The Dragons are Breathing Fire!

Well it was a quick knockout last night When Chunichi started off the festivities by scoring a touchdown in the bottom of the 1st inning. 7-0 was the bad news for the Fighters, who barely escaped the first frame, and the very good news for the fans in Nagoya.

While it was most definately over early Ochia's Crew continued to beat up on Nippon Ham's pitching staff and eventually it ended in an ugly 9-1 old fashioned Ass Kicking! Chunichi is now in the drivers seat with a 2-1 lead in the series and 2 games to go at home.
The Blue Crew are looking relaxed and confident while the Fighters, uncharacteristically, seem uptight and generally out of order.

Manager Trey Hillman has, now, certainly got his work cut out for him and it will be uphill all the way. The Hamster offense, if it can be accurately called that, has been nonexistent thus far in the Series and lineup changes appear to be in order. Hopefully Hillman has his eyes on the prize and isn't daydreaming about his next job in Kansas City because the Hamsters definately need all hands on deck.

Tonights the night and the Dragons look ready to spank some Hamster tail.

Let's see if the Fighters live up to their name.

posted by Billy at 00:00 | BASEBALL!!


Hamsters Up, Dragons Down!

Well it’s one down and three to go for Nippon Ham as they took care of business on Sat. night or rather, to be more accurate, Handsome Devil Yu Darvish took care of the business and it’s back to the drawing board for Chunichi.

It was definitely a battle between Aces (Kawakami for the Dragons, Darvish for the Hamsters) as both pitchers went 8 strong and scoreless innings effectively putting the opponents’ bats to sleep. Unfortunately for Chunichi (and their fans) Kawakami-san had a little trouble in the bottom of the 1st. The powerful right hander uncharacteristically issued 2 free passes to Fighters Morimoto and Inaba and then followed the flaw with his only big mistake of the evening. Facing the Hamsters DH Seguignol, the righty delivered a flat, fat fastball up in the Zone which Seguignol promptly blasted about 23 rows up into the right field bleachers.

Hamsters 3, Dragons 0, before the fans even finished theie first beer!

And this was all the support that dervish Darvish would require. The nasty Right Hander from Hokkaido carried his 3 run cushion into the 2nd and proceeded to run through the Chunichi lineup like the Shinkansen runs from Tokyo to Osaka, which is to say- Lightening Fast, smoothly beautiful, frighteningly efficient, ultra-cool and damn near unstoppable. There was a very minor bump in the road for the Righty in the 6th when the Dragons 2nd baseman Araki managed to score on a sac fly but other than this Young Darvish was completely in control and had his way with the boys from Nagoya all night long.

Dragons’ manager Ochia-san watched everything with his own usual unruffled cool before exiting the dugout immediately after the final out. It was a positively Darvish Night but we’ll see what the Buddha of Baseball has in store for the rest of the Series.
posted by Billy at 00:00 | BASEBALL!!


It’s Rocktober…..and it is ON!

It is now Oct. and that means only one thing to this red-blooded Ex-Pat: It’s time for the Nippon Series!

Yes, The Playoffs were Ugly (think Tigers, bounced in 2 and never really in either game), Beautiful (the Hamsters wild sprint to the finish, capped by a scintillating game 5 performance in Sapporo by awesome Ace, Yu Darvish) and Righteous (the best teams won with Ochia-san and his scrappy Dragons moving on to face down the formidable Champ from last year, Nippon Ham) including the Best news of all!

The Giants were spanked by Ochia’s Chunichi Crew in a clean sweep. To add insult to injury, they suckerpunched the Yomiuri’s in their own House! And to make it even better, Hara-san was completely outwitted for the short length of the Series by that cagey Buddha of Baseball, Hiromitsu Ochia. Yes the Giants were indeed a fearsome bunch this year but the Dragons crashed their party and sent them home early with their Tokyo tails between their legs.

Thank you Gods of Baseball!

Now onto the Picks.

It’s awfully difficult not to take the Hamsters. That team thrives on momentum and right now they’ve got plenty to go along with, for my money, the Top Gunslinger in Japan- Right hander, Darvish. In addition, their Gai-jin Manager, Trey Hillman, has officially decided to move to the Majors next year and so I am sure that his boys want very much to give him a proper going away present.

Logic be damned, I’m going with the Dragons in 7. They’ve demonstrated admirable Spirit, plenty of Fight, solid Defense and just enough Hitting all the way through the Playoffs and they’ve got a pretty tough Righty of their own, Kawakami (maybe the 2nd best pitcher in J-land) so here’s hoping they can win 4 more and Ochia-san can bring the trophy home to Nagoya.

See you in Sapporo on Saturday Night!

posted by Billy at 00:00 | BASEBALL!!


Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

The fit is hitting the shan in the CL as I type these words and my Hanshin Tigers are, very unfortunately, getting the worst of it at the moment with less than a week to go in the season. I fear that I, myself, may be partly responsible for Hanshins’ stumble down the stretch.

The reason?

The Boys in the Black and Gold were roaring through the upper ranks of the division for all of Aug. and much of Sept. - indeed slapping around the Dragons before prowling into Tokyo Dome and sweeping the hated Giants on their own turf before taking the first two of a three game set in Koshien- when I most hopefully and confidently visited Koshien for the finale of what I surely thought would be the completion of the 2nd consecutive sweep of the ready to be knocked out Yomiuri’s. Weds. the 21st was the date and I arrived at the park good and early and planted my seat in the choice seats at the very end of the left field foul pole, offering an excellent view of the action.

