Digital Headbutt

A sports blog about stuff…stuff that involves things.

Japan Is Going To Implode on Wednesday

Posted by Mike on April 9, 2007

This Wednesday night is the biggest event is Japanese sports since the 2002 World Cup. In Fenway Park, Daisuke Matsuzaka is starting for Red Sox against the Mariners, where he will pitch against Ichiro. You can bet everyone in Japan is going to be watching, and that I will be liveblogging. Mothra (Boston’s answer to the Yankees’ Godzilla; I refuse to call him Dice-K) vs. Ichiro could be the single most important at-bat in the history of Nihon no Yakyuu. If this video is any indication, Matsuzaka has the advantage over Mr. Suzuki. This video is from when Matsuzaka was 18, and his stuff was still too nasty for Ichiro. Three at-bats, three strikeouts.

I’ll be liveblogging the game…expect weird Japanese stuff throughout.

UPDATE: When I said “Mothra (Boston’s answer to the Yankees’ Godzilla; I refuse to call him Dice-K) vs. Ichiro could be the single most important at-bat in the history of Nihon no Yakyuu“, I meant how the Japanese media was going to treat it. It has no bearing on my opinion of either player. And three at-bats in one game, admittedly, isn’t exactly an accurate analog. But 34 AB, 8H, .234 BA is accurate (which is shown near the end of the video).

Also, Kenji Johjima, the only Japanese catcher in the majors and a rising star, also plays for the Mariners. This should make Wednesday night’s game even bigger in Japan.

UPDATE #2 (4/10/07): Mike Plugh of Matsuzaka Watch has an article that describes really well the importance of this matchup in Japan. Trust him, he’s much more of an expert on the subject of Japanese baseball. These two players are truly icons across the Pacific. As if the current hype isn’t enough, Felix Hernandez will be pitching for Seattle on Wednesday.


65 Responses to “Japan Is Going To Implode on Wednesday”

  1. Excellent!

  2. runnypelvisthefat said

    Crazy! You bumped your head and fell for the biggest media joke on the planet. Is this Peter Gammons’ NE Homer bolg?!?! What on earth has this guy done to get this type of hype?!? I’ll wait for your response…still waiting….still waiting. The answer is NOTHING! He’s had one good start against the KC ROYALS! The ROYALS for goodness sakes!! To say his upcoming match-up with Ichiro is the most important AB in the history of whatever you call it is just as foolish as the media hype surrounding this clown.

    Ichiro is an established, dominant player who has won a MVP award, a batting title and broke a MLB record that stood for decades. Mothra can’t hold his jock. If that is the insight in the “weird Japanese” stuff you will be disseminating tomorrow, save yourself and all of us the time.

  3. Fascinating how you’re willing to decide who’s best without watching the matchup runny. I, for one, hope they do have a bit of a rivalry worth watching. Baseball is a lot more fun that way.

  4. Mike White said

    I say this not based on what he has done in America. Hell, I was freaking out that the Sox paid JD Drew, Matsuzaka, and Julio Lugo $200 million dollars while Red Sox Nation had essentially no idea how they were going to perform. I base the statement on the media hype WITHIN JAPAN. I am describing how Japan will treat the at-bat, not America. These are the two most prominent Japanese baseball players in the world, and the Japanese media will treat it as such.

    And besides, watch the video. It takes a damn good pitcher to strike out Ichiro three times in one game.

  5. runnypelvisthefat said

    I enjoy rivalries just as much as the next fan, but to compare Ichiro to Dice-sucKit this early is foolish at best. Makes no sense to induct this guy into the Hall of Fame for one start against the Royals. Ichiro has competed at the MLB level for almost a decade. Dice-sucKit has had one start. His start was a good one, but, again, it was against a team that is comprised mostly of stud AAA prospects. Not hitters even close to Ichiro’s level. I will believe that Dice-sucKit is the 2nd coming and worthy of the hype once he does what Ichrio did-prove it overtime at the MLB level. One start hardly makes an allstar.

