Recent Comments by billinnagoya

Only Japan-Born Sumo Grand Champion Retires

I have felt sorry for Kisenosato since his promotion. Howard_T is right in that there has been no native-born Yokozuna since Wakanohana (III) was promoted in 1998. The next five after him have been either Americans (1--Musashimaru) or Mongolians (4). Mongolians in particular have dominated the upper echelons of sumo for the last fifteen or so years, to the point that the sumo associate has been overly eager for some time to promote a native Japanese. Kisenotsato turned into their "great white hope" and they promoted him at the first conceivable opportunity. In the end, I feel, the pressure to succeed and reclaim Japanese dominance in the sport was just too much for him.

posted by billinnagoya at 11:04 PM on January 18, 2019

Rugby (Union) World Cup Starts Tonight

Two big surprises so far, and it's only the first day: Georgia-Tonga and then Japan-RSA. The Japan-RSA game was one of the most exciting I've ever seen. The Japanese team has certainly come a llllllllloooooooooooonnnnngggg way. Scotland and Samoa had better watch out or they'll go down just like the Springboks.

And if Georgia has really gotten that good, I wonder if they'll be replacing Italy any time soon in the Six Nations--or expanding the event to Seven Nations?

If this first day is a hint of what's to come, it will be a great World Cup.

posted by billinnagoya at 04:11 AM on September 20, 2015

Coming of Age

Your lead threw me. I thought "Australian football" was referring to "Aussie rules."

posted by billinnagoya at 03:54 AM on February 02, 2015

MLB umpire Dale Scott comes out as gay in quietest way possible.

Taking Dale Scott's action as a spearhead for change, umpire Angel Hernandez came out today as "stupid", while C.B. Bucknor came out as "blind", and both are hoping for the same tolerance and acceptance from the fans and players that Scott has received.

Thanks, Grum. I got a good laugh out of that.

posted by billinnagoya at 02:55 AM on December 03, 2014

Baylor Center and NBA prospect Isaiah Austin has been diagnosed with a career-ending genetic disorder.

As sad (and disappointing) as it must be, I must agree with Howard T that this is a blessing in disguise. Far better for him and his loved ones that the condition is discovered now rather than after he falls over dead on an NBA court. If I were his parent/sibling/partner/friend, I'd rather have him alive and growing old together as a working-class-stiff (Joe the plumber) than as a departed-much-too-young multimillionaire NBA player.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:47 AM on June 24, 2014

An oldie but a goodie

Thank you, Dr.John. Ahhh, the memories!!! My first big league game was at the Polo Grounds--during the Mets' inaugural season. Looking back at it now, it was really a dump by then. But to an eight-year-old kid going to his first game it was a real adventure!

posted by billinnagoya at 03:14 AM on October 19, 2013

Rays, Rangers Meet in One-Game Playoff for Wild Card Spot

If the plate umpire calls swing, don't even think of having the base umpire overrule the call, justified or not.

You've got me curious, Howard. Can a batter appeal a check swing call? I've never seen it.

posted by billinnagoya at 05:47 PM on October 01, 2013

Rays, Rangers Meet in One-Game Playoff for Wild Card Spot

I can't believe Leonys Martin got away with that trap in the seventh, which could have been huge but sadly wasn't. His flourish at the end sold six umps!

I soooooooooooo understand your feelings, Rcade. But what is the alternative? Having the umps go to the video on every questionable call? Already I get annoyed with those catchers who appeal to the first- or third-base ump almost every time the batter flinches. The umpires' misses are part of the human element of the game, like it or not.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:37 AM on October 01, 2013

Rays, Rangers Meet in One-Game Playoff for Wild Card Spot

Go Rays!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paraphrasing Buzz Lightyear: To Cleveland, and beyond!!!

posted by billinnagoya at 08:36 AM on October 01, 2013

Closing Scene: Hugs and Tears in Rivera’s Last Home Game

.... if only he could have done it all wearing a different uniform.

(You gotta remember, in my perfect world the Mets win the division/NLCS/WS and the Yankees go Oh-for-the-season)

posted by billinnagoya at 05:28 AM on September 28, 2013

Yankees Out of Playoff Contention

How's their farm system looking? Are there players at the Triple A level that are ready to move up and make an impact?

Don't the entire American and National Leagues constitute the Yankee farm system?

posted by billinnagoya at 09:00 PM on September 26, 2013

Japan Professsional Baseball: Balentien sets new single-season home run record

You have anything more on this? Google search didn't turn up much.

