Tag Archives: japanese baseball

Random Baseball Stuff

Joker, smoker, midnight toker.

– Every so often a publisher will send me a book in the mail to review, and I usually flip through it quickly and then absentmindedly set it on my bookshelf. If I’m too busy or uninterested, the book makes a home there, snug amongst the “serious literary fiction”, and gathering dust until I just happen upon it while searching for other things, which in turn brings upon pangs of guilt. I’ve waded through a malaise of baseball books–hundreds in fact–and I usually enjoy them more often than not. I must have been in the middle of reading one (I’m usually reading, or grazing multiple books at one time like a maniac) when I tucked in a baseball card moonlighting as a bookmarker. What a pleasant surprise to see the incomparable, all-time greatest thief staring back at me with sun-blasted squinty eyes, the square jaw of Zeus, and an air of don’t fuck with me. Many years had passed, and I recalled that I had last seen this alluring piece of cardboard when I was going through a “my own worst enemy” caveat and floating through a listless existence of fast food, an unfulfilling job, innumerable cocktails, and memories of a failed relationship. 

– The Angel Hernandez fiasco will bring up more hyperbole (baseball fans are incessant complainers) about needing robotic umpires, but the conversation should turn to MLB and its incompetent hiring practices and institutional/generational standards. (amongst other amateurish discrepancies) I’ve watched Japanese baseball (NPB) for many years now, and it’s very rare that they miss a call at the plate. Perhaps they have more astute hiring practices? There’s nothing more frustrating than the American way of doing things–which is to call a pitch a strike that is a foot off the plate–and the announcers calling it a “pitcher’s pitch.” In many cases, you would need an oar to hit one of these things, and frustration just turns to laughter as the strike zone becomes more abstract than a Jackson Pollock painting as the game matures. Welcome to the theatre of mediocrity known as MLB. 

– Franklin Barreto, aka the biggest bust in Oakland A’s trade history and Billy Beane WonderBoy is batting a cool .200 with a .624 OPS for the Asterisks’ AAA team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. You can call him the most highly touted pinch-runner–and there have been many–in A’s history, just don’t call him Maurice–because he doesn’t speak of the pompatus of love. (yes, I am showing my age here)

P.S. please check out Hugh’s Atlanta Braves-based blog Cheap Hill 44 if you get a chance!

Happy Halloween Ya Scumbags!

As I’m making my coffee in the morning my cat routinely comes into the kitchen and stands next to my legs to greet me, lightly brushing with his tail every so often. I pick up the little critter and set him on the bar to stroke his orange coat for a bit before giving him a few treats. After gobbling the morsels, he then runs outside on the deck to get some fresh air and to harass random chattering and angry squirrels simply trying to access their mythical, hidden cache. This is part of our routine, something that promotes health and wellness. It’s a great thing to be a wild and crazy guy, but we also need routines to settle our brain so the messy bugger is able to compute correctly. What is the significance of this? Nothing. Just another day…except today is Halloween!

I tried to watch a bit of the World Series last night, but it’s difficult to be attentive as I don’t have a dog in the race. No doubt, this has to be the mostMerica Fall Classic of all time as you have a crew of trash-can-banging cheaters from a state that instituted fascist abortion laws, essentially reverting humanity and women’s rights back to the Vatican of the 1300’s, (still up in the air if we can burn a hussy at the stake) or you can root with an assortment of redneck menagerie eating processed nacho cheese out of a pork barrel and periodically switching off on chanting the “tomahawk chop” with the bass intro to a shitty White Stripes song the whole goddamn game. On occasion my subconscious was discombobulated and I had to stop for a moment and assure myself that I was watching a baseball game and wasn’t mysteriously transported to a klan rally by aliens via Jewish space lasers. My friend overheard the chanting from the other room and said simply, “stupid,” and I just chuckled as I polished off my Budweiser and smashed the can against my forehead. I’m no paragon of virtue either, obviously, but it was a superb game in the end despite the psychic fallout–Braves won 3-2.

There was an article in some mainstream-newspaper-fish wrap where the hack stated that the rubes (the fans) must enjoy baseball in the present moment on grounds that  the dissolute prima-donnas will be striking next year. “You must savor every inning as if it’s your last.” I thought, who gives a toss? I refuse to give in to the effete demands of millionaires and billionaires and their nihilist institution! In addition, my team will be a shit show next year anyway, and if I need my junkie fix I can always watch Japanese baseball (NPB) or go check out my local sandlot team. I heard the Austin Grackles are supposed to be pretty good, and they sport some sweet ball-caps. I guess you could say that I’m entering my end of the year, cynical “baseball sucks” neurosis routine until spring training starts again, this time without Bob Melvin for the first time in over a decade. No doubt, I’ll probably read a few books about players and seasons from the past over the winter and let out a prolonged sigh. 

I got tix tonight to see John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic, Halloween, and I’m excited to see it on the big screen for the first time. It’s a typical slasher trope that teenagers are killed for having pre-marital sex, but one of the characters is strangled for casually thinking about banging her boyfriend on the way to pick him up in her 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Ain’t that the way it goes? Life sometimes just ain’t fair. I’ve also decided that I’m taking a break from this crusty ‘ol degenerate blog and wont see you guys again until April. Until then, stay well and warm, don’t eat all the kid’s candy, leave the “bag snatching” to the teens, and when you start seeing double it’s time to leave the bar. 