    Also, I just don’t believe he is that good. What has he done to justify this hype? He has some good starts in Spring, but it was Spring. He had some bad starts as well (just like nearly every pitcher/player). He was only slightly better than Igawa, and Igawa was terrible. Look at a guy like Nomo. He came on to the scene and dominated for the first half of a season. Once teams saw him, they ran him out of the league. I’ve seen nothing in Dice-sucKit that convinces me that he will not be Nomo II. In fact, I will refer to him only as “Nomo II” from here on out.

  6. Hmmm… Didn’t Nomo throw a couple of no-hitters in his career?

  7. Mike White said

    I never said that Mothra was HOF worthy. I am aware that he’s only had one major league start, in the cold, against the Royals. But the video is of the same Ichiro of which we speak. And Matsuzaka was 18 at the time. It does show that Matsuzaka has played well against Ichiro in the Japanese leagues, and since JAPAN (not me, again I must emphasize this) think he’s huge, for JAPAN this will be a near equivalent of the Super Bowl. I think it’s a very interesting matchup.

    And if you’re going to compare the two, people had serious doubts about Ichiro when he first came to the states as well, that he wasn’t a power hitter, that his numbers were inflated because he had never faced MLB pitching.

    It’s kind of funny, though…Hideo Nomo had a no-hitter in April of one year for the Sox and never pitched well again.

  8. runnypelvisthefat said

    Get off the homer bandwagon!!! Matsui was a MUCH bigger star in Japan than Nomo II ever was. The Japanese press chronicled Matsui’s exploits when he was in HIGH SCHOOL. Businessmen would skip work to watch him play in HIGH SCHOOL games. C’mon, Nomo II was never that big of a star even in his home country!!!!

    Nor was he ever bigger than Ichiro. Ichiro had stalkers that would chase him down to grab the million dollar bounty the Japanese press put on him for anyone who could get nude pictures of him. No one in Japan is doing that for Nomo II. Know why? Because he is Nomo II.

    Besides, who cares what he did in Japan?!?!? He is in MLB now-let him prove his abilities at the highest level. 3 ABs prove nothing. Doug Mientkiewicz started the season 3-4. Should we have started comparing him to Ty Cobb?!?! Tuffy Rhodes led the Japanese league in homers the year after he couldn’t make it on any club in the majors. Does that mean he was babe Ruth and it would be huge for Japan if he came back to face MLB pitchers?!?!?!

    Let Nomo II throw a few more starts against teams other than glorified AAA clubs. If he puts up shutouts and 10 k performances everytime (or even comes close to that), I will start thinking you guys are not as much as clowns as I think you are right now.

    If you are going to liveblog about Japanese stuff, make it about something useful. I want to learn more about those Shabu Shabu restaurants. Get us info on that instead of clips of Nomo II’s previous pitching performances against an inferior league.

  9. runnypelvisthefat said

    Yeap, Nomo threw no hitters. So did Wilson Alvarez (he did his in his 1st start). Look where they both are. If we dusted-off Alvarez and had him face Big Papi, I hardly think the fans in the Dominican will be skipping work to watch that epic battle.

  10. runnypelvisthefat said

    I’m not saying Nomo II is not good. I just don’t believe he is that good, and I’m not convinced that fans in Japan will be glued to their TV sets to watch him face Ichiro. And I don’t buy that 3 ABs equates to playing well against a hitter. 3 ABs does not provide an accurate reading. Not even close.

  11. Mike White said

    I never said Nomo was a Japanese star. You mentioned him and it reminded me of his no hitter for the Sox and sucking forever more.

    As for weird Japanese stuff, I mean stuff like this:

  12. Mike White said

    I should also mention the graphic in the video that showed

    Ichiro vs. Matsuzaka:

    34 AB, 8 H, .234 BA, 1HR.

  13. runnypelvisthefat said

    I don’t think Nomo was a Japanese star either. I will give you that 34 BAs is a much better comparison.

  14. Easy, champ said

    Runny, I think your tampon is in sideways. Take a valium or something, you’re foaming at the mouth.

  15. […] as Digital Headbutt points out, this is hardly the first time Matsuzaka and Ichiro will meet … and, historically, Dice-K has […]

  16. Grimey said

    Japanese baseball totally needs a Gamera.

