Tag Archives: Shun Yamaguchi

NPB wrap 6-30-21

Buffaloes un-cowed

A night after a good fightback to earn a tie in a game we would have expected the old Orix Buffaloes to boot, Daiki Tajima goes seven innings in a shutout win over the Lotte Marines that lifts the Buffaloes back into first place, thanks to the Rakuten Eagles failing to turn a strong outing from Masahiro Tanaka into a win.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 0

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Daiki Tajima (5-4) allowed two walks and three singles while striking out seven over seven innings, and catcher Kenya Wakatsuki hit a three-run home run, his first, off Shota Suzuki (1-4) as Orix beat Lotte.

Fighters 3, Eagles 0

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, a walk and two good swings gave Nippon Ham a 1-0 first-inning lead against Rakuten’s Masahiro Tanaka (3-5, 3.18), and Kensuke Kondo helped snuff out a seventh-inning rally with a diving catch in right for the second out with the potential tying run on second.

The Fighters didn’t make much good contact against Tanaka, who had one of his better starts. Chusei Mannami’s seventh-inning leadoff double was their best-struck ball off him, but he was gunned down trying to score from third on a one-out fly to medium-deep center.

Rookie right-hander Kazuaki Tateno (1-0) dodged four walks and three hits over five innings to earn his first career win, and Yuki James Nomura singled in two runs in the eighth against the Eagles’ pen.

Hawks 9, Lions 1

At Kitakyushu Municipal Stadium, SoftBank’s Nao Higashihama (2-0) scattered eight hits and a walk to allow just one run over seven innings, while his teammates took advantage of Kitakyushu’s cozy ballpark with three home runs, Nobuhiro Matsuda’s ninth, Ryoya Kurihara’s 10th and Takuya Kai’s eighth. 

Seibu’s Katsunori Hirai (3-3) allowed seven runs, three earned, over four innings.

Carp 1, Giants 0

At Tokyo Dome, Hiroshima’s Takayoshi Noma broke up Shun Yamaguchi‘s bid for s a second career no-hitter with a one-out solo home run in the eighth inning. It was Noma’s first of the year.

Yamaguchi (1-1) went eight, allowing one hit, one walk and hit batsman while striking out 10 for Yomiuri. The Giants tried to steal a run in the first with manager Tatsunori Hara’s beloved delayed two-out delayed double steal with runners on the corners only for it to kill the inning with an out at the plate despite a terrible throw to second.

Allen Kuri (6-5) allowed six hits and three walks over 7-2/3 innings, Kyle Bird escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth, and rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi recorded his 15th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Giants-Carp highlights

Tigers 2, Swallows 2

At Koshien Stadium, Jefry Marte earned a tie for the Hanshin Tigers, singling in a first-inning run and tying it in the eighth inning with his 13th home run, off reliever Noboru Shimizu.

Munetaka Murakami regained the Japan home run lead with his 24th, tying the game 1-1 in the fourth against Raul Alcantara, who went 6-1/3 innings. The Swallows, who got six innings from Hirotoshi Takanashi, tied it against Japan Olympic team member Suguru Iwazaki in the eighth on a Jose Osuna single, a sacrifice and a Domingo Santana double.

BayStars 9, Dragons 4

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tyler Austin and Neftali Soto each drove in two runs, Soto with a first-inning home run, his 13th, off Koji Fukutani (4-7) who coughed up seven runs over two innings. The win was DeNA’s fifth straight as they moved within two games of fourth-place Chunichi. Dayan Viciedo hit his 11th homer for the Dragons.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takayuki Kishi (3-5, 4.19) vs Hiromi Ito (5-4, 2.79)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Takeda (4-3, 2.45) vs Kona Takahashi (6-3, 3.57)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (2-4, 2.72) vs Koya Takahashi (2-3, 4.93)

Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (6-0, 2.10) vs Yasunobu Okugawa (3-2, 4.60)

Active roster moves 6/30/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/10

Central League

Activated

GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe
GiantsIF32Taishi Hirooka
SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi
SwallowsOF25Domingo Santana

Dectivated

GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
GiantsOF36Shingo Ishikawa
BayStarsC10Yasutaka Tobashira
SwallowsIF3Naomichi Nishiura

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP25Katsunori Hirai
LionsP40Ichiro Tamura
FightersP33Kazuaki Tateno

Dectivated

EaglesP41Yoshinao Kamata
BuffaloesP61Tsubasa Sakakibara

Some black lives matter to SoftBank Hawks owner

Baseball may be a universal language, but when it comes to professional team owners, hypocrisy is the real lingua franca. And if actions speak louder than words, trouble may be in store for the SoftBank Hawks.

