“Stupidity combined with arrogance and a huge ego will get you a long way.”
– Chris Lowe
“Stupidity combined with arrogance and a huge ego will get you a long way.”
– Chris Lowe
Closer: Koji Uehara
Japanese Team: Yomiuri Giants (1999-2008)
MLB Teams: Baltimore Orioles (2009-11) Texas Rangers (2011-12) Boston Red Sox (2013-Present)
Originally a starting pitcher, Uehara was a former Rookie of the Year, a two-time Japanese champion and a two-time Eiji Sawamura (Japanese Cy Young Award) winner with the mighty Yomiuri Giants. The Giants, a team with an aversion to letting their players go to the U.S., made Uehara wait until he was a free agent to sign a two-year deal with the Orioles. He started 2009 in the O’s rotation, starting 12 games and posting a respectable 4.05 ERA, before being shut down.
In 2010, he was used exclusively as a setup man or closer for some reason. I have the feeling that the Orioles weren’t regretting their decision too much, however, as he had a 2.86 ERA in 2010, and a 1.72 ERA in the half of 2011 that he spent with Baltimore (He was traded to Texas for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter). While he was excellent with Baltimore and Texas, he will likely be best remembered as the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox (I still seethe angrily whenever I read or hear that) closer, after Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey didn’t pan out. A beloved figure in Boston, he signed up for another year with the Red Sox and will be their closer next year.
Right-handed Setup man: Akinori Otsuka
Japanese Teams: Kintetsu Buffaloes (1997-2002) Chunichi Dragons (2003) Shinano Grandserows (Independent, 2013-Present)
American Teams: San Diego Padres (2004-05) Texas Rangers (2006-07)
A star closer in Japan, Otsuka was posted by the Chunichi Dragons prior to the 2004 season, and he was picked up by the San Diego Padres. As the Padres’ setup man, he posted a fantastic 1.75 ERA in ’04, and was pretty solid the next year, as well.
Before the 2006 season, Otsuka was traded to the Texas Rangers for Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and Terrmel Sledge. He replaced Francisco Cordero as the Rangers closer, and had an excellent season, with a 220 ERA+ (See? I can do newfangled stats too!) and 32 saves. The next season, the Rangers, oddly enough, replaced Otsuka with Eric Gagne. This proved to be short-lived, as Gagne was traded to the Red Sox (Where he imploded) and Otsuka took the reins again, but, unfortunately, he got injured and never played another game in the big leagues.
Left-Handed Setup Man: Hideki Okajima
Japanese Teams: Yomiuri Giants (1994-2005) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (2006) Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (2012)
MLB Teams: Boston Red Sox (2007-11) Oakland Athletics (2013)
A four-time Japan Series winner, Okajima was signed by the Boston Red Sox for pretty much the sole purpose of being a friend to big-time signing Daisuke Matsuzaka. His career didn’t get off to that great of a start. He gave up a home run to John Buck on his very first pitch. However, he righted the ship and went on a scoreless streak that lasted almost two months, and got elected to the All=Star Game. He struggled later in the year and was shut down for a bit, but he returned at the end of the season and helped the Red Sox win the World Series. He had a couple more fine seasons with Boston before fading out in 2011. After returning to pitch in Japan for a year, he had a little-publicized five-game stint with the A’s and is currently a free agent.
Relief Pitcher: Takashi Saito
Japanese Teams: Yokohama BayStars (1992-2005) Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2013-Present)
MLB Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (2006-08) Boston Red Sox (2009) Atlanta Braves (2010) Milwaukee Brewers (2011) Arizona Diamondbacks (2012)
A decent, if unspectacular pitcher in Japan, Saito was a pleasant surprise for Dodger fans, claiming the closer role vacated by Eric Gagne and striking out 107 hitter, phenomenal for a relief pitcher. He returned the next year and only had 74 strikeouts, but he also recorded a 1.40 ERA, which should have gotten him at least mildly considered for a Cy Young Award. He had several more excellent years with different teams, before pitching atrociously for the D-Backs and returning to Japan.
Relief Pitcher: Kazuhiro Sasaki
Japanese Team: Yokohama BayStars (1990-99, 2004-05)
American Team: Seattle Mariners (2000-03)
He may not have left the Mariners on the best terms, but Sasaki nonetheless was probably one of the bigger Japanese stars in the game during his short tenure with the M’s. Winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2000, Sasaki took the closers’ job from Jose Mesa and ran with it, racking up 129 saves and two All-Star appearances over his four years with the club. after a poor 2003 season, he returned to Japan to return to his family…. And his mistress. (Fact: The only player on this team elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame…Although that’s very likely to change.)
Relief Pitcher: Junichi Tazawa
Japanese Team: Nippon Oil (Industrial, Service time unknown)
MLB Team: Boston Red Sox (2009, 2011-Present)
Interestingly enough, Junichi Tazawa is the only pitcher on this team that has never thrown a pitch in Nippon Professional Baseball. Undrafted by any Japanese team out of high school, he signed with petroleum company Nippon Oil’s amateur team (In Japan, if a player doesn’t sign with a Japanese team after high school ball (Which, incidentally, is a HUGE deal in Japan), he can either sign directly with a big league team (In which case, he would be ostracized by the traditionalist elements in the NPB, of which there are many), sign with an independent team, or sign with an industrial team, which are teams that are backed by some of Japan’s many big corporations (Yamaha, Toshiba and Central Japan Railway have teams, among others). After a certain amount of years pitching in the Industrial League, a player becomes, once again, eligible for the draft.). He was not drafted by a Japanese team, but he was signed by the Red Sox, and fought through some injury problems to secure a place as the Red Sox setup man. He was a minor, but nonetheless important part of the 2013 World Championship.
