History of Japanese payers in MLB All Star Games

Cross-posted to JBP blog: Koji Urehara, Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka: 2014 All Stars. I ment to get this up much quicker but finally did it!

History of Japanese payers in MLB All Star Games by year:

  • 1995: 1 Nomo
  • 1996: 0
  • 1997: 0
  • 1998: 0
  • 1999: 0
  • 2000: 0
  • 2001: 2 Ichiro Sasaki
  • 2002: 2 Ichiro Sasaki
  • 2003: 3 Ichiro Matsui Hasegawa
  • 2004: 2 Ichiro Matsui
  • 2005: 1 Ichiro
  • 2006: 1 Ichiro
  • 2007: 3 Ichiro Saito Okajima
  • 2008: 2 Ichiro Fukudome
  • 2009: 1 Ichiro
  • 2010: 0
  • 2011: 0
  • 2012: 1 Darvish
  • 2013: 2 Darvish Iwakuma
  • 2014: 3 Darvish Tanaka Uehara

Continue reading…


The other side of story: Horace Wilson who introduced baseball in Japan

(This blog post also appears in JapaneseBallPlayers.com blog.)

Filling this under interesting and odd/strange story related to Japanese baseball.

Horace Wilson

The name Horace Wilson is well-known in Japan. I can confirm that it is true — I even knew his name. “The one who taught us baseball,” Japanese say. It’s an answer to a trivia question, and in first sentence in the “History of Baseball In Japan“. He has a plaque at Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame at Tokyo Dome. I seem to recall seeing that in person last time I visited there in 2008.

He is originally from Maine, and there was an interesting report on Boston’s WBUR, about his decedents, who didn’t know anything about what he did in Japan. The reporter, Theo Balcomb, is a family member.

Japanese Baseball Began On My Family’s Farm In Maine

After Horace Wilson left the farm in Maine and fought in the Civil War, he traveled to Japan in 1871 and became a teacher. He then taught at what would become Tokyo University. There, he introduced to the students the game of baseball. This is my own opinion, but I think the duel between a pitcher and a batter, even though this is a team game played between teams, had appealed to the Japanese “samurai” style — I think of the duel between Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki on Ganryujima in the early 1600’s. but I digress.

I think it is fascinating that his family was completely unaware until the Japanese historian contacted them. I guess Horace never bothered to tell the family, or perhaps he didn’t think much of it then — who could imagine that the baseball will be cultivated in Japan over hundred years, through World Wars, and produce likes of Ichiro Suzuki and two World Baseball Classic Titles. Whatever the reason, this is a very unique story, and worth a read/listen.


Challenges for Japanese pitchers.

farrell-matsuzaka

John Farrell worked closely with Daisuke Matsuzaka on his transition to American style of baseball

Masahiro Tanaka, sadly, is a Yankee. Over the weekend, World Series Champion Boston Red Sox’s manager, John Farrell took questions from audience at Boston Chapter of Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) meeting at the Baseball Tavern in Boston, January 20, 2014. I was there in the audience and was able to ask Farrell a question about Tanaka (around 19:10) and just blogged about it. Read it over at blogs.japanesaeballplayers.com post “John Farrell on Masahiro Tanaka and challenges for Japanese players

Hear the entire session here:

I was there in the audience and was able to ask Farrell a question (around 19:10). He was with Daisuke Matsuzka as the pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox from 2007 to 2010. He experienced a Japanese pitcher’s transition to MLB first hand. I asked him, what would it take for Masahiro Tanaka to be successful in US?

Here is Farrell’s answer:
There are number of things that they are going to encounter here for the first time.
In Japan there is one time zone, here, we are transitioning three.
You got a composition of the mound. In Japan, it is sand-based and your feet slide a little bit, as supposed to clay mound here. It puts more stress on lower half, they are going to have to condition themselves physically for that.
The baseball is completely different. The surface of the Japanese baseball is tacky, it’s sticky. Here, it is rubbed up with mud, there is a film to it and it’s much more slippery.
The strength of the line up that they are going to face in States versus the line up in Japan, not being condescending in anyway, but there is a difference.
The strike zone, I think here, it can be smaller more consistently.
And the fact is that they go from pitching once a week, to now every five days. So there are number of things that is challenging and It will be interesting to see how Tanaka transitions.

But in terms of overall game execution, the ability to use the fastball here in the States, I think, is much more important than it may be in Japan. Just that being different styles of pitching. Now there is a willingness to use the whole count there where they may throw a 2-1 breaking ball and pitch to the full count little bit more than we will. There is less strictness for pitch counts there. Largely because there is more recovery time, you are pitching every 7 days versus every 5th day. There are number of things that will challenge him regardless of the talent that he comes here with.

It is very interesting. Listing to the whole conversation by poressing the play button on the embeded player. People also asked him about Koji Uehara.