I first came across reference to it quite a few years ago in one of Robert Whiting's books on Japanese baseball (The Chrysanthemum and the Bat, You Gotta Have Wa, The Samurai Way of Baseball), but which one I don't remember off hand. Whiting mentions it often, such as this 2008 three-part column for the Japan Times, or this 2007 column for the New York Times. Jack Gallagher, executive sports editor for the Japan Times, also talks about it in a recent article. Gallagher adds that such bats were finally outlawed by the Japanese leagues in 1982--two years after Oh retired.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:33 PM on September 16, 2013

Japan Professsional Baseball: Balentien sets new single-season home run record

私は彼がパフォーマンス向上薬を使用しなかったと思います。 僕も。または、報道者の間でも薬物使用の噂もない。

As for the NYT article dfleming linked discussing the lively ball controversy, the article is of course chocked with hyperbole (i.e. check swing hits flying out of parks). More to the point, though, as the article notes near the end, the reported outrage has more to do with the power the Yomiuri Giants have long enjoyed to dictate their will on the leagues than it really is about increased offensive production. Nor have any of the sports writers here pursued that line of critque to cast a shadow over Balentien's challenge to the record. I would imagine they realize any advantages Balentien MAY have received from the new ball are offset by the livelier "compressed" bats that were legal in Oh's day (and which Oh used) and the shorter fences in the ballparks of that era.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:14 AM on September 16, 2013

Ichiro reaches 4,000 hit milestone between Japan (1,278) and MLB (2,722 and counting).

So he's still in pretty select company no matter where you put the Japanese leagues.

Amen to that!

posted by billinnagoya at 09:42 PM on August 23, 2013

Ichiro reaches 4,000 hit milestone between Japan (1,278) and MLB (2,722 and counting).

True enough, Japan Professional Baseball is on a somewhat higher level than triple-A, but it is still not the major leagues.

The perenniel argument. Of course, the Japanese like to believe JPB is major league level. And, in fact, there are more than just a few major-league level players, of which Ichiro is the prime example. (Heck, Ichiro is perhaps one of the three or four best all-round ball players I've ever seen.) However, there are far more startng players in these leagues who would do little more than ride the bench in MLB. Again, for every Ichiro, among the Japanese who tried to make the jump, look at how many flops have there been: Matsuzaka, Igawa, Fukudome, Kawakami; a little earlier, Irabu. (And these are just names off the top of my head.) At the same time there are more than a few players who were either marginal in the majors or who had little more than cup-of-coffee experience at that level who were very successful here: Boomer Wells, the Lee brothers, Charlie Manual, Ken Macha, Tyrone Woods, Matt Murton, Tony Blanco.

In sum, JPB is definitely high quality, but not major league, and the biggest reason is the restrictions on the number of foreign players a team can have on the roster or field at any given time. Can you imagine what that would do the the quality of play, considering the fact that nearly 30% of the MLB players are foreign-born? The teams would be forced to elevate native-born players from the minors who otherwise not earn serious consideration.

If the Japan league is that much lower, why did his hits stat take that dramatic jump when he switched to the majors?

In fact, his statistics did not really jump: his career BA is higher in JPB than it is in MLB. Rather, the 20+ extra games per year in MLB gave him 80-100 more at-bats each season, which in turn increased his total hit production.

When all is said and done, Ichiro is still one hell of a player--and his JPB stats should not be counted towards some world record. (The only record from JPB that did at one time deserve acknowledgement was Sachiyo Kinugasa's Ironman record of consecutive games played--which has since been eclipsed by CCal Ripkin.)

posted by billinnagoya at 06:07 PM on August 23, 2013

Classic Mo-ment: Rivera's final ASG flawless

"It's too bad he couldn't have played for a different team. He doesn't deserve that stain on his resume'..."

Oh MeatSaber, you expressed my feelings so well!

posted by billinnagoya at 07:34 AM on July 18, 2013

Oscar Pistorius Suspected in Girlfriend's Death

At this point nobody (except Pistorius) really knows what happened. So, why the rush to either condemn or defend/justify/excuse him? Of course, he is an individual who has overcome tremendous adversity and become an inspiration to many--but that does not mean he can't be a creep as a person (think Lance Armstong). At the same time, there are also plenty of Jerry Plunketts out there (i.e. James Cagney character in the movie, Fighting 69th) who are often royal pains in the a$$, but when it really counts can be pretty noble.

Let all of the information come out first.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:06 PM on February 14, 2013

Cole: Football Should Eliminate the PAT

Detailed proceedings for each of the five years have already appeared in the pages of this journal during those years.

Don't know where that line came from in my last post. Please ignore it. I meant to highlight this one:

Oof. That's pretty much a game-by-game examination.

posted by billinnagoya at 02:17 AM on November 23, 2012

Cole: Football Should Eliminate the PAT

Detailed proceedings for each of the five years have already appeared in the pages of this journal during those years.

Thanks, Grum. I knew you would come up with some statistics. And you are right, the data concerning the missed two-point conversions would surely be more interesting to look at.