Relief Pitcher: Masanori Murakami
Japanese Teams: Nankai Hawks (1963, 1966-74) Hanshin Tigers (1975) Nippon-Ham Fighters (1976-82)
MLB Team: San Francisco Giants (1964-65)
It seems fitting to end this list with the guy who started it all. Masanori Murakami came to the San Francisco Giants with two other Japanese players from the Nankai Hawks as a sort of exchange program. Of the three, Murakami stood out, playing exceptionally well in the Minor Leagues. The Hawks never asked for him back, so the Giants said “screw it” and called him up, making him the first ever Japanese player to play for a Major League team. He played wonderfully in his cup of coffee, and the Hawks must have taken notice, so they demanded the Giants send him back. the two teams agreed to let Murakami play one more season in the Bay Area. He was perfectly non-spectacular in 1965, and returned to Japan, where he had a fine career.
The End (Finally!!!)
Utility Infielder: Norihiro Nakamura
Positions: Third Base, First Base, Shortstop, second Base
Japanese Teams: Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (1992-2004) Orix Buffaloes (2006) Chunichi Dragons (2007-08) Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2009-10) Yokohama DeNa Baystars (2011-Present)
MLB Team: Los Angeles Dodgers (2005)
A highly touted player with considerable power, having had a couple of 40+ homer seasons in the NPB, Nakamura walked away from a guaranteed $10 million two-year contract in Japan to sign a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a spring training invitation. The Dodgers, who had lost previous third baseman Adrian Beltre to the Seattle Mariners, the Dodgers were eager to see how their new addition would perform in the Majors. Nakamura lasted exactly 17 games in the Big Leagues before he was sent back to AAA (Where he actually played pretty well) and released at the end of the season. Nakamura commented that “If Ichiro had started his career under minor [league] contract like [him], he couldn’t be called up to Major League”, which may be true, but Ichiro also didn’t hit .128 when he did get the chance to play.
Utility Infielder: Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Japanese Teams: Chiba Lotte Marines (2003-2010) Hanshin Tigers (2013-Present)
MLB Team: Minnesota Twins (2011-12)
Positions: Shortstop, Second Base
An All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner with the Chiba Lotte Marines, Nishioka was posted by the Marines and signed by the Twins to a three-year contract in 2010. (Fact: I saw his Twins debut. Minnesota got slaughtered by the Blue Jays) Unfortunately, just one week into his Major League career, Nishioka broke his left fibula (Leg? Is that a leg thing?) and missed 59 games. He was atrocious upon his return, batting .226 with a .527 OPS, while also playing terrible defense.
Nishioka played only three games with the Twins in 2011, spending most of the season with the AAA Rochester Red Wings. At the end of the season, Nishioka requested and was granted his release from the Twins, returning to Japan to play for the Hanshin Tigers.
Utility Outfielder: Tsuyoshi Shinjo
Position: All outfield positions
Japanese Teams: Hanshin Tigers (1991-2000) Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (2004-06)
MLB Teams: New York Mets (2001, 2003) San Francisco Giants (2002)
A, energetic, flamboyant player, Shinjo only played three seasons with the Giants and the Mets, but he did become the first Japanese player to play in a World Series, in 2002 with the Giants. Not too shabby for a guy whose manager in Japan tried to convert him into a starting pitcher because he was perceived to be so worthless as an outfielder.
Utility Outfielder: Norichika Aoki
Position: Corner Outfielder
Japanese Team: Tokyo Yakult Swallows (2004-11)
MLB Team: Milwaukee Brewers (2012-13)
A former Rookie of the Year and batting champion with the Tokyo Swallows, Norichika Aoki first started catching American eyes in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, hitting .324 for Samurai Japan, helping Japan win the Championship, and being named to the All-Tournament team. Posted by the Swallows prior to the 2012 season, Aoki was claimed by the Brewers and quickly became a solid, if not great, player for the Brewers, getting on base enough for players like a juiced-up Ryan Braun to drive him in. This offseason, Aoki was traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Will Smith.
To be continued…..Again……
(This is a continuation of this post)
1. Yu Darvish
Japanese team: Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (2005-2011)
MLB team: Texas Rangers (2012-Present)
Scouted by the Angels and the Braves as early as high school, this Japanese-Iranian righty decided instead to sign with the hilariously named Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Darvish spent the next seven seasons putting up some of the best numbers that Nippon Professional Baseball had ever seen, going 93-38, with a 1.99 ERA, a couple MVP awards, an Eiji Sawamura Award (The Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award), two Gold Glove Awards, and five All-Star nods. That and his performance in the 2009 World Baseball Classic (In which he got the last out of the tournament in the championship game against South Korea) started making fans and big league teams in North America salivate.
After a long bidding war, the Texas Rangers beat out the Toronto Blue Jays (Goddammit!) for Darvish’s services. He signed a six-year, $60 million dollar contract. I believe Clayton Kershaw referred to that sum as: “adorable.”
Anyway, his first season in America wasn’t quite Clayton Kershaw-like, but he was still very good, posting a 3.90 Earned Run Average and striking out 221 hitters. He finished in the top 10 of both the Rookie of the Year race (Behind Mike Trout and Yoenis Cespedes) and the Cy Young race (In which David Price won). In 2013, however, he really pitched at or near his full potential, nearly throwing a perfect game on Opening Day (Granted, it was against the Astros, but still…) and finishing second in the Cy Young Award Race, ahead of countryman Hisashi Iwakuma, but behind the Tigers ace, Max Scherzer.
