Friday, January 29, 2016

New L.A. Dodgers Spring Training Caps get the Dragons some U.S. Pub

Above is the new cap the Los Angeles Dodgers will be wearing for this year's Spring Training in Arizona.  From what I've read the Dodgers have never worn a script "D" like this ever before. 
There is though another team that has, that team being your Chunichi Dragons.  Since it was announced several American blogs (Uni-Watch & True Blue L.A.) have picked up on the fact that it has been worn before, mainly though from the Hollywood movie that we all know and love "Mr. Baseball."

This photo has been tied to it showing Tom Selleck's approval:

Here's a baseball card showing Chunichi's version:

The Chunichi version can be purchased from New Era Japan.
The L.A. version should be available very soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Article on Former WSU Wheatshocker and Current Hiroshima Carp Kris Johnson

Nice article here on Hiroshima Starting Pitcher Kris Johnson from the L.A. Daily News.  Interesting that his Grandmother is Japanese.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jordan Norberto Highlights Comp

Some highlights of the newly signed Dragons pitcher from his stint in the Major Leagues.
Posted by Youtube member Pisty Chan

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Japanese Baseball Cards Blog Masahiro Yamamoto Tribute

Check out NPBCardGuys' Masahiro Yamamoto post here.
He's got card's of him from nearly every year of his career.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Uniqlo Comes to Seattle

Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing company, opened it's first store in the Northwest (U.S.) earlier this month.  The store is located in Bellevue at the Bellevue Square Mall across Lake Washington from Seattle.
We went down there the first weekend it opened to check it out.  There was actually a line to get into the store, but it moved quickly as did the long line to the register.  We didn't try the line to the fitting room, that one didn't appear to be moving much at all.  Other than that it seemed pretty similar to the locations I've been to in Japan.
Certainly, the store made a ton of money that first weekend and I'm sure it will do well in Seattle, with the area's large Asian population and Seattle's style in general.
Their Heattech shirts do make good baseball undershirts.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Free Agents of Interest

NPB free agency is now open, and as usual only a handful of players filed.  The few free agents available are supplemented though by a number of guys who have been let go by their former teams.
Here are a few guys of interest:

Bryan Bullington - Was with Orix last year and Hiroshima previously.  Has been consistently solid and Chunichi needs rotation depth.  He's 34, I would think he could be had for a reasonable price.

Matt Murton - The price would have to be right, but he could help in replacing some of what Chunichi lost in Wada.  Defense and speed is not great and coming off a subpar year, but he's been solid performer in the NPB.  Would be worth it in a buy-low opportunity.

Jason Standridge - 36 but eats innings, been dependable for 6 years in Japan.  Again, Dragons need depth.

Tomotaka Sakaguchi - Hasn't produced much in the last several years, but may do well in fresh situation.  Dragons need outfielders, but unfortunately Yakult looks like they've already scooped him up.  I haven't seen yet what they signed him too.

Andrew Brown - This guy was recently released from Korea's SK Wyverns.  The former Nebraska Cornhusker and MLB player hit 28 home runs in the KBO last year and could maybe add some pop to Chunichi's outfield situation. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chunichi Ends Mediocre Season on a Positive Note, Eliminate Hiroshima from Playoff Hunt and Avoid Last Place

The 2015 season ended for the Dragons as their third straight losing year.  They got off to a decent start, but began to slide after the end of Interleague play.  The bats were fairly solid, though the home run power was lacking.  Starting pitching was decent, but not spectacular, Chunichi finished third in the Central League in team ERA and Yudai Ono's performance was strong and Shunta Wakamatsu was a nice surprise.  Had the Dragons had any semblance of a bullpen I think they could have competed for a playoff spot in a very mediocre Central League this year.  Instead they fell to the bottom of a pack of average to bad baseball teams. 

Despite being a bottom-feeder this year the Dragons did have a couple of things to play for in the last week of the season.  They were playing to avoid last place and were able to do so. DeNA fell below the Dragons as the Baystars ended their season winning only one of their last seven games while Chunichi finished 3-3 in their last six games. The Dragons now have played 19 seasons since their last sixth place finish. Finishing fifth isn't much to be excited about, but it's so much better than last place.  Last place just sucks, plain and simple, and in the NPB it doesn't even get you the first pick in the draft. 

After the Dragons had "clinched" fifth place earlier in the week they played their final game of the season in Hiroshima in a game with playoff implications.  The Carp were tied for third and their final game against Chunichi was a de facto one-game playoff, if they won they would continue to the Climax Series, if not their season was over.  Masa Yamamoto started for Chunichi and ceremonially retired the first batter in what would be his last game prior to retirement.  Kenta Maeda started for Hiroshima in what may be his last game for the Carp, if he goes to MLB next year.  The game played out much like a playoff game, Maeda and Yudai Ono, who took over for Yamamoto, locked into a pitchers' duel and the game remained 0-0 into the 8th inning when Chunichi scored 4 against Hiroshima's bullpen.  Shunta Wakamatsu who had taken over for the Dragons in the seventh inning finished the game and picked up the win.  While Chunichi's season was over either way, they played like it meant something, maybe that experience will mean something for some of the younger players down the road.

Looking forward to next season, Motonobu Tanishige will be back as manager.  Hopefully he can do something to get more consistency out of the team next year.  Prolonged late-season losing streaks have sunk the team the last two years.  Finding someone who can close a freakin' game should be priority number one.  I think Yamai should remain in the bullpen next year, while he struggled as as a starter this year, he did perform pretty well as a reliever and has been one at times in the past.  More pop in the lineup and more starting pitching is always welcome, but as always their probably won't be much available on the free agent market.  Chunichi's foreign players: Luna, Hernandez, Nanita and Valdes did well this year and I think will be back, and it sounds like Drew Naylor will be back as well, so I don't know that much will change in the foreign lineup.  If the Dragons are to improve it will likely have to be done with the players they already have.  Some veterans are retiring and it will be up to the youngsters to step up if the Dragons are to succeed in 2016.