The original article calls for making the PAT automatic unless the team opts to go for the two-pointer. Such a rule in my mind eliminates the possibility for a fake kick turned into a 2-point conversion play--like the fake field goal attempt or punt turned into a passing play. There may be too few cases of such a play to make it worth talking about, but it is certainly interesting to have it as an option.

posted by billinnagoya at 02:00 AM on November 23, 2012

Cole: Football Should Eliminate the PAT

That's three out of 672 games.

Still, it has made a difference on occasion. And it keeps the 2-point conversion a viable option/gamble late in a close game. (Grum, you got any stats on how often the 2-point conversion made a difference?)

To make it more interesting, though, football might go back to its rugby roots and make the kickers kick from a point perpendicular to the goal line from where the runner crossed the line or the receiver caught the ball. The sharper angles would certainly make it more of a challenge and less of a sure thing.

posted by billinnagoya at 05:13 PM on November 22, 2012

Darvish Won't Play in Baseball Classic

"He's a Ham Fighter. He can take it."

He's a fighter, not a Ham Fighter. Nippon Ham is the name of the company that owns the team. Fighters is the team nickname. Just thought I'd clarify.

Thanks, Mothball, you beat me to it.

Does anyone recall what happened to Matsuzaka in '09? He injured himself while preparing for the WBC--an injury he didn't reveal to anyone--which contributed to his disastrous '09 season for Boston, all while Boston is paying him in excess of $8 mil. and picking up the tab for his rehabilitation; and probably a major contributing factor to their second-place finish and failure to get past Anaheim in the ALCS. It's not that I don't want to see the best of the best playing in the WBC, but I would certainly understand why MLB teams would not want their players involved.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:14 PM on November 07, 2012

One-Legged Soccer Player Scores Epic Goal

Good for him. It is always as inspiration to see someone overcoming personal limitations.

Two thumbs up!

posted by billinnagoya at 07:33 AM on September 24, 2012

There's No I in Clemens

What feloniousmonk said!

"There's No I in Clemens"?????? Bullspit!!! I'm sure rcade was being ironic with his title--Clemens uses the first-person pronoun eight times just in the quotation cited.

And the sad thing is that he would have had it, too, (like Bonds) if only his ego (and/or maybe his greed) hadn't gotten in the way.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:33 AM on September 12, 2012

Ichiro is now a Yankee.

Hugh, if you didn't hear it, what Ichiro did say was 「そいう無駄な質問に時間を裂けないでほしい。」 (I would prefer that you didn't waste our time with such unimportant questions.) Always the gentleman!

I like your "rephrasing", but you're missing something. Remember, Ichiro is from Aichi-ken. In Nagoya-ben it would probably come out more something like あっほ!なーにきぃーてる、おみぇ?そんなばかな質問するにゃ!! (Stupid! What the f**** do you think you're asking? Don't ask such nonsense!)

My apologies to those who don't speak or read Japanese. I am not a professional translator, like HJ, but I am 1) a long-term resident of Nagoya, central Japan, 2) an avid baseball fan, and 3) in particular, a Chunichi Dragons fan (to borrow a phrase from Tommy Lasorda, "cut me and I'll bleed [Dragons] blue"). Whether it be here in Japan with the non-Japanese players in our leagues, or in the Majors with the Japanese players, I always find it amusing to listen to what the ballplayer actually says and how the translator handles it. Often there is a big gap, as the translator opts for discretion over literal accuracy.

And, because Ichiro has gone to the "Evil Empire" (I am originally from the NYC area, and a National League fan--NY Giants first, and then the Mets), his stock has lost a great deal of luster in my eyes. Leaving the Mariners for the Yankees would be the equivalent of leaving my beloved Dragons for the Yomiuri Giants (Evil Empire, Part 2).

posted by billinnagoya at 06:55 AM on July 25, 2012

Goodell lays down rules for team relocation to LA

God forbid that the league or the individual owners should be forced to consider the fans who actually put the money in their coffers--especially when there is an additional dollar to be made elsewhere. The hell with those fans in Jacksonville, San Diego, St Louis or wherever else: there is more money to be made in LA. Why settle for, for example, $250 mil when we can get $300 mil elsewhere. After all, in the end it is the bottom line that counts most. Some people can never make enough money.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:16 AM on July 02, 2012

North Dakota voters overwhelmingly decide to do away with UND's 'Fighting Sioux' Nickname

Are you being obtuse or are that thick?

Take your pick. It must be one or the other.

Why do we have to have this conversation every time?

Have we had it before? Sorry I missed it. I'll try not to burden you again.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:12 PM on June 14, 2012

North Dakota voters overwhelmingly decide to do away with UND's 'Fighting Sioux' Nickname

To really compare with the offensive implications and simplistic stereotyping of "Fighting Sioux", wouldn't Notre Dame need to be called the "Drunken Irish"? Then how would you feel about it?