2. Hiroki Kuroda
Japanese Team: Hiroshima Toyo Carp (1997-2007)
MLB Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-2011) New York Yankees (2012-2013)
The relentlessly good 38-year old from Osaka, Hiroki Kuroda has, over the last five years, become not only one of the best pitchers to ever cross the Pacific, but one of the most consistent players in baseball today.
Kuroda was a mediocre-to-bad pitcher for his first few years with the Hiroshima Carp (Carps?), posting 6.00+ ERA’s in ’98 and ’99. He righted the ship at the turn of the century, however, and went on to post a 3.69 ERA in the NPB. Signing with the Dodgers in 2007, he pitched four rather under-the-radar seasons with the Dodgers that were nonetheless very good, even contributing a 2011 season that could have been a top-ten Cy Young Award contender if his 13-16 record didn’t look so bad in the eyes of people who still think that wins and losses are worth a damn. Leaving the Dodgers after the 2011 season, Kuroda signed with the Yankees, and has been re-signed two more times to one-year deals. He might’ve been in the mix for the AL Cy Young Award in 2013 if he hadn’t faded in August and September, as the Yankees missed the playoffs.
3. Hisashi Iwakuma
Japanese Teams: Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (2000-04) Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2005-11)
MLB Team: Seattle Mariners (2012-Present)
Poor Hisashi Iwakuma. Not only is he not the first player that leaps to mind when you think of Japanese aces (That’d be Yu Darvish, obviously), he isn’t even the most well-known pitcher on the Mariners!
That said, maybe living under Felix Hernandez’s shadow has helped Iwakuma excel, performing exceptionally well in both his seasons with the Mariners so far.
An elite pitcher in Japan and the 2009 World Baseball Classic along with future big leaguer Yu Darvish and future train wreck Daisuke Matsuzaka, Iwakuma was posted by the Golden Eagles, with the Oakland Athletics winning the bidding. However the two sides did not agree to a deal, and Iwakuma played in Japan for one more year before signing with the Seattle Mariners.
(Fact: The A’s are 1 for 6 when it comes to Japanese players. Their only success was the short stint that Hideki Okajima had at the end of 2013. Relief pitcher Keiichi Yabu pitched poorly for them in 2005, Akinori Iwamura hit .129 in 10 games with them in 2010, Hideki Matsui was very bad for them in 2011, they failed to sign Iwakuma, and, most recently, they signed charismatic star shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal prior to the 2013 season only to have him display poor form in Spring Training (During which he lost the starting job to Jed Lowrie), started the season in AAA, hit for a .698 OPS (Bad) for the Sacramento River Cats, and get outrighted to the minors)
4. Hideo “The Tornado” Nomo
Japanese Team: Kintetsu Buffaloes
MLB Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1995-98, 2002-04) New York Mets (1998) Milwaukee Brewers (1999) Detroit Tigers (2000) B0ston Red Sox (2001) Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2005) Kansas City Royals (2008)
This is him, folks. The man who really got the ball rolling when it comes to Asian baseball players. Nicknamed “The Tornado” because of his bizarre mechanics, Nomo pitched great for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, but got into a contract dispute with them. To get off the team and break into a career in America, he exploited a loophole in his contract with the Buffaloes and was signed by the Dodgers in February of 1995.
After a month spent pitching in the minors thanks to the strike, Nomo made his debut and took the nation by storm, becoming a minor celebrity in the States, and a hero in Japan. His best season was his first one, when he posted a 2.54 ERA (Which is excellent) and won the Rookie of the Year Award. He had a couple more fine seasons (In 1996, he became the last Dodger to throw a no-hitter) with the Dodgers before imploding and bouncing from team to team over the next few years. In 2001, he finally put together an OK season with the Boston Red Sox (In which he threw a no-hitter on his first start of the season), which convinced the Dodgers to re-sign him. He had two great years with the Dodgers before imploding once again. Nomo may have been nowhere near a Hall of Famer, but every Japanese big league star owes at least part of their success to the Tornado.
5. Tomo Ohka
Japanese Teams: Yokohama BayStars (1994-98, 2010-11) Toyama Thunderbirds (Independent) (2013)
MLB Teams: Boston Red Sox (1999-2001) Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (2001-2005) Milwaukee Brewers (2005-06) Toronto Blue Jays (2007) Cleveland Indians (2009)
“Who?” is right.
Tomo Ohka wasn’t well known or good in Japan either, but his ability to control pitches drew interest from the Boston Red Sox, who signed him in 1999. After pitching well in AAA, he was called up in July, and pitched poorly for the Red Sox. He righted the ship the next year, however, and pitched solidly before being traded to the Expos. He actually pitched very well for the Expos and Nationals in his years with the team, but pitched poorly once again after being traded to the Brewers. After short stints with the Jays and the Indians, he returned to Japan, where he was pretty much awful. In 2013, he reinvented himself as a knuckeball pitcher with the indie league Toyama Thunderbirds, and, after the season, signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays.
To be continued…
Big news, everybody, I’m writing about baseball again!
Sure, my insights into the All-Star Game last year were ignored by just about everybody except me, but I’ll be damned if that’s going to stop me.
