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Pro Yakyu This Week - October 27, 2008

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Pro Yakyu This Week - October 27, 2008
Pro Yakyu Fans,

Pro Yakyu This Week will be going live at around 9:00 pm JST with a recap of the Climax Series conclusions from the past week. The broadcast will be here.

This is the same as the "Live!" link on the tabs at the top of each page. Here is the time in your area [World Clock].

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

Ken D. posted a question last week about Brown-kantou's status. Well, I didn't have the full information last week, but will have the conclusion to the whole ordeal this week.

As I mentioned in last week's announcement, I don't envision Pro Yakyu This Week as a one-way communication device from me to you. I welcome your questions and comments to be used in the show. Please feel free to write directly to me or to the mailing list. Calling in via Skype to proyakyulive during the show would also be very welcome, and give you a different voice to listen to. More information about Skype, as well as how to download and install it, is available here.

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, I hope to have you tune in live.
Comments
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week - October 27, 2008
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 27, 2008 10:08 PM | YBS Fan ]

The show clocked in at around 35 minutes this evening and can be found here [13MB MP3 file]. Feel free to save the file and share to your heart's content.

Transcript to follow shortly.
Transcript Part 1
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 27, 2008 10:12 PM | YBS Fan ]

Pro Yakyu This Week
Week of October 20 - 26


Climax Series Wrap Up

Pacific League

The Pacific League, starting a week earlier, ended their Climax Series on Tuesday with Wakui shutting out the Fighters 9-0. As a matter of fact, the Fighters' first base runner of the game was Inaba, singling to left with two down in the top of the seventh inning. In all, Wakui threw just 104 pitches, allowing 3 hits, striking out 7, and not giving up any walks.

On the other side of the diamond, Glynn started against Wakui for the second time in the Series. Whereas Glynn gave up 10 runs in 3+ innings the first time around, he gave up 5 runs in 2 2/3rd innings this time. With a 7 and 14 record in 25 starts, and 3.64 ERA on the year, Glynn's year did not end well with these post season blowouts.

And speaking of Glynn, someone had asked me a while back about his contract status. Well, he's just completed the second year of his two year deal with Nippon Ham. On his way back home on Friday, reporters asked him about next season. He said that he'd like to continue pitching in Hokkaido with the same goals. But when asked if he'd accept a pay decrease (what with the serious drop in wins and rise of ERA), Glynn commented that negotiations would be starting soon and it all depended on the conditions. Nikkan Sports then broadly interpreted that as meaning that he wouldn't take a pay decrease and would not be returning to the Fighters next season. [Personal thoughts on the issue.]

The Lions hit .294 during the Climax Series, the Fighters .233 (in both Stages), and the Buffaloes .242 (in just 2 games).
Home runs: Lions 6, Fighters 6 (2 vs. Orix), Buffaloes 0.
Runs scored: Lions 32, Fighters 30 (11 vs. Orix), Buffaloes 3.
ERA: Lions 3.00, Fighters 4.95, Buffaloes 5.00.
Strike outs: Lions 47, Fighters 43, Buffaloes 7.

For the past few years, the Fighters have relied on their pitching to win games while their offense has had a tendency to not show up for games. With this final loss for the season and a league worst batting average, home runs, and runs scored Triple Crown, Hirano-batting coach has released. This news follows one day after Hirosawa-batting coach (Tigers) turned in his resignation for Hanshin's inability to hit after peaking in June.

Nonetheless, with the shutout on Wednesday, the Saitama Seibu Lions advance to the Nippon Series starting on November 1.


Central League

Meanwhile, the Central League started Stage Two of the Climax Series this past week, after Hanshin was eliminated by Woods' solo home run at the hands of Fujikawa on Monday.

On Wednesday it was a 9th inning two-out rally capped off by a battle of wills between Kroon and Nakamura. Tied 3-3, strike outs to Araki and Woods with a walk to Morino in the middle and base hit to center by Wada set the stage. Nori then battled off a number of pitches before singling up the middle, scoring Wada from second to take a 4-3 lead. That was enough for Iwase to close out the Giants in order and take Game 1.

However, that was the bright spot of the 2008 Climax Series for the Dragons. The Giants then went on to dominate most of the remaining games. The Giants' Uehara had an easy time of the Dragons on Thursday, October 23rd, downing them 11-2.

