End of Buzz Cuts for High School Baseball in Japan

August 9th, 2020

Myworld is not familiar with high school baseball scene in Japan, though at some point it would be nice to see a Koshien high school baseball game. According to an article in baseballasia.org buzz cuts are compulsory for Japanese high school club baseball. Saibi High School baseball club is eliminating the requirement that players on their team have a buzz cut.

The philosophy was that buzz cuts showed strength and discipline. The way to eliminate those thoughts is to perform well at the Koshien tournament. It was cancelled this year but Saibi High has done well in tournaments, finishing second in 2004. Even qualifying for Koshien is a challenge and Saibi High has appeared in at least six tournaments. They lost in the semifinals in 2018.

Hawks Reliever Dennis Sarfate Calls it Quits for 2020

August 8th, 2020

The Softbank Hawks Dennis Sarfate was one of the best closers in Japan. He racked up 234 saves, second in the NPB to Kyuji Fujikawa who pitched for the Hansin Tigers and strung together 243. He has returned to the United States to undergo hip replacement surgery. At 39 his liklihood of continuing his career is slim.

He last played in 2018 before hip surgery ended his season. He did not play in 2019. There was hope he could continue in 2020, but that does not appear to be in his future.

He was voted the MVP of the Pacific League in 2017 after closing out an NPB record 54 saves. He also helped the Hawks win the Japan Series that year, where he was also voted the MVP of the Series.

After pitching four seasons in the major leagues he went to Japan to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp in 2011. In two seasons there he put together 44 saves. The Seibu Lions signed him in 2013 and used him for only 10 saves. It was in 2014 when he went to the Hawks that he became the premier closer in the NBP, 175 saves in his four complete seasons there.

Sarfate has not announced his retirement. But getting healthy from his hip replacement is his first priority.

WBSC Has Rewind of Last Olympic Gold Medal Game

August 8th, 2020

You can watch the last Olympic Gold Medal baseball game that was played between Korea and Cuba that was played in Beijing, China back in 2008. There was enough interest in China that close to 10,000 attended the game. The starting pitcher for Korea was Hyu-Jin Ryu, who had just won the KBO Rookie of the year award. He is the same Ryu who pitched for the Dodgers and now the Blue Jays. The Cuba starter was Norberto Gonzales.

Go to wbsc.org to watch the game. Myworld went to Beijing a couple years after the game was played. They had already torn down the stadium and replaced it with a mall and a parking lot. There was some talk that they were also going to build a basketball venue at the site, but myworld could not confirm that.

That shows you what China thinks of baseball.

Korea Increases Stadium Capacity to 30 Percent

August 8th, 2020

As the major leagues deal with cardboard cutouts for fans Korea will now allow 30 percent capacity for their games, starting next week. The major leagues are still postponing games because players test positive for corona virus. Korea has yet to have a player test positive. Despite what a U.S. President says, the United States does not have the corona virus under control.

Newly signed Addison Russell had to spend 14 days in quarantine before he could play. The newest free agent signing, Daniel Palka for the Samsung Lions will start his 14 day quarantine today. They provided him with a penthouse with a large courtyard where he could spend that time. If everything goes well he should be ready by August 25. He replaced Tyler Saladino, who was hampered by back issues.

The Lions are 8th in the KBO, 3.5 games behind the Kia Tigers, who have the last playoff spot if the season ended today. They need a spark in offense to climb up the standings and hope Palka arrives in time to provide that spark.

As for the fans, the previous stadium limitations for the KBO was 10 percent. Because they have had no issues with corona virus outbreaks based on this attendance they will get an opportunity to up that figure to 30 percent. The major leagues will probably not see fans this year. Even the NFL football season could be fanless.

Eddie Alvarez Gets Major League Opportunity

August 5th, 2020

Eddie Alvarez becomes the second player to win an Olympic medal in a sport other than baseball to make it to the major leagues. The first was Jim Thorpe. The corona virus helped a bit, decreasing the Marlins roster by 13. One of those players put on the disabled list was Marlins starting shortstop Miguel Rojas.

Eddie earned a silver medal at the 2014 winter Olympics in short track speed skating. Shortly after that the Marlins signed him to a contract. The son of Cuban immigrants has been working his way up the minor league ladder, reaching AAA in 2016. Last year he hit .323 in AAA with a career high 12 homeruns. He also has the speed to steal bases, stealing 12 last year, but in 2015 he stole 53 in A ball.

Last year his primary position was third base, but he also played a lot of shortstop. In prior years his primary position was shortstop. It will be interesting how the Marlins use him. They will be playing a double header today so he should get his first opportunity to play.

For those wondering, Jim Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and the decathlon at the 1912 Olympics. It was discovered he had played professional baseball prior to 1912 and he was stripped of the medals. Thorpe went on to play professional football after his baseball career and was good enough for the Hall of Fame. He had a six year major league career that began in 1913 and had a career batting average of .252 with a .362 slugging.

Cole and Tanaka - Consecutive Win Streaks

August 4th, 2020

The press has been talking about Gerritt Cole’s 19 game consecutive win streak. The major league record for consecutive wins for a pitcher is held by Rube Marquard, who won 24. That was back in 1912, more than 100 years ago. Many reports are saying what Cole is doing now is unprecedented.

Not true. All Cole has to do to find a pitcher who broke Marquard’s win streak is to look in his dugout. That is where Masahiro Tanaka will be sitting. Over a two year period in 2012 to 2013 Tanaka won 26 games in a row while pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the NPB. In 2013 he finished the season 24-0 with an ERA of 1.27. He finally lost a game in game 6 of the Japan Series playoff. In 2014 he signed a major league contract with the New York Yankees.

