is some bulletin board material for Nippon Ham: "the greatest concern I
had was whether we would have to face Seibu," said Dragons skipper Hiromitsu
Ochiai, who posited that the Lions had the greates balance between pitching
and hitting. Of course, Ochiai was ignoring the fact that Seibu doesn't
have much of a bullpen and that is why they are now watching the postseason
Ochiai has a CD out of his personal classical favorites on King Records called, Ore-ryu Classic (I did it my way classical style). It includes Gustav Holst's Mars as well as a Beethoven piano sonata among the 11 selections. I have no idea, though, what performances they are using. But it has sold suprisingly well, about 8,000 copies where 5,000 is considered a hit in the classical industry in Japan.
Ochiai has also been formally asked back for 2007 by team president Junnosuke Nishikawa.
For you collectors, the Dragons are putting out limited edition postage stamps to commemorate the pennant. Info is at the team's homepage Here.
Getting back to Ochiai, though, the morning after the Dragons clinched, 20 bouquets of flowers were received at his house as well as more than 50 congratulatory phone calls. Ochiai himself did a string of morning tv appearances as well, making for one hell of a day after for he and his wife Nobuko.
Hanshin Infielder Atsushi Kataoka had a press conference to talk about his retirement and he said that he didn't regret anything in his 15 years on the field. Huh? He signed with the Tigers and laid perhaps the biggest egg with the Tigers since Mike Greenwell. How can he not regret that?
Infielder Makoto Imaoka is a free agent at the end of the season but appears set to stay with the Tigers. He will work mostly on his throwing after having surgery earlier to fix a chronic problem in his righthand.
Hiroshima Ace Hiroki Kuroda will make a one inning relief appearance on either the 14th or 16th at Hiroshima Municipal Stadium in what is likely to be his last sting in a Carp uniform. Kuroda believes he is ready to go after recovering from an inflammed elbow and will talk it over with manager Marty Brown in the next day or two.
Yakult Third baseman Akinori Iwamura will meet with the team's president about his posting this offseason. It looks right now that he is most likely to end up in either San Diego or Philadelphia.
Catcher/manager Atsuya Furuta has two separate contracts, one that pays him about $2 million as a player and another one that gives him approximately $1 million as a skipper. Well, his salary as a backstop will take a huge dive next season, says a team official. They think Furuta did a pretty good job running the club after injuries to Hirotoshi Ishii, Ryo Kawashima and Greg LaRocca sabotaged their pennant chances.
Yokohama Team president Kuniaki Sasaki signalled that a wave of salary reductions is likely in store for Bay Stars players. Probably only reliever Takeharu Kato, third baseman Shuichi Murata and outfielder Yuki Yoshimura will have fatter pay packets for 2007.
Yokohama has reportedly locked up righthanded Nissan Motors pitcher Kentaro Takasaki for the November draft. He features a 93mph fastball that is accompanied by a slider, curve and forkball.
They would also like to pick up 6'3" Tokyo Gas southpaw Yuta Kimura, but Kimura is hoping to draw interest form either Yakult or Yomiuri right now. Rakuten is also wooing him. Kimura has a 91mph heater.
Yomiuri Is first baseman Seung-yeop Lee going to stay in Japan for next season? That is the gist of some reports Wednesday as he will apparently sign a multiyear deal that has an escape clause built into it if he receives any MLB offers after the 2007 schedule ends. Lee will make the formal decision in the next week or so.
According to unnamed sources, Lee is afraid that his knee problems will have a negative impact on any contract offers he might receive from MLB outfits. Yomiuri is said to be proffering well over the $1.3 million he is earning this season. But he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Lee is already 30 and interest will lessen as he ages. Moreover, if he has a 2007 that isn't quite as crackling as this one that will also fuel more doubts about him by major league scouts. So he will be under pressure to not just have a good year but another near MVP or better one. I would guess that if he doesn't jump after 2007, his MLB prospects would become very dim indeed if not dead.
Third baseman Hiroki Kokubo will fly to L.A. to have his right knee looked at once the Giants have played their last game, which is on the 15th. If he doesn't need surgery, he will then decamp to Arizona and workout there for about a month under the supervision of a physician to try to strengthen the knee.
The Giants will bring in the head track coach from Kokusai Budo University during their fall camp to help the players with their running form and to help train their legs so that they don't suffer injuries there during the season.
Outfielder Takahiro Suzuki participated at DH in a Phoenix Instructional League game in Miyazaki Prefecture Wednesday and went 2-3.
In that same contest, rookie reliever Satoshi Fukuda started and went five innings of one run, three hit ball.
Another rookie, Hiroshi Umeda, who is listed as a catcher, started in right and went 2-5 with three RBIs.
Miscellaneous So how about the way Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died? I have to say that when I saw news of the plane crash (which, of course, the 24 hour news channels were only too happy to blow totally out of proportion, sensationalist buggers that they are) it sounded to me like someone had stolen a private plane and gone joy riding or there was some health issue on board that resulted in it going into the apartment building. Terrorists generally look for high profile targets and that apartment tower wouldn't be one of those. So I turned the tv off after about two minutes and went about my day and learned only much later that Lidle was involved. This makes one recall the incident with the Cleveland pitchers a few years back. It's really too bad.
But of course the Japanese press being what it is, it could only write about the accident through the prism of how it pertains to Hideki Matsui. Hochi Sports ran a screamer on the front of its website that declared, Matsui in Shock! Yankees Pitcher Dies in Private Plane Collision With High Rise Apartment Building.
Nikkan Sports was more restrained, only observing that a Teammate of Matsui Dies in Small Plane Collision Accident
Daily Sports only blandly noted that a Yankees pitcher had died in a small plane accident.
Sankei Sports, though, had nothing on it as this is being written. That was kind of strange. The same thing with Chunichi Sports and Sports Nippon.
Hochi Sports elicited a quote from Matsui, who said, "I was suprised and saddened by it. As both a pitcher and a person he was great."
One conjecture in the press was that it was fuel trouble that lead to the crash. Lidle had a clause in his contract that enabled the Yankees to escape paying any remainder of his deal should he be injured or killed in a private plane accident. However, since he got through the full season, obviously, he received his full salary. This was inspired by the death of Thurman Munson a number of years back.
Hochi Sports printed the second part of an interview they did with Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima and he talked of how he was catching reliever Sean Green in a game against Detroit in September and saw that his delivery was different. Normally, Johjima says, he would have gone out and asked him if he was injured, but he didn't. Green then got lit up and when Johjima went to the mound it turned out that Green had hurt an oblique muscle. "I regret that I didn't go out there when I should have," said Johjima.
He also stated that he wants to improve his english for next season in order to gain more trust form the team's pitching staff.
Detroit won again against Oakland, this time 8-5, and now they go back to Detroit. Boy, that is going to be some celebration if they clinch the American League championship. Anybody have the over under on how much of the city will be burned to the ground if it happens? Just kidding.
In another bit of arch stupidity, the Chicago White Sox will begin their weekday home games at 7:11 p.m. because of their recently concluded tie up with the convenience store chain of the same name. Yeah, just what fans want, to have games start and end later.
For those of you interested in learning Japanese, there is a station on Live 365.com that teaches both phrases and vocabulary in bite sized portions. Just click Here. There are also a couple of podcasts that do the same thing and you can listen to those on the web as well. Unfortunately, they can't teach you how to read it. For that you will have to get some books and study that on your own.