Lowlights, highlights make sports compelling every week


Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional column that highlights feats and disappointments in Japanese sports. (This column was originally filed on Aug. 20).

BOO — The Yokohama BayStars excel at being a terrible baseball team. They entered Tuesday with a 38-64 record and 25 games out of first place.

BRAVO — Miwa Isao and Takemi Nishibori earned the winner’s trophy at the Beach Volleyball Japan tournament last Sunday in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. The duo defeated Chiaki Kusuhara and Satoko Urata, 21-18, 21-18. It was their first career doubles title.

BOO — Over the past several months, the Chiba Lotte Marines’ arrogant leadership has handled the Bobby Valentine issue in a rotten way. The popular manager deserved to be fired outright or given a much-earned contract extension.

But for this entire season Valentine’s fate has been a major distraction — and, sadly, a remarkable amount of wasted time was spent on fans’ “Keep Valentine” petitions — and only created unnecessary ill will between the team, management and its fans.

BRAVO — Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui collected his 2,000th career hit with an infield single in the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

In doing so, the 34-year-old Matsui became part of Japanese baseball’s coveted meikyukai, a fraternity for players with more than 2,000 career hits, 200 wins or 250 saves.

“When I started playing baseball, I couldn’t imagine that I (would get) 2,000 hits, but today I joined the meikyukai and I realized how important this is going to be,” Matsui told reporters.

BOO — It’s been a lousy season for pro sports in Oita Prefecture. First, we followed the Oita HeatDevils’ 8-44 season in the bj-league. And now, fans are suffering through Otita Trinita’s bottom-of-the-table campaign in the J. League’s first division.

BRAVO — Ryo Ishikawa took a necessary first step to become a legitimate golfing star, making the cut for the first time in a U.S. PGA Tour major last weekend, doing so at the PGA Championship in Chaska, Minn. The 17-year-old finished 16 strokes behind winner Y.E. Yang.

‘I want to apply what I learned over there into action,” Ishikawa was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.

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The world’s a stage: In a world in where everyone with a cell phone possesses the necessary tool to be a journalist or a documentary filmmaker, there’s a never-ending supply of quotes from athletes from Tokyo to Topeka (Kan.)

Here’s what sprinter Naoki Tsukahara had to say after his last-place finish (10.25 seconds) in the 100-meter semifinals on Aug. 15 at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin:

“Maybe part of me was thinking too much about winning. The world level has got higher since the Beijing Olympics. Reaching the final is still an obstacle.”