Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday Night Five: Japanese Baseball Players

On September 1st, 2014, Major League Baseball will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Masanori Murakami's debut for the San Francisco Giants.  That day Murakami became the first Japanese baseball player in MLB history and opened the door for players born in the Land of the Rising Sun.

1965 Topps #282

Earlier this week, Murakami celebrated his 70th birthday.  And after watching some of his fellow countrymen play this week, he must have sent them some birthday mojo.  Here are some of the highlights:

#1 Yu Darvish

2013 Topps Commemorative Rookie Patch #RCP25

Last night, Darvish came within one out of throwing his first MLB no hitter.  It's actually the second time this has happened in the last thirteen months.  And if that's not cool enough... last month he became the fastest player to reach 500 strikeouts in MLB history.


#2  Masahiro Tanaka

2014 Sports Illustrated for Kids #318

Following in Darvish's footsteps is Mr. Tanaka, who is a perfect 5-0 so far this season for the New York Yankees.  In fact the last time he lost a regular season game was back on August 19th, 2012.


#3 Ichiro Suzuki

2012 Topps Archives Relics #I

Ichiro is hands down the greatest baseball player to ever cross the Pacific and play in the MLB.  His 200+ hit seasons are a thing of the past, but at least he's hitting above .300 again.  This week he went 3 for 7 with a pair of doubles, one RBI, and three runs scored.


#4 Hisashi Iwakuma

2013 Topps Allen and Ginter Framed Mini Relics #HI

After a breakout season last year, he finally returned to the rotation this past week after injuring his finger during an offseason workout.  In two games, he went 2-0 with ten strikeouts, one walk, and a 2.45 ERA.


#5  Koji Uehara

2009 Topps 206 Mini Framed Auto #FMA2

And rounding out this edition of Saturday Night Five is Mr. Uehara.  Koji pitched in four games these past seven days and picked up two saves, while giving up zero earned runs.

Tonight's question...

Who are some of your favorite international athletes?  Do you collect them?

I obviously will collect any and all Japanese players... but I've actually enjoyed watching and supporting a ton of other international athletes over the years:  Ivan Rodriguez (Puerto Rico), Manny Pacquiao (Philippines), Jose Canseco (Cuba), Jeff Friesen (Canada), Anderson Silva (Brazil), Devin Setoguchi (Canada), Fernando Valenzuela (Mexico), Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic), and of course Patrick Marleau (Canada).

Well... that's all folks.  Happy Saturday and sayonara!

31 comments:

  1. As a soccer/football fan, my favorite international athletes tend to be guys with my favorite club, Manchester United. Guys like Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes...or, just as often, my favorite "international" athlete is actually an American abroad -- such as Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey when he was in England.

    Otherwise, I would say my favorite international athletes are the "imports" that play for Milwaukee. I was a big Ted Higuera fan back in the day, and I like Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez (and you'd like him too if you had him no matter his antics! :-) ).

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    1. I liked Higuera too. Invested in his 1986 Topps rookie cards. Totally forgot to consider Americans playing abroad. I'm going to need to sit down and think about that.

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  2. I'm digging Hun-Jin Ryu (South Korea) at the moment. Maybe it is my Dodgers fandom, but I really like the guy. There is something about his laid back, joking type of demeanor that is fun to watch. I actually watched a Korean game show he was on, keep in mind that I only speak and understand English, but enjoyed every minute of it.

    If you are in to that type of thing, here is the link: http://kshowonline.com/kshow/931-[engsub]-running-man-ep.119

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    1. That was awesome! Thanks for sharing. Growing up my parents would somehow find these Japanese game shows on TV... this kind of reminded me of that.

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  3. Japan: BIG HIROK, Junichi Tazawa & Maeda Kenta
    Taiwan: Wei Yin Chen & Chien-Ming Wang
    Canada: Brett Lawrie & Russell Martin
    Mexico: Manny Banuelos & Giovanny Gallegos
    Dominican Republic: Way too many to name but some notables would be Ivan Nova & Jose Bautista
    USA: Bryce Harper, Eric Jagielo, Eric Young Jr., Courtney Hawkins & Dellin Betances
    Venezuela: Francisco Cervelli & Henderson Alvarez
    Cuba: Jose Fernandez
    Puerto Rico: Yadier Molina, Bernie Williams & Jorge Posada
    Panama: Mariano Rivera
    Germany: Max Kepler
    Italy: Alex Liddi
    Netherlands: Andrelton Simmons
    Aruba: Xander Bogaerts
    Australia: Lewis Thorpe, Jack Barrie & Liam Hendricks (I feel like the Twins have a stranglehold on Australian talent)
    Nicaragua: Wilton Lopez

    I hope that MLB's quest for World Domination continues and we get to see more foreign talent come into the majors. I'd love to see more European baseball players enter the scene. It's been a while since we've had a pure Norwegian, French or British major leaguer.