  17. Mike White said

    Grimey: Gamera is a flying Terrapin, and Eric Milton played baseball at the University of Maryland. So he could be MLB’s Gamera, I guess. Japan’s Gamera would be someone who can hit for power but is insanely slow. Kenji Johjima?

    I almost forgot: Kenji Johjima, the only Japanese cathcer in the majors and a rising star, also plays for Seattle, making Wednesday night even bigger.

  18. I have to tell you, Gamera was always my favorite monster.

  19. firedannyainge said

    When the Yankee fans thought they would get Dice-K they wouldn’t shut up about him being the next best thing. The second the Red Sox got him the same whiny Yankee fans said he was nothing, not even a third starter.

    Maybe he has not done anything IN THE US but Japan has the right to like him and tout him as much as they feel like.

  20. Grimey said

    Kenji Johjima is friend of children!

  21. runnypelvisthefat,
    Um. Matsuzaka was a Koshien star too. And the first pick in the draft. Matsui was a big star, yes, but he was also playing for the equivalent of the Yankees during a time in which they dominated Japanese baseball. That helped his popularity by a lot.
    Also, Matsuzaka and Ichiro did a lot for Japanese baseball pride by leading the Japanese team to the World Baseball Classic title. Matsuzaka was and is a big deal in Japan.
    And don’t try to use TV ratings in Japan later to support your opinion that Ichiro/Matsuzaka isn’t a draw since the game will be airing at three in the morning and will skew the numbers.
    And besides, the whole point of the post was that Ichiro/D-Mat (I deny thee, Dice-K!) will be a big deal IN JAPAN. TO JAPANESE BASEBALL.

  22. runnypelvisthefat said

    Lost In Ube,

    I didn’t try to use Japanese TV ratings to support anything I wrote. Re-read my comments. No one has given me any reason to believe that an upcoming match-up with Ichiro will cause an entire country to “implode” or completely lose their minds about a Red Sox-Mariners match-up in April. It is just the same non-sensical hype the media has been feeding everyone since the end of last season. I baffled that everyone is still ready to anoint him as the 2nd coming based upon some Youtube videos and a box score. Give the guy a chance to prove himself.

    I also never said that he was not a star in Japan or didn’t do a lot for Japanese baseball. A lot of players and things contributed to making Japanese baseball more known to the US and the rest of the world. Nomo II was one of those players who contributed, but I don’t buy that the the entire country of Japan is going to be too concerned about Wednesday’s game (I could care about Japanese TV time slots, too).

    You guys should start a Nomo II fan site that just blogs about his daily happenings. If what you are sayig is true, there will be an entire country of Japanese fans blogging on your site to get updates. Maybe you could get pictures of him partying on Landsdowne Street, buying frapalottachinomochalattes at Starbucks and putting his spare change in Brian Daubach’s begging cup before games. Maybe you can call Cooperstown now to get his bust ready. By Friday he should be ready for induction.

  23. Anthony said

    I live and Japan, and can already feel the earth quake pre-tremors coming out. I can’t wait to read the post you throw up on this, I’ll let you know if Japan actually does erupt.

  24. There’s already Matsuzaka Watch at
    Japanese fans won’t flock to English sites because they can blog and get the information on their own. The fact is that many newscasts and most sports programs will be covering this game, enough to justify people saying that it will be a big deal.
    Give the guy a chance to prove himself? You’re the one calling him names and jumping to as many conclusions as the media who are hyping him to the stars.

  25. vluhart said

    hmm…let see..and wait for the result..!!! on that big game event in Japan!!

  26. Vluhart,
    Agreed. Let’s just all sit back and enjoy the games.

  27. Mike Plugh said

    Runny clearly has no sense of what Japan is like, or what Japanese people are interested in. I cover Japanese baseball for Baseball Prospectus, and several US newspapers. I correspond with seasoned veterans of the Japanese sports beat at every major Japanese newspaper, and I have had dealings with important people in the diplomatic core between the US and Japan. This matchup is, in fact, one of the biggest moments in Japanese sports history. The entire nation will be at the television to watch this.

