Japan's Hall of Fame is tougher than ours

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Three players were inducted into Japan’s baseball hall of fame.  One player who didn’t make it:

Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, a three-time batting Triple Crown winner, missed by one vote for the second year in a row.

In addition to winning the triple crown thrice, Ochiai won two additional batting titles in non-Triple Crown years, two additional home run titles in non-Triple Crown years, was a two-time MVP, hit 510 home runs and had an OPS of .987 in a 20 year career that seems to have followed the usual sort of arc for a superstar. He also won a Japan Series as a manager.

I’ll confess that I know nothing about the intricacies of Japanese Hall of Fame elections, but until told otherwise I’m going to assume that he either (a) was tied to some sort of scandal; or (b) that esteemed Japanese baseball writer Jay-san Mariottizuka mailed in a blank ballot.

(thanks to Bob T. — who reports that, among the media, Ochiai had a bad reputation for being cocky, which probably explains all of this — for the heads up) 

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.