Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Patriot Ledger

Greetings Matsuzaka Watch fans.

Keep an eye on The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass. this season. I'll be writing a few things about our pal Matsuzaka for them over the course of the season, and they've been kind enough to link to me at their South of Boston website. My first piece is in the newspaper and on their site, and you may want to swing by to give it a read. If you've been coming here for a while, it may cover some old ground. Even so, I think the more I write about Daisuke, the more the picture crystallizes about what he means to both countries and both fan bases. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 in this series from Florida and from Boston. Thanks to the good people of The Patriot Ledger.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Koshien @ Baseball Japan

Atori Ota
Make sure you head over to Baseball Japan to read up on my coverage of the 79th Spring Koshien event. I was a bit late on the first entry, but it will only get better and more detailed from here. Pay particular attention to the Teikyo High School pitcher Atori Ota. He is legit and will become a household name in the future. Mark my words.

You Can't Hit What You Can't See

The hits just keep on comin'.....or not. In what turned out to be a strange and wild affair for Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox, the first year pitcher from Japan managed to go five full innings of work without giving up a single hit. In fact, Matsuzaka did walk 5 batters on 104 pitches, showing an uncharacteristically wild side and generally struggled to get comfortable all day. The Sox also ended up being too wild for their own good dropping a 5-0 game, all 5 runs coming in the 7th.

In the end, Matsuzaka has only allowed one hit and one run over his last 11 2/3 innings. Over that same period he has struck out 13 batters and now sports an ERA of 2.04 on the Spring. Overall, here are Daisuke's Spring Training numbers to date:

17.2 IP
9 hits
7 walks
4 ER
19 Ks
2.04 ERA
.906 WHIP
9.68 K/9
2.71 K/BB
4.59 H/9

The K/BB ratio took a big hit in the Reds' game, but that would self-correct if this were the longer regular season. The main point is that he doesn't give up runs. Matsuzaka's great gift is his poise and the bulldog mentality that allows him to be this good, despite being as bad as he was against the Reds, if you follow me. One more start in the Spring, and then the real show begins. In the meantime, keep watching with me here and grab yourself a brand spankin' new authentic Matsuzaka jersey from Majestic by clicking one of the links in the right margin. (plug, plug, plug....)

Let's go Daisuke!!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Amazon Associate

Hey, Matsuzaka Watch readers.

I've gone semi-commercial here, having joined the Amazon Associates program. I'm hoping that my loyal readers will support this blog by purchasing something from the featured items in the right margin. I don't have any wild ideas about getting rich from this program, but a few extra dollars will help me to buy diapers if all goes well.

If you have plans to buy any Matsuzaka apparel, or if you're looking for a good book to read, I would be more than grateful to you if you'd consider purchasing it from the links I provide here. I get a very small percentage of each purchase, so if you like what I do here and happen to be in the market for something, why not click and help me to make a few extra dollars for my efforts? Most items are found just below the "Archives" in the right margin.

Your patronage is much appreciated. Now back to your regularly scheduled Matsuzaka Mania!!

Mike Plugh

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Lets face it. Those of us who know what Matsuzaka is, expect him to have performances like his most recent. Nearly six innings of 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 run baseball with 7 strikeouts is par for the Daisuke course in my book. I realize that the Pirates are probably the closest thing to an NPB level franchise in the Major Leagues, so the excitement must be tempered, but the results are the results.

Daisuke hits batters on occasion. He hit batters in Japan and he's going to hit batter in the United States. The leadoff buzz of Chris Duffy was less a pitch with a message behind it than simply one that got away. It's been my experience with this player that some of his finest performances also feature multiple hit batsmen. That's just the way it is. Duffy was moved to third on two ground outs and scored on Adam LaRoche's single. The remainder of the game was a 13 up and 13 down affair, 7 of which were Ks. Dominating.

Daisuke's pitching line for the Spring now looks like this:

12.2 IP
9 hits
2 walks
4 ER
13 Ks
2.84 ERA
0.868 WHIP
9.24 K/9
6.50 K/BB
6.40 H/9

Let's now look at those numbers projected to 186.1 IP, the total he produced for Seibu last season. For comparison, you'll find the actual stats in parentheses next to these calculations.