You know, I am not convinced that the "Fighting Sioux" is indeed intended to be the sort of stereotypical slur that you are asserting. Of course, I could be wrong--but then again, you might be, as well.

More to my point, though, is that people will find offense where they wish to find it. In the end, therefore, it may be wisest to either abandon team nicknames and mascots altogether or to limit choices to some officially approved list plain vanilla list.

And, bperk, you have a point worth considering.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:11 PM on June 14, 2012

North Dakota voters overwhelmingly decide to do away with UND's 'Fighting Sioux' Nickname

* indicates potentially offensive logo as well
Chicago Blackhawks *
Boston Celtics *
Cleveland Indians *
Atlanta Braves *
Kansas City Chiefs
Washington Redskins *

That's around 5%.

Off the top of my head, I'd say you forgot the Los Angeles Dodgers (Trolley Dodgers was a denigrating nickname for Brooklynites) and the New York Yankees (originally a sobriquet for the unsophisticated and sometimes naive upstate New Yorkers--several theories on etymology; all derogatory). I don't know: do you suppose any Catholics, particularly of Hispanic origins, are offended by the San Diego Padres? And how about Notre Dame's Fighting Irish?

Obviously, some names are offensive, like the Redskins, and should be changed. Others, however, seem to me intended to honor certain groups, like the Blackhawks, or laudable qualities associated with those groups.

I am not settled on the issue, but neither am I ready to make blanket condemnations of all these team nicknames. As an Irishman I personally am not offended by either Notre Dame or the Boston Celtics (just the pronunciation--it is "hard"C, like a K); quite the opposite, in fact.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:14 PM on June 14, 2012

Mets Runner Reaches Second, Runs Back to First

Ah, deja vu all over again. It's 1962; we're at the Polo Grounds, ...

posted by billinnagoya at 05:48 PM on April 16, 2012

Williams Late Try is Winner for Wales

What a match!!! And what a finish!!! I don't blame the television official for the no-try ruling--though I am sure many England fans do--as none of the video angles I saw were conclusive. But I agree with Mr. Bismark: it would have been interesting to see if Flood could have handled the pressure on that tough angle for the tying conversion points.

posted by billinnagoya at 10:54 PM on February 26, 2012

Texas Rangers win posting auction for Yu Darvish with reported $51.7 M bid

Darvish is good--closer to the real thing than Matsuzaka was. But it is still buying a pig in a poke. While there are quite a few major league quality batters in the Japanese leagues, there are even more of minor league quality.

That would be a ridiculous offer to make to a player without a single season in the majors.

Let alone a player who has never thrown a single pitch in a major league game. Still, Tellum is probably going to demand the moon and the stars--and he'll probably get it. Go figure.

posted by billinnagoya at 02:00 AM on December 20, 2011

New York Times: Paterno's Exit Underway at Penn State

Hindsight is great, isn't it: always 20/20.

I have no idea what went through Paterno's mind when the accusations against Sandusky came to his attention. What any of us do know is that: 1) something heinous happened; 2) Paterno did not personally witness said acts, but heard about them second-hand from a graduate assistant; 3) he followed normal procedure and reported what he heard to his superiors; 4) his superiors, in turn, failed to take the matter to the police. So it seems, at least to me, like Paterno did what he thought at the time was the right thing.

Should Paterno have gone to the police himself? Hindsight demands we say "yes," and I would guess that Paterno would now agree. But no one has the benefit of hindsight when making such choices.

I wish I could also have the benefit of insight into Paterno's mind that some other commentors here, like rcade, seem to have when they so confidently assert that Paterno's decisions were grounded in his concern for the reputation of his institution (and himself) more than the victimization of children .

Again, hindsight is wonderful: it is certainly an effective and persuasive prosecutorial tool for the court of public opinion. I am only glad that it has no place in the court of law.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:08 AM on November 09, 2011

Two teams, Two countries, One passion

I am sorry to see that this topic didn't draw any comments. Personally, I am saddened that the State Department couldn't find some way to accommodate these children, since that is what they are. It is sad, but in the end, it is always the children who suffer.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:02 AM on October 28, 2011

Could Rugby Take Off in the US?

Send me an invite. Otherwise I'll totally forget.

yerfatma: You really need to expand your sports horizon because, in fact, you missed a pretty good game. Through the first half the USA held Ireland to one penalty goal and a single try/conversion (10-0). In the second half Ireland improved only incrementally. The final score--22-10--was closer than it sounds. And that is from a country with no real history of rugby against one of the traditional powerhouses. Kind of like Spain/UK/Holland giving the US a scare in the World Baseball Classic.

