 1,266,765 17,594 1,137,186 +11.4%
Rakuten 72 1,149,061 15,959 1,117,369 + 2.8%
Total: 432 9,555,016 22,118 9,046,670 + 5.6%

Seibu went from drawing the least number of fans in 2007 to 4th in 2008 with their tremendous comeback season. SoftBank, going from third to last place from last season to this, was the only team with a drop in attendance. But even with the loss of approximately two full houses, the Hawks remained the top drawer in the Pacific, the only PL team drawing over 2-million.

But the real Pacific League news this week was ...

Pacific League Climax Series - Stage One
Hot and Not (by Ken D.)

It's on to the Pacific League Climax Series for this week's "Hot and Not" segment. 3rd place finishers Nippon Ham took on second place finishers Orix in a best of 3 series, all games at Osaka's Kyocera Dome.

Nippon Ham, who just squeezed into the post-season 1/2 game ahead of Lotte, had their ace Yu Darvish starting for them in the opening game. Orix countered with Kazuki Kondoh, who was one of 4 Orix pitchers to win 10 or more decisions this season.

Darvish gave up 2 hits in the first inning but escaped with no runs. Leading off the next inning, Nippon Ham's Termel Sledge hit a solo home run to give Darvish an early 1-0 lead. Despite allowing 2 more hits in the second, Darvish still kept Orix off the scoreboard and then went into cruise control. A big 3-run sixth inning for the Fighters opened up a 4-0 lead, and Darvish had already struck out 8 Buffaloes at that point. He stymied a chance for an Orix comeback in the 8th, getting Tuffy Rhodes to hit into an inning-ending double play, limiting the Buffs to a single run. With a 4-1 lead in the 9th, Dravish needed no help in securing a 139-pitch, 14 strikeout performance. He scattered 9 hits and 2 walks, but let only 1 Buffalo cross home plate all night. Game 1 went to a very hot Darvish led Fighters team. But the question posed soon after in the online forums was "could the Fighters win one of the non-Darvish games?"

The starters called upon to do battle in Game 2 were Orix's Satoshi Komatsu and Nippon Ham's Shugo Fujii. Fujii's regular season numbers were a bit wanting, 3-8 with a 3.25 ERA, while Komatsu posted a superb 15-3, 2.51 ERA this season. Komatsu also led his team with 151 strikeouts, averaging 7.89 K's per 9 innings.

However, regular season numbers went out the window in this game as the Fighters benefited from several strange plays to score runs. Batting in the top of the second inning with the bases loaded and two outs, the Fighters' Makoto Kaneko hit a fly ball to second that bounced short of the infielder and plated 2 runs. Just like the day before, Nippon Ham was off to an early lead.

A Rhodes' single up the middle in the fourth cut the lead in half, and it seemed as if that first hit on the day would be the spark that got the Orix offense going. But just as soon as Orix broke through in the 4th the Fighters came back with an unearned run in the 5th, this time scoring on a high pop fly off the bat of Shinji Takahashi. Instead of a routine out, though, shortstop Mitsutaka Gotoh dropped the ball in short left field for a run. It was 3-1 Fighters now, and only a 4-6-3 double play prevented more damage.

Orix killed their own rally in the 6th inning with bad base running, and let the game get completely out of hand after Komatsu departed. A 4 run 7th inning for the Fighters, highlighted by a Jason Botts 2-run home run, then Micheal coming in to close the door on Orix's season in the 9th, sent the Fighters on their way to the Second Stage. The final was 7-2 Fighters, with Kazuhiro Kiyohara looking on from a suite at his frosty, and now eliminated, ballclub.

Game 1: NH 4 - Orix 1; attendance 25,532; W: Darvish, L : Konodoh; HR: Sledge; time 3h 16m
Game 2: NH 7 - Orix 2; attendance 26,703; W: Fujii, L: Komatsu; HR: Botts; time 3h 24m
Transcript Part 2
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 14, 2008 8:46 AM | YBS Fan ]

Now it's time to rattle off some more numbers.