186.1 IP
132 hits (139)
29 BB (33)
15 HBP (3)
59 ER (43)
191 Ks (200)
2.84 ERA (2.13)
0.868 WHIP (0.923)
9.24 K/9 (9.66)
6.50 K/BB (6.06)
6.40 H/9 (6.71)

It's early. It's Spring Training. The numbers are ridiculously similar nonetheless. I have said all along that Matsuzaka is a Jordanesque figure who rises to the level of the competition. He's the kind of fish that will grow to the size of the tank, and when the tank is big enough to accommodate Johan Santana, Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Pedro Martinez, the tank is big enough to accommodate Daisuke Matsuzaka. Watch his ratios at the end of Spring and then follow me as I chart them through his first 5-10 starts. I bet you'll find a shaky game here or there, but in the end the ratios will look like this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Verducci's Take on Daisuke

Tom Verducci's latest piece at is almost enough to make this entire blog obsolete. I've been at this for about a year. I pride myself on knowing that I was on the Daisuke beat before anyone else in this business save perhaps Rob Neyer and Will Carroll. It wasn't long ago that people laughed at the idea that a Japanese player could succeed in the Majors. Now, I get e-mail after e-mail every day asking, "Who's next?"

The article is a 7-page masterpiece, detailing everything Matsuzaka. The most valuable part of the story is its attention on the shift in attitude regarding pitchers' workloads and pitch counts in general. Verducci gets it, and many of baseball's top organizations are beginning to get it too. The Japanese way of training may revolutionize the American game, and Daisuke is one of the most important figures in that process moving forward. I pulled a couple of excerpts that struck me:

"After being part of this for three years," former big league manager Bobby Valentine says by e-mail from Japan, where he's the manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, "I am convinced we do a bad job of coaching in the U.S. for pitchers."

Fact is, Matsuzaka would not be Matsuzaka if he had been born in the States. Says Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, "I'm not even sure he would have been drafted out of high school, as a 5'11" righthander who was pushed like that at such a young age."

This strikes me because it means we may be missing out on pitchers that could make Major League impact simply for a lack of training expertise. Yuki Saito, following in Matsuzaka's footsteps, is a prime example of an undersized guy that has the potential to enter the Majors in 3-4 years time and dominate. He just completed a Waseda University training camp in Okinawa where he threw 1000 pitches over 6 days. That sounds insane to Americans, but it is a mandatory training regimen for Waseda starters. Matsuzaka may be the Jackie Robinson of Japanese pitchers if he can break the Irabu wall, and simultaneously change the perception of smaller pitchers who train intensely like Saito, for example.

Think the Red Sox were concerned about his MRI when they posted $51 million?

"When Matsuzaka's pictures came back, the Red Sox were shocked at what they saw. The MRIs were whistle-clean."

The article says that Daisuke doesn't ice his arm and never has. Go figure. I think there's so much we don't know about how Japanese pitchers train. I'm sure there will be more articles like this to follow, and I'll be curious to talk this over with Will Carroll again soon. More on that later. The article also talks about the idea that Matsuzaka's pitching ability, both physical and mental, appears to be lining up with the Cy Youngs of the game, and that all eyes are on him for a run at 20 games if he stays healthy. I'm biased, so take that for what it's worth. Read the article for yourself, and then stop back here to comment.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Less than Perfect Storm

Again, my friends, I was unable to catch the performance of our hero as the game time in Japan posed a dilemma. Sleep or Daisuke. In the regular season, the choice would be Daisuke. No question. In the know the answer already.

The thing is, it hardly mattered as the 2 innings of work that Matsuzaka was able to get in before the rain started was probably not all that enlightening. I find the walk that he was able to work against Hong-Chi Kuo fascinating, despite everyone around the world knowing that he wasn't going to swing. That's disgraceful. He would end up scoring on a home run by Eric Hinske.

Matsuzaka went back to the bullpen for 77 pitches after the game was delayed by rain, and made sure to get his work in. That's a good thing. The recap provided by Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe told me all I needed to know about the matchups between ML hitters and the man of mystery:

"Though the two minor leaguers scheduled to stand in against Matsuzaka didn't get a bat on the ball, a few Dodgers did. Rafael Furcal began the game by smoking a ground-rule double down the right-field line, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Juan Pierre. With Furcal on third, Marlon Anderson blooped a high changeup into left field, scoring the Dodgers' lone run. Olmedo Saenz followed by lining a high fastball for a single, putting runners on first and second. But that was it, with Matsuzaka using his slider to help close out the inning."

