|Sat, Mar 7||World Baseball Classic||Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan||Chinese Taipei 1 at China 4||12,890|
|Sat, Mar 7||World Baseball Classic||Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan||Japan 14 at Korea 2 (7)||45,640|
|Thu, Apr 2||Cactus League Spring Training||Tucson Electric Park, Tucson, AZ||Colorado Rockies 7 at Arizona Diamondbacks 4||5,166|
|Fri, Apr 3||NCAA Baseball||Kindall Field, Tucson, AZ||USC Trojans 6 at Arizona Wildcats 7||1,536|
|Sat, Apr 4||Cactus League Spring Training||Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ||Chicago White Sox 2 at Arizona Diamondbacks 0||17,425|
|Sun, Apr 5||NCAA Womens Golf, Ping/ASU Invitational Golf Tournament||Karstens Golf Course, Tempe, AZ||Results||~50|
|Mon, Apr 6||National League (Opening Day)||Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ||Colorado Rockies 8 at Arizona Diamondbacks 9||48,799|
|Tue, Apr 7||NBA D-League||Broomfield Event Center, Broomfield , CO||Albuquerque Thunderbirds 121 at Colorado 14ers 129||1,167|
|Wed, Apr 8||NBA||Pepsi Center, Denver, CO||Oklahoma City Thunder 112 at Denver Nuggets 122||16,536|
|Thu, Apr 9||Pacific Coast League||Security Service Field, Colorado Springs, CO||Las Vegas 51's 6 at Colorado Springs Sky Sox 9||2,414|
|Fri, Apr 10||National League (Home Opener)||Coors Field, Denver, CO||Philadelphia Phillies 3 at Colorado Rockies 10||49,427|
|Sat, Apr 11||NHL||Pepsi Center, Denver, CO||Vancouver Canucks 1 at Colorado Avalanche 0 (OT)||13,397|
|Sat, Apr 11||National League||Coors Field, Denver, CO||Philadelphia Phillies 8 at Colorado Rockies 4||35,251|
|Tue, Apr 21||AFC Champions League||Todoroki Athletics Stadium, Kawasaki, Japan||Central Coast Mariners 1 at Kawasaki Frontale 2||8,419|
|Sat, Apr 25||Korean Baseball Organization||Jamsil Baseball Stadium, Seoul, South Korea||LG Twins at Doosan Bears ppd. rain|
|Sat, May 2||International Table Tennis Federation, World Table Tennis Championship||Yokohama Arena, Yokohama, Japan||Results||~15,000|
|Sat, May 2||J League||Nissan Stadium, Yokohama, Japan||Kawasaki Frontale 1 at Yokohama F Marinos 2||28,016|
|Sat, May 9||Toohey's New Shute Shield||North Sydney Oval, Sydney, Australia||Manly 28 at Northern Suburbs 31||~300|
|Fri, May 15||NRL||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia||Gold Coast Titans 18 at Brisbane Broncos 32||43,079|
|Wed, May 27||Eastern League (Japan)||Lotte Urawa Stadium, Saitama, Japan||Yakult Swallows 2 at Chiba Lotte Marines 7||472|
|Tue, Jun 2||Eastern League (Japan)||Seibu #2 Field, Tokorozawa, Japan||Shonan Searex 2 at Seibu Lions 3||326|
|Tue, Jun 2||NPB Interleague Series||Seibu Dome, Tokorozawa, Japan||Yakult Swallows 3 at Seibu Lions 7||16,001|
|Thu, Jun 4||S.League, League Cup||Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore||Gombak United 0 at Super Reds 1||1,614|
|Tue, Jun 9||IRB Junior World Championship||Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Scotland 7 at England 30||~5,000|
|Tue, Jun 9||IRB Junior World Championship||Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Samoa 29 at Japan 20||10,693|
|Wed, Jun 17||IRB Junior World Championship Semi Finals||Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||New Zealand 31 at Australia 17||~6,000|
|Wed, Jun 17||IRB Junior World Championship Semi Finals||Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||South Africa 21 at England 40||~8,000|
|Sun, Jun 28||PDL||Algonquin College Soccer Complex, Ottawa, ON||Long Island Rough Riders 0 at Ottawa Fury 1||~300|
|Mon, Jun 29||Eastern League||MerchantsAuto.com Stadium, Manchester, NH||Portland Sea Dogs 8 at New Hampshire Fisher Cats 5||7,141|
|Wed, Jul 1||Eastern League||Dodd Stadium, Norwich, CT||Harrisburg Senators at Connecticut Defenders ppd. rain|
|Fri, Jul 3||American League||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY||Toronto Blue Jays 2 at New York Yankees 4||46,308|
|Sat, Jul 4||American League||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY||Toronto Blue Jays 5 at New York Yankees 6 (12)||46,620|
|Mon, Jul 6||American League||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY||Toronto Blue Jays 7 at New York Yankees 6||46,450|
|Tue, Jul 7||National League||Citi Field, Queens, NY||Los Angeles Dodgers 8 at New York Mets 0||39,636|