Anyways, with all the hysteria about Masahiro Tanaka coming over from Japan and signing with the Yankees (Because they had SUCH good luck with Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu), I decided to do a dream team of Japanese players who have come over from Asia to play in Major League Baseball. The team includes five starters, a closer, right and left-handed setup men, four other relievers, a starting lineup with a DH, two backup infielders, and two backup outfielders. There is no backup catcher, since there’s only been one Japanese catcher who has played in the big leagues, specifically:
Catcher: Kenji Johjima
Japanese teams: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (1995-2005) Hanshin Tigers (2010-2012)
MLB team: Seattle Mariners (2006-2009)
One of the many Japanese players to play for the M’s (And most certainly not the only one on this Dream Team), Johjima was signed to a three year deal during the team’s rebuilding phase in the 05-06 offseason. The rebuilding has… Yet to pay off, but Johjima had a fine couple of seasons in Seattle, before playing very poorly in ’08 and opting out of his contract in 2009 to return to Japan.
First Baseman: Tadahito Iguchi
Japanese teams: Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (1997-2004) Chiba Lotte Marines (2009-Present)
MLB teams: Chicago White Sox (2005-2007) Philadelphia Phillies (2007, 2008) San Diego Padres (2008)
I’m kinda cheating with this entry, since Iguchi played his entire American career as a second baseman. However, since returning to Japan in 2009, he has played a lot of first base for the Chiba Lotte Marines, so I’m working with what I’ve got here.
Iguchi signed with the White Sox just in time to win the World Series with them in 2005. He played very well for the Sox over the next few seasons before being traded to the Phillies midway through the 2007 season. After playing atrociously for the Padres in ’08 and being released, Iguchi signed with the Phillies again and played four games with them, helping them out a teeny bit on their way to the 2008 title. Along with So Taguchi and (Oddly enough) the late Hideki Irabu, he is one of the only Japanese players two win multiple World Series rings (Although he wasn’t a member of the Phillies postseason roster).
Second Base: Kazuo “Kaz” Matsui
Japanese Teams: Seibu Lions (1995-2003), Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2011- Present)
MLB Teams: New York Mets (2004-2006) Colorado Rockies (2006-2007) Houston Astros (2008-2010)
Pretty much the definition of your generic steady utility infielder, Kaz Matsui was an MVP and Gold Glover during his eight years with the Seibu Lions, Matsui was signed by the Mets, who hoped that he would be at least a solid offensive contributor and a Gold Glove candidate. Unfortunately, Matsui had a slash line of .256/.308/.363 (Which is bad), and wasn’t even that good defensively. When you consider that he had also (Temporarily) supplanted fan favourite Jose Reyes at shortstop, and that he was starting to get injured more than the average bear, and you had a player that was starting to draw the ire of pissed of Mets fans (On the bright side, he did become the only player to hit a home run in his first plate appearance of his first three seasons). He was moved over to second base (Where he was average defensively) and was traded to the Rockies, where he played very, very well for the next one and a half years (Thank you Coors Field!) and spent the last three years of his career with Houston (Where he fell back down to earth. Go fig.) before being released and returning to play with the current defending Japanese champions, the Golden Eagles.
Third Base: Akinori Iwamura
Japanese Teams: Tokyo Yakult Swallows (1997-2006, 2013), Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2011-2012)
MLB Teams: Tampa Bay Rays (2007-2009) Pittsburgh Pirates (2010) Oakland Athletics (2010)
Yes, I know that Iwamura played most of his big league career at second base, and he probably was better than poor Kaz Matsui, but he did play his first year in MLB at third base, and there’s no way I’m giving a starting lineup spot to Norihiro Nakamura.
Iwamura’s three year, $7.7 million dollar contract with the former Devil Rays was overshadowed by the massive contract the Red Sox gave to his friend, Daisuke Matsuzaka, but I think that, in hindsight, we could all agree that Iwamura’s contract was a little more cost-efficient. Aki played quite well with the Rays, with an OPS in the mid- .700’s, and was a part of the Rays’ wonderful 2008 season, during which they won the American League pennant, and lost to the Phillies in the World Series. He was also notable for his usage of a glove made out of crocodile skin. That’s pretty badass, right?
Shortstop: Munenori Kawasaki
Japanese Team: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (2001-2011)
MLB Teams: Seattle Mariners (2012) Toronto Blue Jays (2013-Present)
Well, if you ever wanted an example of how thin the market for Japanese shortstops has been…
To be fair, nobody was really expecting Kawasaki to be a superstar. The Japanese All-Star and Golden Glove winner signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2012 season, and made the club out of spring training as a utility infielder. Things went downhill from there, however, as he only hit .192 during the regular season and had an OPS of .459. For those who don’t understand baseball stats, just know that all the entertaining GIFs in the world could not even come close to make that excusable.
After the M’s released him, he signed a minor league deal with my Toronto Blue Jays and started the season off with the AAA Buffalo Bisons. After the injury to the aforementioned Jose Reyes, Kawasaki was called up to the (Disappointing as all Hell) big league club, and instantly endeared himself to suffering Torontonians, with his energetic, adorable personality, and his critical role in the eleven game winning streak that the Jays went on in July. He cooled off drastically, as did the Jays, but he did win a spring training invitation for next year from the Jays, so we probably haven’t seen the last of Moony Kawasaki.
Left Fielder: So Taguchi
Japanese Teams: Orix BlueWave (1992-2001) Orix Buffaloes (2010-2011)
American Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (2002-2007) Philadelphia Phillies (2008) Chicago Cubs (2009)
This shy, hard working utility outfielder was already well into his thirties when he signed with the Cards in 2002, and was just about an elder statesman when he finally had his first season where he topped 100 games, at the age of 34.
