From Japan with love

You may want to use this trivia question to win an iced tea bet at the local library.

Who are the four pitchers in Major League Baseball history to toss no-hitters in each league?

The first three are pretty good. Cy Young. Jim Bunning. Nolan Ryan. Start a rotation with that bunch, why don’t you.

And then there’s that elusive fourth man. Hideo Nomo who threw a no-no in that least likely of venues, the only one in fact in the history of Coors Field. Nomo repeated his feat for the Red Sox at Camden Yards. The first one there.

And now the Tornado is back.

Nomo’s baseball history easily is as convoluted and downright different as his tortuously twisting delivery. A delivery so unusual that even in Japan, the land of weird fits of pitching fancy and mojo delivery gyrations, he was famously named the Tornado.

Nomo also broke the Japanese financial mold. He got an agent — unheard of at the time — who got him out of a contract on a technicality and did a dastardly deed considered dishonorable at the time. He defected, er, let’s say, signed with the Dodgers. Since Nomomania — not quite Fernandomania, but as with L.A.’s Japantown, a nice touch for a while — he moved around quite a bit and had a solid U.S. career.

Which brings us to the present day as Nomo got back into the Major Leagues after a long hiatus. His usual Number 19 already was taken by Brian Bannister on the Royals, so the contrarian in Nomo went with Number 91. Get it?

Lo-and-behold, Nomo pitching and the matchup of the day in a way. Hideki Matsui came to the plate. Matsui’s career with the Giants, Yomiuri division, began in 1994 just as Nomo nearly dearly departed Nippon. And Matsui is legend in Japan, sort of a Hank Greenburg type, dominant power hitter. He’s been very, very good in the States, too, but his power numbers aren’t quite the super-colassal-happy-fun numbers of his play in Japan. Yet an all-star here.

Matsui is considered a solid citizen, but has some considerable quirks. He likes women. Really, really likes women. He boasted about dating five women at one time. Perhaps that phase is over since he recently married. But he couldn’t afford to divorce. After all, who would get his porno film collection? He is said to have more than 50,000 items and has spoken openly about the collection. Sorry, a bit too creepy for me, not the concept, but the size. And don’t go there…

There it was Japanese Central League fans: Kintetsu Buffaloes v. Yomiuri Giants. Nomo versus Matsui. The Tornado versus Godzilla. All on a wet Kansas City field with about a dozen people in the stands somewhat outmaneuvered by the few dozen Japanese media people hanging around the dugouts.

Great moment. Not. The at-bat was short and sweet. Matsui hit a weak pop-up and so it went. Maybe next time Nomo will face Matsui’s arch-rival, the inimitable Ichiro, and we’ll see some fireworks.

Other Notes From the Field:

C.C. No. No. Sabathia looks way over the weight limit and someone is going to have to throw him back back back. His fastball looks very straight and he is getting bombed, and not at the local hoo-hooery hole in a good way…

Talk to the hand says Jake Peavy. Does anyone who saw his hands as he left the mound after shutting out the Dodgers doubt he was as covered with pine tar as George Brett’s legendary bat? Put it this way. That wasn’t magic mud fairy dfust. With the whole world watching the reprise against the Dodgers, he clearly was not doing the dirty hand dance. Looked clean and pitched well, but not quite as well as the previous effort.

The Arizona Diamondbacks. They are hot. And as such, they look like Colorado looked at the end of last year and then some. With all the Rock-stuff last year, people tend to forget the D-Backs won the most games in the National League. They look better than last year. Fittingly, the Rockies have been their latest victims.

But it’s only April. So, all enjoy the Birds (Orioles, Jays, Cardinals, et a;) and the Bees (Salt Lake, best I could do) and all that jazz… 

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