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    1. Great list. Can't wait to see Maeda arrive in the states.

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  4. It's been fascinating to see international NBA players the past few years. I enjoy watching guys like Tony Parker and Dirk Nowitzki.

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    1. If I still collected basketball... I would have listed Parker. Still trying to figure out how he screwed things up with Eva though.

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  5. Henrik Lundqvist is my favorite current international athlete although there are so many international players in the NHL it's almost silly to consider them. But there you are. Robin van Persie of Manchester United is high on the list. Manny Machado is Dominican but like Canadian NHLers it's hard for me to think of him as 'international' To one extent or the other I collect all three, but not with any checklist or goal in particular.

    As for all time, ignoring Canadian NHLers like Eddie Giacomin and Rod Gilbert, it's definitely Sadaharu Oh. And I do collect him but the prices of his career era items are very intimidating. I have some cards of him as a manager and some oddball issues from his playing days but nothing really exciting. Maybe one day I'll correct that.

    Second to Oh would be Luis Figo, Portugal's great midfielder. I have a bunch of cheap cards and stickers of him.

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    1. Lol... I totally understand your point. I guess I could have listed every Shark who isn't American ;-)

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  6. Two Cubbies, both pitchers, Fergie Jenkins and Ryan Dempster. I have actively collected Ryan Dempster cards. After Ron Santo he's probably my biggest player collection.

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    1. Great pair of Canadian Cubbies!

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  7. No one player in particular . But the game is much better now with the best players from all over the world

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    1. Yeah. I don't take a guy's nationality into consideration when deciding if I'm a fan of his or not. Hurray humanity!! One Love!

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    2. Totally agree Mark! And defgav... with the exception of my Japanese PC, I don't take nationality into consideration either. I'm 100% down with One Love.

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  8. I never really thought about the question much, there are a couple of people that I have paid close attention to because of their nationality like Ken Shamrock and Kelly Slater (both Irish) and Jim Thorpe (Native American). I am Irish and my wife is Native American so I feel a connection to them. But I also follow Ichiro, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Kenji Johjima because of their Mariners connection.

    As for collections though I only collect Jim Thorpe, but I am looking to add a Slater autograph to my collection eventually.

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    1. I'd love to pick up a vintage Thorpe at some point. I have a few of his recent issues. As for Slater, that guy is insanely good. I have a pair of his signatures in my Surfer PC.

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  9. I've collected various Japanese players over the years, but my two favorite current Japanese imports are Koji and Munenori Kawasaki.

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    1. I'm secretly hoping the Munenori gets traded to the Padres or the A's, so I can become a super collector of his. That guy is full of energy and so positive... it's almost infectious.

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  10. Ichiro is by far my favorite international player, but I'm also partial to the relatively obscure Alex Liddi. He's the only big leaguer to be born and raised in Italy, which is where a lot of my family's heritage lies.

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  11. Right now it would be Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel in the Pirates organization. The movie Million Dollar Arm chronicles how they became the first Indian born professional baseball players.

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  12. So Taguchi came up with the Cardinals and had an important home run in the 2006 World Series. One of the fan favorites.

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  13. still waiting for someone from Portugal to make one of the big 4 leagues

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    1. At least you can go to sleep at night knowing that you have the best sausage in the world. My favorite breakfast is Portuguese sausage, eggs (over easy), and rice.

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    2. portuguese sausage in an omelet with onions inside a portuguese roll and im full for 2 days

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  14. Can't collect the Dodgers without being interested in international players.

    Hideo Nomo and Fernando, man. For starters.

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  15. It seems like most of the San Antonio Spurs are from somewhere besides the US. I like the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki is pretty awesome as well. But I don't really collect basketball cards, besides a few random Trail Blazers.

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    1. Oh, I mean, I GUESS that Chris Denorfia played for the Italian national team in the WBC, but dude grew up somewhere in New England, so I'm not going to count him.

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  16. Man, Darvish is a beast.

    Two of my main guys are both Canadian (Getzlaf and Russ Martin).

    Carlos Santana is Dominican; I don't necessarily "collect" Corey Perry -- I just accumulate some of his cards -- but he does hail from north of the border as well; Steve Nash is Canadian too.

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  17. I got nothing... as baseball is an American tradition, and more importantly, my Phils are mostly grizzled old veterans, I don't really have any foreigners on my radar at this point. I am open to the idea but not really active in that area...

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  18. I am still enamored with Tsuyoshi Shinjo, years after he did not turn into Ichiro Suzuki. Of course, he was more Munenori Kawasaki than Ichiro, but hey, 13 years ago, I could dream. I also own a boatload of Kaz Matsui cards whether I want to or not. Yikes, the Mets have had awful luck diving into the Far East, haven't they?

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