Taguchi became a fan favourite in St. Louis after a couple of years of toiling in the minors, unusual for a Japanese signing, but then again, he was kind of mediocre in Japan anyways. In a nice surprise, Taguchi turned out to be an excellent defensive-minded backup outfielder, with a solid bat to boot. His modest, shy personality endeared him to the Missouri fanbase, and solidified his place in Cardinals history by hitting the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of game 2 of the NLCS, which was unusual, considering: A) He hit it off the great Billy Wagner, and B) he isn’t exactly Hank Aaron, especially not in 2006. After awful stints with the Phillies and the Cubs in 2008 and 2009, respectfully (Although he did win his second World Series with the Phils) he played two subpar seasons in Japan, before retiring in 2012.
Center Field: Kosuke Fukodome
Japanese Teams: Chunichi Dragons (1998-2007) Hanshin Tigers (2013-Present)
MLB Teams: Chicago Cubs (2008-2011) Cleveland Indians (2011) Chicago White Sox (2012)
That sound you hear is the sound of Cubs fans screaming in fury and/or sobbing.
Just kidding. I’m pretty sure they don’t read my blog. Anyways, I put Fukodome at center field, even though he mostly played at right field, because I felt that he was better then either of the two backups, and right field was already taken by, well, you’ll see.
Fukodome, a superstar with the Chunichi Dragons, was signed by the Cubs prior to the 2008 season, in the hopes that he would become the next big Asian superstar. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out that way, but the reality is that Fukodome was a solid outfielder during his 3+ seasons with the Cubbies. His pedestrian batting average dissapointed fans, but his On-Base Percentage was actually pretty great, at .369. Sure, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire on the base paths or defensively in right or center field, and he didn’t even really come close to hitting the 21 home runs he averaged in Japan, but I can’t help wondering if his awful slide during the second half of 2008 tainted the rest of what could have been a solid big league career.
Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki
Japanese Team: Orix BlueWave (1992-2000)
MLB Teams: Seattle Mariners (2001-2012) New York Yankees (2012-Present)
Honestly? Was there ever any doubt?
The only member of this dream team that will likely be elected into the American baseball hall of fame (Although I would NOT count out Yu Darvish as a future Hall of Famer), Ichiro is, by far, the most famous, most successful player to come over from Asia.
Honestly, I could go on and on about Ichiro. He’s one of my favourite non-Blue Jay players, and my first ever non-little league jersey was a Mariners jersey with Ichiro’s name on the back. However, I don’t feel like prolonging this post any more than necessary, as it’s already hella long, so I’ll just leave you with his Baseball Reference and Wikipedia pages.
Designated Hitter: Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui
Japanese Team: Yomiuri Giants (1993-2002)
MLB Teams: New York Yankees (2003-2009) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2010) Oakland Athletics (2011) Tampa Bay Rays (2012)
If Ichiro was the best position player to play in the big leagues, the man they call “Godzilla” is probably number two. (Fact: Matsui’s nickname was originally a mean joke concerning his skin condition, but it has since become associated with his offensive prowess) The power-hitting outfielder first came to the attention of the American media during the strike of ’94, when bored Americans started following the Japan Series (Japan’s equivalent of the World Series), which featured Matsui’s team, the eventual champion Yomiuri Giants.
Matsui turned town a contract offer from the Giants in 2001 and later signed with the Yanks before the 2003 season. He went on to have a wonderful seven-year career with the Yankees, during which he came very close to beating out Angel Berroa for the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award, shifted to DH after playing poor defence, was elected to two All-Star Games, and won the World Series in 2009, also winning the World Series MVP Award that year. Before signing with the Angels and having a solid year in Anaheim and fading out with the A’s and the Rays.
To be continued…
Anybody who maintains their own blog on WordPress knows that there’s a little button you can press on your dashboard that takes you to a Stats page where you can see how much views you get per day, which pages are getting more traffic, your top commenters, and, oddly enough, what people are searching on their respective search engines to get to your site. You can end up learning quite a bit about the people who read your blog. Some of the more popular searches on mine are:
However, my favourite of the statistics that WordPress provides its bloggers is the thing (For lack of a better noun) that counts up how many views you get from each different country. It’s amazing how the internet has brought the whole world together so that people can ask themselves the important questions, like “How the hell am I not being censored in Saudi Arabia?” and “How is there still internet in Syria?”. It’s this kind of global unity that should , if all goes well, eventually get us to the point where we stop getting irrationally mad at each other and start loving our fellow man.
Anyways, while I’m not surprised surprised that there haven’t really been all that many people who have gazed upon the products of my comic genius, I was surprised at how few of the views were from my native Canada. The vast majority of my views come from the United States of America, and while Canada was second, it was still outnumbered by the combined views from non-english speaking countries like Germany, France, Brazil, the Philippines, Mexico, Argentina, Spain and Australia.
Anyways, since, if you’re reading this, there’s an eighty seven percent chance that you are not Canadian, I have decided to do a series of blogs about Canadian culture. These blogs, spread out over however much time as is necessary, will comprise of me enlightening people who may not know that much about Canada. Today, we’ll start with everyone’s favourite subject: Geography!
PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES OF OF CANADA (FROM LEAST TO MOST POPULATED)
Part 1 0f 2: The Territories and the Maritime Provinces
Motto: “Nunavut Sannginivut” (Inuit) “Our Land, Our Strength” (English) “Notre Terre, Notre Force” (French)
Capital and Largest City: Iqaluit
Official Languages: Inuit, English and French
Joined Confederation: 1999
Premier: Peter Taptuna (Independent)
Which American State is it Comparable to?: Alaska + Oklahoma.