So if Cole needs someone to talk to about pitcher winning streaks, Tanaka would be a good player to seek out. He had a season for the ages. Of course, if you include playoff games, Cole’s streak was broken last year in game one of the World Series against the Nationals. Eliminate the loss Tanaka had in his playoff start, add on the six consecutive wins he had when starting for the Yankees in 2014 and his consecutive win streak would have slipped past 30 (not too sure how many playoff wins Tanaka earned that would have to be eliminated from his win streak).

Baystars Reaping the Benefits for Yamaguchi

August 3rd, 2020

Prior to being posted to the major leagues Shun Yamaguchi was a free agent pitcher who signed with the Yomiuri Giants. As is the policy on signing free agents the Yokohama Bay Stars earned a compensation pick for the signing of Yamaguchi. Taira Kentaro had only pitched one game for the Giants in 2016, giving up four runs in just 3.2 innings. Myworld saw him pitch back in 2014.

Yamaguchi was a first round pick of the Yokohama Bay Stars in 2005. He had an undistinguished career with the Bay Stars, never reaching double digit wins with the team until his last season with them in 2016, when he won 11. He pitched two years for the Giants and it was his second season with them when he went 16-4, 2.78, a career year for Yamaguchi. The Giants normally do not post players to the major leagues but they felt they had gotten the best from Yamaguchi and it would not get any better. The Giants posted him and the Blue Jays bit, signing him to a two year contract for $6.35 million. It will be interesting if Yamaguchi can live up to that contract.

The Baystars took it slow with their compensation pick. In his first three years with the Bay Stars his high for innings pitched was his third year when he reached 70. This year he has earned a spot in the starting rotation and he has been stellar, going 2-2, 1.99 ERA. He has struck out 35 in 45 innings.

He did pitch for the 21 and under Japan Samurai World Cup team back in 2014 while he was with the Giants. My world saw him pitch in a game against Taiwan. He allowed just one hit in three innings of work. It has now been six years. I have to admit, I have no idea how he pitched, but I do have the scorebook.

Hawks Have First Player Test Positive

August 2nd, 2020

It would happen. Myworld posts about no players in the Asian Leagues having positive tests for corona virus since the leagues have begun play. A day after the post a Hawks player, Yuya Hasegawa, tests positive for the corona virus. Japan has seen an uptick in corona virus cases, which creates a big concern for them with the Olympics scheduled for next year after being postponed from this year.

The Sunday game between the Hawks and Lions will be postponed. It will be the first postponement of Asian League games because of a corona virus positive test. Hasegawa becomes the sixth NPB player to test positive. Five of those players tested positive before the season began and resulted in the delay of the start of the season.

Hasegawa has been playing with their minor league team, but many major leaguers make use of the minor league facilities. He did play 11 games early in the season but was sent down on July 7.

White Sox Make History with Cuban Batting Order

August 2nd, 2020

The Chicago White Sox made history by becoming the first team in major league history to have the first four players in the batting order born in Cuba. Because of the injury to Tim Anderson, Luis Robert took the lead off spot. Yoan Moncada batted second and played third. Jose Abreu hit third and played first base. Yasmani Grandal, who grew up in the United States but was born in Cuba and migrated here as a youngster, batted cleanup.

The top four in the order did pretty good, leading the White Sox to an 11-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Luis Robert went 4 for 5 with a homerun and two runs scored and driven in. Moncada went 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Jose Abreu went 2 for 6 with one run scored. Yasmani Grandal closed out the hitting going 2 for 5 with two runs scored and driven in. That is 11 for 21 with seven runs scored and four driven in.

If not for the last two batters in the order it would have been an all Latin lineup. Dominicans Edwin Encarnacion, Eloy Jimenez and Leury Garcia batted fifth, sixth and seventh in the White Sox order. The last two spots in the order were filled by United States born Adam Engel and rookie Nick Madrigal.

The Royals tried to counter the batting order by starting the recently acquired Cuban Ronald Bolanos, making his second start of the season. He did not survive to get to the third inning, giving up five runs in 1.2 innings. He gave up two long balls. Jorge Soler was also in the batting order for the Royals, making it 6 of the 20 players in the starting lineup born in Cuba. Gio Gonzalez was the starting pitcher for the White Sox and he has Cuban ancesters, though he was not born in Cuba.

Major League Baseball and the Corona Virus

August 1st, 2020

It seems major league baseball has been hit with a number of positive tests for the corona virus. In Asia, in the NPB, the KBO and the CPBL I am not aware of one positive case. I can’t say whether they are testing daily or not but they have yet to have a postponement because of the corona virus. The major leagues seem to be having a number of postponements and their season just got started.

Makes you wonder about the United States efforts and ability to contain the virus. If there is a case in Asia everything shuts down as they contact trace. In the United States myworld wonders if they even bother trying to contact trace. In many cases, by the time you get a result seven days or more has passed and contact tracing becomes irrelevant. At least the major leagues has the ability to get results back in a day or two, but they have been getting so many positive results back that it makes continuing the season difficult. That requires quarantine for any player the positive case came in contact with, which is usually the whole team.

Myworld is not aware of any instance where an Asian player in the NPB, the KBO or the CPBL had a test come back positive and the player had to be put on the disabled list. The NPB had there season delayed because players tested positive, but once the season has started no positive tests have been reported.

Myworld wonders how the major leagues can complete the season with so many positive tests occurring after the season has started.