A helmet, and a helping hand for Victorino

Leave a comment

victorino_090903.jpgWhile David “Lord Helmet” Wright has suddenly become ashamed of his massive brain protector, Shane Victorino is going in the opposite direction.

The Phillies center fielder is giving the fancy new Rawlings helmet a try. Victorino has always kind of looked like a little leaguer anyway in that double-flapped model, so he doesn’t have much to lose.

Then again, the Flyin’ Hawaiian seems to like to do things his own way. And that’s often a good thing. Victorino, for instance, is doing his part to try to help out high school sports in his home state of Hawaii.

According to the New York Times (with thanks to the Sporting News), Victorino has cut a check for $10,000 to help out the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which faces some tough budget cuts.

The fact that Hawaii is facing problems is not unique to the rest of the country during these times, but Hawaii certainly faces a unique set of circumstances. There are 95 high schools spread across the set of islands, and travel can be difficult and expensive, requiring ferry rides or — if lucky — plane flights.

And with no pro teams and limited college sports options, high school sports play a greater role in the lives of many residents.

Victorino said he felt a need to step up and help. From The Times:

At last count, officials had collected more than $700,000 of their $1.2 million goal, helping the association keep sports seasons going and avoid the prospect of forcing students to pay to play.

“It was almost like an obligation to do that,” Victorino said before a recent Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park. “It tells me something. In Hawaiian culture, everybody’s got each other’s back. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen anywhere else, but it is true in Hawaii. Family is No. 1.”

If enough money is not raised, athletes may be asked to pay their way to competitions, something Victorino said was unimaginable.

“You shouldn’t have to pay to play as a kid,” he said.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
Leave a comment

I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?