Claim to Fame: Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit was modeled to look like whale blubber!
Capital and Largest City: Whitehorse
Official Languages: English and French
Joined Confederation: 1898
Premier: Darrell Pasloski (Yukon Party)
Population: 33, 897
Comparable To: Alaska
Claim to Fame: That one Calvin and Hobbes story where they want to go to the Yukon.
Capital and Largest City: Yellowknife
Official Languages: Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tłı̨chǫ
Joined Confederation: 1870
Premier: Bob McLeod (Independent)
Population: 41, 462
Comparable to: Alaska
Claim to Fame: The designated region that Canada divides up if we decide to have ourselves a new province or territory.
Prince Edward Island
Motto: Parva sub ingenti (Latin) The small protected by the great (English)
Capital and Largest City: Charlottetown
Official Language: English (de facto)
Joined Confederation: 1873
Premier: Robert Ghiz (Liberal)
Population: 140, 204
Comparable to: Maine (But floating!) + Delaware (They’re both about the same size)
Claim to Fame: Anne of Green Gables. I’d add a snide comment here, but I’d rather not get shanked by some fifty-something Anne Shirley fan.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Motto: Quaerite prime regnum Dei (Latin) Seek ye first the kingdom of God (English) (Matthew 6:33)
Capital and Largest City: St. John’s
Official Language “English” (de facto)
Joined Confederation: 1949
Premier: Kathy Dunderdal (Progressive Conservative)
Population: 514, 536
Comparable to: Massachusetts (Mainly because of their funny similar-but-not-Irish accents)
Claim to Fame: Just do yourselves a favour and search “Newfie accents” on Youtube.
Motto: Spem reduxit (Latin) Hope restored (English) L’espoir restauré (French)
Capital : Fredericton
Largest City: Saint John
Largest Metro: Greater Moncton
Official Languages: English and French
Joined Confederation: 1867
Premier: David Alward (Progressive Conservative Party)
Population: 751, 171
Comparable to: Maine
Claim to Fame: The best lobster in the galaxy.
Motto: Munit Haec et Altera Vincit (Latin) One defends at the other conquers (English)
Capital and largest city: Halifax
Official Language: English (de facto)
Joined Confederation: 1867
Premier: Stephen McNeil (Liberal Party)
Population: 921, 727
Comparable to: Maine
Claim to Fame: Canada’s most penis-shaped province since 1867.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!!!
Here at PKtM Inc., we pride ourselves of employing a racially diverse workforce. (Specifically: one half-White Canadian, half-Salvadoran teenager and two black cats who can’t stop walking across the goddamn keyboard.)
Click meAnd that’s why it pains me so much when I wander onto a website with an open comment board and see a bunch of hateful, bigoted bullshit that has no place in modern society. Apparently, us PC liberals have made the mistake of accepting multiculturalism, or, as they’re fond of calling it, “white genocide”.
Yes, our blind acceptance of people from all around the world has diluted our pure Anglo-Saxon heritage and will eventually lead to the extinction of the white race. And God forbid you show some form of attraction for somebody of a different race. Then, you are not only walking, talking filth, but also aiding and abetting the destruction of the glorious white culture.
I shouldn’t have to tell anybody how full of shit these people are. However, one of my favourite posts that white supremacists use online is some variation of the following:
“I’m not racist, but… (Insert racist blatherings here)
Stop White Genocide!
AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS
ASIA FOR THE ASIANS
EUROPE FOR THE EUROPEANS
AMERICA FOR THE AMERICANS
ANTI-RACIST IS CODE FOR ANTI-WHITE!”
I’m sure you’ve all seen some variant of this guy.
Now, do I have to emphasize how stupid that last line is? Anti-racist does NOT mean anti-white. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t . hate white people. And since the majority of white people (You know, the sane ones) are anti-racist, that makes your race the most self-loathing race around, which really isn’t something to be proud of.
Also, it has been pointed out by others, and will now be pointed out by me, by your own rules, you’re not a fucking American. That would be the First Nations people (Or Indians, erroneously) who got here waaaaay before you (We, I guess. My great-grandparents were Danish) murdered them because apparently, sharing land is un-Christian.
And also, for those of you that think that black people are nothing but violent, thuggy welfare leeches? Well, first of all, they’re not, and second of all, remember this: Their ancestors didn’t wanna be here either. Who brought them here? Racist white people.
So that means that you neo-Nazi nutbags who want everyone to go back to where they came from, and yet, march for a White America are a bunch of idiotic windbags. What’s wrong? Do they not teach history at Stormfront High?
And since we’re taking all the white people from America, Oceania, Africa and Asia and conveniently re-locating them in Europe (You guys’ rules, not mine) I feel I should point out that you are going too have one horrid time living in your pasty utopia. Why? Because having the whole white populations of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Latin America relocate to a tiny continent like Europe is gonna cause one hell of an overpopulation problem. And then, while your United Republic of Never Gonna Happen In Your Whole Shitty Life crumbles from infrastructure problems, maybe the rest of the world can clean up some of the damage done, hm? Hell, I’ll just let the late, great George Carlin take over from here.
And lastly, there’s something I find hilariously ironic about these racist a-holes. Mainly, their stance against illegal immigration to the States from Mexico and Latin America.
Well, since the vast majority of Mexicans (And most latinos, really) are mestizo (Meaning of both indigenous and white descent), and since the Segregated Caucasian Utopia probably won;t allow mestizos to contaminate their holy land, does that mean that they’ll stay in America?
Does this mean that, by their logic, their slogan should be: America…For the Mexicans?