The part of that story that makes my skin crawl is that Dodgers' manager Grady Little decided to sacrifice with Rafael Furcal on 2nd and no one out in the first inning and Juan Pierre at the plate. The Dodgers paid Juan Pierre $44 million over 5 years, despite his career .727 OPS and a horrific 86 OPS+. If you're going to pay him that much money, I assume you expect him to hit. According to the numbers, a bunt in that particular situation actually contributed a -2.8% chance of winning the ballgame. To put it in plain words, you are hurting your team more often than not. What happened next? As you just read, Marlon Anderson got a single, scoring Furcal. I assume that Furcal would have scored from second on a single with his speed. We'll never know because Grady Little gave away an out to find out. For good measure, Olmedo Saenz' single would definitely have plated Furcal had Pierre and Anderson failed to do so. In the end, the Dodgers bunted, got one run, and promptly gave up 5 to the Red Sox. Where is Earl Weaver when you need him?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Little Reading

My first contribution to Baseball Prospectus went up today (subscription only). The piece is about baseball in Japan, the status it's afforded, and the importance of accounting for cultural factors in analyzing the style of play when compared to the Majors. It's more of a narrative piece to introduce my work there, but you may enjoy it. If you don't have a subscription, I highly recommend it. I don't say that because I now write for them, as I was a subscriber and a big fan long before this relationship ever began.

Also, I recently posted at Baseball Japan a background piece on Japan's next big hitter. No, not Kosuke Fukudome (MLB ETA: 2008). No, not Norichika Aoki (MLB ETA: unknown). This is a 17-year old phenom named Sho Nakata of Osaka Toin High School. He is a home run machine with size, power, and a rifle arm. He's in the rotation as a sometimes starter and features a 94 mph fastball, a curve, slider, and palm ball.

His favorite player is Daisuke Matsuzaka, but he toured the US a few years ago for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association's 15-Year Old World Series, winning the MVP, and announcing that he wanted to come back in a few years to pitch for the Yankees. With the posting of Matsuzaka, maybe he has his eyes set on the Red Sox now, but the Twins and Mets have scouted him, and he's on the MLB radar. Make no mistake, he's no pitcher, as good as he's been. He is a power hitting right fielder with a super high ceiling. One way or another he'll be a professional next season, either as a starter in the NPB or a farmhand in the US. Watch as this unfolds at Baseball Japan....

Monday, March 12, 2007

Baseball Prospectus

I'd like to announce that I will be writing for the outstanding baseball think tank Baseball Prospectus during the 2007 season, covering Japanese baseball in all its various forms. This is an exciting opportunity to expand the coverage of the Japanese game in an English language medium via the most respected and intellectual organization in the baseball writing community.

Baseball Japan, and the other blogs I have created to cover specific players, will continue as a source for information and analysis on the Japanese game. These blogs will only be made better by the association with BP, and I hope to provide expanded and in-depth coverage of the issues raised and examined in my work there. These sources should provide a synergy that will help the rabid baseball fan dig deeper into the specifics of the sport in Japan, while also giving the casual fan a broader scope on the personalities and cultural points that exist across the Pacific.

Thank you for your continued support here and across the range of my other work. Please drop by Baseball Prospectus as often as possible to read our work and make sure to pick up your copy of Baseball Prospectus 2007 for the skinny on anything and everything related to Major League Baseball in 2007. See you around!

Rough Going

Daisuke got a little taste of adversity today after breezing through Boston College and the Florida Marlins. The Orioles managed to go deep on him twice, including a 3rd inning blast on a straight fastball down the heart of the plate by Jon Knott and another deep shot off a similarly flat and centered pitch in the 4th by Jason DuBois. Neither of those players is a quality Major League batter, but in the Major Leagues even the fringe player can launch a fat fastball into orbit. Welcome Mr. Matsuzaka.

The more I think about it, the problem with Matsuzaka's outing wasn't his pitching as much as his thinking. If you have two players who aren't up to making the Major Leagues, like Knott and DuBois, they aren't going to swing at a good curve and they can't handle the slider. That's why they're in the minors. The only pitch they are looking to take a big hack at is a fastball in the middle part of the plate. Even career minor leaguers can hit home runs on those pitches. With those type players, trying to make a roster, you have to assume that they are looking dead red and then you show high to set them up for a middle/in change up.