|Sat, Jul 11||National League||Citi Field, Queens, NY||Cincinnati Reds 0 at New York Mets 4||39,396|
|Sun, Jul 26||National High School Baseball Championship, West Tokyo Quarterfinals||Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Hachioji 3 at Nichidai 2 7||~5,000|
|Sun, Jul 26||National High School Baseball Championship, West Tokyo Quarterfinals||Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Kodaira 9 at Kugayama 6||~5,000|
|Mon, Jul 27||National High School Baseball Championship, East Tokyo Semifinals||Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Nishogakusha 0 at Teikyo 5||~3,000|
|Mon, Jul 27||National High School Baseball Championship, East Tokyo Semifinals||Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Yukigaya 7 at Seiritsu 1||~3,000|
|Wed, Jul 29||Eastern League (Japan)||Yomiuri Giants Stadium, Kanagawa, Japan||Yakult Swallows 0 at Yomiuri Giants 1 (11)||574|
|Tue, Aug 4||Eastern League (Japan)||Fighters Stadium, Kamagaya, Chiba, Japan||Yakult Swallows 10 at Nippon Ham Fighters 4||762|
|Fri, Aug 7||Eastern League (Japan)||Yakult Toda Stadium, Toda, Saitama, Japan||Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 3 at Yakult Swallows 4||200|
|Sun, Aug 16||Eastern League (Japan)||Yokosuka Stadium, Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan||Yakult Swallows 1 at Shonan Searex 16||1,023|
|Wed, Aug 19||Eastern League Challenge Match||Fighters Stadium, Kamagaya, Chiba, Japan||Nippon Ham Fighters 11 at Eastern League Futures 13||~1,000|
|Wed, Aug 19||J League||Fukuda Denshi Arena, Chiba, Japan||Nagoya Grampus 2 at JEF United Chiba 0||13,548|
|Tue, Aug 25||Eastern League (Japan)||Chiba Marine Stadium, Chiba, Japan||Nippon Ham Fighters 9 at Chiba Lotte Marines 2||763|
|Thu, Aug 27||Eastern League Challenge Match||Omiya Stadium, Omiya, Saitama, Japan||Shikoku-Kyushu Island League Selects 4 at Eastern League Futures 5||~200|
|Tue, Sep 1||Japan Industrial League||Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan||Honda 4 at Toyota 2||~25,000|
|Mon, Sep 7||Eastern League (Japan)||Yakult Toda Stadium, Toda, Saitama, Japan||Yomiuri Giants 8 at Yakult Swallows 5 (11)||300|
|Wed, Sep 9||Eastern League (Japan)||Lotte Urawa Stadium, Saitama, Japan||Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 0 at Chiba Lotte Marines 5||381|
|Tue, Sep 22||Eastern League (Japan)||Yomiuri Giants Stadium, Kanagawa, Japan||Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 7 at Yomiuri Giants 12||1,823|
|Mon, Sep 28||Tohto University Baseball League - Division 2||Jingu #2 Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Senshu University 3 at Kokushikan University 4 (10)||~150|
|Mon, Sep 28||Tohto University Baseball League - Division 2||Jingu #2 Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Tokyo University of Agriculture 1 at Nihon University 5||~200|
|Sat, Oct 17||Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League||Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Waseda University 3 at Hosei University 3 (12)||16,000|
|Sat, Oct 17||Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League||Jingu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Meiji University 3 at Keio University 8||12,000|
|Sat, Oct 24||Japan Rugby Top League||Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Kyuden Voltex 17 at Ricoh Black Rams 41||4,185|
|Sat, Oct 24||Japan Rugby Top League||Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Kubota Spears 16 at Suntory Sungoliath 21||5,414|
|Sat, Oct 31||Emperor's Cup, Round 3||NACK5 Stadium, Omiya, Saitama, Japan||Vegalta Sendai 2 at Omiya Ardija 1 (a.e.t.)||5,489|
|Tue, Nov 3||J League Nabisco Cup Final||National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Kawasaki Frontale 0 at F.C. Tokyo 2||44,308|
|Sat, Nov 7||AFC Champions League - Final||National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Al Ittihad 1 at Pohang Steelers 2||25,743|
|Sun, Nov 8||J League||Todoroki Athletics Stadium, Kawasaki, Japan||JEF United Chiba 2 at Kawasaki Frontale 3||18,470|
|Sat, Dec 12||Emperor's Cup Quarterfinal||Yurtec Stadium, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan||Kawasaki Frontale 1 at Vegalta Sendai 2 (a.e.t.)||18,340|
