Ichiro vs. Matsui: major news in Japan

TEMPE – One of my new friends in the Japanese media, Taro Abe of Tokyo Chunichi Sports, had his game face on early Sunday morning.

“Big day today,” Taro told me. “Ichiro is coming with the Mariners. Ichiro and Matsui.”

Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui are the two biggest names in the biggest sport in their homeland. It is not an exaggeration to refer to them as the Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson of Japan — or LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, to be more current.

They are as different off the field as on, Matsui down-to-earth and easy-going, Ichiro edging toward flamboyant — and less accessible. Seven or eight Japanese media members accompany Ichiro, while the Matsui following runs from 15 to 40 or so, depending on the day and the storyline.

“We’ll have a lot of Japanese media here today,” Taro said, grinning.

This is the first meeting between the new American League West rivals, Ichiro in right field and leading off, Matsui batting fourth as the Angels’ designated hitter.

The matchup lost some of its appeal when projected Seattle starter Cliff Lee was forced to withdraw with a lower abdomen strain, taking some heat off a potential confrontation in the desert sun with Jered Weaver. Another lefty, Luke French, replaces Lee.

This game doesn’t count in any significant way, shape or form, but it will be covered with passion and feeling in Japan, where every movement by Ichiro and Hideki is a photo opportunity.

Asked on a fairly daily basis when Matsui will take a glove to left field, manager Mike Scioscia offered a creative new response Sunday.

“We’re down to hours,” he said, pausing with the timing of Jack Benny for effect. “Of course, it might be 316 hours, something like that.”

Matsui batted five times in a camp game Saturday against the Giants and was 0-for-2 with three walks. He is still searching for his power stroke, hitting a lot of ground balls while going 2-for-18 in Cactus League play. The lift will come when his balance and timing are at optimum levels.

Ichiro is doing what Ichiro does, hitting .250 in nine games with four steals. The new man behind him in the Seattle lineup, former Angels leadoff catalyst Chone Figgins, is off to a sluggish start, hitting .130. Behind Figgins, No. 3 in the order Sunday, is another former Angel, first baseman Casey Kotchman.

When the opening bell rings and the games matter, Ichiro and Figgins will form one of the game’s most dynamic 1-2 tandems, bringing new flavor to a newly shaped rivalry along with the Matsui-Ichiro duel.

The Angels haven’t lost a season series to Seattle since 2003 and have won four in a row. They’ll face the Mariners 19 times this season, and each one will have a great deal of meaning in a distant land.

One thing is certain: Japan’s media won’t miss a thing. The first of those 19 meetings, on May 7 in Seattle, is circled on a lot of calendars. They won’t get together in Anaheim until May 28 for a fthree-game series. The pot should be boiling by then. – Lyle Spencer

 

45 comments

  1. toddcook23@gmail.com

    Thanks for the insights, that’s pretty interesting comparison to Kobe and Lebron. I recently heard that the Yankees are losing 3 million out of the wildblue a year from Japan advertisers since Matsui has left. That could continue to be a determining factor in signing foreign players.

  2. toddcook23@gmail.com

    Thanks for the insights, that’s pretty interesting comparison to Kobe and Lebron. I recently heard that the Yankees are losing 3 million out of the wildblue a year from Japan advertisers since Matsui has left. That could continue to be a determining factor in signing foreign players.

  3. sidkof@gmail.com

    As a fan of the Yankees and Matsui fan – thanks for the production of someone like Hideki Matsui. A true Yankee legend. Hitting over .600 and driving in a crazy six rbi in Game 6 of the World Series – unbelievable! Godzilla has Company Voluntary Arrangement roared and I hope the Yankee property to bring it back. Yankees Come on Matsui!

  4. domainapple@gmail.com

    I absolutely love both of these players and I think they are a great fit for their teams. Japanese baseball players are becoming bigger and bigger. I wonder who the next big Japanese player will be? voip phone systems

  5. toddcook23@gmail.com

    This is no surprise to me that this is a huge deal in Japan. These two guys are gods over there. They both are similar by player standards, but from what I understand they are old rivals so it makes it that much sweeter. Super Bowl Tickets

  6. sidkof@gmail.com

    As a fan of the Yankees and Matsui fan – thanks for the production of someone like Hideki Matsui. A true Yankee legend. Hitting over .600 and driving in a crazy six rbi in Game 6 of the World Series – unbelievable! Godzilla has roared and I hope the Yankee property to bring it back. Yankees Come on Matsui! house removal

  7. gupta.anayrock@gmail.com

    This show recalls the sad and deadly war in Iraq in which thousands of people lost their lives. I don’t know why even in this age, people in the world are not civilized enough to live peacefully.