Truth be told, I wasn't able to see this game. It was on very early in the morning in Japan and I have work in about an hour. I woke up to see the highlights of the action. From what I can gather from the limited snapshot of the other at bats the fastball was otherwise well located on the corners, and the breaking ball looked much improved from the Marlins outing. It looks like he K'ed Melvin Mora twice and Gibbons once. Those are decent big league hitters, so there was really some good and some bad. Better location on the two fastballs and we might be talking about a 4 inning, 4 hit, no walk, shutout. It's Spring Training.

If I can manage to see the game action on a replay tonight, I'll replace this little blurb with a more extensive analysis.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Kansas City Sam

I had the chance to speak by phone with Kansas City Star reporter Sam Mellinger some weeks ago and we chatted about Matsuzaka, Japanese baseball, and a number of other things. He's a very nice guy, and I hope to speak with him again in the future. He's working on a number of things related to Matsuzaka and Japan now, and a couple of his articles have been featured in the Star the last couple of days with the appearance of Daisuke imminent. Matsuzaka has also been penciled in as the 3rd starter during the regular season, by some accounts, and that would have him on pace to open his Major League career versus the Royals. Sam will be on top of it all, so follow his work leading up to the big day.

Matsuzaka Mania Just Getting Started (3/7)

Who's Counting? (3/8)


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mr. International

Lest anyone believe that Red Sox Nation, or the American nation, has the market cornered on Matsuzaka Mania, check out the Nikkan Sports page dedicated to "Dice-K" coverage. It's all in Japanese, but there are pretty pictures. I don't recall this ever being done for Ichiro or Matsui. We're through the looking glass people....

I had to comment on the picture below. I love these kids. What a great effort in asking for Matsuzaka to sign their ball. The Japanese is perfectly awful, but score one for effort. I have to think that they typed English directly into AltaVista's BabelFish and it spit out this Japanese. Excellent.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Real Test

The Florida Marlins stood in the way of Daisuke Matsuzaka and his building reputation as a top flight Major League pitcher. Boston College was a test to some, who still doubted the ability of a Japanese pitcher to succeed in the US, but in general it was more of a warm up. Those players showed almost zero plate discipline and had to be both excited and intimidated to be on the same field with the Red Sox. The Marlins are a tough group of young players who made the NL East race very interesting for a while despite being made up of recently called up minor leaguers and promising prospects.

Before the game, NHK focused on Matsuzaka's warm ups on the sidelines and the announcers chatted about the ins and outs of life in the Majors, and such. Daisuke wore the navy blue version of the Spring Training uniform and worked up a healthy sweat in the bright Flordia sun. Heading back to the dugout to prepare for game time, the cameras followed the pitcher as he talked with teammates. We watched as Matsuzaka stripped off his sweat-soaked jersey and "under armor" shirt. I was surprised that the cameras chose to focus so long on him as he stood half nude and resplendent in his bulging love handles. We continued to watch as he put on his new clothing, but there they were for everyone to see. I have to say, as a long time Matsuzaka fan, his conditioning is very poor. He's always been a little on the round side, but I never had the impression that he was carrying around a spare tire like he is these days. All the time he was supposedly working out in California, I'm sure he was up to other things He certainly wasn't serious about his conditioning.

I read in the news that Daisuke threw a bullpen session just a day earlier. Throwing before game day is not common practice in the Major Leagues and the Sox have let him go about his usual routine. Terry Francona even remarked that the club was still trying to feel out how Matsuzaka works and I think it's clear that they are going to err on the side of Matsuzaka's comfort zone rather than their own. I don't see a problem with this, but there is certainly a big danger in playing the whole process down the middle.

Either you are going to let a pitcher do what he wants or you are going to control the routine. If you meet halfway, all you are doing is creating a recipe for the unknown. The unknown is death to pitchers. If Daisuke follows his own plan, then he needs to be given that freedom all year long and on game day as well. If the Sox want to take more control during the season, watching his pitch counts carefully and so on, they need to get him used to it now. What has worked for Daisuke in the past will work in the future if it continues unhindered. If you make adjustments to it, you enter the unknown. Only by taking total control of the situation and understanding all the methods and science behind your decision will allow you to understand what it happening. Anything in between is an experiment. as long as they are aware of it, best of luck. That's just my opinion.