|Sat, Dec 12||bj League||Sendai Aoba Gym, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan||Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 83 at Sendai 89ers 82||1,584|
|Wed, Dec 16||bj League||Yoyogi National Stadium #2, Tokyo, Japan||Ryukyu Golden Kings 75 at Tokyo Apache 70||1,579|
|Sat, Dec 26||bj League||Kyoto City Gym, Kyoto, Japan||Oita Heat Devils 74 at Kyoto Hannaryz 85||1,071|
|Tue, Dec 29||Emperor's Cup Semifinal||National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan||Vegalta Sendai 1 at Gamba Osaka 2||25,878|
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
The Kyoto Hannaryz are the only expansion team in this league this season. They've signed Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, once a #3 overall NBA pick, who is more famous for his refusal to stand during the American national anthem. Josh Bostic (pictured below), who was the Division II player of the year last season for Findlay, is also on the team and is 5th in scoring, averaging around 22 points a game. The Hannaryz, named after a local leasing company, are coached by ex-NBAer David Benoit, and stand last in the West at 5-13.
The Oita Heat Devils have been in the league since it started 5 years ago, but have never done much. In fact, last season they were a league worst 8-44 and there were fears in the off-season that they would fold. Based in Beppu (known for its hot springs hence the nickname), the Heat Devils are only 7-13 this season and need to improve handily to secure a playoff spot. Ricky Woods and Mike Bell are in the top 10 in scoring and rebounds, and they have a rookie in 7-footer Rashaad Singleton, who leads the league in blocked shots.
The final was 85-74, but the game was much closer, being tied with 6 minutes to go as you can see above. Again the last two minutes took forever as Oita fouled on every possession in a vain attempt to close the gap, but thankfully the Hannaryz made their free throws to thwart the stupidest strategy in sports.
Overall, a very exciting game for the home fans, with an 11-point halftime deficit turned into an 11-point win. I was particularly impressed with Bostic's play. He had 28 points and 20 rebounds, but it was his speed when getting a defensive board and then blazing down the court that was really memorable. It wouldn't surprise me to see him move to a more basketball-oriented country in the near future; it's a shame only a thousand spectators are seeing him play here.
For an exhibition club, the Hannaryz have a boisterous if somewhat tiresome crowd. But they are well-trained. Before the game, the fans were instructed to practice their cheers. There are two cheers for when the Hannaryz are on defense: the first is De-Fense, the second is De-Fense, but at a slower pace. Genius. On offense, there were three cheers: Go Kyoto Hannaryz; Kyoto Hannaryz; and Kyoto Hannaryz, again at a slightly different tempo. Truly inventive. But the fans were quick, and managed to get these cheers down pat with just a few repetitions.
I knew that these cheers, when combined with the amazingly-yet-to-be-banned Thunderstix, were sure to make for a loud and aggravating crowd. Sure enough, they screamed on every possession, led on by the scoreboard (see the DEFENSE in red in the picture above) . I enjoy these contests, but the constant, mindless cheering combined with the lack of understanding of the game are really beginning to grate. I don't mind the occasional chant at a key point, but the endless, repetitive yelling is headache-inducing. Why is it that in Japan, to be a fan of a team requires that you make noise all the time? Doesn't anybody watch for the pleasure of the game anymore?
Friday, December 25, 2009
Last week, Hideki Matsui signed a 1-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. By itself, this isn't a particularly surprising move, but it has enormous implications for televised major league games here in Japan.
There are currently 5 Japanese position players in the majors (Matsui, Ichiro in Seattle, Akinori Iwamura of the Pirates, Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, and Kazuo Matsui of the Astros). But for TV purposes, there are really only 2: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro; the other 3 rarely get their games televised here. So what's the problem?