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  8. katiegreen1982@hotmail.com

    credentials

    The Japanese market is growing without limits and just as great players make the leap from there to here in America we will see more bloom in Japan as well…the reason is their culture promotes and rewards “team” rather than individuals…overseas most players regardless are more or less fundamentally sound. They are taught the basics first and the flashy moves come as reactions rather than done on purpose….at the end of the day all professional athletes are entertainers but knowing how to play the game will make the highlights more fun to watch. I just think in short the credentials overseas players come with will and should be the standard in the MLB sooner than later.

  9. simclif.cardenas@gmail.com

    I have been a Yakee Fan since I was still a kid, and the best thing that came to the Yankees since Babe Ruth was Matsui.

    Simon Clifton Cardenas
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  10. iyicocukol@gmail.com

    Rivalry makes the games even more interesting. When you are watching a cracking game you would not enjoy it as much as a scrappy game between your team and its main rivals. If you want to see a real confrontation google this out vinnie vs gascoigne. I am sure you would love it. refinance mortgage

  11. maplestory460@gmail.com

    “Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui are the two biggest names in the biggest sport in their homeland. It is not an exaggeration to refer to them as the Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson of Japan — or LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, to be more current.” Haha, I completely agree- that made so much sense, I started laughing!
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  12. rafiklouis7@yahoo.com

    I just cant stop reading this. Its so cool, so full of information that I just didn’t know. I’m glad to see that people are actually writing about this issue in such a smart way, showing us all different sides to it.
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  13. jane@towerofenglish.com

    when its all said and done Ichiro will be known as one of the best baseball players ever. Far better than somebody like pete rose who was basically a 300 hitter and his total hits will also be surpased by Ichiro but many will not count because he got them in Japan.
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  14. rafiklouis7@yahoo.com

    Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!
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  15. dressme14@gmail.com

    Matsui had shown how mighty Japanese are in baseball field. I love the Yankees but I love it more when Matsui had joined the team. He added spice and flavor to the already famous baseball team. I love celebrating all their victories with parties and party dresses. When Matsui left the team, I know he could be happier and achieve more in his own land.

  16. rafiklouis7@yahoo.com

    This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. rings

  17. vickybostic24@hotmail.com

    I really enjoyed knowing so much about Japan and what is going on in their country that is newsworthy. My cheap auto insurance company is interested in knowing the news that goes on in Japan and it’s important to our business. Thanks for sharing.

  18. steve@hotels24seven.com

    I love the respect the Japenese have in all sports they play. They are not arrogant and you can sense a well meaning culture. F1 is not seeing Japanese drivers which is great.

    I book Gatwick airport hotels with parking if anyone is flying to Japan and requires parking whilst they are away?

  19. rafiklouis7@yahoo.com

    I cannot WAIT to read more of this. I mean, you just know so much about this. So much of it Ive never even thought of. You sure did put a new twist on something that Ive heard so much about. I dont believe Ive actually read anything that does this subject as good justice as you just did.
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  20. ktaylor@thedigitalconnect.com

    I am a huge Matsui fan! I love Americas’ number one sport!
    Thank you for the informative article. It was a good read.
    I could talk about Baseball all day thx/karentheclassifiedgirl.

  21. ktaylor@thedigitalconnect.com

    Good Blog. I am always pleased to find a post that is as interesting as it was informative. Thanks for the share.
    Karen, theclassifiedsgirl

  22. ktaylor@thedigitalconnect.com

    good points were made in this article. enjoyable read. I am a huge fan of matsui. fine athlete and gentleman. thanks.

  23. ktaylor@thedigitalconnect.com

    Thanks for this interesting read. I love the way matsui plays baseball. I love the sport in general. Appreciate this informative website. karentheclassifieds girl

  24. tolver@securitieslawyersattorneys.com

    Big fan of ichiro, not so much Matsui. While both can be the equivalent of “Kobe and Lebron”, I’d say Ichiro has been the best standout japanese player ever. Matsui on the other hand I feel has greatly underachieved. Nonetheless it must be a thrill for the japanese to see these two native superstars go at it in the big leagues. kudos to both.


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  25. rafiklouis7@yahoo.com

    Youre so awesome, man! I cant believe I missed this blog for so long. Its just great stuff all round. Your design, man…too amazing! I cant wait to read what youve got next. eminence skincare

  26. mandela011@live.com

    Obviously japan’s media is excited..so would be i if i was in their place..when two stars meets in a game against each other it’s a big thing..that match was enjoyable in my opinion..hope they enjoyed it well.
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  27. rafiklouis7@yahoo.com

    What youre saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. diet software

  28. anderson_sarah54@yahoo.com

    Good article. Ichiro is one of the best pure hitters of all-time. Few have matched his consistency in the history of the sport.

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