Central League Titles
Leading Batter    Uchikawa (YOK)   .378 (1st)
Home Run King Murata (YOK) 46 (2nd)
RBI King Ramirez (YOM) 125 (3rd)
Most Hits Uchikawa (YOK) 189 (1st)
On Base % Uchikawa (YOK) .416 (1st)
Stolen Base King Fukuchi (YAK) 42 (1st)

Best ERA Ishikawa (YAK) 2.68 (1st)
Most Wins Greisinger (YOM) 17 (2nd)
Most Strike Outs Lewis (HIR) 183 (1st)
Most Saves Kroon (YOM) 41 (1st)
Most Hold Points Kubota (HAN) 37 (2nd)

The three Giants to make the list were all with other teams last season, Ramirez and Greisinger from Yakult and Kroon from Yokohama.

The BayStars' Uchikawa took 3 titles this season, this being the first season he's managed enough at bats to qualify for a title. What's more, Uchikawa's .3780 batting average ranks him in 7th place on the all time batting average list, just .0001 under 6th place Cromartie. This surpasses the highest batting average record for a right hander set by Tuffy Rhodes at .369 in 1999.

Uchikawa's team mate Murata hit home run #46 on Sunday, the last day of the season, to take sole possession of the Home Run Crown. 14 of Murata's home runs came at the hands of Yakult pitching. Ramirez hit 13 home runs off of Yakult, with Yokohama pitching being his second favorite to munch off of with 11. Just imagine what Murata could do if he faced Yokohama pitching.

Yakult's Ishikawa threw one pitch to one batter for a single out on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 2.681 to surpass Hiroshima's Lewis at 2.679, a difference of 3 one-thousandths (0.003). The rookie is also a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award.

Central League Attendance
Hanshin     72  2,976,754  41,344  3,144,180  - 5.3%
Giants 72 2,876,274 39,948 2,911,358 - 1.2%
Chunichi 72 2,427,805 33,720 2,390,532 + 1.6%
Hiroshima 72 1,390,680 19,315 1,129,061 +23.2%
Yakult 72 1,281,714 17,802 1,333,231 - 3.9%
Yokohama 72 1,129,954 15,694 1,231,997 - 8.3%
Total: 432 12,083,181 27,970 12,140,359 - 0.5%

Like Seibu in the Pacific League, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp jumped 23% and climbed from last place in attendance in 2007 to fourth in 2008. Much of this was part of the "Sayonara Shimin Kyujyo" campaign that went along with their playoff hopes until the final two weeks of the season. Hanshin fans are growing weary of winning [elaborate], and the Giants were 13 games out at one point, taking a hit in attendance early on. As Hiroshima draws less than half of the top two on average, their huge increase was unable to offset the overall decrease of the top two. The bottom two teams performed poorly on the field, and attendance reflected their performances.

Free Agent Speculation Season

As the season has finally come to a close, the hot stove league starts to heat up with talk of free agents, domestic and foreign. The first major free agent to get a sizable chunk of a page in Nikkan Sports was Chunichi ace Kawakami. They even showed a photo of the front page of Nikkan Sports dated Decembver 18, 2006 with a headline proclaiming that Kawakami said that he was interested in going to the Majors as a free agent after the 2008 season. Unable to get a good quote this time around, they just reprinted his quote from two years ago and said that a staff member noted that Kawakami had turned down a multi-year deal offered by the Dragons on September 25, paving the way to listen to the market, foreign and domestic. (Lament on the nonsense of this kind of journalism.)

No matter how much or little truth there is to this rumor, we can expect more of this kinds of nonsense in the weeks (and months) to come, I'm sure.

Brown-kantoku to Continue - Maybe

Matsuda Hajime-owner, of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, has expressed that he'd like Marty Brown-kantoku to continue to lead the Carp at their new home closer to Hiroshima Station. Matsuda-owner said, "After coming this far, plus 1 or minus 1 (from .500) doesn't matter." I've long speculated that Matsuda-owner has a soft spot for Brown-kantoku, making amusing T-shirts of the manger throwing a base rather than reprimanding such outlandish behavior as most owners would do. However, Brown-kantoku has turned down the initial offer for staying. I don't know the details of the offer, so I'm not going to side with either side at this point in the negotiations. It's probably best to think things over for a while anyway, so I'm putting it down to prudency for the time being.

