Hello, Tokyo fans! Here’s something for you to read while trying to be cool.
The season has started and your birds are off to a decent start. This past weekend they largely embarrassed crosstown rivals, Yomiuri, in a three-game series at the stain-dome, and they’re now looking ahead to an infestation of Hanshin maniacs starting tomorrow night at Jingu Stadium.
But before I forget, here are the game reports from the first series of the 2012 season:
Oh, and welcome to our new column! Actually, this is more like a testing ground for a new column. So…welcome to the creative process, I guess. Sorry if we get anything on you.
Last season Kozo kept us up to speed on everything that was going on in and around the Swallows with his tirelessly-researched and hugely-insightful Monday Reviews. But he’s busier than most of us here at Tsubamegun (word has it that he works in some skyscraper in downtown Tokyo), so we’re hoping to create a column that can easily incorporate input from a variety of sources and writers and not drive any one contributor into the ground.
So what follow are a couple of ideas that could become mainstays of this column depending on how useful/popular they turn out to be.
However, nothing is sacred. Including the title. Your input is expected and appreciated.
Tokyo Player of the Week
We’ve only seen three games, but I feel that it’s time for another vote. As mentioned earlier, the Friday-Sunday series at the dome was a decent one for the birds, and there was no shortage of solid play. I propose that we elect a player of the week, based on input from the Tsubamegun community. Wait, should this be renamed “Swallow of the Week”?
The rules are simple. We’ll propose a few different players who went above and beyond during the previous week’s games, and you’ll have a few days to select your favorite before we close the polls.
Below are the Tokyo players that stood out in the team’s three-game series at Yomiuri’s stain-dome. Just so you know, they’re listed in alphabetical order. We’re thinking about creating a list of the Players of the Week in the sidebar, so be sure to cast your vote below. Don’t worry, no personal information is collected, and please vote only once.
Filling in for Chang-yong Lim as Tokyo’s closer, Barnette quickly and quietly sealed the deal on both of Tokyo’s wins last weekend. He pitched one and two-thirds innings, allowed only one hit, struck out one, surrendered no walks or runs, and earned two saves.
Ishikawa took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning in Friday’s game and managed to help deal the Giants a first ever shutout on opening day. He ended up getting the win. Final line: 8 1/3 innings, two hits, one walk, three Ks, 0 ER, .071 opposition batting avg.
Mr. Timeless just keeps on ticking. He started the season 25 hits short of induction into the prestigious Meikyukai (at least 2,000 career hits minimum), and he ripped it up during Tokyo’s opening series. He went 3-4 with an RBI on Friday, 1-3 on Saturday, and 2-3 with an HBP on Sunday. He’s now just 19 hits away from the goal, and he hit .600/.636/.700 during those three games.
For the first time since anyone can remember, Tanaka wasn’t forced to spend his time at the plate bunting someone else into scoring position. And the team was rewarded for it. Tanaka led off in all three games and posted a slash line of .357/.400/.643 with five hits, one double, one HR, two runs scored, three RBI, nine total bases, and one walk.
**Voting has concluded and Masanori Ishikawa won the balloting. Details here.**
And if you haven’t done so already, go vote here, too. You lazy poophead.
Spits or Swallows?
Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Maybe it should be the name of the column, no?
Actually, we were kind of leaning towards having a section that mentions the hottest and coldest players from the previous series/week. Obviously, this would involve elements of the just-mentioned Player of the Week, plus info on a couple of players who hope to quickly forget what we just endured.
Layouts ‘n Stuff
Other things are bound to change as well. We’re currently trying to figure out how to most effectively categorize posts on this bad boy, and there is also talk of adding a sidebar to the left side of the homepage. As always, your input is welcome, as are your essays, story proposals, and rants. E-mail us at admin[at]tokyoswallows.com. We’re currently looking for someone who spends some time going to minor league games in Japan. If that’s you, drop us a line.
At any rate, expect some changes during the coming weeks. We don’t plan on introducing anything as revolutionary and polarizing as the new Facebook Timeline, so please stick with us and offer your feedback with our feelings in mind.
The Week Ahead
Hanshin is in town for a Tuesday-Thursday series starting April 3rd at 6PM.
And although things could easily change, it’s likely that
Tateyama Roman will take the mound against the Tigers on Tuesday. And while neither of them are currently on the top team, don’t be surprised to see Roman, Yoshinori, and perhaps one other pitcher get traded up to the pro team over the next couple of days.
If things continue to go according to the order established last weekend, then look for Ishikawa to start the first game against Chunichi in a mini replay of last year’s Climax Series second stage on Friday April 6th.
While you’re contemplating the six games that will be played over the next six days, go ahead and give this article about Tony Barnette a read.
Around the Central League
After winning last year’s Central League pennant, Chunichi is back with a new manager (Takagi in, Ochiai out) and has resumed its position at the front of the pack. Starters Yoshimi and Kawakami put in very solid performances versus last year’s fifth placed team, Hiroshima. Expect to hear a lot more from Yoshimi this season. The jury is still out on MLB-reject Kawakami. The Chunichi Dragons are currently in first place in the Central League, half of a game ahead of the Tokyo Swallows.
Hanshin split its series with Yokohama down the middle by going 1-1-1 this past weekend.
Hiroshima is the only team in the Central League that didn’t win a game last weekend. Sixth place belongs to the team that went 0-2-1 against Chunichi.
After a shaky spring training with Pittsburgh, former Tokyo closer, Ryota Igarashi, was cut from the top team roster and then traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Norichika Aoki continues to keep his name in the mix with the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s not a shoe-in for a starting job, but he continues to show that he can hit, run the bases, and play defense.
Josh Whitesell, Chiba’s new DH, currently leads the Pacific League with four RBI, is second on the team for hits (5), and his slash line isn’t too shabby either: .357/.357/.429.
Anyways, thanks for joining us for the first installment of this column. Hopefully we’ll see this thing grow into something entertaining and sustainable.
Go, Go Swallows!!
And in case you prefer not to take that suggestion literally, allow me to rephrase it in a way that might provide more universal accessibility.
(HT to Kyle Lobner for the bookends of this article.)