Balentien hits 55th home run to equal Japan record

By Jim Armstrong

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Let's see if this season's new ball is contagious enough to give it's players some new cajones as well. I remember watching good ol' Tuffy. To confirm my memory didn't rewrite history, I checked the web to confirm. Indeed, "In the 2001 season, he hit his 55th homer to tie Sadaharu Oh's Japanese League single season home run record, set in 1964. For the rest of the season, opposing pitchers intentionally walked Rhodes to prevent him from breaking Oh's record." Then I looked up Cabrera. "Like Rhodes, Cabrera would see few good pitches for the remaining games after tying the record." With 21 games left, I sure hope things have changed in the past 10 years.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"I sure hope things have changed"

2 points: he's got lots and lots of games left. So unless he very soon gets his face bashed in by a vicious bean-ball like Charlie Manual did, then there's little the bigots can do about it.

No. 2: Tokyo just got the Olympics. So unsportsman-like conduct by the Japanese now could throw a very bad light on country and its qualifications for holding an international sporting event.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ganbarre, ganbarre, Wladimir-san !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He'll break it, then smash it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Robert Whiting made an interesting point in an interview recently that Ichiros breaking the single season hits record in MLB in 2004 may have changed views here. Seeing how guys in the majors didnt care about Ichiro`s nationality or try any of the Bass-like dirty tricks to protect the record may have turned that sort of behavior into a taboo.

About Rhodes and Cabrerea, I seem to recall Rhodes getting screwed in the last game of the season but I distinctly remember watching Cabreras final game and him getting plenty of pitches in the strike zone, he just didnt connect.

Anyway, all that will just be a historical footnote once Balentien breaks the record. Im wondering if hell match Roger Maris` 61.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It was great to see the Hiroshima fans give him a standing ovation. Very classy.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

He should be able to get it with that many games remaining. Good luck!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

See the hit? Didn't think he connected properly on the outside pitch, but look at that bouncy ball fly. Wheeeeee.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

balentien deserves a lot of credit for hitting so many home runs, but i wonder how much of it is because of the new ball japan used this year. homers are up something like 20 percent. regardless, it will be a major milestone when he breaks the record.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

After seeing what happened with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds in the US, I sure hope Balentien's performance was not enhanced by steroids.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I sure hope Balentien's performance was not enhanced by steroids.

Well he did only hit 31 homers in each of his first two seasons...........

No he's clean. It's the reverted ball that is juiced up.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Im not sure if you can say it is a juiced ball in this context. It is, if Im not mistaken, the same type of ball that was in use when Oh, Rhodes and Cabrera set the record, so I don`t think its juiced in the sense that Balentien had any unfair advantage (though in comparison to MLB balls it is fair to call it a juiced ball).

The sheer explosion of home runs he has hit does, however, bring up reminders of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds in terms of the sheer magnitude of the difference. Every other time somebody challenged the record in Japan they just barely got in reach of it in the final days of the season. Balentien on the other hand has already tied it with plenty of room to spare AND he missed the first 12 games of the season to boot.

It is similar to the way nobody came anywhere close to matching Maris` 61 until that 3-year period from 1998 to 2001 where suddenly those three guys were not only matching it but hitting way more than 61 every year.

I`m not saying Balentien himself is juiced (I assume NPB has pretty strict PED testing but I could be mistaken), but it does sort of raise the question of how he has done it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Balentien's on a roll. Hope he not only breaks the record, but also tops the 60 mark.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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