And, ... the final score does not always tell the whole story. Last night's France romp over Japan is another good example. The final was 47-21, but until the last 5 minutes it was really anybody's game. The Japanese had France pretty scared. Japan lost by such a margin mostly because they were already losing 25-21 with 15 minutes to go and trying close that gap. The mistakes under pressure turned out to be be brutal.

posted by billinnagoya at 05:00 AM on September 11, 2011

Could Rugby Take Off in the US?

You're wrong about the differences between league and union - the games are more dissimilar than Canadian and American Football. ... However, that's all moot as league has very little international presence, and if rugby is going to take off in the States, it will be union.

I will stand, conditionally, corrected, as I did not grow up watching rugby--though have been watching both NFL and CFL football since the late 1960s. More to the point, I agree, if rugby does take off in the US it will be union. Here in Japan, at least, I don't think I've ever seen league played.

Whatever. New Zealand really did romp tonight. But it is only the first round. Go USA!!! If they can't do it... Ireland!!!!!!!! (But they are in the same Group, and their first game is against each other. A Mother's dilemma!!)

posted by billinnagoya at 07:29 AM on September 09, 2011

Could Rugby Take Off in the US?

Probably not.

I agree. As good a game as rugby is, until and unless interest starts to generate among high school kids and younger, it just isn't going to catch up in popularity with the "big three".

It's hard to build a sport's presence when there are two competing versions.

I don't think the differences between union and league are significant enough to be that big a barrier. After all, that difference is on par with the differences in American versus National League baseball. (Or maybe softball versus baseball; or CFL versus NFL.) Fundamentally it is the same game.

posted by billinnagoya at 03:52 AM on September 09, 2011

Football Ref Attacked by Players, Coaches

There's nothing healthy about making knee-jerk assumptions ahead of the facts involving race.

Agreed. And there have been some pretty stupid comments made on the subject here. However, I didn't think those made by dviking--the individual you threatened to censor--were of that nature. Rather, it seems to me that your assumption that his question is steeped in racist ignorance is no less of a "knee-jerk" reaction than that of those who see every incident of black-on-white violence as racist and evidence of black inferiority.

Where you draw the line is up to you. But, please, just make sure you are not crossing the line between legitimate moderating of a subject into self-righteous censorship.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:11 PM on September 04, 2011

Football Ref Attacked by Players, Coaches

That's your right, but it's an opinion you won't be voicing here.

Rcade, are you saying that only opinions you approve of may be posted? Since its your site, I guess you can do as you please. But I fail to see how such a policy is fundamentally any different from the Catholic Church's (thankfully now defunct) Index Expurgatorius or any other form of censorship. All it will accomplish in the end is shutting down a healthy exchange of opinion that just might persuade some holders of narrowly formed opinions to reexamine their assumptions. And that would be tragic.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:41 AM on September 04, 2011

The Rugby World Cup 2011

USA!!! (I know; call me a dreamer).

If they can't do it ... IRELAND!!!!!!!!

Uh oh, ... US's first game is against .... Ireland. Maybe I'd better not watch.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:05 AM on September 04, 2011

So, Cricket, Maybe?

Ditto LBB.

I learned to appreciate cricket when I lived in Canterbury 1999-2001. At first I thought I'd be bored to tears, but once I got to understand the game it hooked me. Towards the end of our stay in England, my wife and I used to finish off the evening watch the "Today at the Test" highlights. On EXTREMELY RARE occasions it is on cable here in Japan (think I've caught it twice in the last 8 or so years). When it is, I usually watch--at least for a while.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:59 AM on June 20, 2011

Posada Asks Out of Yankees Lineup

...not cheering right?

Yeah. I'd guess Bobby spent too much time in the Japanese leagues, where cheering is organized--and constant.

posted by billinnagoya at 05:59 PM on May 16, 2011

Heyman: Barry Bonds Belongs in Hall of Fame

This is what makes me nuts about this case. ... Then, they are going to scapegoat Bonds for the whole era. Singling out individual players avoids the real issue for me - that baseball knew what was going on and let it happen anyway.

I can certainly appreciate your point regarding the legal case against Bonds. There is a saying in Japanese that translates something like this: "It is the peg that stands out which gets hammered back down." And Bonds' superstar status MAY certainly have something to do with the prosecutor's decision to go after him.

But, it seems to me two issues are getting inextricably twisted here. First, it isn't MLB that prosecuted Bonds; it is the federal government. Nor was he prosecuted for using steroids, which did not violate MLB rules at the time (though the manner in which said drugs were obtained and administered did violate federal law). Rather, he was prosecuted for (allegedly) perjuring himself in testimony during an investigation into a company that was selling such drugs illegally.

