I haven’t been writing about baseball lately. Somehow I want to blame it on my work, which might be true to a certain extent. But then again I still have the chance to catch a decent amount of games both from the States and Japan, so I shouldn’t complain. What got me to write this one in the first place was the news of a 16-year-old boy from Germany being signed by the Minnesota Twins to a record ~$800.000 deal. The Twins have a history of signing players from Germany and it seems they even have scouts assigned especially to Germany. Newspapers are starting to pick up the story just recently, although the news broke almost a month ago. There are pieces written in German by the big papers like Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der SPIEGEL or die tageszeitung. Although he is labeled a German player Max Kepler-Rozycki has an American mother so there was at least some connection to the game. He plays for the current German champions Buchbinder Legionäre Regensburg and is an outfielder considered to be a five-tool player. The articles I have linked to wonder whether he could be able to transform the perception of the game in Germany pointing to the impact the move of Dirk Nowitzki to the NBA had on German basketball. Still it has to be said that by the time Nowitzki made it to the USA he wasn’t the first player and the German national basketball already had some success on the international stage. This is completely different from baseball. There is no groundwork to built from.
What interesting is how those articles try to explain the minor league system to their readers. I know how difficult this is so some comparisons don’t make sense to me, because I somehow know how the farm system works. What people in Germany might fail to comprehend is that this boy will start off at the lowest level and that he has to work his way up for a long time. Considering he is still only 16 there might be a chance that he will make it to the big leagues at one point in the future, but that’s something no one knows right now.
Moving along to Japan this season seems to come down as one huge disappointment for me as the Tigers are dumped in the cellar of the Central League with only the Baystars behind them. I watched a few games and it seems their pitching declined significantly from last season. Totally different from what I saw of Yu Darvish in a game recently. It seems that every time I catch a game he throws I get to see something extraordinary. To me (who still is a complete newbie to the game of baseball, mind you) he is just phenomenal. Everyting seems so easy when he is on the mound. Of course the Fighters went on to win the game and Darvish pitched all though 9 innings. I was also impressed by the support the Marines fans gave to their manager Bobby Valentine. In a time when in German football the fans turn their backs on the manager first when the team isn’t playing well, it’s impressive to hear that fans collect thousands of signatures to keep their manager.
Meanwhile I am looking forward to the Summer Koushien tournament. As I heard the preliminary regional tournaments haven’t started yet or are just about to start so I don’t know who will finally end up on the “sacred dirt”, but then again it doesn’t really matter to me as I am enjoying the game itself there.
Across the Pacific in the States I was fascinated by the close division races during the first half of the season. Although I knew chances were rather small that this might go on until the end of september it was nice to see different names at the top of the tables. I am still rooting for the Mariners to make it to the playoffs, although that might be a little bit to difficult. Still the AL West is a lot closer than the past two years. What disappointed me most was the decline of Matsuzaka Daisuke. But the way the press in Boston got at him was very interesting. Sure I know that everyone was complaining that he never got past the 6th inning and that he was so ineffective. But then on the other hand their new starter Brad Penny is doing the same (although I have to admit that he wins his games) and noone seems to be complaining. What also got me hooked was the 8-0 run the Red Sox had against the Yankees. Now I know they won’t be able to keep this up, but it’s interesting to see how the tables have turned. Another nice development to me is the use of younger players instead of old veterans. There have been so many new names in the league, it’s fun to find out about them.
I am really looking forward to the second half of the season on all fronts.