With Matsui joining the Angels, both stars are now on the West Coast. Which means that on a lot of our mornings, they will be playing games at the same time (10 pm EDT or 11 am JST). While Matsui was on the Yankees, we often got an East Coast game at 8 am and then Ichiro's Mariner game at 11 am. Now, who are they going to show at 8 am? Even the Cubs are not appropriate, as their afternoon tilts occur in our overnight and their Central Time zone location means their night games start at 9 am here. Same goes for Houston. Which leaves the woeful Pirates. I can't believe that I'm going to be watching too many Pittsburgh games this season; the team doesn't have much cachet in Japan even with Iwamura there.
It's too early to know what the national broadcaster NHK is going to do. I suspect we might get more Red Sox games with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jun Tazawa starting and Hideki Okajima in the bullpen. Takashi Saito's move to Atlanta where Kenshin Kawakami is in the rotation might lead to a few of their games being shown. Koji Uehara is on Baltimore and newcomer Ryota Igarashi has been signed by the Mets, so they offer more East Coast options. So we may get even more variety.
It's also possible that they'll skip the early games and just show both West Coast games at the same time on different channels. But I only get one of those channels, so it would mean less TV baseball for me. Which means I'll be continuing with my MLB.TV subscription for another season.
I'm off to Kyoto this weekend and will be watching another bj League game while there. Next Tuesday I'll be at National Stadium again to watch Vegalta Sendai take on Gamba Osaka in Emperor's Cup semifinal action. And Wednesday is my last day of work! Check back here for reports on those games and preparations for the January trip.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Jan 14 Buffalo at Atlanta (NHL) 7:00It should be a great trip, stay tuned for posts on each game!
Jan 15 Phoenix at Atlanta (NBA) 7:30
Jan 16 Charlotte at Gwinnett (ECHL)7:05
Jan 17 Pensacola at Knoxville (SPHL) 5:00
Jan 18 Toronto at Nashville (NHL) 7:00
Jan 19 Toronto at Atlanta (NHL) 7:00
Jan 20 Wofford at Georgia Tech (NCAA Men's Tennis) 2:00
Jan 21 Toronto at Tampa Bay (NHL) 7:00
Jan 22 Gwinnett at Florida (ECHL) 7:30
Jan 23 Toronto at Florida (NHL) 7:00
Jan 25 Cleveland at Miami (NBA) 7:30
Jan 26 Montreal at Florida (NHL) 7:30
Jan 27 Lynn at Florida Tech (NCAA Men's Basketball) 7:30
Jan 28 Boston at Orlando (NBA) 8:00
Jan 29 Rochester at Orlando (NLL) 7:35
Jan 30 Stetson at Mercer (NCAA Men's Basketball) 3:30
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sendai Saturday Sports Spectacular (Part 2) - Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix 83 at Sendai 89ers 82 - December 12, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sendai Saturday Sports Spectacular (Part 1) - Kawasaki Frontale 1 at Vegalta Sendai 2 (a.e.t.) - December 12, 2009
The capital of Miyagi prefecture, Sendai is a city of some one million people about 200 miles northeast of Tokyo. It's the largest city in the Tohoku region (Tohoku combines two Chinese characters meaning east and north and includes the 6 prefectures between Kanto and Hokkaido. It's considered one of Japan's greenest cities and is nicknamed the city of trees. It is famous in the world of green purchasing, having hosted the first international conference back in 2004, which led to the Sendai Declaration on Green Purchasing. Of course, you still get plastic bags at every single convenience store, so they've got a long way to go to convince me.
Like most Japanese cities, there's a central train station (shown above) which defines the downtown core. From here, several lines venture out to the suburbs. There's also a single subway line that travels a 30-minute north-south route (hence the name Namboku line, which means south-north). Another line is due to be built in 2015, traveling east-west and naturally called the Tozai line (which means east-west).
There are a few attractions which I'll discuss in a separate post. There are 3 major sports teams, including the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League, who play in Kleenex Stadium. Of course, the other two teams were why I was visiting Sendai this weekend.
Sendai is on the Tohoku Shinkansen - just 100 minutes from Tokyo station on the fastest Hayate service. There are no flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport, but there are two daily flights from Narita, which are necessary for those Tohoku residents who want to get out of the country.
The normal Shinkansen fare is 10,590 yen one-way (about $120 with the strong yen) but there's a special DoNichi ticket that allows unlimited rides on JR (the national rail) between Tokyo and the entire Tohoku region for a weekend (DoNichi referring to Saturday and Sunday - tired of the Japanese lesson yet?). At 18,000 yen, it's even cheaper than buying a return ticket on the Shink, plus you get all your local JR rides (which excludes the subway) for free. So you can spend your Sunday venturing away from the city, which we did, going out to Matsushima and Shiogama, which I'll also write about later.