On the eight, I will be flying out to Toronto for a week in order to, among other things, visit family, see the zoo and watch the Jays. I will try to update my blog while on vacation, but I think it unlikely that I will be able to. If my blog goes un-updated for more than a week though, it means that I have either been murdered for drug money by Toronto’s crackhead mayor, or have watched Josh Johnson pitch and suffered a coronary as a result.
Fret not faithful viewers! Before I venture off into a pleasant getaway/impending doom, I will leave you with a healthy tip on how to recognize a Canadian!
How an American/Brit will pronounce “Toronto”:
How an American/Brit trying to sound Canadian will pronounce “Toronto”:
How a Canadian will pronounce “Toronto”
“Aha” You may think to yourself, “Those last two sound exactly the same! You’re a fraud, random blogger I found on the internet while searching for pictures of Emma Watson in revealing clothing!”
But you see, there is a difference. When a non-Canadian says “Toronto”, nothing happens afterwords.
When a Canadian says it, however, “O Canada” starts blaring triumphantly in the background as water turn into maple syrup while Mounties arrive to serve ice-cold Molson’s as ice-skating beavers play an impromptu hockey game.
See ya next week (At the latest)!
There are a few things that are certain in this long, painful life that we lead. Specifically, death, the failure of the Chicago Cubs, shitheads on YouTube (Comment sections or otherwise) and celebrities who enter musical careers only because they once played a musician in a movie.
But it also seems that there’s at least a few exceptions to the aforementioned afflictions. Some people seem to cheat death against all odds including, but not excluding, Christopher Lee (Awesomely) and Fred Phelps (Unfortunately). People get out of paying their taxes all the time. Of course, by people, I mean the good people at heartless companies like General Electric. If you look past the commentators, YouTube has some good stuff on it (SourceFed, Vsauce etc.). The Cubs had that one championship more than one hundred years ago.
The exception for the last category (That is the actors turned celebrities) is the subject of today’s “Musician Biography”. Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for:
30 SECONDS TO MARS
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Active From: 1998-Present
Genres: Alternative Rock, Neo-Prog, Space Rock, Experimental Rock, Hard Rock, SynthRock, Post-Hardcore (Early)
Legacy: The flourishing of Jared Leto’s musical career and the continuing public indifference to his film career. Also, making teenage girls buy into the misguided belief that the success of this band means prog’s cool again.
As you may or may not no, Jared Leto is an actor from Louisiana who has appeared in several moderately well-known movies, including Requiem for a Dream (In which he plays a heroin addict and dealer), Fight Club (In which he gets the shit beaten out of him by Edward Norton), American Psycho ( In which he is ax-murdered by Christian Bale) and Alexander (In which he plays Colin Farrell’s gay lover). He started 30 Seconds to Mars as a small family project with his brother, Shannon Leto. In 2001, the brothers recruited Matt Wachter to play bass and keyboards, and Solon Bixler on guitar. Bixler eventually left and was replaced by Croatian-American guitarist Tomo Milicevic.
Because the Leto family is, y’know, rich, they were able to get in the studio and start recording an album in 2001. In July, the band released their first single, “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)”. On August 27, 2002, they released their first, self-titled album, in which Jared played guitar, vocals, bass guitar and synthesizer. The album (Influenced in part by the science fiction novel, Dune) was received warmly by critics, who praised the lyrics, themes and musicianship. Personally, I though the album to be pretty fucking boring. On the plus side, Leto is a great songwriter and musician, but on the other hand, perhaps aside from “Capricorn”, the album is pretty nondescript and doesn’t grip me at all, but eh, what do I know?
Apparently, not too much, as the album zoomed to the top of Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart and hit 107 on the Billboard 200. “Capricorn” ended up peaking at No. 31 on the American Rock Charts while a post-relese single, “Edge of the Earth” hit No. 5 on the UK.
After touring for the album concluded, the band recorded and released another single, “Attack”, which critics and fans (And me!) adored, mainly because it showcased Leto’s amazing vocal talent. It isn’t often that an actor starts a musical career and actually has a passable voice, much less a good one.
The following album, A Beautiful Lie, which was recorded over four years on Leto’s various film sets, was released in August of 2005 and was praised by critics (And me!) except for AllMusic, which surprises me, and Rolling Stone, because well, duh.
The album, which abandoned the prog metal of their first album for emotionally charged alternative rock, reached No. 22 on the Modern Rock Charts (And No. 1 in Canada!) and was eventually certified platinum, while a post-album single, “From Yesterday”, hit No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks (Though, to tell you the truth, I kind of hated it).
Having achieved mainstream success, the band embarked on the “Welcome to the Universe” tour, which lasted two years and solidified their rock star statuses. During the worldwide tour, they championed environmentalism (Of course they did) , shot the first ever American rock music video in the People’s Republic of China and had Matt Wachter leave the group to spend more time with his family and, eventually join Angels & Airwaves. He was replaced by Tim Kelleher, who is still with the band, but only as a touring member.
But wait a minute. What’s missing from the picture here? Hmmm…. Oh, that’s right, the obligatory dispute with an asshole record label? How could I be so foolish?
In August 2008, Virgin Records sued the band for a whopping $30 million lawsuit, claiming that the band failed to deliver the five albums that they were obligated to deliver. However, under California law, nobody can be bound to a contract for over seven years. Virgin, realizing that they hadn’t done their research in their quest to wring every last drop of money out of their bands, dropped the lawsuit and the band re-signed with them, for some inexplicable reason.
