Nippon Ham Fighters

Video: First pitches in Japan sure are different

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I wasn’t really sure what was going on in this ceremonial first pitch before this Nippon-Ham Fighters game at first. There are characters and costumes and all of that, likely for Japanese entertainments I’ve never heard of but which my son probably knows all about because he’s into stuff like that.

When he wakes up — it’s summer vacation he and his sister both sleep approximately 20 hours a day — I think I’ll show him this. Hopefully the part where things get weird begin just as he’s getting ready to mock me for my ignorance, because I do understand what’s going on there and he probably doesn’t.

Note: that’s not a reference to something unsafe for work or for teenagers. I’m talkin’ about wrestling. Anyway:

(h/t to Ray Steele)

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.