    Also, to correct something, Matsui was a big Koshien star, but he never had the chance to show his mettle. He was intentionally walked and his team was eliminated. Matsuzaka pitched his team to the title, and did so with a 250 outing, followed by an inning of relief the next day, and a no-hitter in the championship game a day after that. He has an entire generation of people named after him. “The Matsuzaka Generation” are all in their mid-to-late 20s and are glued to their televisions.

    I appreciate that you’d like to see a calmer reaction to Matsuzaka all around, but you are picking all the wrong arguments to support yourself. You’d do a lot better if you’d simply say in a civil tone, “He looks pretty good, but we have to wait to see him do it over the course of an entire season. He could just as well fall apart.” You’d be wrong, but at least you wouldn’t come off as abrasive.

  28. Mike White said

    Lost in Ube:

    Exactly! That’s the entire point of this post. This is a game that I am going to have a lot of fun watching. Seeing two of the biggest baseball players in Japan face each other at the MLB level will be very exciting to us. In Japan is might be all that sports fans can talk about. The report you see in the video came out in February at the latest. Japan was hyping this matchup WAY before I did; over there it is a very, very big event. So, just enjoy the game.

    Still, it’s so rare to see Ichiro, such a good hitter (consistently one of the best batting averages in MLB), strike out three times in one game. The mere prospect of a pitcher pulling that off is exciting, and here we have video evidence.

  29. Mike Plugh said

    By the way, there’s an entire section of the Nikkan Sports dedicated to Matsuzaka as a result of his gigantic popularity (none for Matsui or Ichiro). It’s in Japanese and now in English.



    They are following every breath he takes. I heard he took a piss at 3:42am yesterday and there were traces of asparagus in it. Stinky.

  30. Mike White said

    Thanks for the links, Mike. Nihongo ga hanasemasu ka?

  31. Mike Plugh said

    Mochiron. Mada kodomopoi nihongo shika hanasenaikedo….ganbarimasu…

  32. Mike White said

    Sumimasen, wakarimasendeshita. Chotto nihngo ga hanasemasu kedo, yomu to kiku no ga heta desu.

  33. Mike White said

    For those of you keeping tabs in English, that last comment means my Japanese is not very good.

  34. Lucas said

    Hi, very good blog!
    Check my blog
    Best wishes from Argentina


  35. Mike White said

    Gracias, Lucas. Pero pro favor, la proxima vez que pongas tu blog en los comentarios, trata de hablar sobre el sujeto (Ichiro y Matsuzaka, en este caso). Comentarios como lo tuyo, sin hablar del sujeto me dice que estas tratando de vender tu sitio, algo que a los blogistas no les gustan.

    Or, in English: Please, when commenting, try to discuss a subject in the post or in the comment thread. Please don’t comment only for the sake of promoting your blog. Again, I appreciate the comment and that you like my blog, but when commenting please try to stay on subject; it’s a matter of blog etiquette.

  36. j.blo said

    I just wanted to chip in to say that I find Runny’s posts in this thread to have been consistently idiotic. He missed the point of Mike’s post and then repeatedly changed the goalposts, contradicting himself each time.

    So Mike “bought into they hype,” even though “Nomo II” is not a huge star in Japan? Huh?

    I hate internet contrarians.

  37. Mike White,
    Mike rough..wait, Mike Plugh roughly said (and I apologize if it’s wrong) “Of course, but I can only speak simple Japanese. I will do my best.” Kodomopoi actually means childish but it sounds weird to say that about someone else.
    I came here from a link on Deadspin and decided to comment, sorry if I caused tempers to flare a bit more than they should have.
    Anyway, in Japan every sports program has a special segment featuring just Japanese players overseas, especially for baseball and soccer (poor tiny Tabuse). You can bet that they will be excited for in the next coming days although Matsui’s injury has been the top news for the last couple of days.
    Mike Plugh,
    Probably not the best place to say this but I appreciate Matsuzaka Watch. I wasn’t really paying attention to Japanese baseball back when Matsuzaka was in high school but how did the reaction to the ハンカチ王子 (Handkerchief Prince) compare to Matsuzaka’s back in the day? Or do the housewives somewhat skew the data?