With a 5-4 lead in the 9th on Friday, Kroon hit Nakamura on the hands after the start of another good battle between these two players. Nobody thinks that Kroon did this on purpose after Nori's painful hit two nights before. But Hara-kantoku wasn't taking any chances with a slightly uncontrolled Kroon and brought in Yamaguchi. Against Yamaguchi, Ibata sacrificed pinch runner Hidenori to second before a game tying double to right-center by Tanishige. That tied the game up at 5-5, which eventually became the final.

That immediately set the English blogosphere alight with flames about allowing tied games in a playoff series. Those that could tolerate regular season ties just couldn't believe that a tie could be allowed for a short series. Well, at least they didn't use that Olympic tie breaker rule. Instead, the rule is that if the series ends with both teams having the same number of wins (such as 3 and 3 with a tie), that the team with the high rank in the regular season advances to the Nippon Series. So for the Giants, a tie is basically as good as a win as just one more win will guarantee their Nippon Series berth.

And the Giants didn't make us wait long. They defeated the Dragons for the third time in a row on Saturday, this time by a score of 6-2. The Giants scored 2 off of Chen in the 4th inning on three hits and a dead ball (off of Ogasawara's chest) to start the scoring. Chunichi answered with a solo shot by Woods in the 6th, then a sacrifice fly by Woods in the 8th to tie the game up at 2 apiece. But that didn't last long. The Giants struck back with 4 in the 8th when Takahashi allowed a double to Terauchi (who came in defensively for Ogasawara), a two run home run to Rami-chan, then walked two in a row before getting replaced by Nagamine. But Nagamine allowed one run while getting two outs before turning the ball over to Kobayashi who allowed another run across before closing the door. Kroon comes in and, while allowing one walk, shuts the Dragons down and the Giants win 6-2 to move on to the Nippon Series and face the Saitama Seibu Lions.

The Giants hit a whopping .301 in the Series, scoring 25 runs and hitting 8 home runs.
Chunichi hit a measly .205 over the two Stages, scoring 20 (7 against Hanshin), and hitting 11 home runs (4 vs. Hanshin).
The Tigers hit .216, scoring just 7 runs, while hitting 2 homers.
On the pitching side, That Giants' team ERA was 2.77, striking out 39.
Chunichi threw a poor 4.57 ERA while striking out 46 (19 of them Tigers).
And Hanshin had a better 2.33 ERA while striking out 17, but ended in defeat.


Nippon Series Preview

The last time that the Lions made it to the Nippon Series to face the Yomiuri Giants was in 2002 when the Giants rolled right over the Lions 4 games to none. That was the last time that the Giants had been to the Nippon Series, so they'll be trying to continue their winning streak. The Lions, though, had returned to the Nippon Series in 2004, the first year of the playoff system in the Pacific League, and they took 4 games out of 7 against the Chunichi Dragons to become Nippon Ichi. They'll be looking to repeat that performance.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Series (and backed up by the yearly BBM "Record Books"), the Giants are 20 and 10 in the Nippon Series, including winning it 9 times in a row between 1965 and 1973, an era of Pro Yakyu history often referred to merely as "the V9 Era."

The Lions are the second most winningest franchise, 12 and 8, the bulk of their wins coming since the team moved to Tokorozawa in 1979. Between 1982 and 1992, the Seibu Lions won 8 out of 9 Nippon Series entries. In fact, last season was the first once in 1982 that the Lions failed to finish in the top 3 in the Pacific League. The team on the field this year, though, didn't seem to have anything related to the 2007 5th place finishing Lions.

In fact, neither of these teams look like their 2002 selves. Here were the starting lineups for Game one in 2002.

Seibu Giants
1 SS Kazuo Matsui (MLB) 1 LF Shimizu (PH,41G)
2 RF Ozeki (YOK) 2 SS Nioka (3B,31G)
3 CF Miyaji (Retired) 3 RF Yoshinobu Takahashi (91G)
4 1B Cabrera (ORX) 4 CF Hideki Matsui (MLB)
5 LF Wada (CHU) 5 1B Kiyohara (ORX)
6 3B Hirao (PH,IF,25G) 6 C Abe (C)
7 P Matsuzaka (MLB) 7 3B Etoh (SEI)
8 C Itoh (Retired) 8 2B Nishi (YOK)
9 2B Hiroyuki Takagi (1G) 9 P Uehara (P)

Please, don't ask me what Ihara-kantoku was thinking putting Matsuzaka in the #7 slot.

