picture of the day

New star

23 Comments

Media and fans swarm around highly touted Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Yuki Saito (carrying his coat, center) after and he and his teammates arrived at Naha Airport in Okinawa on Monday to begin spring training. The former Waseda University ace is expected to share the limelight with ace Yu Darvish.

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23 Comments
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I hope that he will not be crushed by expectations.

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What the hell is a Ham Fighter...

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@ caldina- Don't worry, he will be.

@gaijin.... (I can't bring myself to say the rest, LOL)- Did you just get off the boat? The owner of the team is Nippon Ham (you do know what ham is, I'm assuming). Their nickname is... well you get the point.

It's so sad in this country how the press go absolutely bananas each year and focus attention on 1 single player. Let'em be. Go chase down a real story.

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@whyRUasking - Yes, i am aware of what ham is. Just the nickname Ham Fighters sounds a bit weird.

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@whyRUasking - Yes, i am aware of what ham is. Just the nickname Ham Fighters sounds a bit weird.

The company that owns them is called Nippon Ham. Where is your problem with common sense?

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Yes, i am aware of what ham is. Just the nickname Ham Fighters sounds a bit weird.

They aren't called "Ham Fighters".

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@Dog, ok. The Nippon Ham Fighters makes alot more sense! Well done.

Moderator: That ends discussion on this point.

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Good. No close-up. Makes him look handsome and my breakfast staying in a little longer :)

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The Japanese are unbelievably susceptible to hype to a shameless degree.

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It's so sad in this country how the press go absolutely bananas each year and focus attention on 1 single player.

I agree. Many other talented ball-players. The press creates pressure from all sides...

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He is not your average pitcher. His Koshien performance was truly the stuff of legend. (21 straight innings of one run ball over two days against the two-time defending champs, striking out Tanaka Masahiro for the final out) Led Waseda U to 4 straight titles. I only know of one game he lost in 4 years there (funny enough, against perennial last place Todai in his senior season) He really is a big deal, but this media swarm is getting absurd. There are always highly touted rookies who get more attention than others, but don't remember anything like this. Remember that Darvish guy? Yeah, he plays for the Fighters, too. This must be starting to annoy the veterans...

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too bad he can't pitch. But remember, in Japan if you are popular you don't have to be good.

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About a month ago "Hokkaido Nippon Jam Fighters" ( the REAL / FULL name of the Club ) started a presale of the 2011 season new uniforms that wouldn't be revealed until 3 weeks later..

As a fan club member & season ticket holder I logged into their website on that particular morning about 2 hours after the sale started and was amazed to find that the #18 Saitoh ( the way it's spelled on the uniform as opposed to above's "Saito" ) was sold out already - in two hours !!!!!!!!! none of the other established players except #11 Darvish were close ( his showed a triangle to represent low stock )...

So... above all else the young Mr. Saitoh represents a tremendous goods and marketing opportunity for the team - that in it'self fans the flames & flames the fans...

On top of everything he is definitely a talented pitcher and a very well mannered and intelligent speaking sportsman when he is being interviewed - a trait sometimes laking in sportsmen who sound brash, arrogant and uneducated ( meaning he comes across as both humble and intelligent ) - here's hoping the transition to the Japanese Majors goes well for him and doesn't change his character too much......

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Freudian Slip...

Hokkaido Nippon HAM Fighters - not JAM... that's just too funny 8-)

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Who says baseball isn't popular in Japan anymore?

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The Yankees really need another starter and should make him an offer he can't refuse.

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If you call a max velocity 143 km fastball talented, then I suppose he sure is talented.

If he plays for them at all this year I would be very surprised. He should call Jamie Moyer and get advice on how to pitch when you can't throw.

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paulinusa -- I hope you are being sarcastic? Japanese baseball had all-time lows in attendence and TV viwership last year. The fact that a swarm of reporters is there to great him is NOT an indication of the popularity of baseball. It is just the cultural thing here about creating the newest celebrity, and immediately over-exposing him/her. For example, you can bet every TV station tonight will show him walking onto the field for the first time and throwing in the bull-pen, with such insightful commentary as: "He threw a mixture of straightballs and curves". LOL.

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With all the keyrings, pencil cases and Nippon Ham fighter jerseys theyve already sold, Id bet my testicles theyve already made their money back on ol Yuki Saito. hope the kid doesn`t bomb!

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I'll take number 1

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I really should pay more attention to Japanese baseball. It's pretty interesting!

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Debucho, I seem to remember a guy by the name of Maddux who didn't exactly have a cannon for an arm, either. Won an awful lot of games with that mid 80's fastball.

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If you think this guy is Maddux, I have some swamp land in Florida to sell you

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