Thursday, April 12, 2007

We Meet At Last

"When I left you I was but the I am the master." - Darth Vader

I won't be able to live blog this game today, as I'm currently sitting at my desk at work. I did want to drop in to share a quick story about my Ichiro vs. Matsuzaka experience. I have to leave home at 8:05 at the latest to arrive at work in time for our morning teacher's meeting. It's very bad form in Japan to be late to that meeting, so I had no choice. As I was walking out of my house, Ichiro was strapping on his elbow armor and the announcers were working themselves into a fever pitch. It was excruciating. Each step towards the door I took, Ichiro took a step closer to the batter's box. There was nothing I could do.

Then, I remembered that recently my cell phone crapped out after 2 and a half years and I was forced to replace it. The service here is great and I was able to upgrade to a new phone for about $30. My old phone was a standard issue model with a simple camera and no further bells or whistles. The new phone has a camera, mp3 player, and a television. Go figure. I thought I'd be out of luck to see the pitch, as (1) NHK is not one of the 5 channels that the phone can pick up on the local airwaves, and (2) watching TV while driving is enough to get a person killed.

I turned on the TV, sitting in my driveway, and I was in luck on point #1. The local channels had cut away to the game to show Ichiro vs. Matsuzaka I, and I could at least get a peek at that at bat. The problem was #2. I had to go. I had to start on my way to work, and I wasn't about to put myself in danger for one at bat, no matter how historic. I would at least settle for listening in. Kind of like radio baseball, which was always good enough for me in the past. As luck would have it, first pitch came while I was at a red light sent from heaven. I watched the entire at bat from curve ball one to ground out 1-3. Sometimes God is smiling down on us.

I'll be back later with a substantial recap, and maybe an update or two, if I can manage it.


At 9:08 AM, Blogger lostinube said...

NHK replayed the first Ichiro at bat four times in the first three innings. In their defense, they don't have commercials so I guess they have to fill the time somehow.
I don't follow games all that much but do the other parks have Japanese signs behind the catcher like the よこうそフェンウエーパークへ ?

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous aim3tti said...

JC Romero warming up right now in the pen Top of the 7th, 3-0 Seattle.....Sigh.

The commentators said something that i kind of agree...Dice-K's breaking pitches today were not as sharp and he left a few hanging. Oh well, he rules regardless!!!

At 10:48 AM, Blogger mars2001 said...

No - it is not common at all to see signs in Japanese behind the catcher. I believe they were only there for when Matsuzaka was pitching...

Just curious though... what is the translation of よこうそフェンウエーパークへ?

And what about the Dunkin Donuts sign?


At 11:05 AM, Blogger mars2001 said...

I should mention that it was a hell of a game... after these first two games, I'm wondering how amped every opposing pitcher is going to be in their start against Matsuzaka. Greinke followed his 1st outing nicely and King Felix has been untouchable this year... but I wonder how much the publicity is going to work against Matsuzaka this year. If you had told me a few hours ago that there'd be a one-hitter tonight in Fenway - I would have expected something quite different.

A more interesting question for Mike... do you think that Matsuzaka is having trouble with his concentration or is just bored? He was 'on' every time that Ichiro was up and he was sharp for guys 3-5 tonight (2 for 13, 3K)... but even in the first game, the damage came outside the heart of the order (guys 3-5 for the Royals were 2 for 11 with 5Ks).

I'm seeing the same thing with Greinke actually... he allowed some hits in his game with the Sox, but for the heart of the order was 4 for 13 with 5 Ks his first time out and 1 for 12 with 5Ks against the Blue Jays.

It could be limited studying/video time (that's focused on the heart of the order)... but figuring out if Dice-K's being cutesy with his pitches (looking at % 1st pitch strikes) between this year, 2006 Seibu & the WBC would be an insightful study.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Mike Plugh said...

I haven't seen the game yet...still at I'll have to hold off on my comments about the specific game action, but WOW!

King Felix is as advertised, I guess. It makes me more excited to see Phil Hughes as a Yankee fan, as well as Tim Lincecum and Homer Bailey as a pure baseball fan.

Hard to beat a 1 hitter, so hats off to Seattle. Matsuzaka put together a quality start, even if he didn't have his best stuff, and that's about all you can ask for from a pitcher. Ask the Yankees.

mars..."what is the translation of よこうそフェンウエーパークへ?"

It means "Welcome to Fenway Park."

Those Japanese signs are behind the batter in every game aired in Japan. Most ballparks have a "digital key" effect with a green screen behind the batter and can "key in" any graphic they like. They advertise in Japanese on NHK, so there are "signs" in every MLB park that is on TV in Japan.

More later...

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous YFiB said...

i was there. definitely a playoff atmosphere.

there were also a couple of signs posted on lamposts just outside fenway park by the city of boston (they had the city's seal and everything) that i took a couple of pictures of.

i was hoping i could send them for translation.

At 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We could see the Japanese signs behind home on NESN in New England too. It wasn't just a Japan thing this time.

At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Stormy said...

Well, I guess we don't have to worry about too many expectations for Matsuzaka. Now people are making excuses for him. 3 runs in 7 innings is a good start, but this isn't exactly a great team, either. Every time he doesn't dominate are we going to hear that he didn't have his best stuff? His stuff looked fine to me; he was throwing his fastball 91-94 and his breaking pitches had plenty of movement on them.

No one should be surprised that Felix threw a one-hitter. You could see from the moment he entered camp that he was in great shape and pitching with total confidence. This kid is going to challenge Santana for the Cy Young award this year. No one dominates as easily as he does right now. He's back to being the pitcher he was in his first year. He lost all that flab he put on in year two. He's so confident and poised now. He's downright scary. He was basically toying with a very good lineup last night.

Felix was an afterthought when this game started, but the truth of the matter is that he's ten times the pitcher Matsuzaka is (and I think Mats is excellent).

Felix, if he stays healthy and doesn't pull up to the buffet table again, is going to be one of the most exciting pitchers to watch. He sits 95 with his fastball and has a ridiculous slider and curve.

To think the Yankees tried to get him when he was an international free agent and he went with Seattle because he liked Freddy Garcia. Man, what could have been...

At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mike... I know you mentioned maybe a month ago about Matsuzaka and Okajima's wives being news/sportscasters. I was wondering if there was any news in Japan about them continuing their work in showcasing sports while in America...

I know this is off topic in light of yesterday's game, but i was pretty curious about the japanese pitchers' family situations. Thanks.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Dorasaga said...

Dear Mike:

The "Youkoso Fenway Park" sign was actually there in the ballpark. I watched this game on, and the site archived NESN broadcast, which serves New England area including Boston. That sign must be one of the many marketing tactics Red Sox is using in order to sublimely turn the Yankee-Mariner favoring Japanese fans into Sox nation.

But yeah, I 'd heard about Japanese broadcaster using those digital techniques. Neat, isn' t it?

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how all the sports sites in the US are saying how DiceK was upstaged by Hernandez and then I watched the morning show on Fuji TV and only once did they mention that topic (only when they cut to their reporter in the US who had posted up the news stories on the wall behind him).


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