Takahashi, Abe, and Uehara, while not injured, are the only regulars remaining from both teams that are still there. That makes it kind of hard to look at the past to see how these two teams will do this coming weekend.
Transcript Part 2
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 27, 2008 10:14 PM | YBS Fan ]

Nippon Series Uranai

So what can we expect? I'd say a lot of fireworks. Both teams have home run hitting power to spare. Good pitching can win, but bad pitching will see the score quickly get out of control. I think that the first team to open up a three run lead in any game will run away with that game. But that's no guarantee of running away with the series. A skunk one night may return to be skunked the next. And I'm finding it very difficult to decide which team will come out on top. It seems like the chemistry of all the bought out talent that the Giants have gathered works. On the other hand, the Lions have a young, hungry team with strong replacements for when any player goes down.

I want to say that it's "Hired veterans vs. young guns," but the Giants do actually have some young, home grown talent on the field. I want to say that I favor the Lions in this one, but those veteran pitchers and bats really stand out on the Giants. I want to say "Lions in 6," but fear that it will be Giants in 5. In other words, this one could go either way. Maybe you're better off waiting for the Tsubame-gundan to make their predictions (although they may have a bit of a bias).


Brown-kantou Rejoins Carp for 2009 (by Ken D.)

The long, strange ordeal toward a new managerial contract finally ended for Marty Brown on Saturday. Brown, the 3 season skipper of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, narrowly missed guiding his charges to a Climax Series berth this year. When the Carp's season ended on October 6th, Matsuda-owner assured the media that despite missing the playoffs and a .500 record, Brown would be back.

Left in limbo for nearly three weeks, though, at times it seemed uncertain if Brown would, in fact, be back. First there was talk of a list of 11 demands that Brown's agent forwarded to the Hiroshima front office, angering them greatly. Talk of plans to hire a backup if a contract could not be reached soon followed. The two sides went back and forth, each not seemingly wanting to blink, yet there was a feeling that the relationship was a healthy one despite the posturing.

Fast forward to this past week, when news of a breakthrough was announced. Brown decided to rescind some of his more curious demands while Hiroshima made some concessions on terms of the contract. It all culminated in a very public signing ceremony staged in front of the cameras in the Carp's home office.

From what we were able to gather, Brown will be paid at a similar rate to last season ($400,000 US dollars) with a 2010 option that will automatically vest if an A-Class (top 3)finish for the Carp next year. The 2010 option would increase his salary by 50% to around $600,000 US dollars.

There are also reported bonuses based on team performance included in the contract that were not made public.

As we see it, it's a win-win situation for both sides. Matsuda-owner gets to keep a popular manager whom he is fond of, while Brown gets to lead his team in a brand-new stadium next year, which will attract fans to his club.

Just a day after the contract was signed, Brown-kantoku was on his way to autumn camp near Miyazaki in order to ready his squad for the task ahead.

There is a web site showing the construction of the new stadium at http://shinkyuujyou.seesaa.net/. While the text is in Japanese, I don't think anyone will have any trouble with following the photos with regard to its progress.


Sadaharu Oh Career Retrospective (by Jim Nelson of the SoftBank Source - /blogs/blog.jsp?blogid=1152)

With the retirement of Oh-kantoku, I found it appropriate to do a retrospective on his career, even though I'm sure it's been done by pretty much every news outlet in Japan. However, it wouldn't be a Pro Yakyu show if we didn't talk about Oh-kantoku's retirement.

When the name Sadaharu Oh is mentioned, any self-respecting Pro Yakyu fan would know Oh's career numbers:
  • 868 career home runs
  • .301 career batting average,
  • 2,170 RBI
Like so many other Japanese greats, he went from Koshien hero to NPB superstar. However, there are a great many accomplishments that can be added to Oh's illustrious playing career. Nine league Most Valuable Player awards, 5 times a batting champion, and led the league in hits 3 times. Oh, together with Shigeo Nagashima, formed the O-N Cannon, possibly the most feared two-headed monster in baseball history.

After his retirement in 1980, Oh left the Yomiuri limelight for a few years. In 1984, the Giants brought him back to manage the team. He could not quite capture the same magic he could as a player, when he won 11 Japan Series titles in a row. With a 347-264-39 record as manager of Yomiuri, he made only one appearance in the Japan Series, that in 1987, losing 4-2 series loss to the Seibu Lions.