As I write this post, there is a news that Masahiro Tanaka signed a seven year, $155 million contract with the New York Yankees. Tanaka will be the 7th Japanese Yankee, following Hideki Irabu, Hideki Matsui, Kei Ihawa, Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki. Yankees also have a prospect in Gosuke Katoh who was the 66th pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.


Game 6, then lost scorebook (my tweets: Oct 27 to Nov 2)

fenway-pano

Panorama of the Fenway after the win.

I got to go to Gamer 6 of 2013 World Series. I am forever in debt to my friend David Laurila. As we say in Japan, I will never able to sleep with my foot pointed at his direction (What a strange saying… translation doesn’t do its justice). The same goes to my friend Dan Brooks who gave me a chance to go to game 2 of ALCS. They were both absolutely amazing night at the ball park. I will remember those two games forever.

Anyway, It was just amazing. What a night. What a week. World Series Game 6. First Fenway World Series clinching game in 95 years. Then a parade. All my photos are viewable here.

Then, in the mob of Kenmore Square rush after the Game 6, while rushing to catch the Green Line inbound train, I dropped my scorebook. I am pretty bummed about that. It was a new one for the seaosn. I try to use one up for one season. I kept everygame that I attended this season (maybe about 4 games or so? then 2 games in the playoff.) I also like to keep score when I am watching games on TV, or best ones are when keeping score listening to the radio. I did few games thsi summer while vacaying in the Cape. I also kept score of most of playoff games. I am sure it is gone by now. But it looks like this. In the back, there is a Japanese “Yankees Suck” and under it is my two twitter hadles (one if Japanese @DaigoRedSox and one is my main one @DaigoFuji). It is precious to me. I am now thinking about it, and really bummed about it. Oh, well. Don’t cry over the spilled milk, as they say.

scorebook

Last view of my scorebook. Sigh.

******

I’ve been tweeting nonsense since May 19, 2007 (such long time ago, can you believe that?). I put weekly digests of my tweets on this blog, so that I can search for it quicker using my blog’s search function. I tweet awfully a lot about baseball (I am a Red Sox fan, if you didn’t notice), but if you are interested, please follow me at @DaigoFuji. Here are my tweets between Oct 27 and Nov 2: Continue reading…


Red Sox in the World Series (my tweets: Oct 13- 19)

koji-uehara-alcs-barry-chin-boston-globe

Photo: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe

CRAZY.

My prediction before the season was that they will finish last in the division. I expected better than 93 losses, but I thought this will be a “bridge” year.

That’s how much I know about baseball. I guess I could say this is why the baseball is so funny/interesting. Anyway, the game starts tonight. And my tweet last week was basically all #RedSox all the time. Koji Uehara ALCS MVP.

I been tweeting nonsense since May 19, 2007 (such long time ago, can you believe that?). I put weekly digests of my tweets on this blog, so that I can search for it quicker using my blog’s search function. I tweet awfully a lot about baseball (I am a Red Sox fan, if you didn’t notice), but if you are interested, please follow me at @DaigoFuji. Here are my tweets between Oct 13 and Oct 19: Continue reading…


Best game that I have seen in person in Fenway

This happened last Sunday. Game 2 of ALCS. I was one of 38,029 that was there at the park, and have a photo to prove it:

alcs-big-papi-grand-slam

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

where I am up there on the left hand side of that photo. Sitting Bleacher Section 41, Row 05, Seat 10. Last playoff I’ve been to was ten years ago, ALDS Game 3 in 2003, when Eric Byrnes was tagged out by Jason Varitek after failing to touch home plate. Also was there when the Red Sox hitters hit 4 home runs back-to-back-to-back-to-back against Yankees. That was 2007, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek homered in consecutive at-bats against Yankee left-hander Chase Wright, a first in Red Sox history. That was wild, high fiving with strangers. But this TOPS that. Red Sox were down by 4, 2 outs in the 8th. Bases are loaded and David Ortiz. It was the best game. And I have a photo to prove it. Awesome. I heard that this photo is also in Sports Illustrated.

Here is my storify of my tweets.


Because Koji Uehara is awesome…

…I wrote a blog post on my sister site, JapaneseBallPlayers.com: Koji Uehara’s consecutive perfect saves and his Japanese stats/background

Koji Uehara, a 38-year-old Japanese right-hander from Osaka, says:

“I came here to play baseball and to win games,” Uehara said, “not to be famous. That doesn’t matter to me.”

Nice. Even though he is a former Yomiuri Giant (I’m a Chunichi Dragons fan from Okazaki, Aichi, and always will be), I now like Koji.

He also has a Japanese-language blog, koji-uehara.net, the content is reused by mlb.jp. Interesting.

Boston Globe has a pretty good photo album of Koji going, too. Including photos from his Yomiuri days. and a graphic…, and I didn’t notice the source line till just now! Whoa.

Koji-Uehara-by-Barry-Chin-Boston-Globe

(Photo Barry Chin/Boston Globe Staff)


Introducing bbclub-font: Easily add Baseball club logos to your site/app. (my tweets: Sep 1-7)

Over the weekend, I participated in On Deck Cup hackathon (Submissions and winners, story by BostInno) and created bbclub-font: Easily add Baseball club logos to your site/app.