Fun fact: at the preview of the above-mentioned documentary, someone may have tried to kill Jared Leto. Could the labels have made their way from bullying and intimidation to murder? If so, then I have some potential targets that I think everyone can agree on.
On December 8, 2009, 30 Seconds to Mars released their third studio album, This is War. This would prove to be their most successful album yet, hitting No. 18 on the Billboard 200 charts, number 4 on the Rock charts and number 2 on the Alternative charts. In addition to this, three of the singles, “Kings and Queens”, “This Is War” and “Closer to the Edge” got in the Top 10 pf the Billboard Alternative Charts, with the first two tracks hitting 1st place.
The album received positive reviews as well. It is my personal favourite album on the 30STM catalogue, if only for the fact that “This is War” is on this album. Anyways, the resulting supporting tour won the Guinness World Record for “Longest Concert Tour by a Rock Band”, playing a total of 309 concert shows in just over two years.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Um, pretty much the same place as always. Their latest album, Love Lust, Faith and Dreams, showcases the bands full musical talent/pretentiousness, with elements of symphonic rock edging out a large amount of the hard rock edge. Still, it was both critically and commercially successful, hitting number 6 on the Billboard 200. Personally, I’d rate it as better than the self-titled album by far, but not as good as A Beautiful Lie. It’s just too damn pretentious for me to take completely seriously. Also, it has one of the ugliest album covers known to man.
So, what have we learned during the All-Star Break?
4. Prince Fielder is capable of hitting triples. However, in doing so, the resulting tremors usually result in the complete destruction of a small Asian country. Nice knowing you, Singapore.
5. Mariano Rivera is awesome and his last All-Star Game was quite heartwarming. However, if he pulls an un-retirement (Andy Petitte style) let’s all agree not to do that again, okay?
However, the All-Star Break is also a fantastic moment to take stock of the season do far. It’s not the halfway point that everyone keeps calling it for some reason, but who’s got time to calculate half of 162?
So, here are the current standings and my predictions for the major award winners and division/league/World Series champions.
My Pre-Season Prediction:
Well, this division is stacked.
Biggest Surprise: That would be the Red Sox who, in the wake of the tragic Boston Bombings, have been exceptionally good even after injuries to Clay Bucholz and Joel Hanrahan, putting together a great (Likeable!) team. While it’s kinda tough to determine what exactly made this team click, I’m pretty sure it was getting Alfredo Aceves to fuck right on off to AAA that relaxed the mood.
Biggest Disappointment: Well fuck, I don’t really need to say it, do I?
Alright, fine. The biggest disappointments are my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. As it turns out, assembling a whole shitload of talent and throwing them onto a baseball field isn’t always the way to go.
MVP: Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
I will probably get brutalized for not picking Chris Davis (Or not, considering how much people read my blog) and for picking a Red Sox when I am a Certifies Red Sox Nation Hater, but goddammit, I LIKE Dustin Pedroia! A .316 Batting Average and excellent fielding don’t hurt, either.
Cy Young: Clay Bucholz, Red Sox
Even with his recent DL stint, Bucholz was leaps and bounds over any other AL East pitcher in the first half.
Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Red Sox
After a (Very) unimpressive cup of coffee in 2012, Iglesias got himself a starting job this year, with both Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew on the DL, and has run with it so far, hitting .367 in 180 At-Bats while playing excellent defense.
My All-Star Break Prediction:
My Pre-Season Prediction:
Biggest Surprise: Cleveland Indians
The Indians have beat the odds by proving that you can stay over .500 despite having an aged, 250 pound Jason Giambi on your team.
Fuck, I dunno. The White Sox, I guess? Truth be told, I just really wanna get to the AL West.
MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Cy Young: Max Scherzer
I don’t take too much stock in wins and losses, mainly because they’re bullshit, but thirteen straight wins is nothing to thumb your nose at.
Rookie of the Year: David Lough
Who? David Lough? Really? Fuck it, okay, let’s roll with it.
My All-Star Predictions:
Lessons Learned: 1. The Detroit Tigers don’t have to do too much to win this division and 2. The White Sox suck pretty bad.
My Pre-Season Predictions:
Biggest Surprise: N/A
There haven’t been many positive surprises in this division. The A’s and Rangers have been as good as expected, and the Mariners and Astros have both been bad and terrible, respectively.
Biggest Dissapointment: Los Angeles Angels
It just wasn’t a very good offseason to spend big, huh?
MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
He probably should have won MVP last year, but Superfish (A nickname that I really want to have catch on) hasn’t ;et his lack of a trophy slow him down. He may be the best all-around player in the game at the age of 22.
Cy Young: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
His fellow countryman Yu Darvish gets most of the credit (And he is really, really good) so it’s easy to forget that Iwakuma has been just as or almost as good in his Big League Career. It was almost a tie, but I went with Iwakuma for the reason that he has played more games than Darvish.
Rookie of the Year: Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners
With all due respect to Nick Franklin… I think the AL West might have blown their prospect wad last year with Trout and Cespedes.
My All-Star Predictions:
Yeah, I’m feeling the A’s. The Angels, not so much.
Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Red Sox
I hate this motherfucker. He openly stabbed the Jays in the back and half-assed it in 2012 after not getting his dream job that year instead of when his contract was up. Not that he did a great job managing the team anyways, but still.
That said, raise your hand if you thought the Sox would be a great team this year.
Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Red Sox
Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer, Tigers
I may reconsider if Clay Bucholz stays excellent when he comes back from his injury.
MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Mike Trout may have deserved it last year, but this year, it’s all Miggy.
Tune back in soon for the National League and my playoff picks.