Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The excellent Joe Posnanski writes from Japan

If you haven't been following Joe Posnanski's series of articles about the Japan Series -- and why not is the question -- here's how you can catch up:

1. Baseball in Japan is similar to U.S. game, only with dancing girls

Also, they have a halftime in the middle of the fifth inning, featuring dancing girls. Once, early in his time in Japan (this is his fifth season), Hillman was at a managers’ meeting, and a heated discussion began about how to speed up games. Hillman listened to the various ideas and then finally said: “You know, if we really want to shorten games, how about we get rid of halftime?”

The looks on the faces of the other managers told him immediately that he was tromping on sacred ground.

“We’ve been doing halftime here for a very long time,” he was told coldly.

“And that,” Hillman says now, “was the last time I spoke at a managers’ meeting.”

2. Japan Series: 'You have to see it to believe it'

“If the players do not try so hard as to vomit blood in practice, then they cannot hope to win games,” wrote Tobita.

3. They love Hillman in Japan

Tatsuro Hirooka was even more adamant about it. He was a baseball tyrant — sort of like Bear Bryant in his younger days — and according to the excellent “You Gotta Have Wa,” he once ran a 59-day training camp and demanded that every single day his batters take 600 swings and his pitcher throw 430 pitches.

When his team, Seibu, won the Japan Series, he said: “This year was a battle between me and the players. And I won.”

4. U.S. power hitters make it big in Japan

5. Nippon Ham Fighters drop second game (and other notes kind of thrown together)

One more excerpt:

Sunday night in Hillman’s Hangout, a whole group of Japanese people ate Texas food and watched the game on television. Waitresses wearing T-shirts with Hillman’s face on them scurried about. There wasn’t much for a Fighters fan to cheer, but when Hillman appeared on television, there was a smattering of applause. A woman at the next table asked me where I was from.

“Kansas City,” I said.

“Oh,” she said. “I am Kansas City Royals fan.”

“Really?” I asked. “Since when?” She smiled and pointed at a photograph of Hillman and said, “Since him.”

So the Japanese people's American baseball allegiance is split between the Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners and Royals. Split evenly, as far as I can tell.

Trey Hillman, you're a good one. Just 108 days (give or take) till pitchers and catchers report.

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