  38. Dan L. said

    Indeed we will have dueling live blogs, it appears. I say it might be fun to play off each other.

    As for the Mothra nickname, I actually love it — Look at my last name, and you won’t be surprised to hear that was one of my nicknames while playing high school basketball.

    Red Sox Monster

  39. Mike White said

    Red Sox Monster: That would be fun. Shameless cross promotion it is, then.

    Runny pelvis the fat: What does that even mean? Does it mean you’re having liposuction and a colonics procedure at the same time? Now that’s what I call relaxation!

  40. Flash Flash for the Cash said

    Maybe if Japan implodes tomorrow we would stop hearing about how Dice-K is the greatest pitcher ever and people can focus on a terrific baseball game featuring some dynamic players on BOTH teams. Felix Hernandez very well might be the best pitcher in baseball right now but he is being ignored for tomorrow’s game because of the Dice mania going on. People need to hold off on praising Dice-K until he proves himself in this league over the course of a season while pitching in a 5 man rotation and facing hitters for more than 3 – 4 at bats. I wish Dice-K well but I am sick of the hype.

    To defend Runny….It is highly relaxing to receive lip and citrus colonics at the same time.

  41. […] Japan Is Going To Implode on Wednesday This Wednesday night is the biggest event is Japanese sports since the 2002 World Cup. In Fenway Park, Daisuke […] […]

  42. Mike Plugh said

    Yuki Saito, the handkerchief prince, is a similar pitcher to Daisuke circa 1998. He isn’t very big, but he pitches with poise and has tremendous “stuff”. If he learns how to use his arsenal better, control his breaking pitches more, and adds another 2-3 mph on his fastball, he’ll be Major League ready in 4-5 years. When he graduates from Waseda U., he should make the direct jump at 23-years old. The free agent frenzy should be quite chaotic.

    He has the same kind of cult that Matsuzaka once sported, although Daisuke’s snowballed over the course of 9 years. Saito is still new on the scene at 18 years old, so I expect it will take another 2-3 before people realize that he is becoming the next great pitcher….


  43. I will take Philip Hughes over Saito any day of the week.

  44. Mike White said

    I just saw Hughes’ specs, and as Sox fan, I don’t want to see him pitching anytime soon. He’s a good prospect.

    Mike, this makes four watch sites you have for Japanese pitchers: Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish, Uehara, and now Yuki Saito. Have you considered putting them all together for just one site dedicated to baseball prospects in Japan? By itself I think it will generate a lot of buzz. You could call it “Yakyuu no Kaiju: Monsters of Japanese Baseball”, or something like that. Just a thought.

  45. What time tonight will you be blogging for the Nomo II lovefest?

  46. Mike White said

    The live blog starts at around 6:30 pm. I take it you and Flash Flash have money riding on the Mariners tonight. Felix Hernandez is even less of a known entity than Matsuzaka, really struggling late last season after he was put on a pedestal in May.

  47. The spread is great for the Mariners and King Felix. Should be a low scoring game. I won’t be able to watch the beginning, but hope to be able to see some of the end. Flash will be blogging though. No doubt.

    I disagree with you about Felix being less known. He has been in the majors for a year +. He has shown what he can do. He just gets better and better. Jury is still out on Nomo II. Hopefully he is as good as advertised.

  48. I will be live blogging as well. I want to make sure an unbiased worldly view is presented. Well it will be unbiased from the standpoint that I dislike both teams equally. ha ha

    The game is an easy case of bet on the team that is slighted. All the attention is on The Sox and Dice-K and I am pretty sure Felix and the Ms feel slighted. Think Texas/USC and Florida/Ohio St. in football. 9 times out of 10 this theory holds up.

  49. […] Japan Is Going To Implode on Wednesday […]

  50. Mike White said

    Yeah, I was about to say: if you came here for objective coverage, somebody done told you wrong!