After the 1988 season, Oh left baseball, and was not part of the Giants organization for the first time since he was drafted in 1959. Many thought that Oh would not resurface, and that he was officially retired.

However, in 1995, the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks came calling. They were in desperate need of a front office overhaul. The Hawks were in dire straits. The team had not posted a winning season in what seemed like forever, and the Hawks were currently very unpopular because Daiei moved the team from Osaka to Fukuoka, making the Hawks the southernmost team in Japan. With Oh's hiring and a new front office, the Hawks were looking to finally break into A-Class in the Pacific League. It didn't happen overnight, and one particularly infamous moment was when Oh and his team were pelted with rotten eggs during a visit to Osaka in '95. However, good drafts, free agency, and trades culminated in the Hawks becoming contenders at last in 1998. No doubt the acquisition of current manager Koji Akiyama as a free agent from the Seibu Lions helped the team, as did other Seibu deserters like Ishige and pitcher Kimiyasu Kudoh.

In 1999, it all came together for Oh and Daiei. Despite the aging of the team, and also having only one batter hit above .300 for the season (catcher Kenji Johjima), the Hawks won with superior pitching and defense. Future Major Leaguers Johjima and Tadahito Iguchi, future Giant and BayStar Kudoh, and also foreign closer Rodney Pedraza, all helped the Hawks returned to the greatness that had so long eluded them, defeating the Chunichi Dragons in the Japan Series. The doubters around Oh as to whether he could lead a team to a Japan Series championship were also silenced. Unlike his Yomiuri years, where he was given the tools to succeed but never could, the Hawks were Oh's project. He helped build the 1999 team from the ground up, but there was more greatness awaiting him in the years to come.

Oh had the same cast return for next season, but on the other side in the 2000 Japan Series was his old teammate, Shigeo Nagashima. The press hyped up what came to be known as the O-N Series, and it was an epic battle. The 2000 Japan Series may have been Oh's second loss, but the groundwork for today's Hawks were laid in both the 1999 and 2000 Series. The O-N Series saw the big-stage debut of future super-ace Kazumi Saitoh, and the young hitters such as Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Hiroki Kokubo, and Hiroshi Shibahara, who would all be on the team for years to come.

After two down years in 2001 and 2002 (if you could call it those), Oh led his Hawks back to the Japan Series in 2003 with possibly the most potent offense ever seen in NPB history. Oh had an exceedingly young starting rotation to work with, and some young sluggers and new faces coming into their own. Saitoh, Nagisa Arakaki, Tsuyoshi Wada, Toshiya Sugiuchi, and Hayato Terahara all were in the rotation, and while they had their moments, all stepped up when the needed to. However, the offense was where the Hawks made a name for themselves. Seven batters hit above .290 including future super shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, Matsunaka, Iguchi, Johjima, Shibahara, and Pedro Valdes. It took seven games, but Oh and the Hawks dispatched Senichi Hoshino and the Hanshin Tigers. Oh had made it to king of the mountain again, but he would not see the top again in his managerial career.

In both 2004 and 2005, Oh had great teams again, and he even saw the Hawks change ownership with SoftBank buying the team in 2005 from Daiei. However, unlike SoftBank's stocks, Oh and the team gave diminishing returns, and Oh had diminishing health. In 2006, after leading Team Japan to the inaugural World Baseball Classic title, Oh's health hit rock bottom. He took an extended leave of absence from the team due to stomach cancer, the same disease that took his wife, Kyoko, from him only a few years prior.

Since then, Oh's health has been a major issue, and it bothered him enough that he contemplated going back into retirement in 2007 and 2008. Despite having good teams, it seemed that Oh wasn't at his usual pre-cancer best, and saw a disappointing 3rd place finish in 2007. This year, with his retirement a constant question, the Hawks bottomed out, finishing dead last in the Pacific League. Just like that, Oh's tenure as SoftBank Hawks' manager had come full circle. His final record as Hawks manager was 968-854-35. His final managerial record between the the Hawks and Giants in 2,507 games was 1,315-1,118-74 for a .540 winning percentage, and two Japan Series championships in four appearances.


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: PLNara | Posted: Oct 28, 2008 5:10 PM | HT Fan ]

Well done as always, Westbaystars-san and co.

Though, I must question the assertion that the 2003 Hawks had the best offense in league history. I think I'd look to the '85 Tigers for that distinction, or possibly the Lions in their glory years.
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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.

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.

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