Japanese Baseball, Guns and Meathooks

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
― Werner Herzog

I’m walking down the street on a main boulevard near a donut shop with two unknown, genderless children. (?) I have been here before, in my waking life. It is the type of place where, if you’re not wearing absolute rags they think you have money and are a half-wit who can be taken advantage of. Suddenly, a large, heavily tattooed man grabs my arm as I pass. I swing around to confront the man when I find a gun that looks comically small in his massive, sweaty meathooks pointed directly at my face. I panic, and seemingly conscious that this is a dream, I bail out and am abruptly sucked away from this destitute reality and awaken on my bed in a darkened room.

There is a moment of pause and reflection before I stare at the time–4:30–and I’ll probably toss and turn for a few hours before slumbering again. My phone tells me that the Yomiuri Giants are playing the Chunichi Dragons, and it’s 1-0 in the 4th. I turn it on. These teams were playing baseball on the other side of the globe and battling for playoff position–a classic Japanese version of the Dodgers/Giants rivalry with both teams wearing the respective colors of the teams from the Golden State. Who was that tattooed man, and what does he represent? And the children? Too tired, and not in the mood for Freudian consideration, I watch for a few innings–the pace and play comforting me before finally awarded repose once again.

Beer and Japanese Nachos

I’ve come a long way since I had to meticulously set up my VCR to record the Game of the Week on my lousy, buzzing and rolling miniature television crowned with broken rabbit ears. (and Mel Allen’s TWIB!)  It almost seems absurd that I can now watch any game of my choosing on my phone while exercising or sitting on the toilet, and up to four different games simultaneously on my laptop. And that’s exactly what I decided to do on a lazy Friday. Escape. Open a few cans of Lone Star, tear open a bag of chips and salsa, and…just…escape. Does anyone care about Spring Training and its shuffling of bush leaguers and odd rules? Probably not.

Shohei Ohtani was on the hill for the Halos and that made me harken back to the time I saw him pitch in an exhibition game at Dodger Stadium one curiously freezing night in Los Angeles. The bleachers were teeming with Japanese, no doubt there to see their fellow countryman Ohtani pitch, and a young lady walking by my seat in the aisle spilled a large tray of nachos on me and my F*** the Angels t-shirt. (The stains exist to this day and I am still resolute about that idea) She apologized profusely and meekly in broken English and I felt terrible for her and assured her that I would wash myself off in the bathroom and there were no hard feelings. I also made a mental note of the very odd cultural difference/dichotomy of the Japanese dressing as if they were attending a business function/fashion show rather than the American way of dress which was mostly casual and lacking visual ingenuity with a few jerseys and baseball caps thrown into the mix. I honestly had never seen anyone wear a suit and tie at a baseball game that didn’t involve black and white footage of a guy cheering for Babe Ruth and tossing a fedora into the air. Is this a thing?

These glorified practices are opiate-inducing, laid-back affairs and I was watching passively as Mike Trout was pulled from the game in the 3rd and was probably teeing off by the 5th. Matt Olson does what Matt Olson does and hits a moon-shot to RF in his “feast or famine” playing style that is popular with big leaguers and Olson seems to excel at. The A’s decided to throw in a pitcher by the name of Brian Schlitter (who didn’t play last year because the minor leagues went the way of the dodo) and I had to stifle a laugh as I had written about this dude waaay back in 2019 before that mystery guy even thought about eating the delicious flying mammal that caused a global pandemic: A’s call up Brian Schlitter, A’s bullpen still in the shitter.  You ever hear that tired cliche–“the more things change the more they stay the same?” As you may have guessed, Schlitter did indeed put the game in the shitter, but I didn’t notice as equal measure of beer and Spring Training kicked in, and I was soon floating on clouds while verbal sparring with Morpheus in lotus land. Final: Angels 7 A’s 3

A’s call up Brian Schlitter, bullpen still in the shitter.

The perfect Oakland Athletic.

The Oakland Athletics ball-club, in a perpetual battle to dazzle, put Blake Treinen on the injured list Saturday essentially digging up 33-year old journeyman Brian Schlitter from the searing Nevada desert to red-carpet onto the Oakland faithful.  The move was so immaterial it is rumored that the Las Vegas Aviators clubhouse boy didn’t even notice that Schlitter was gone.

“You mean the guy with the beard?”

–He played in Japan in 2017, learning the art of tidy minimalism and sushi rolling among other things only used in conversation at cocktail parties. His season with the Seibu Lions was solid, and after having a strong start to the season, Schlitter struggled in the final six weeks and finished 2017 with a 1-5 record, 32 holds and a 2.83 ERA.

–He showed up to Dodgers spring training in 2018 throwing the media into a fervor for about 5 solid minutes until they realized he wasn’t Jake Arrieta. “What kind of shit is this!? I just thought I had a front page headliner and now I got the page in the back next to the sporting good ads,” one reporter was overheard saying.

–While with the Cubs he was sent to the minors for drilling notable douchebag (just ask the Astros!) Carlos Gomez in the head. Ok, well maybe this Schlitter guy isn’t so bad.

–Schlitter was the closer in Las Vegas and is a ground ball pitcher who relies heavily on his sinker. When the brain trusts and scouts were sitting around and discussing free agents his name popped up in the conversation as “cheap” and “organizational depth” which are the two comprehensive attributes of the organization. To put it simply: He is the perfect Oakland Athletic.