On June 3, SoftBank Group Corporation CEO Masayoshi Son took a bold step toward empowering entrepreneurs shackled by racial discrimination with the announcement his organization would establish a $100 million “Opportunity Growth Fund” the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.

Racism is a deplorable thing. In order to break through the unfair world that hinders the success of blacks and Latin entrepreneurs, the SB Group will launch a $100 million (Opportunity Growth Fund) fund.

That is a truly admirable and righteous step for Son. But it raises questions about whether the owner of Japan’s best baseball team, the SoftBank Hawks, is as concerned about human rights on his own doorstep as he is in America. More specifically is it OK for the club to keep signing Cuban players who are denied adequate explanation of the deals they are entering into?

The man asking the question is Oscar Luis Colas, a powerful left-handed-hitting outfielder, who also throws in the mid-90s as a southpaw. He is now in the Dominican Republic having defected from Cuba. He now wants to fulfill his major league dream, but the Hawks have placed him on Nippon Professional Baseball’s restricted list, preventing him from going anywhere except back to Japan.

His agents, Charisse Dash and Alex Cotto, are appealing to the Hawks on the grounds that Cuban players are routinely signed without the implications of their contracts ever being explained to them or even the ability to review them in advance.

According to Colas, a few weeks after appearing in a 2017 showcase in Santiago de Cuba, he was summoned to Havana along with his mother who needed to sign his contract as he was an unmarried 18-year-old. When they arrived, they were shown the two contracts they needed to sign and received a cursory explanation.

One document was a standard contract and the other a supplemental attachment stipulating the full terms and obligations of both parties that named Cuba’s baseball federation as his agent. Colas and his mother said recently they understood that the standard non-roster developmental deal was renewable by SoftBank for up to three years.

The supplemental deal, however, ties him to SoftBank for an additional five years.

And though the deal is more lucrative than anything he could get from a major league team, Colas and his mother felt they were sold down the river by the federation without their knowledge.

According to Dash this is standard practice for players in Cuba.

“It is a commonality,” Dash said Saturday from the United States. “None of these players have their contracts adequately explained to them. I’m extremely confident that it never happens.”

A former executive who had dealings with the Cuban federation when it sought out NPB as a trading partner said, “I completely believe Colas’ story. The federation is the government, and it is eager to send players to Japan. The government sees the players as the property of the state.”

Dash cited a Cuban attorney she spoke to in a call with Colas’ mother, Karelia.

“The lawyer said, ‘It doesn’t happen. An athlete has no jurisdictional existence in Cuba,'” said Dash, who is seeking an amicable settlement with the Hawks that would be in both parties’ best interests.

The Hawks, however, have responded by saying in essence, “We have a deal. He has a lucrative contract. We expect him to honor it, period.”

So while Son can wave the Black Lives Matter flag, the team policy of saying “Whatever happens in Cuba stays in Cuba” is pretty standard for how Japanese baseball treats inexperienced Latin players of color and is more in line with what passes for race relations in Major League Baseball.

Sure, MLB loves to crow about Jackie Robinson’s triumph in breaking the color barrier. Yet, every Jackie Robinson day is complete without acknowledging that MLB itself was responsible for the barrier Robinson broke, or the fact that most clubs were not suddenly singing “kumbayah” but had to be dragged kicking and screaming into integration.

And in some respects, major league owners have found a soulmate in Masayoshi Son.

When he took over the Hawks in 2005, he was a man on a mission to have not the best baseball team in Japan, but in the world. One pillar of that is to never give away a single day of team control to a player.

Although service time manipulation is not really a custom in Japan yet, there is some indication the Hawks may have engaged in it last year to prevent their biggest star from becoming a free agent this November.

And now that the Yomiuri Giants have posted pitcher Shun Yamaguchi, the Hawks are Japan’s last holdout against the posting system.

Because the Cuban relationship benefits both the Cuban government, most players, and has become a pillar of five Hawks’ Japan titles in six years, SoftBank should be able to ask the Cubans to do more on their side to make sure a situation like Colas’ does not happen again.

That day of change, however, is not yet on the horizon. One NPB executive with knowledge of the Hawks’ business believes Son’s need for good PR could be the trigger.

“He hates bad press,” the exec said. “The second this thing looks like it’s going to blow up, he’ll put a stop to it. He doesn’t want to get torched in the media.”

“Unfortunately, because Colas is not Japanese, it’s not a story Japan’s media is interested in. They like to portray imported players as greedy and selfish and the teams as being weak for giving in to the their demands. If Colas were Japanese, the media wouldn’t stand for this shabby treatment. They’d be all over it. But he’s not and they’re not.”