  51. Well Dice-K certainly was not the best pitcher in the park yesterday. I think it was a nightmare scenario for him because King Felix showed better stuff better with every pitch. Also, winning sweet coin is always a plus at the Red Sox expense. Ka-ching!!!

  52. The Mariners couldn’t have picked a better pitcher to start against Nomo II last night. They picked the perfect stage to showcase their true phenom. King Felix is the real deal. The last pitch he threw last night was the best pitch I have ever seen. Ever. He could have told Youkilis what he was going to throw, how fast it would be and where it would be and Youkilis still wouldn’t have been able to hit it. Which of the two starters last night was worth $100 mil?!?! Love it. Love it. Love it.

    Did Japan implode last night?

  53. Mike White said

    Yes, it was obvious that Felix Hernandez was the better pitcher last night, and while Matsuzaka pitched well, Hernandez made him look bad.

    That doesn’t take away from the point of my post: that in Japan, the Mastuzaka-Ichiro matchup was a big deal. Over 30 million Japanese were watching that game on NHK. That’s about 25% of the of the country, at 8 in the morning. Try getting 75 million Americans to watch ANYTHING at 8 in the morning on a Thursday! And every Japanese national TV station cut to the Ichiro-Matsuzka at-bat. He went 0-4, striking out once. If Matsuzaka didn’t throw a bad high, inside pitch to Adrian Beltre in the 5th inning with 2 outs, the inning would have ended 1-0, and the game would have been still very much in the balance to the end.

    But no doubt, Felix Hernandez became the star of the night; his stuff was unhittable, and to be honest, he should have gotten more attention coming into the game. But it’s April, and both of these players need to prove themselves over an entire season. Felix can still gain 30 pounds by September.

  54. Mike White said

    And regardless, you had to enjoy the live blog.

  55. I actually missed the live blogs. Very sad about that. I wanted to watch every pitch. Good picthing match-ups are hard to find and very much underappreciated.

    I’ve always understood the point of your post. I understand that it is a big deal in Japan. I just think it was overhyped. I don’t doubt the viewing stats.

    HAHA! Felix definately has potential to gain 30 pounds by September. Very true. However, by September I’m sure there will be more than enough chances for Nomo II to be outpitched again and to find nude lockerroom photos of him with Manny being Manny. Will be a fun season.

  56. Good work on the live blog Mike. I give you props. The whacky Japanese stuff you find is priceless.

  57. Nothing will ever beat the reference to Icelandic party food you did in the Blue Jays blog, though. My stomach is still turning from that one. I’ll remember not to eat anything when I go to Bjork’s BBQ on Friday.

  58. “Icelandic Party Food” may be the new name for my fantasy baseball team!! That is hysterical!! Nice work!

  59. Mike White said

    For everyone who doesn’t know what Extrapolater is talking about, Porramatur is a traditional Icelandic dish, and perhaps the worst food ever devised by mankind. I linked to it in If I Ran…The Blue Jays. Read about it, if you dare.

  60. Mike,

    That is fantastic and a great blog. Flash and I have had the exact same discussions in the past about owning the Milwaukee Brewers. We brainstormed about ideas to better sell the Brewers product. We have a drunken buddy named Lenty who is overweight, balding and has a HUGE head. Gigantic. Makes Bonk’s head look tiny. He also sweats a lot (even when he swims). Complete debacle when he drinks. He was actually thrown out of Milwaukee’s old County Stadium for cursing too much. Seriously. Very lame on the Stadium’s part on that. Our plan was to just get him hammered during games and let him roam Miller Park to interact with the fans. We were going to have contests like “Cheese the Fathead” where the Wisconsin cheesehead fans could fling various cheeses at his head, anytime they saw him in the stands. We would handout cheese slices at the gate, and anytime they got pieces to stick, they won a prize. We also thought about installing stipper poles in the field and throughout the park. Icelandic Part Food is such a great idea. Nice work!!

  61. […] impact. I became aware of Mike Plugh, a baseball writer living in Japan, when he commented on Digital Headbutt a while back. He is the creator of Matsuzaka Watch and other blogs focusing on Nippon baseball, and […]

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