Should he have been prosecuted for that? A good question. Any answer I would give would depend on how essential his testimony was in the case against BALCO. Certainly, any alleged perjury had more to do with his ego (i.e. having to admit his records were tainted) than with fear of self-incrimination (he was granted immunity).

As far as MLB is concerned, they haven't done a thing to Bonds or any of the other alleged users of that time. All remain eligible. McGwire recently got a coaching job with St. Louis. Should he have? If I were an owner, I wouldn't engage any of them--but that is a decision each organization must reach for itself. I also feel none of them belong in the Hall. But that is just my personal feeling.

Baseball let things spiral out of control such that a player with as much skill and talent as Bonds felt he needed to do steroids.

I do have a problem with this. Blaming the pressure of competition or MLB's failure to address the problem immediately and head on reminds me of the old Flip Wilson "the devil made me do it" defense. These are grown men we are talking about; not little children. Nor are they victims of anything but their own egos or greed. Each of these users made a choice to engage in behavior they all knew was less than ethical (otherwise they would do it openly rather than surreptitiously). This sort of defense only undermines any sense of personal responsibility we assume mature adults should have.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:02 PM on April 20, 2011

Heyman: Barry Bonds Belongs in Hall of Fame

A hung jury is a non-verdict, it's as if the trial never most certainly is not a ruling of innocence.

That distinction is relevant only in a system where I'm guilty until proven innocent.

Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

It's relevant because double jeopardy does not attach to a hung jury/mistrial. The prosecution can choose to retry the case.

Uh-huh, but I'm still innocent until they do. Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

(The previous four entries)

Of course, we are talking about a court of law here. As far as Bonds' guilt or innocence on the criminal charges is concerned, there should be no other standard. However, on the question of election to the Hall of Fame--where this conversation began--we move from the court of law to the court of public opinion, in which the standards for the burden of proof is much lower.

Induction into the Hall is certainly not a right; it is a privilege. And perhaps exclusion from the Hall is the most fitting price Bonds could pay for his choices. After all, if he was a steroids user--and all of the signs convince me that he was--he did so because it irked him that lesser talented players (e.g. McGwire, Sosa) were getting the adulation he felt should be his. It would be ironic, but depriving him of that glory and recognition he so desperately craved would probably be more unpalatable for him than any fine or jail term a court of law might hand down.

And if it is ever shown that he was wrongly accused? Well, he certainly would not have been falsely imprisoned and thus deprived of his liberty. Nor would he have been wrongly deprived of his livelihood. And he can have the satisfaction of telling a humbled and apologetic public to kiss his a$$.

posted by billinnagoya at 05:09 AM on April 20, 2011

Heyman: Barry Bonds Belongs in Hall of Fame

That's bullshit.

I wasn't arguing for Rose, just stating that there MIGHT be an argument there, as opposed to some of the other specific cases mentioned.

The fact that he was gambling on games he was involved in is more than enough proof that it affected his managerial decisions.

And which games were those? The way I understand it, he always bet on himself to win. As a player or manager it is pretty near impossible to make moves designed to deliberately win a game.

Still the fact is that he was betting on baseball, and that is why he has been declared ineligible. And personally, I don't disagree.

Yup. So clear that it stopped players like Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry from making it into the ... oh, wait. Never mind.

So, do we throw out the baby with the bath water? Whatever lowlifes and cheats may have sneaked under the radar does not mean we should just chuck the standards altogether. Rather, I would urge that those who do have the vote should be more responsible and unbiased in applying those standards.

posted by billinnagoya at 12:17 AM on April 18, 2011

Heyman: Barry Bonds Belongs in Hall of Fame

I agree that Bonds was one of the premier players of his day, even without the juice. He probably would not have passed Hank Aaron on his own, but he'd have been close. He wouldn't have passed McGwire's tainted record without the juice, but he very likely would have bested Maris's. And that makes it such a shame.

All that said and done, rule 5 of the BBWAA HoF Election regulations says

Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Eligibility requirements can't be much clearer than that. looks pretty silly when you step back a little bit. Baseball's always been filled with cheats, gamblers and liars, and some of them were the best players to ever play. Cheating has always existed, and I doubt that it will ever be completely eliminated. But that does not mean we should throw up our hands and just accept it as inevitable, never mind honor it.

As for some of the specific cases pointed to, the case of Pete Rose may be arguable, as it seems his gambling addiction never affected his play or any managerial decisions he made. Hal Chase for sure, and perhaps Shoeless Joe, fall into a different category as their actions did affect the integrity of the game--not to mention the outcome of specific games. Bonds, McGwire, and co. as well.

Maybe by refusing to honor them, perhaps just one player more may resist the temptation to follow the path they chose. To me, for the sake of the one, it would be worth it.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:00 PM on April 17, 2011

NCAA President: Players Need More Money

... schools devalue even their tuition when they fail to graduate many players and steer other players to easy degrees that won't help them get a job in the future.