As for the game, it was clear that Matsuzaka was overstriding and his failure to control the breaking stuff was the result. After the game, he commented that he'd pitched at around 40-50% effectiveness. If today's game was 40-50% of what he has, Red Sox Nation has it's new hero. He wasn't great, but he was almost unhittable at times. Here's a batter by batter breakdown of the start:

1st Inning

Hanley Ramirez: fastball (strike), fastball (hit back to pitcher, 1-3)

Dan Uggla: curve (strike), fastball (low, ball), fastball (foul), fastball (single to center) Tripling up on the fastball cost him a hit here.

Jeremy Hermida: fastball (strike), change (pop to short) The nice Matsuzaka change did it's job.

Jason Stokes: curve (foul), fastball (inside, ball), fastball (foul), slider (high, foul), slider (outside, ball), change (inside, ball), slider (strike out swinging)

2nd Inning

Joe Borchard: curve (strike), change? (high and outside), change? (high and outside), slider (low and inside), fastball (swinging strike), Matsuzaka shakes off Varitek 3 times, slider (low, ball 4) It's clear that Matsuzaka trusts his slider a lot. He wanted it as an out pitch, and shook 3 times until he got it. The location today was bad and that pitch never had its normal bite.

Miguel Olivo: fastball (called strike on the outer part), fastball (foul), fastball (foul), NASTY slider (low and outside), fastball (swinging K) It appeared to me that Matsuzaka stopped overstriding from the stretch and located his pitches very well. He went heavy on the fastball which also tells me that he was being competitive. Using the slider and breaking stuff early it was clear that he was working on things. With a runner on he went straight heat and it worked. The slider he mixed in was of the Daisuke+ variety and Olivo did a good job of taking it. That pitch will be a huge out pitch in 2007 if he features it like he did in this at bat.

John Gall: fastball (low and outside), slider (outside), at this point the NHK announcer remarked that Matsuzaka still looked a bit "green" meaning "not in top form yet", FAT fastball (one bounce ground rule double) Runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out. Going repeatedly to the fastball will hurt any pitcher, no matter how good he is. A guy like Gall knows that a guy who is missing with all his breaking stuff will have to throw one in his zone sooner or later and he got it. Matsuzaka was super cool though. He never gets fazed. That's his gift.

Scott Seabol: slider (low and outside, called a strike), fastball (low, called strike), fastball (foul), slider (foul), fastball (inside, ball), Varitek and Matsuzaka talk it over. I read somewhere that Varitek asked him about the slider and Matsuzaka gave a thumbs up. slider (called strike 3). Tough.

Eric Reed: fastball (popped up bunt to 2B) Why on Earth would a player attempt a bunt with two outs and runners in scoring position? Take a few pitches. See you in the minors Reed-O. Matsuzaka got a break in this inning. I thought he looked good against Seabol, but he was able to get ahead on some close pitches. Reed took him off the hook with a stupid plate appearance. A squibber through the infield would have scored at least one run, and maybe two. Credit to Daisuke. He did his job and stayed very cool in his first Big League jam.

3rd Inning

Hanley Ramirez: slider (low and outside), fastball? (over Ramirez' head), slider (outside part, strike), slider (high and inside), fastball (foul), fastball (scorching liner into Matsuzaka's waiting glove) I noted at the start of this at bat how big Ramirez looks this year. He seems to have put on some muscle and looks to be in great condition. I imagine we'll see some power to go with his speed in 2007. It could be a break out season if that's the case. Matsuzaka again got lucky here. Out of the full windup he couldn't locate his offspeed stuff again, and had to throw more fastballs. A guy like Ramirez will jump on that in his second or third at bat.

Dan Uggla: fastball (foul, good wood), He was looking for that, change (popped out to 3B) Matsuzaka saw that Uggla was looking fastball and went to his goofy change. Uggla had no chance and was WAY out in front. Along with the slider, the change will be very very important to Daisuke as he challenges MLB hitters in their 2nd and 3rd go arounds in the order.

Jeremy Hermida: change (low, called strike), slider (inside and low), change (popped out to 2B) Hermida was also looking for a fastball in there. Matsuzaka's adjustment in the 3rd inning to the change served him well, and should help him to get out to a fast start for the Sox.