The action showed up in the top of the 2nd when the Giants loaded the bases then their 2nd baseman, Gonzales- who had a grand total of 1 HR on the year- stroked a shot just inside the foul pole and right past my nose. Score? G-4, T-0.

I put my jaw back into place and waited for the Tigers to begin to chip away at the lead.

In the top of the 3rd they needed an even bigger chisel as the Giants clubbed a 3 run shot making the score a crooked 7-0, bad guys.

And that was as close as my Tigers would ever get on this glum evening in Osaka.

Highlights for Hanshin? Hmmmm. Nope. Got nothing. Final brutally ugly score?
11-1 !

To further illustrate my point (and my possible culpability) when I arrived at Koshien on that 21st night of Sept. the Tigers were in 1st place- 1/2 game up on Chunichi, 1.5 ahead of the Giants- and streaking but now, as of this writing, are in a tailspin having lost 4 of their last 5 knocking them down to 3rd with Chunichi stuck in second and the Giants back on top.

The Good News?

The Tigers, Giants and Dragons are all a lock to make the CL Climax Series (Brand New J-land Playoff Format- TOP 3 ARE ALL IN!) no matter what position we find ourselves in the end.

So……….. crack a cold one……..strap yourself in and hold on tight ‘cuz we’re going to the Playoffs!

posted by Billy at 00:00 | BASEBALL!!


September to Remember II

Sportsfans we are right on course!

The Tigers flew to Tokyo this weekend, marched into cavernous Tokyo Dome (sterile, soulless, plastic, generic, much like their crowds), took out the broom and SPANKED THAT YOMIURI ASS! While I personally despise watching baseball being played inside that, or any, artificially enhanced Dummy Domes I have to allow that I enjoyed every inning of the 3 game set as the Tigers most seriously dealt a painful knee capping to the hated Kyojin, polishing off the festivities with a thrilling 9-8 victory to grab a 2 game lead over the Giants and get a solid grip on sole possession of 1st place in the CL as they charge for the finish line.

And next week we do it all over again...

Only this time, it's 3 games in KOSHIEN BABY!

No more bland, Tokyo, too-cool-for-the-room baseball fans and their steroid enhanced, vanilla flavored SuperMall of a ballpark- No my friends, we will be in the Proper Palace of Japanese Yakyu Worship, the Righteous Nihon Temple of Baseball filled to the brim with it's righteous, if slightly・.OK・OK, more than slightly crazed faithful. The Tiger Fanatics will be decked in their Black and Gold, awash in cold beer, gnashing their teeth, pounding their drums, beating their thundersticks, flying their colors and screaming themselves hoarse from the 1st pitch to the very last out and then some.


Come next Weds. I will be one with my Tiger Brothers and Sisters and we will bring the LOVE.




posted by Billy at 00:00 | BASEBALL!!


September To Remember

Yes it’s Sept. and that means it’s time for BASEBALL, Sportsfans! And what a Sept. it promises to be what with the CL’s Giants ($#%!!*&), Dragons (Look Out!) and TIGERS (REPRESENT!) all within 2 games of each other at the top of the heap in what should turn out to be a classic 3 way dash to the finish line that is, for the first time, the Climax Series.

A brief Climax explanation (and yes, I am aware that I’d never thought I’d be writing those particular words)- For the 1st time in Japanese Baseball History the Playoff format has been changed giving the top 3 teams in each league a chance to fight it out and advance to the Nippon Series. Did I mention that this is the 1st time in HISTORY! Trust me this is no mean feat. The NPB-like most of J-lands politics, business, society- is dominated by Uptight, Far Right Old Men (and believe me you don’t know uptight or far right until you’ve visited Japan) who are deeply, rigidly set in their ways and about as eager to shake things up as Dick Cheney is to fire up a phattie with Snoop Double G at MTV’s Spring Break so suffice to say that this year is a historically enormous landslide of change in the scheme of things.

But back to Baseball.

A brief rundown-

The hated Giants are loaded and they’ve got it all-pitching, defense and a lethal lineup at the plate. Cheerleader/Manager Hara-san has them headed in the right direction and they will no doubt be there in the end. God how I hate Kyojin!

Chunichi’s Dragons have been struggling all year long to score runs but remain a force to be reckoned with as their starting pitching (Kawakami-san not the least among them and maybe the toughest in J-land) is, perhaps, the best in the league. Their defense is also topnotch and with the Japanese Buddha of Baseball, Ochia-san, at the helm they are a riddle wrapped in an enigma that’s waiting to bust out wild.

My beloved Tigers. Hanshin, and it’s legion of diehard fans, has had a rollercoaster of a year but is still in the hunt thanks in large part to their devastating bullpen of JFK (Jeff Williams, Fujikawa-sama and Kubota-san to the uninitiated) and some savvy roster moves by manager Okada-san. This year’s team is a fans dream and nightmare- filled with holes, heroes, rock solid veterans, question mark rookies, tough guys, wimps, hungry killers and anxious babies all being whipped down the stretch in Beautiful Koshien. The only place where Baseball should be played in J-land.

I will say only this- Koshien (Home of the Tigers) is irrefutable proof of the complete and glorious understanding that the Japanese have of our great and good game of Baseball.

Dirt, grass, no roof, cheap seats, cold beer and passionate fans!

The formula of perfection.

More later………………
タグ:kyoto Japan
posted by Billy at 00:00 | BASEBALL!!




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