Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

No, He Doesn’t

August 12, 2016

As my computer hits auto-send on this article, the New York Yankees are taking the field against Tampa Bay, and Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod, will be soon stepping up for his last at bats in major league baseball.

Michael Dougherty, over at The Week, says that A-Rod deserved better than the fan hatred that followed him throughout his career. He’s wrong.

Fan dislike of Alex Rodriguez started in Seattle, when he left the Mariners for league rivals Texas in 2001. He may have loved baseball, as Dougherty claims, but if so it was a love of the mechanics and of the playing rather than love of the game, writ large.

Seattle gave him his start, gave him his nickname, and made him the star player of the team. Everybody loved him. At the end of the 2000 season, he became a free agent and left the Mariners, turning down extremely large amounts of money, to go with the Texas Rangers for an obscene amount of money.

The Mariners fans never forgave him. Ever after, he was booed at every appearance at SafeCo Field, and fans were continually floating paper money down onto the field.

Here's some more money, Alex

Here’s some more money, Alex

You see, in going for the money, A-Rod turned his back on an outstanding team, one that had made it to the ALCS in 2000 and was slated to make it again in 2001, to go with a team that was mediocre before he got there (71 wins in 2000), and was still mediocre (73 wins in 2001) even with his star presence.

Meanwhile, the Mariners were racking up a historic 116 wins in the 2001 season. Yes, they fell apart in the ALCS, but does anyone doubt that if A-Rod had stayed they’d have taken the the ALCS and then possibly the World Series? He turned his back on a winning team for what? For money.

So A-Rod deserves it. It’s not hatred, Mr. Dougherty, it’s contempt.


Ichiro to the Yankees

July 23, 2012

They announced the trade about four hours before the game.

Lest we forget*:

Games At Bats Runs Hits HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
1844 7858 1176 2533 99 633 0.322 0.366 0.418 0.784

Oh, well, at least he’ll have a chance of being in the playoffs*

  Wins Losses % Games Behind Runs Scored Runs Allowed Playoff Probability
New York 57 38 0.6 0 459 383 91.1%
Seattle 42 55 0.43 15.5 384 397 0.07%

*Through 22 July, 2012

Moshidora, The Anime

July 8, 2011

Moshidora, more properly Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drakkā no “Management” o Yondara, or “What If a Female Student Manager of a High School Baseball Team Reads Drucker’s Management?” is about…well, read the title again.

This is a replacement for an earlier post, now that I’ve watched all ten episodes. As I said originally, I like it, but not so much because of the baseball as because of how they try to bend traditional baseball concepts and traditional management concepts so that they overlap.

Baseball and Management

I mean, baseball and management theory. What’s not to like?

Taisho Baseball Girls, the anime

December 23, 2010

Or, as the original Japanese has it, Taisho Baseball Daughters. It’s a light, twelve episode anime based on a series of light novels (which evidently haven’t been released in the US). The target audience is reportedly Seinen, or YA boys. I am not sure I’d agree. This is a girls sports anime all the way. Sure, there are boys, but the girls have to play somebody. I liked it, even though it was too sugary-sweet in places. This would make a great Disney movie, if only they could get a dog into it. (more…)

Big Windup (part 2), the anime

December 6, 2010

I reviewed Part 1 earlier. Having watched Part 2, all I can say is, releasing this first season into the US in two separate increments is the marketing equivalent of crimes against humanity. The second half of the season is everything the first half was, and wasn’t. What’s changed is that the characters have settled down, and the wimpy hero, Mihashi, becomes incredibly less wimpy, as he starts to grow into his role as ace pitcher for the team. He even gets a girl. (more…)

Big Windup (part 1), the anime

February 15, 2010

Big Windup is a baseball story. The target demographic is seinen, or late-teen/adult males. Only the first season made it to the US. I can see why, but it’s too bad, because it’s a really good baseball story. As in really, really good.…well, kindof. Plus, at $44 for a half-season of 13 episodes, it’s a little pricey. UPDATE: The second half of the season is out now, and it’s quite a bit better.

Plot Summary, with spoilers
Middle school kid Mihashi comes to HS. Was a pitcher in MS, but was hated by his team because everyone thought he only had the starting pitcher position because his grandfather owned the school. Because of this he has no self-confidence. With the help of his catcher, and the coach, he goes on to win the big game against his old school. This gives him some backbone (well, notochord) and we end Part 1 with his team registering for the big multischool tournament and getting assigned to play their first game against last season’s winners.

You know how some anime are strictly “fan-service”, with only minimal attempts at a plot? Ikki Tousen is the most notorious, but Rosario+Vampire is similar. Well, Big Windup is like that, only instead of panty-flashing or blouse-exploding, it has baseball. The trouble is, there’s still too much plot, or rather, too much character development. Mihashi, the lead character (hero is way too strong a term, protagonist too positive) is an absolute dishrag. All through the first two episodes, every time someone mentions something about his old school, something about his previous experience, something that reminds him of his old team, he bursts into tears. If there was an Annie Award for creating the most spineless character, the writers would have won in a walk. Halfway through the first episode, you realize you have absolutely no sympathy for the dork. He’s just somebody who gets in the way of the real reason you are watching.

The rest of the characters are OK. Lady Coach is typical hard driving woman who makes it in a man’s world by knowing more about baseball than anyone around, and doing things like working a part time job as a high-rise office building window-washer to get money to buy stuff for the team (big boobs also help). Catcher has moments of indecision and inexperience, but mostly acts as if he has a Masters in Psychology. The rest of the team is…the rest of the team.

But that’s enough of the fripperies. What this anime is about is baseball. In most anime, if there’s a sporting event at all, it lasts one episode, and maybe seven minutes of it involve your actual running around on the field. In the Big Windup, the first two episodes set up the situation, and the next five deal with one game. Almost every at bat. Almost every pitch, gets covered. The most common view is through the catcher’s mask, looking up at the batter. There’s a running internal monologue of the catcher’s thoughts. “He chased that fast ball outside. Now he’s dropped his elbow a little. He’s thinking were going to come back inside on him. Let’s try the forkball.” Sometimes it’s the batter. Occasionally, it’s the coach. It’s like a tutorial on how to think your way through a ball game.

In fact, the actions of the faculty advisor (the math/science teacher) and the coach, together present a separate tutorial on how to run a HS ball club. Everything from a lecture to the kids on how their actions during a meal prepares their brain for success on the field (not what they eat but how they think about it), to how to train their peripheral vision. The last few episodes are a look at how tournament play is organized in Japan. I understand the author of the original manga actually spent some time researching the topics at various HS.

This is one of the few anime I have seen that isn’t in ‘anime’ style. No big eyes (well, not very big). It’s also one of the few that comes over better in the English dub than via subtitles. I find that generally the English dubbers overact, on top of the typical action anime overacting, but in this one they hit exactly the right tone. Except for Mihashi, of course. He’s a dork in any language (but he improves in the second half).