Tokyo Swallows Snapshot: April 2, 2012

Hello, Tokyo fans! Here’s something for you to read while trying to be cool.

He's only 19 hits away...

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:

Game 1: Yomiuri 0-4 Tokyo
Game 2: Yomiuri 3-6 Tokyo
Game 3: Yomiuri 4-2 Tokyo

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.

The nominees:

Tony Barnette
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.

Masanori Ishikawa
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.

Shinya Miyamoto
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.

Hiroyasu Tanaka
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] 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.

Dave and I have Chunichi dropping off a bit this year, but these asshats went a different way with their predictions, so who knows…

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.

Former Swallows

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.

Drink up.

(HT to Kyle Lobner for the bookends of this article.)




About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • Dr. No

    Any idea if tonight’s game (Tuesday, April 3) is going to get called due to rain? Where would I find this information?

    This is a continuation of last year. I didn’t go to a single game at Jingu where it didn’t rain last year…

    • Kozo

       They’ll only call the game once it starts to rain, but if the forecast comes true then I’d expect a cancellation.

      Follow us on Twitter @tokyoswallows:twitter  and we’ll post any cancellation notices as soon as it pops on the Swallows site or the news.

  • FLR

    I should have put this question in this section:

    What happens if the game rains out tonight re tickets? I was planning to go to tomorrow’s game but reluctant if it becomes “opening day” and very crowded. I like to sit up high on the 1st base side (so that I can see over the damn fence) and buy tickets in the “green zone”. Any insight would be appreciated.

    Or would a Hanshin series be very crowded regardless this time of year? I went in August or Sep last year and there were more people on the Hanshin side and there were even Hanshin fans on the Swallows. I noticed that they would just throw their trash in the aisles “American style”. Is that a Kansai thing?

  • Rob

    Yup – rained out.
    I’ll be sitting to your left and lower down when I’m there, but I usually skip series with the Tigers because they’re too crowded.
    I agree – Hanshin fans seem to leave more trash than other teams’ fans, even though you have to walk by at least three trash bins just to get out of the stadium.
    For rainouts, I think ticket-holders have two weeks to get a refund.

  • FLR

    How do you request the sections above aisles with the extra legroom in Japanese? Is a seat high up in the stand “takai”?

    I noticed in the playoffs last year that it was pretty miserable for a tall gaijin when it was crowded. The seat pitch is very tight.

    • Rob

       I’m not sure if it’s your only option, but Row 14 (juyon-dan) and Row 26 (nijuroku-dan) are the first rows above the aisles for IF seating. (The fence will probably bother you if you get Row 14.)