He wasn't sharp, but the pitches he trusts will get him some wins while he's still working out the kinks. I'll be curious to see how he continues his workouts from here. I think the Sox are curious too. The line: 3 innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, no runs. More soon....

Yuki Saito Watch

This blog has been a long time in the making, and there is perhaps no player I am more excited about in Japan than the star of the 2006 Summer Koshien, Yuki Saito. The Waseda University season is about to start, and so is my intense coverage of Saito's young career. In 2011, he will be a free agent at 23 years old and perhaps open to the market in the United States. Keep an eye on him and support Yuki Saito Watch.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I Made It

Recently I posted about ESPN's coverage of the Asian game, and noted that I missed the cut in the pieces on their website. It appears that I was premature in that statement, as Eric Neel's latest piece on who to watch is now available, and yours truly gets a little mention at the bottom of the article. Thanks to the always informative and enjoyable Eric Neel for the mention. Look for more from me very soon at Baseball Prospectus. More on that to come.....

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Monster is Here

The first meaningful pitches of Matsuzaka's Major League career were thrown today, albeit it against Boston College. The eyes of the world were on him, and you could sense the buzz that emanated from the Florida Field of Dreams. NESN's feed was broadcast on NHK this morning and I sat with my coffee to see what "kaibutsu" would unleash in his first go around.

The first thing I noticed was the abject fear on the faces of the BC kids. That may be a little strong, but it was patently obvious that they were intimidated and flailed away at everything Daisuke threw at them. In general, breaking pitches and changeups led the BC batters, and we saw a number of mid-to-low 70s changes that simply fooled the amped up youngsters. The fastball was mixed in to keep them honest at around 92mph, and was very close to being on the black when he missed. I thought the first batter of the 2nd was out on a nasty low fastball that seemed to catch the lower part of the plate. Daisuke and Varitek shook off the disappointment and got him to bounce out weakly.

Had this been a test against Major Leaguers, I would have done a batter by batter analysis of his start, but these are overmatched collegiate ballplayers, of whom I know nothing. It has no value. Look for a more comprehensive pitch-by-pitch look at his next start. For this start to his MLB career there is only one last point to discuss. The interviews.

Matsuzaka did an NESN interview with a female reporter that I'm not familiar with. Nation fans will know, and I'd appreciate your help in filling in the blanks on these things as we go this season. The reporter led with a question about his performance that went something like, "You gave up a leadoff double and then retired the next 6 batters, what do you think about your performance." I think that's an atrocious question to ask anyone as a journalist, but I suppose some players would answer it with an interesting response. Asking a Japanese player that question is not all that different than asking him if he thinks he's the most handsome man in the whole wide world. By cultural imperative the only answer that a guy can give is "I did my best. I'll try harder next time." Matsuzaka couldn't even muster that. He stuttered, thought for what seemed like 30 seconds, stuttered again, and asked himself aloud, "Uh. What should I say about that?" Finally, he settled on the enlightening "Ma, yokkata desu ne." That translates to, "Well, I was okay."

The level of comfort that Daisuke has with the American reporters is clearly something he'll need to work on. He smiles, and giggles, and looks perplexed at the questions he's asked. The Japanese interview in contrast was far more enlightening, as his countrymen give him the type of questions he's prepared to handle. The most interesting piece of info that came out with NHK was that Daisuke feels his legs aren't in good condition yet. He said that he hasn't been able to throw as much as he wants, and feels he's behind where he should be.

The other question that NESN asked him was about how he felt the MLB strikezone compares with NPB. Another silly question. Home plate umpire Rust Batcher isn't even an MLB ump, as far as I can tell. Matsuzaka threw a total of 26 pitches in front of him, compared to 8 years of pitching in the NPB. Who writes this stuff? Terrible. Anyway, more good stuff to come!! Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


ESPN has a rather large spread on the sport of baseball in Asia at their website. It discusses Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China and there are several interesting pieces to check out. I have spoken and e-mailed with Eric Neel on a number of occasions, and he is a tremendously nice guy. I was hoping to make the cut in his latest piece about the bridge between Japan and the US, but it just wasn't to be. I'm down, but not out. Give it a read, and support the building interest in the East Asian wave. It makes for good reading, and helps to drive the popularity of writing like mine.