Tag Archives: Arismendy Alcantara

NPB news: Sept. 13, 2022

Tuesday in Japan began with some off-the-field news but ended with all the big bangs and extremes we deserved as well as all the racist-tinted hypocrisy the media could stir up.

The second retirement shoe dropped, when Yoshio Itoi revealed that he is not in fact superhuman, while Nippon Professional Baseball is open to the idea of allowing fans to chant, sing and cheer like the old days, although not exactly.

Munetaka Murakami contributed to an exodus of baseball’s leaving the field of play at Jingu Stadium, while another team was one-hit but scored the only run in their win. And if the battle for first place in the Central League is just warming up, the competition for the final playoff spot is boiling over.

In the Pacific League, the race for first continues to bubble as the Hawks and Lions go at it with Orix and Rakuten hot on their heels. Kotaro Kiyomiya, the BIG name in the same first round of the 2017 draft when Murakami was picked, also packed a punch, while Rakuten’s and Orix’s big boppers traded home runs.

And if that’s not enough, for the first time since Sept. 1, it’s Roki Eve in Japan, so let’s cross our fingers and hope we get some pitching presents or presence against the Fighters.

If any of you remember, the last time Sasaki pitched against Nippon Ham, Tsuyoshi Shinjo said, “Gee. I’d love to see him throw a no-hitter” after Sasaki pitched eight perfect innings against his team in April. Maybe he’ll get his wish.

Murakami didn’t tie no record

It’s hard to express the amount of moisture that needs to be mopped up across newsroom floors across Japan with Murakami’s two homers. Contrary to the headlines, Murakami didn’t tie any records, but Oh’s 55 home runs in 1964 for a team going nowhere close to the pennant, still have a hold on Japan’s imagination the way Babe Ruth’s 60 held sway in America, which is fitting. Ruth’s record lasted for 34 years, Roger Maris’ for 37, Oh’s lasted for 37 years before it was tied, but wasn’t surpassed for 49 years.

The irony of Oh’s record, of course, is that the reason people think more of that one than Balentien’s in Japan, at least for now, is that it is treated as the JAPANESE record, it’s a nationalistic racist kind of thing, in a country where Oh was not permitted to become a citizen as a child because his mother was Japanese, not his Chinese father.

And while Oh honors his father’s heritage, he is culturally Japanese through and through, but still experienced racism because he was not Japanese enough. Yet, as a Japanese baseball icon, that uncomfortable truth is brushed aside so that Oh can stand in as a symbol for the nation that tried to subjugate his father’s homeland, as a sign of domestic strength against those who are so visibly not Japanese.

Music the international language? Love? Forget about it. It’s hypocrisy.

Itoi to retire

Yoshio Itoi, who was acquired as a premium pre-draft signing by the Nippon Ham Fighters at the 2003 draft as a flame-throwing college pitcher, said Tuesday that this will be his last season. The 41-year-old became an outfielder when he was unable to throw strikes and who a decade ago was perhaps Japan’s best position player.

Continue reading NPB news: Sept. 13, 2022

NPB News: June 17, 2022

Interleague spring break is over, and we’re back.

In between the end of end of the IL and the return to league play we learned that the Yakult Swallows have rewarded third-year manager Shingo Takatsu with a two-year extension. If he completes it, he will be tied for the third-longest tenure among the franchise’s skippers with Mitsuo Uno (1956-1960). Tsutomu Wakamatsu managed for six seasons from 1999 to 2005, and Katsuya Nomura from 1990 to 1998.

We also learned that the Chunichi Dragons have had enough carping about making shortstop Akira Neo a two-way player, and have re-registered him as a pitcher. Recently on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, I said former BlueWave and Swallows reliever Jun Hagiwara was the only recent convert to go from being a full-time position player to a full-time pitcher, but once I really began searching, I began coming across more and more.

The two who most recently preceded Hagiwara were also Orix BlueWave guys, Fumiaki Imamura, first baseman, third baseman 1999, pitcher from 2001, and Toshihiro Kase, outfielder first baseman, touted as a possible two-way player from 1996, eventually moved toward being more a pitcher from 2000.

The thing about Orix in the 1990s was that the BlueWave were managed by a guy who thrived on going against the grain. Akira Ogi told Hideo Nomo to pitch in the way that worked best for him when everyone else predicted his bizarre tornado delivery would never work. Ditto Ichiro Suzuki and his pendulum leg kick.

On Friday, we also had a mouthwatering pitchers’ duel between Kodai Senga and Masahiro Tanaka that died a bloody death in Fukuoka, while Cy Sneed had some kind of game for the Yakult Swallows.

Shall we get started?

Friday’s games

Hawks 9, Eagles 4: At Fukukuoka Dome, this started well for Rakuten despite one of those off-balance Yuki Yanagita home runs that took him a second to realize wasn’t going to be a routine fly.

The Eagles took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the third before Taisei Makihara, a career. 267 slap-hitting middle infielder who has been smoking hot at the top of the order so far this season, and was placed between Cubans Alfredo Despaigne in the cleanup spot and Yurisbel Gracial in the six hole.

Continue reading NPB News: June 17, 2022