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2002 News Archive





The Death of Japanese Baseball Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Reds #1 Draft Choice to Tryout for Orix

North Koreans Finding a Taste for America's Pastime

Missing Body Parts Report: Carlos Castillo's Head

Baseball Meets Sumo

Japanese Exhibition Season Opens

Prospect Watch and Other News

Teams Interested in Hideki Matsui?

Did Ichiro Sell out Japan? Eight Players Named to Japan's HOF

Whatever Language You Speak It's Baseball (China Pro League to Start in June 2003 and more...)

Note to MLB: There is no "Next Ichiro"

Pitcher Gets Win and Save in Same Game

Rubber Padding

Kazuhiko Kondo Home PageClubhouse!

Thousands of articles!

Baseball Analysis Home   Gary Garland / the japanese insider

About the Author
I grew up in Orange County, CA following the Dodgers and Angels from the time I was in elementary school. I have a B.A. degree in History from Cal State Fullerton (Mark Kotsay played at that school while I was going there), where I also learned to speak and read Japanese. Of course, being a baseball fan, when I started to aquire reading ability in Japanese, I used Shuukan Baseball, the Japanese baseball bible, as reading practice along with Japanese newspapers and rock magazines. I then went on to live in Japan for a while, though I had time to see just a couple of games there during that time. The Yakult Swallows are my favorite Japanese team and they repaid that loyalty by winning the Japan Series this past season. Meiji Jingu Stadium is one of the few old ballparks left in Japan and a bandbox to boot, so it has an atmosphere you can't find in MLB or among the newer generation of domed stadia that have been erected in Japan in the last couple of decades or so. So I heartily recommend it to any real baseball fan. Not a bad seat in the house.

Gary GarlandWhen I was in Japan, several of my friends asked me who among the Japanese players could succeed in the majors. Having seen quite a number of players on the nightly baseball shows as well as in televised games, I posited that Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Yokohama Bay Stars could do very well, as would a namesake for the Seibu Lions named Makoto Sasaki, an outfielder.Obviously, Kazuhiro aquitted himself very nicely, but Makoto was too old by the time Nomo came on over and he's now retired. Koji Akiyama, a great outfielder who some think was the first true five tool player in Japanese history, could have been a star in MLB, I believe. But Now Akiyama-san, after over 400 homers and hundreds of steals, is on his way to retiring soon with the Daiei Hawks. I remember reading about Hideo Nomo when he was still with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and thought that he would make a good major league pitcher. Of course, when he came to L.A. I followed nearly every pitch and was thrilled that he did so well initially, especially for my boys, the Dodgers. Then when I got a gander at Ichiro on Japanese television in 1994, I remember saying to myself that he could be star in the majors. And now that I live in Washington I'm glad I was able to follow his inital big league campaign. For the record, I predicted that he would hit .320, steal 50-60 bases, play great defense and hit 12-15 homers. Except for the power numbers, he exceeded all of my expectations for his first shot at MLB. The fact that he took home the MVP still seems unbelievable to me in a Frank Merrywell kind of way. I remember the webmaster of the Japanese Baseball website, Michael Westbay, was effusive in how he thought Ichiro would do and I thought he was going a bit overboard, but Michael was largely spot on. What a year.

Wow! None of us believed that Tsuyoshi Shinjo would make the kind of showing he did, however. Now I'm waiting eagerly for Kazuo Matsui to move in as the Mariners shortstop in 2003 or 2004 and who else might decide to come over. With Ichiro coming over, it's been a lot easier getting stateside fans interested in the Japanese game and I have to admit being on a bit of a crusade to fan the flames of that interest. With Japanese players now contemplating MLB careers, the history major in me is also waiting to see what the long range effects of that will be. I hope that the Japanese leagues can continue, though the hidebound Japanese baseball establishment may have to change its ways for that to happen. Let's see how things develop.

Personal Endorsements
Japanese Baseball Daily - Baseball Guru's sister site for Japanese Baseball.
Sign up for the baseball mail list that I post articles to. - It's not Japanese only, but it has a preponderance of Japanese baseball enthusiasts. To subscribe: email and put "subscribe baseball" as the body of your message.

Finally, a Note to the Media:
I was plagiarized in a big way by a REAL MAJOR media outlet and it was upsetting. You may only use the material I put on Baseball Guru with my explicit permission.

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