Thursday, May 31, 2007

Darvish Watch: Episode 10 (false start)

After being rained out the night before, Darvish and the Nippon Ham Fighters looked to take the field against the Yokohama Bay Stars in a continuation of the inter-league play going on across Japan. The Fighters have posted a Japan-best 6-0 record in interleague and have moved up nicely in the Pacific standings. On the hill for Yokohama was 26 year veteran, Kimiyasu Kudo. The game began after a 41 minute rain delay, although why they started to play is tough to figure. Kudo threw his first pitch amidst a driving and unrelenting rain before a small crowd of brave, umbrella wielding loyalists. The 44-year old gave up hits to three of the first four batters and allowed Nippon Ham to take a 1 run lead. Lord knows why they then asked Darvish to take the field, when the rain had not only continued, but also increased in intensity.

Darvish didn't complain, although he should have had a long conversation with the crew chief. An injury in a game like this would have been a tragedy. Instead, the young man induced a weak groundball back to the pitcher to retire the leadoff man, and then proceeded to blow away batters 2 and 3 with nasty heat. He needed only 10 pitches to retire the side 1-2-3, but jogged off the field soaked to the bone, water pouring off his drenched cap and dripping wildly off his shaggy hair. Game over.

The umps finally got it right by calling the game, but why did it take them so long? How is it fair to the players or the fans in that situation? Yokohama owes everyone an apology, as do the umpires on this night. None of the statistics count from this aborted mess, so we'll have to wait for the next night for a look at Yu Darvish. Will the rains hold up?

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