Every time this sort of discussion comes up, in my own mind I keep coming back to the same question: why are these student-athletes in college to begin with? The purpose of a university education is, first, to produce intellectually mature, rounded individuals, and, secondly to (hopefully) equip them with marketable skills that will prepare them for a lifetime career. It is NOT to groom a (relatively small) pool of future NBA/NFL/MLB/etc. draftees.

Some students come from families that can afford to pay for their education outright; others, like me, had to work their way though college--washing dishes, delivering pizza, pumping gas, etc. Still others, because of need or athletic talent, are given a free (or near-free) education.

True, the sums generated by intercollegiate sports is huge, but unlike professional teams this revenue should not be going into the pockets of the university administrators but (hopefully) right back into the schools' educational mission in the form of teacher/support staff salaries, scholarships for the needy/deserving, improvement of the educational facilities, and on and on.

Where the schools fail these student-athletes is NOT in not paying them, but rather in holding them to a lower (non-existent?) academic standard than that to which the general student population is held. The vast majority of them will not go on to play sports professionally, and most of those that do will, in the end, will wind up short-term journeymen not making the astronomical sums reserved for the elite few. The real scandal, to me, is in admitting many of these students in the first place, if they are not intellectually capable of doing college work, and, once having admitted them, not putting their education before their playing time--which means enforcing suspensions, probation, and, in the last resort, expulsions for academic failure.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:11 PM on April 01, 2011

396-Pound Sumo Wrestler Runs Marathon

Sumo wrestlers generally are in terrific shape for their size.

That undoubtedly applies to professional sumo wrestlers here in Japan, where sumo remains very much a spartan, feudal world: long hours of grueling training, at times brutal discipline, and a very strict hierarchical social structure. However, I wonder just how true it is of amateur and semi-professional sumo wrestlers in other countries, such as the individual at the center of this article.

Chanko, by the way, is delicious.

posted by billinnagoya at 11:03 PM on March 23, 2011

396-Pound Sumo Wrestler Runs Marathon

I'm not "weight challenged" either: just fat--though not nearly as big as this guy. (He's close to two of me.) So I do have some idea of the challenges completing a 26-mile course involve. Yes, his pace is significantly slower than the average walking pace for a "normal-size" person. But, if he jogged the first ten miles, that in itself is quite an accomplishment. I hope he keeps it up; his time will improve with each attempt.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:29 PM on March 21, 2011

Adrian Peterson Calls NFL 'Modern-Day Slavery'

Can't have games with just owners.

No, but you wouldn't have any without them, either. They're the ones that hire and pay the coaching staff, trainers, support personnel, and, yes, the players themselves; they provide the uniforms, equipment, training facilities, etc.; they hire the venue (often with huge taxpayer support!!!), arrange and provide the transportation; and on and on. Maybe in the end they make more than they deserve, but where would professional sports be without them?

Seriously, what do you think might be the chances of success in this day and age of a player-owned and operated franchise, like baseball's Players' League that existed for the 1890 season?

posted by billinnagoya at 12:34 AM on March 18, 2011

Adrian Peterson Calls NFL 'Modern-Day Slavery'

General Motors is a publicly traded corporation and as a result files lots of financial data with the SEC, all of which is obtainable by the UAW. Pro football teams, OTOH, are privately held and file nothing, essentially, with the SEC. So think a little harder next time you try to make a point, m'kay?

My fellow bill, actually I had thought about it, though obviously not to your satisfaction. I've learned over the years that most participants in these sorts of on-line discussions are not interested in reading detailed opinions, so I usually try to keep my postings brief.

You have a point in that the information available via the SEC on a publicly traded corporation far exceeds that which might be available on privately-owned businesses. HOWEVER, that too would pale by comparison to direct access to the accounting books--which is what the NFLPA, MLBPA, NBAPA, etc. have been calling for since the mid-1970s at least. Granting such access not only would require the ownership to metaphorically strip naked for union inspection but would also allow the union's accountants to be equally creative in their interpretation of the bookkeeping as they press their case for an even bigger portion of the pie--which currently exceeds 50%.

Do not get the idea that I am necessarily on the owners' side. Actually I say a curse on both their houses. Neither the billionaires nor the millionaires will ever be satisfied with what they have; they'll always see what the other side has and want more. Still, I have little sympathy with the union because, in the end, it will be the fans who foot the bill; people who are for the most part members of the working-class whose lifetime incomes will never amount to what most of the players will make in a year or two.

Respectfully ...

posted by billinnagoya at 09:41 PM on March 17, 2011

Adrian Peterson Calls NFL 'Modern-Day Slavery'

...but these guys refuse to open their books and negotiate fairly and openly with their employees.