If you plan to ride the subway more than twice in a day, pick up the unlimited day pass for just 600 yen. Given that even a short ride can be 240 yen, this pass saves you money and also saves you the time of figuring out how much to pay. I was surprised at how busy the subway was, even on the weekend, but I guess when there's only one line, people don't have much choice.
Hotels are plentiful around the main station, and you shouldn't have any problem finding one to book. I'd recommend staying anywhere downtown as it's not a big city and most of what you will want to do is within 30 minutes.
The gates were well spread out and there was no waiting to get in, although that was likely because we arrived only 40 minutes before game time. Once inside, you can walk freely throughout the stadium along the concourse, but when you enter the seating area, you need to show your ticket. There are specific seating areas, but most of the seats are free seating within that area, so get there early or splurge for the more expensive assigned seats. There are also standing areas at the top of each section. As is usual, the supporters sit in the end zone, so try to get a seat along the sideline as your ears will thank you afterward.
This stadium maybe one of the best in Japan. It's small enough that you're close to the action, but big enough to allow a great crowd of supporters. Definitely worth a visit if you're in town at the same time as Vegalta.
Kawasaki were fresh off a disappointing finish to their J1 campaign, slipping up against cellar-dwellers Oita Trinita in late November. Their 1-0 defeat cost them the league title as I've detailed here before. As well, they had lost the Nabisco Cup Final to F.C. Tokyo and fell against Nagoya in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals, so the Emperor's Cup was their last chance at gaining silverware in 2009.
Vegalta Sendai, on the other hand, were the J2 champions and doubtless were looking to prove themselves against one of Japan's best teams before joining the top flight next season. Back in October, I saw them defeat Omiya Ardija in the 3rd round of the Cup, despite being outplayed, but they then smoked F.C. Tokyo 3-0 in the round of 16, so I had high expectations for this match.
I was not disappointed. Both teams were tentative early on, and few chances were found. It wasn't until the 35th minute when Sendai opened the scoring on a great play. Kunimitsu Sekiguchi raced forward and looked right as Takayuki Nakahara made his way to the net. All Kawasaki's defenders thought the ball was going that way, but Sekiguchi made a nifty no-look pass to Yuki Nakashima who had space on the left. He made his way into the box, looked up, and placed an absolutely perfect shot inside the far right post to send the crowd into a frenzy.
I thought Sendai might start to play a more defensive game with the lead, but I was wrong: the game became more wide open in the 2nd half. Kaswasaki nearly drew level just after the restart when Renatinho was alone in front but he put it straight at keeper Takuto Hayashi. Frontale continued to push, creating several good chances but none were able to beat Hayashi.
Kawashima bats one away
It was an amazing back-and-forth game, but Sendai finally broke through 10 minutes from time when substitute Tomoyuki Hirase crossed to Nakashima who bundled the ball home off his chest. Or so I thought. In fact, it hit his arm and the goal was immediately disallowed. There would be no Henry-like controversy to sully the Emperor's Cup!
Naoya Tamura tries to deke
The overtime periods were more of the same - Kawasaki attacks and Sendai counters. Both keepers were up to the challenge for the first 15 minutes, but 5 minutes into the second OT stanza, Kawashima was found wanting. Sekiguchi had the ball on the far left and crossed to Hirase. Although he was well-marked, the ball was slightly low and Hirase bent to head it towards goal. The ball floated ever so slowly as Kawashima leapt in vain - the ball sailed over his outstretched arms and into the goal. The fans went crazy! 2-1 Sendai! Frontale could not overcome this deficit and Vegalta was victorious! What a great game and a great winning goal.
Hayashi parries the cross in overtime
As usual, Kawasaki were technically better but lacked finish when they needed it most. Meanwhile their opponents seemed hungrier and won a lot of the key battles - it was Kawashima who kept them close. This game reminded me of the Nabisco Cup final; I wonder why Kawasaki can't play their usual style when the pressure is on. We'll see if things improve next year.
Meanwhile, Sendai will be facing defending champs Gamba Osaka on December 29th here in Tokyo. It's a work day and a 3pm start, but I've already got the day off, and will go check it out. The other semi-final features Nagoya Grampus and Shimizu S-Pulse, and the two winners meet for Japanese soccer supremacy on New Year's Day.
For those of you who want highlights, this video is good, although a bit strange. The first 40 seconds and last minute are a repeated close-up of a female Vegalta fan cheering and adjusting her bra. Bizarre. But in between are 3.5 minutes of the best plays including all 3 goals.