maandag, november 11, 2002

Nuts And Bolts

Baseball hasn't been buried out in the backyard for the winter just yet. Although you wouldn't much notice it for the paucity of coverage it seems to merit in most American newspapers, the Major League Stars were outslugged by Japanese All Stars today 8-2, the second straight loss for the Major League Stars. I didn't care so much for the final scores as I did for the interesting match-ups, an American hitting lineup that had Giambi batting behind Bonds and several Japanese players some Major League teams have their eyes on. In the opening game of the series, Koji Uehara gained a fair share of distinction by striking out Bonds three straight times (a career first for Bonds) and sent Giambi down with K's on two other occasions. Overall, he struck out eight and allowed only five hits and a lone run in six innings of work for the opening victory the night before. The 27 year old Koji Uehara, not exactly a household name in America, had himself quite a season recently in the Japanese Leagues, leading his division in wins with 17 and leading his team, the Yomiuri Giants to a four-game sweep of the Seibu Lions in the Japan Series by winning the opening game of the series.

Uehar's performance harkened memories of the legendary Eiji Sawamura. In 1934, Sawamura struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and set in motion Japan's long quest to catch up to the major leagues.

Unfortunately for his potential Major League suitors, Uehar will not be a free agent for another five years, or when he is the ripe old age of 32. One Japanese star who is ready and raring to pounce into performing in the Major Leagues is Godzilla Hideki Matsui. Matsui recently won his third Gold Glove but it is his power that has several teams set to shanghai the slugger. Naturally, the spoiled but blundering Yankees are the team considered most likely to nab him although the Daily News, among other sources, make grudging mention that the Mets too have expressed an interest. Not really sure what we are seeing about the Mets future when their new skipper has led the Major League Allstars to two straight losses in the series. Is he another George Karl meltdown waiting to happen?

Bonds, who just won his fifth MVP award, hit a first inning two run homer in the second game of the series to no avail, salvaging some of his dignity after striking out three straight times in Game One, but the effort was moot in that the Japanese stars won the game 8-2.

A quick scroll through the archives of Japanese newspapers online and it became apparent to me that there's a lot more going on in Japan that we ever hear about. According to Mainichi Daily News, a teacher was suspended for six months after threatening a rebellious student with an axe, the Nagano Prefectural Board of Education announced Monday. The unnamed 45-year-old teacher was in his class at a Nagano high school when a student of another class burst into the room and started making a racket in June this year. He ordered the final-year student to leave the room but the boy ignored him. Furious at the boy's antics, the teacher picked up an axe which he was using to cut firewood as part of his lesson, and threatened him. The teacher was having difficulties communicating with his students, members of the board said. In a separate incident, an elementary school teacher in his 40s was also suspended for six months for molesting a pupil, the board announced. (Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports, Nov. 11, 2002). Another interesting news item from the same source which I doubt will be on the nightly news here in the States, was that a man who torched his elderly mother to death in an attempt to collect benefits on insurance policies taken out on her was found guilty Monday. Presiding Judge Kazuhiro Ito handed the killer, Kiyoshi Tanikaze, an indefinite sentence, which on average means mere 17 years behind bars, for slaying his 81-year-old mother, Misao, on Aug. 20 last year. "He murdered his own mother in a cold-blooded and savage manner. Moreover, he has not shown any remorse," Ito said at the Kanazawa District Court. The 61-year-old plastic flower manufacturer took his mother for a drive and deliberately crashed into a utility pole on the night of Aug. 20, 2001. He then doused fuel on the concussed Misao and set her on fire, the ruling read. According to eyewitnesses, he made no attempt to rescue his burning mother, who was trapped in the front passenger seat of the car, and did not call an ambulance for about 15 minutes. Misao was burnt to death. Tanikaze was in debt to the tune of 25 million yen after making a huge loss in futures trading. He took out insurance policies on Misao in an attempt to clear his debts. (Mainichi Shimbun, Nov. 11, 2002). I see the export of baseball isn't the only aspect of American culture that is moving along nicely.

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