Okada-kantoku Announces Intent to Retire

What more is there to say?

That's a Wrap

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: Christopher | Posted: Oct 14, 2008 10:34 AM | HAN Fan ]

I would think that the attribution of Tigers defeats to their failings rather than the BayStars abilities is justified, especially if one looks at the other A class teams' records. Yomiuri 18-5 with one tie. Chunichi 17-7. Add in the inter-league 18-6, and you see that others had no real problems. If they can do it then so should the Tigers who, after all, led the league for most of the time and had a very good record in the first half of the season. Remember, other teams did not see a falling off in their performance against the BayStars.

Certainly some of the BayStars' performances were good, but mostly the Tigers were poor when they needed to try harder. I tend to think a certain expectation, especially after the 19-2 thrashing, that all they had to do was turn up hindered the Tigers. This has to be laid at the door of the Tigers' coaching staff who failed to respond or develop strategies to deal with the problem. That being said, BayStars and BayStars fans can be satisfied with their performance against the Tigers no matter what the causes.

The point about the Tigers being the new Giants is interesting, but more I think a case of jealousy. The Giants manipulated the baseball world to their advantage (and rightly earned the anger of other teams fans), but the Tigers are not doing this and have never done so. Basically, Yokohama and the other small teams now have nowhere to hide. They aren't adequate at marketing and they don't spend the money needed. The Tigers' energize their fan base and get the fans out, and this success shows what is possible.

This point needs to be born in mind - even with the decline in attendance there are still many Tigers fans at the grounds. They also spend money - the principle "you have to spend money to make money" holds. Fans should blame their own complacent management and not the Tigers for the Tigers being successful.

I have always made it clear that I do not hold it against players for changing to richer teams. No team has a right to a player's loyalty, it has to work for it. But I also have no sympathy for smaller teams who do not spend the money and then have to rely on Tigers and Giants fans for income. If the BayStars want to be considered on a par with the richer teams they need to build a team that is able to compete for the championship, and to do this they need to spend money.
Hanshin Attendance Drop
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 16, 2008 10:04 AM | YBS Fan ]

The Yomiuri Shimbun in this Daily Yomiuiri article explained the 5.3 percent drop in Hanshin attendance as being due primarily to the loss of 5,000 seats during off season remodeling. Adding 5,000 people for the 61 home games at Koshien would exceed last year's attendance by 137,574. It looks like 5,000 seats can really make a huge impact in the bottom line for a popular team.

So I was about to go and praise Hanshin for ignoring the bottom line and promoting baseball at rural stadiums. However, after looking into it, they only played one home game at a rural stadium, their July 15 game at Kurashiki. Otherwise, 9 of the other 10 home games not played at Koshien were 3 at the start of the season and 6 during the summer at Kyocera Dome (while Koshien was in use by high schoolers), then their October 12th makeup game at Skymark (due to Koshien reconstruction having been restarted).

I thought the Giants stingy, yet they actually did go to play home games in rural Japan. Looks like the Giants do have more heart than the Tigers after all.
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - October 13, 2008
[ Author: No.1BayFan | Posted: Oct 14, 2008 3:35 PM | YOK Fan ]

Very interesting information in regards to the attendance figures Westbay. Ever since my move out into "Seibu Country" so to speak, I've found myself following the Pacific League more than I used to and I will be attending more games also next season that feature Pacific League teams.
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - October 13, 2008
[ Author: Guest: Number 26 | Posted: Oct 14, 2008 5:23 PM ]

Tigers and Giants are pretty much the same in many ways. I find Giants fans to be more loyal than Tigers fans though. People talk about the die hard Tigers fans, but I remember not too long ago when Hanshin would end at at the bottom of the league and Koshien would be half empty. With Giants the fans will support their team whether they are first or last in contrast to Hanshin fans.
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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.

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