I'm curious: when did it become a standard labor negotiation practice for management to open their books to the union so that the union can then calculate their demands? Is that how it is done between, say, GM and UAW? And how about from the union side; what sort of confidential information are they required to provide to management that might effect the course of negotiations? You know, like confidential player files on PED use and the like.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:46 PM on March 15, 2011

Tsunami Disaster Disrupts Japanese Sports

For those familiar with him, Marty Kuehnert is safe. Here is his own account of the experience in Sendai.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:59 AM on March 15, 2011

Tsunami Disaster Disrupts Japanese Sports

To the extent that anyone here in Japan will still be interested, sporting events particularly in the greater Tokyo area are going to be a virtual impossibility given the power and transportation situation.

The baseball season is scheduled to open on March 25, but that is going to be a near impossibility: Six of the twelve teams are directly affected. The Rakuten Golden Eagles call Sendai home, and that is right in the middle of the area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. Five of the remaining teams are located in the greater Tokyo area--Chiba Lotte Marines, Yomiuri Giants, Yakult Swallows, Yokohama Baystars, and Saitama Seibu Lions--where the rotating blackouts are in effect.

posted by billinnagoya at 06:48 AM on March 15, 2011

American Rugby on the Rise

Rcade, it is not nearly as confusing as you'd think. I've only been watching rugby for a couple of years, ever since my son started playing. Still, I've caught on to the basics pretty quickly--and learned to really like the game.

While there are some important differences between Union and League, I'd describe them as something akin to the differences between National and American league baseball (or maybe the differences between baseball and the different variations of softball); that is, significant but not so drastic as to make the games mutually unintelligible. The fundamentals are the same, whether it be union, league, or sevens (Aussie rules is a different story): teams score by grounding (downing) the ball in the opponent's end zone or kicking the ball through the uprights and over the crossbar; there is no forward passing--the ball can only be advanced by running it or kicking it; a player must be onside to be involved in the play. Once you've got that, the rest is not so hard to figure out.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:54 PM on January 24, 2011

American Rugby on the Rise

Rugby is a good game, and I am grateful to see one of the major networks giving it more exposure. It is certainly a very physical and demanding game, though not quite as dangerous (in my opinion) as football (i.e. no blocking, no high/dangerous tackling)--and there is a lot more action since play does not stop with every tackle or turnover. If it would catch on in the US, it could be a good alternative at the high school level for kids who want to be part of a team sport but are not quite big enough to make the football squads.

While I prefer the full 15-player rugby union variety, a good sevens match is usually exciting--fewer players most often means more movement of the ball and more scoring. Thanks NBC.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:25 PM on January 23, 2011

49ers' Smith Ejected for Shoving Official

Smith earns the flag, but shouldn't have been ejected.

The problem is that the rule calls for an automatic ejection. Once he called the penalty, the referee no longer had a choice on the ejection.

but he should have recognized that the shove was unintentional.

The shove, for sure, was intentional. However, Smith most probably didn't realize it was an official he was shoving. In the heat of the moment it is impossible, but he should have looked first.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:49 PM on December 18, 2010

Bob Feller, The Greatest Cleveland Indian, dies at age 92

RIP. You were one of the greatest.

posted by billinnagoya at 01:39 AM on December 16, 2010

Cliff Lee is ... a Phillie?

The Yankees had the lowest errors in the Majors last season, 14 less than the Phillies. They had lower errors two out of the previous three years before that.

Yes, but the point is that the fielder doesn't get charged with an error if ball is beyond the reach of his (declining) range. ... even though it may well be within reach for the majority of other major league shortstops (or other position players).

Matsui Hideki, for example, had a great fielding percentage, but that is only because he rarely dropped a fly ball that he could reach, or muffed the throw after fielding the ball. But don't forget the fact that his range was/is soooooooooooo limited that there were many fly balls most other outfielders could get, nor were runners intimidated by his throwing arm.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:16 PM on December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee is ... a Phillie?

40 years ago, Curt Flood filed a lawsuit that changed baseball to fight his trade to Philadelphia. I wonder what he would say today.

I kind of picture him sitting together with WC Fields, both agreeing that "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

posted by billinnagoya at 07:05 PM on December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee is ... a Phillie?

I don't understand why Lee would want to return to Philly enough to leave $30 million-plus on the table.

I guess for some people there does come a point where the sums involved are just so astronomical that it is no longer a matter of simply grabbing the maximum number of dollars. That is, there is a point where less-than-max is enough. And that is something I am sure the Yankee ownership will have a tough time getting their minds around, if they even can.

It does make me wonder, though, what it is about Philly that would trump the Yankees' offer. Or maybe, like me, Lee just despises the Yankees so much that he wouldn't play for them for any amount of money.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:59 AM on December 14, 2010