“bb” stands for “baseball” and in short, I created a web-friendly icon fonts of all 30 MLB teams.

bbclub-font-screen

I had a user story going in (So Agile!):

As a front-end developer, I want a easy way to put logos of MLB teams to the website/visualization so that I can easily enhance visuals on my database driven site/data visualization without much fuss

There are bunch of sabermetrics sites out there that offer bunch of really interesting contents. My hope is by creating this and open sourcing it, those sites can easily enhance their visuals as exciting as its contents.

Source is all viewable in my git hub repo

It is heavily influenced/inspired by two projects that I love and use,
StateFace by propublica and Boston-based Dave Gandy’s font-awesome

I’m pretty happy with the outcome. I pulled off what I wanted to accomplish in a time that was available. I did do a little bit of illustartor prep, (organizing logos into adobe illustrator format) but I did all the .ai to font conversion (using Glyphs Mini), css coding, writing and building a how-to documentation (github page using jekyll/foundation. Responsive, of course.) and building examples/demo within the hackathon time, beating the deadline!

As part of a demo, I used the Sports Data LLC’s API. It is really good. You can get an API key as trial and pretty much on the spot start using this. I think it is useful for baseballhackday in spring. I used Game Boxscore API to call in the day’s game, and deopending on the number of runs, changed the font-size of the logo. This was done in less than 2 hours (I had to skip *free* lunch, boo hoo) and I still need to work on it so that it’ll get more days than just that one (though I would be happy to imortalize the 13-9 win over Yanks.)

Creating font icon was something that I wanted to do for a while, but didn’t have time to execute. Now that I know how to do it, I feel can do this for my work going forward. What is nice is that all of those logos are in there and you can make them as large as you want, display resolution independent, retina ready, and it is only ~24k.

I used the app called Glyphs

I used the mini version which is only $44 and only support upper/lower case alphabets plus space (53 total) but the pro version is $300. If you are using it, I think it is money well spent imho.

***

I been tweeting nonsense since May 19, 2007 (such long time ago, can you believe that?). I put weekly digests of my tweets on this blog, so that I can search for it quicker using my blog’s search function. I tweet awfully a lot about baseball (I am a Red Sox fan, if you didn’t notice), but if you are interested, please follow me at @DaigoFuji. Here are my tweets between Sep 1 and Sep 7: Continue reading…


My incomplete thoughts about Ichiro (Articles that I liked: Friday, August 23, 2013)

Ichiro Suzuki of New York Yankees had his 2,722th hit in MLB. Combined with his 1,278 hits in Japan, he now have 4,000 “proffesional” hits.

This has generated some discussions among fans around the baseball. One email list that I subscribe, some people started saying “Ichiro is overrated” and all that non-sense. The man has hit 2,722 hits in the Majors. That’s good enough for 59th all time, passing Lou Gehrig.

I hope to write some more thoughts up and post it to Japaneseballplayers.com blog soon.

UPDATE: Here it is Ichiro, his 4,000th hits, and discussions that followed

In the meanwhile, check out the Commemorative Bat and my links below.

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I’ve been posting links that I liked at Posterous (RIP) and then <a href=


It has been fun to follow this Red Sox this season (my tweets: Jul 27 to Aug 2)

koji-uehara-shane-victorino

Koji Uehara high-fives after an outing, including unsuspecting Shane Victorino. Original video is from: here. Gif is from here

It has been a real joy to watch this Red Sox team this season. They won the 15-inning nail-biter with a walk-off, then within 22-hours, another walk-off, this time coming back from a 5-run deficit in 9th inning. With Thursday’s walk-off, the team have walked off whopping 11th time this season, most by any MLB team this season. Here is the recap of all 11 walk-offs. Globe graphics department should really combine those two into one to make it a really strong graphic…
From the game notes:
The 11 walk-off wins are the Sox’ most in a season since 1978 (11)…Boston last had more walk-off wins in 1961 (12) and is 2 shy of the club record for walkoff wins in a season (13 in 1940), according to Elias. (I absolutely love reading Game Notes. So geeky.)

Then the Red Sox get former-Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. There are some mixed reaction like this one from Boston and this one from Chicago, and both are valid, but I think this is a great deal. Especially if Xander Bogaerts is 75% as great as those players mentioned in this article, Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Wil Myers… It is an exciting time for young players in MLB. Let’s put some faith in Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. and the like.

And John Henry buys the Globe. I think this is good!

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I been tweeting nonsense since May 19, 2007 (such long time ago, can you believe that?). I put weekly digests of my tweets on this blog, so that I can search for it quicker using my blog’s search function. I tweet awfully a lot about baseball (I am a Red Sox fan, if you didn’t notice), but if you are interested, please follow me at @DaigoFuji. Here are my tweets between Jul 27 and Aug 2:
Continue reading…